Trees of Remembrance

October 2021 marked the 100th anniversary of the dedication of memorial trees planted along Shelbourne Street (Memorial Avenue) in Saanich and Victoria, British Columbia, following the First World War. Recently, Dr. Geoffrey Bird of the War Heritage Research Initiative at Royal Roads University produced a film about the history of these trees. The documentary inspired this poem.

Re-dedication of Memorial Avenue, Saanich, British Columbia, 29 September 2018 (Sonia Nicholson photo)

Roots run deep on this street of memories.
Seedlings planted in the name of the lost
A century ago
Watch silently, ever mourning
Long after the mourners have gone

They remember, the broad leaves whose
Colours have counted the seasons of
A hundred years,
Branches constant and enduring in
A neighbourhood changed

Through time

The sentinels listen, incline shoots to hear,
Record the stories above the noise
Growing steady
To give voice to the voiceless and
Hope for generations

In their silence they speak, lined up along
The boulevard of unfinished dreams as
A living cenotaph
Dreaming, gentle giants holding then and now
Through earth, across sky

They stand

Unveiling of Memorial Avenue marker and interpretive sign, Saanich, 29 September 2018 (Sonia Nicholson photo)

Published by Sonia Nicholson

Sonia Nicholson is an archivist, executive assistant, and writer. She was born and raised in Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada and studied French and Spanish at the University of Victoria. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia with her husband, two children, and two rescue dogs. Follow her on Twitter @nicholsonsonia_

3 thoughts on “Trees of Remembrance

  1. Beautiful; sentinels who live on even after we do & remind us of times past by just being there & standing as if at attention in honour of those who have fallen & gone before us. A living legacy that lines the funeral procession of the past.


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