Paying Attention to the Heritage Tree near KFC

There is an oak tree near KFC in Steinbach, and it looks like it’s had a bit of a rough life. I think I first noticed this tree about 20 years ago, when someone attempted to put Christmas lights on it. This was when I noticed the tree had maybe seen better days. About half its branches have been shorn off… by wind and time, I suppose.

The next thing I noticed about the tree was that it kind of has its own parking spot. That is to say, a parking lot has sprung up around the tree, but the tree itself has not been disturbed. That has always made me happy.

And then I noticed, this tree has its own little plaque. Usually when I walk by, I’m in a hurry, trying to get to an appointment or to work or something. But one day near the end of this past summer, I asked Andrew to park at KFC so that I could go up to the plaque and read it for the first time.

This is what the plaque says: “HERITAGE TREE — This Oak Tree is the last remaining tree from an original stand dating back to before Steinbach was settled in 1874. It stands beside what used to be Steinbach’s only road (now Loewen Boulevard) to Winnipeg.”

I hadn’t known that Loewen Boulevard had once been Steinbach’s only road. I guess it lead past Vollwerk (Mitchell)?

Now that I’ve finally taken the time to read the plaque, I look at this tree differently. I picture buffalo strolling past this tree, since it was here before settlers were. I’m grateful that somebody, sometime, took the time to protect this tree and declare that it is special, and it was protected from being cut down. Now there is one less parking space at KFC, and one more tree that remains standing. And I think that is very important.

The tree isn’t very thick, but then I don’t think oaks tend to grow that thick. I’m not sure how much longer this tree will be around, so I try to appreciate it every time I pass by.

P.S. I was curious about other Heritage Trees, so I googled it. I figured maybe there would be a register somewhere. I googled it, and it seems this program has been restructured… and even though there appears to be a registry, it doesn’t work to search (at least, it didn’t work for me), and the Manitoba Heritage Tree Program is now under the Manitoba Forestry Association and Winnipeg Trees… and the only information I could find about Heritage Trees, was how to nominate one. I mean, that’s great and all, but what if I simply want to visit Heritage Trees? Where could I find a list? That’s all that I’m wondering about.