By Eraina Hooyer
The tree that has been Ponoka’s place for retreat, solice, family photos and imaginative adventures will be recognized for its uniqueness and importance in a new book.
The Heritage Trees of Alberta Foundation is releasing a large collection of stunning trees in the province in a book titled Heritage Trees of Alberta.
The Thinking Tree in Ponoka will be one of the trees featured in the book and will likely be on the front cover.
The Thinking Tree was nominated for heritage status by Jeanette van den Broek of Ponoka. She thought the tree looked very different from others with its sprawled out tangled bows and knotted limbs.
“It’s such a unique and unusual tree,” said van den Broek. “Most of our trees do not lay on the ground like that.”
She is pleased that it will be featured in the new book and is glad that the tree received heritage status.
“It’s a novelty item for people visiting Ponoka and people in Ponoka and an interesting thing to have in our town as well as a point of interest to our trail system,” said van den Broek. “I think it’s great that it will be in the book, it deserves recognition.”
The Thinking Tree, a Manitoba maple, is located on the banks of the Battle River off of the trail. The tree was discovered by Vance Walker after he bought the property 12 years ago. At the time he was a pastor at Word of Life church and found the tree a peaceful place where he could talk with God and watch the nature around him.
The Thinking Tree’s thick trunk and boughs hints that it is an old tree although no one really knows how old. The cause of its octopus-like structure is also unknown but is speculated that beavers or ice may have been the cause.
Brad Watson, chief administrative officer for the Town of Ponoka, feels that the town is proud of the heritage status of the tree and the part it will play in the book.
“We’re very pleased and impressed that this tree is part of the official book on heritage trees,” said Watson. “It brings recognition to not only the tree but also Ponoka.”
Watson believes that the popularity of the Thinking Tree will help bring positive attention to the town and will attract people to its location.
“It is put up against other well-known and unique trees and gives notoriety and significance to our community and to those that take interest in this type of information,” he said. “This book will be in every library throughout the province and I expect that people will read the book and come from far away to see it, learn about it and take pictures.”
An ecologically friendly plaque will be either attached to the tree or placed directly in front of it to identify the tree.
Albertans nominated more than 900 trees throughout the province and 450 of those qualified for Heritage Tree recognition. The book features 80 tree stories and 300 tree locations on maps.
The book’s scheduled release is in September and will be made up many pictures and stories of the significantly historical trees in Alberta.
Nominations were accepted for trees, groves, avenues, shelterbelts and arboretums and were based on historical or cultural significance, its rarity, being a community landmark or a survivor of harmful conditions, part of an environmentally significant area or an endangered bird habitat.
The Heritage Trees of Alberta Foundation project was designed to raise awareness and bring education to people about the environmental and historical value of trees.