Lonely, Hanging, Leaning Tree
By Cathy Wolters & Libby Fairweather
Fire is a two-faced friend to Jack Pine. The searing heat generated by fire opens the hard, coarse cones and releases their sees but it doesn’t mean Jack Pine is immune to fire damage. In fact, it is easily killed. But some trees, like some people, have an indomitable spirit that shrugs off what kills a lesser thing, and so they go on.
The “Leaning Tree” probably started its life just after the province of Alberta was born, about 1906. In 1918, a huge forest fire completely razed the area – except for this lone Jack Pine. But the fire did affect it, because from that time on, it began to grow at a 45-degree angle. Fire came again in the late 1940s, and again it survived.
It became a well loved landmark among he older farmers. At one time, neighbours called it the “Lonely Tree”, for in its solitude, its lean was directed towards the row of trees behind it, as if it were yearning to be nearer.
In another moment of inspiration someone thought to amuse passers by – they hung a mannequin from the tree! The Schiller girls raced to the field, unhooked it from the limb and dragged this poor inanimate soul into their farm yard, just in time to greet the fire trucks and ambulance that had arrived to response to a call about “a body that was hanging from that Leaning Tree”! The episode lived long, amidst grins and chuckles, in the memories of those growing up in the area.
But it’s the name “Leaning Tree” that remains. Mercy has been granted to this unusual landmark. It still stands in a pasture, growing at it’s impossible angle.
Lonley, Hanging, Leaning Tree Individual Tree Species: Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) Location: Hwy 55 0.5 km past Rge Rd 4355 300 m off the road in the middle of field City: Cold Lake Height: 18.3 m (60”) Circum: 2.0 m (6’6”) Canopy Spread: 12.2 m (40”) Planted by: Naturalized Year: Circa 1900s Age: 100 years