By Keagan Nagy/Special to The News
Just in front of the Pitt Meadows Heritage Hall there is a large oak tree that has been there since 1937.
Sitting under the shade of this oak tree, one would be surprised that such an unassuming object would have so much history.
But the history of this tree branches across continents and leaves its mark on two countries.
In the municipal records we received from the city in 2020, we found the speeches that were given by Reeve William J. Park and Councillor Sidney T. Rippington (chairman of the Farmers Institute) at the planting of our royal oak seedling.
In April of 1937, the Farmers Institute heard that the department of agriculture was approving royal oak trees to go to any farmers upon request.
RECENT LOOKING BACK: Drawing parallels to influenza a century ago
The institute made ts application, and the little seedling was sent to the municipality – 10,000 acorns and 7,000 saplings were planted in Canada in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother).
The acorns and saplings came from the royal forest at the Windsor Great Park.
The Pitt Meadows royal oak was planted on May 24, 1937, at municipal hall (now Pitt Meadows Heritage Hall).
The sapling was planted by Reeve William J. Park.
As he stated in his address: “This royal oak seedling is a living symbol of the family tree of Empire,” which is a permanent symbol of Pitt Meadows own connections with Britain.
As a settler community this tree is a permanent reminder of many of our British origins.
For others it’s a reminder of transplanting ourselves and culture into a new land and adapting.
This was a moment where several organizations came together to create a lasting living legacy for their community.
When the tree was planted there was just over 800 people living in the district. As of 2021, there were more than 19,000 people living in the city.
PREVIOUS COLUMN – LOOKING BACK: Looking forward to opening of archive space at Maple Ridge Museum
This tree has watched Harris Road change too, buildings coming and going, the road changing from dirt to being paved (1940s), to being widened to four lanes (1977).
Sitting on such a major route for many residents, this tree has quietly watched our community grow and thrive – and it will continue to do so.
After almost 85 years watching over Pitt Meadows, this oak is a permanent reminder of the strength of our community.
Reeve Park put it best when he said in 1937: “the tree that is planted today should be an inspiration to you all. It will be your duty to watch over it, guard it carefully, seeing that no harm comes to it, so that in the years to come when you look back with fond memories to this occasion, you may point with pride to the royal oak.”
– Keagan Nagy is the museum assistant and Pitt Meadows Museum & Archives
Is there more to the story? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.