Family Garry oak finds value after the fall

Family Garry oak finds value after the fall

Vancouver Island Woodworkers Guild makes more of felled trees

While John Tucker didn’t want the Garry oak on his property to come down, it had grown old and diseased.

That didn’t mean it had lost its value.

Tucker finished the felled tree into a circular dining table for his son, who grew up with the tree at the family home on St. Patrick Street.

The golden tones and interesting patterns in the oak create a look unlike other woods, but “character is a good thing,” Tucker says. “No other oak looks like it, I don’t think.”

Tucker is pleased the family’s connection to the tree continues with his son and daughter-in-law, living on in something useful and beautiful.

“The fact that it came from our own garden … I’m happy that they will have it and enjoy it,” Tucker says.

He is concerned about the loss of oaks in the region – the slow-growing trees are replanted, but take decades to reach a significant size.

“Garry oaks are magnificent trees,” Tucker says. “Unlike, say, chestnuts they give exactly the degree of shade we need here. They are found nowhere but here, where their predominance is a result of indigenous agricultural practices (as part of camas meadows). Those practices ensured the survival of the species, since young living trees were able to replace old dying ones. Our practices, conversely, ensure their destruction. We will never recover the oak canopy.”

Tucker is part of the the Vancouver Island Woodworkers Guild, which operates a reclamation program for significant felled trees.

“It seems worth honouring these oaks by saving their wood for furniture making. It’s not the ideal solution, but at least it means that our children can still enjoy their benefits.” he says.

Tucker urges homeowners with significant trees coming down to contact the guild. While the log may need to be a certain size to warrant retrieval, the recent acquisition of a trailer makes smaller trees accessible for members.

“An awful lot of them are recoverable because they’re so big, given their age,” Tucker says.

The guild picks up suitably sized Garry oaks and other trees and has them milled, a process somewhat costly in volunteer labour – not to mention haulage and milling charges. The resulting lumber is sold periodically by the guild.

“Not only does wood recovery make our Garry oaks available to crafts people, but the money its sales generate is used to provide a prize and a grant to the Fine Furniture Making program at Camosun, as well as contributing wood to local schools,” Tucker says. “Surely all of these benefits argue against the almost universal practice of turning fallen oaks into firewood, a trivial use of a remarkable resource. So let the guild know when an oak comes down. Something worthwhile may come of the loss.”

Because the Garry oak wood tends to warp, kiln drying isn’t a good option. Left to dry naturally, the process can take many years, so other options are being explored, Tucker says. He encourages woodworking hobbyists or those looking to learn more to contact the guild.

“There’s an incredible amount of knowledge there,” he says.

Visit for more information.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Great Adventure is the Braefoot Community Association’s answer to COVID fatigue, a nine-day photography scavenger hunt around Saanich and beyond, for teams of up to six people in each other’s bubble. (Unsplash)
Cameras, safe six mix for photographic scavenger hunt around Saanich

Braefoot Community Association invites public to have some outdoor fun with fundraiser

B.C. is conducting an emergency alert test on Nov. 25 at 1:55 p.m. (Black Press Media File photo)
Expect B.C.-wide emergency alert system test Wednesday afternoon

The message will be broadcast at 1:55 p.m. on Nov. 25.

The Grinch was spotted on a tractor in Metchosin Monday morning, an early welcome for the holiday season. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
PHOTO: Grinch arrives early for the holidays in Metchosin

Send your favourite Christmas decorations to Black Press Media

Oak Bay resident bilked $3,300 in puppy scam

Three cases of fraud reported in two days

Victoria police are asking for help locating Jordan Doddridge who is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
VicPD seek help locating man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Jordan Doddridge has an extensive criminal history including violent offences

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

Most Read