Monday, December 22, 2014

Commemorative Trees

Commemorative trees are usually associated with special events or are planted by an important personage visiting an area. Usually, each one is accompanied by a plaque to remind people of the event.

There are also private commemorative trees planted by individuals to commemorate a family event, like the birth of a child. These do not usually have an explanatory plaque and are mostly or exclusively known by the family. Many years after they were planted, no one remembers why they were planted or what they were supposed to commemorate.

However that is not always the case. The sequoia pictured below is one of several that commemorate a family event which is remembered.

These sequoias are in the garden of what used to be the Grey Nuns convent in Victoria B.C. (St Ann's Academy). The building now houses provincial government offices and is no longer connected with the nuns. However there are several plaques explaining the history of the Grey Nuns, their work and their buildings.

The former convent and two of the sequoias

One of the plaques shows the portrait of two sisters, Anna and Cecelia McQuade,  who became nuns in the 19th century. To commemorate the occasion, their mother offered the Grey Nuns some sequoia trees that were planted in a row in the convent garden.

Anna and Cecelia McQuade

Sequoia are native to the west coast of North America, but much more to south of here.  They can grow well in Victoria, though. The ones planted in the Grey Nuns's garden are now of a respectable size as you can see in the picture below. The story does not say when they were planted but, from the fashion of Anna's and Cecelia's dresses in the photo, I would say it was in the 1860s.

You never can tell what posterity will remember. If these two women were to come back, they would no doubt be surprised that a few people in Victoria still remember them. They would, however, be amazed that the only thing remembered about them and their whole lives is that their mother had these trees planted!

The alley as seen from the convent's main door and the wall surrounding the garden
P.S. Computer problems prevent me from leaving comments on posts or answering comments that are left on my own posts.


  1. Join the club re computer problems. Is nothing else written about the sisters - convent records etc? There's a winter project waiting.

  2. The sequoia lane is lovely. What a tribute both from and to their mother.

  3. I wondered the same as Sue - being a keen genealogist - I'm not sure I'd be able to help myself from delving into the archives.
    Lovely trees.
    Hope the computer issues don't last too long.
    Have a wonderful Christmas and a Healthy Happy New Year Alain!

  4. How interesting. I love a tree with a bit of history. I hope you get your computing problems sorted, what a nuisance.
    Have a very happy Christmas Alain.

    1. You are right, it is always nice to know something about a tree. Your mulberry is venerable - just knowing it has gone through all these years gives it a different dimension.

  5. Hello Alain, mature Sequoias are amazing trees and surprisingly, there are great deal of them around where we live. All planted by enthusiastic Victorians with a taste for the exotic no doubt. There is a long straight road five minutes from here called "Wellingtonia Avenue" and my jaw was on the floor the first time we drove down it exploring the area. Very majestic individually, awe-inspiring when planted as a colonnade.


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