TEHKUMMAH – This past fall, municipal crews in the Township of Tehkummah had to destroy a Manitoulin landmark as the famous ‘shoe tree’ along Lakeshore Road had rotted and was threatening to fall onto utility lines in the area.
“We had to take it down in the early fall. It was going to fall over; she was pretty rotten,” said Tehkummah roads superintendent Kevin Dunlop.
The tree had begun to lean more and more in recent years and people living by the tree had tied a rope to the trunk to prevent it from falling on the power lines. This, however, was not enough to stop the decay and after a mid-November windstorm, neighbours made the difficult decision to call the township to have the tree removed.
The shoe tree dates back to 1993 when a Lakeshore Road resident found a pair of green rubber boots at the South Baymouth landfill and decided to nail them onto the tree.
The family that began the shoe tree did not wish to be named but said they never expected that the tree would have become such an attraction.
“So many people stopped by. Some added their own shoes to (the tree) and others just dropped their shoes at the bottom of the tree and they were put up,” the family members told The Expositor. “I wouldn’t even venture a guess as to how many pairs of shoes were there.”
Over the years, various shoes came and went as people added new ones and the oldest ones began to rot and falloff.
In recent years, some of its branches began to fall off and the tree grew fewer and fewer leaves each year.
“We were quite surprised that it lasted as long as it lasted, because that’s many years for a tree with shoes on it,” the family said.
In their travels down the road, they would often see people stopped at the tree.
“We didn’t put any real meaning into the tree ourselves. We were just so surprised that so many people knew where it was and a lot of them had been by, they said, just to see it,” said the family members.
The shoe tree’s demise took all of a half hour.
“We couldn’t save the shoes. They went to the landfill and were buried. They were all nailed on, so it would have been hard to take them off,” Mr. Dunlop said.
“It was just a very sad day that it had to be taken away. I’m sure it will be missed by many people who stopped by and took pictures,” said the family.
The family members said they had no plans of their own to create a new shoe tree and continue the landmark’s legacy.