By Korie Marshall
Local legend Bob Beeson planted a lot of trees around Valemount, including a pair of cottonwoods in front of the Lions Club, which he planted when he joined the club in the early 1980’s. He told people over the years the trees were never to come down as long as he was alive, and although the sticky buds and leaves left a mess in the parking lot, members of the club honoured his wishes. The cottonwood tree is named for the white fluffy hairs on its mature seed.
Brendan Taylor, a certified arborist, says the two cottonwoods were still relatively healthy, but do pose a potential hazard to the buildings and power lines nearby. Barb Shepherd, president of the Lions Club, was also concerned about the number and size of branches that have started falling off the trees. The club recently got funding help from the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George and the Valemount Community Forest to remove the trees.
Taylor and his staff from The Source Tree Service were at the Lions Club last week to start removing the trees, but earlier, the Goat met up with Bob’s granddaughter Donalda Beeson, to get a picture before it comes down.
“I’m a little surprised he planted the trees so close to the building,” joked Donalda, “he did plan to live until he was 100.” While we talked, a chickadee landed in the tree, and started calling to another chickadee in the distance. Donalda says chickadees are loved by her whole family, including her grandfather. Bob passed away last summer at the age of 98.
Shepherd says the club would like to do something special with wood from the trunks of the trees, like have them made into benches for around town with placards in honour of Bob. She’s not sure yet though, because cottonwood, although very hard when dried, doesn’t withstand the elements very well. She says they’ll try to work something out with local artisan Gordon Carson.