Mist lingers on a field in Saanichton, where the Garry Oak stood for decades. (Black Press file photo)

Mist lingers on a field in Saanichton, where the Garry Oak stood for decades. (Black Press file photo)

Iconic Garry Oak tree felled by windstorm in Saanichton

Community members share their memories of the tree

A long-standing Saanichton icon is no more. After decades of being firmly rooted near Mount Newton, alone in a crop field, a Garry Oak fell on Dec. 20.

Longview Farms in Saanichton issued what reads as a eulogy to the tree named Thunderheart:

“You have greeted residents and visitors of our community for decades as they come up Mt. Newton Cross Roads. You have kept our daffodils and hay crops company for many many years. Thank you for the beautiful morning sunrises, misty afternoons and moonlit nights. Your size and unique beauty through the seasons will be missed.”

Ryan Vantreight, general manager at Longview Farms, is the man behind the message. His family has been farming the Saanich Peninsula for generations, so he, like many others in the area, grew up with the tree. He said he was heartbroken when he got the call from a neighbour that the tree was down.

“I was surprised to see how the weight of it compacted. As it fell, it broke up. I was half expecting to see a tree there lying in the field, but it’s just a pile of broken branches,” he said. “You crest the bushes there coming up Mount Newton and you look into the field and nothing’s there. It’s a very strange feeling to look and not see that tree there.”

READ MORE: More than 90,000 remain without power on Vancouver Island

READ MORE: Mature tree falls on Saanich home

His post on Facebook has been shared more than 130 times, gaining hundreds of likes. Many shared their disappointment and photos of the tree standing throughout the years in snow, fog and a field of daffodils. In the end, one rain storm — with the help of winds up to 100 kilometres an hour — took the Garry Oak down.

“It’s been an overwhelming response from the community, how many people that tree was able to impact. It’s one of those things we never expected,” Vantreight said. “Some people say it’s just a tree, but you don’t know the impact of something until it is gone. When you drive past going in or out of Saanichton, that tree was always there — something that would always catch your eye because it was so unique.

“Even though it’s not our tree, I think all of us in Saanichton feel like it was one of our own that we lost.”

It was the previous owners of the land who named the tree Thunderheart. Longview Farms doesn’t know just how old the Garry Oak was, but Vantreight said it predates the memory of anyone he knows. He’s not sure if the owners will do a ring count to confirm its age.

As some asked if they could take a piece of the tree for a keepsake or to give it new life as handcrafted furniture, Longview Farms is also waiting for the answer. They only lease the land for their crops, and do not own the tree or know what McDonalds Farms, the current owner, plans to do with the remnants.

“Please don’t try to grab a piece of history, because in doing so, you’ll be trampling over a crop,” he said. “A lot of people want to be engaged and involved in it. We’re just asking them to be patient at this time.”

This morning, Vantreight is adding “Do not trespass” signs to the field. After all, it’s still home to the daffodils that weathered the storm.

READ MORE: Oak Bay resident wakes with a start as trees crash down


@KeiliBartlett
keili.bartlett@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The Garry Oak known as Thunderhart in Saanichton was blown down on Dec. 20 during a windstorm. (Longview Farms photo)

The Garry Oak known as Thunderhart in Saanichton was blown down on Dec. 20 during a windstorm. (Longview Farms photo)

Just Posted

Ronald Schinners, owner of The Cabbie in the #YYJ, opened his taxi service in the West Shore last month. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
‘One man show,’ The Cabbie in the #YYJ cultivates 45,000 followers on Instagram

New taxi company brings unusual spunk to the West Shore

Zahra Rayani-Kanji of Heart Pharmacy, Sidney Pharmacy manager James McCullough, and Naz Rayani, owner and founder of Heart Pharmacy, join sisters Becky Brigham and Judy Costanzo outside the business. Sidney Pharmacy has become the sixth Heart Pharmacy outlet in Greater Victoria after its purchase from Brigham and Costanzo. Their parents, Frances and Jim Brigham, first opened the business in 1959. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney Pharmacy changes ownership, but retains family tradition

First opened by Frances and Jim Brigham in 1959, Sidney Pharmacy is now part of Heart Pharmacy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has in the past warned of Öffnungsdiskusionorgien (translated as an orgy of discussions about openings), one of one of the 1,200 words added to the German lexicon as reported by the Leibniz Institute for the German Language. (Michael Kappeler/Pool via AP)
German lexicon grows by 1,200 words, many inspired by COVID-19 pandemic

Öffnungsdiskusionorgie (orgy of discussions about openings) among new entries

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Most Read