Paris has the Eiffel Tower and New York has the Statue of Liberty, but there is perhaps no more iconic structure in Vancouver than Stanley Park’s Hollow Tree. The tree invokes deeply held passion not just in people who call Vancouver home, but in the legions of visitors who, every year, cheerfully pose for pictures in front of its massive roots and trunk.
But after the 2006 storm that devastated large sections of Stanley Park, the fate of the tree hung in the balance, quite literally, when it developed an ominous lean and was deemed a danger to the public. As Vancouver citizens offered their opinions, everyone from author Douglas Coupland to Parks Board Commissioners seems to have a deeply held idea of what the future of the tree should be. Was saving it simply propping a dead stump? Was it better to allow a dignified death or artificially maintain it with wire cables and supports? As a last lingering reminder of the city’s wild past, the tree has become a symbol.