It’s been the stuff of urban legends, now it’s being dug out by the roots. Quebec City‘s famous “cannonball tree” has become a spectacle.
“Look at the crowd,” said longtime Quebec City resident Bill Mylett. “It’s incredible. It’s a huge distraction. I’ve never seen so many people in the last few months.”
The massive elm, over 100 years old, is sick and needs to be removed. For many who’ve grown up in Quebec City, it’s a monument of Vieux-Québec.
For years, it was believed the roots of this tree had captured a stray cannonball from the 1759 Battle of the Plains of Abraham. However, researchers have more recently debunked that theory.
“Rather, it’s a firebomb,” said Quebec City Mayor, Régis Labeaume during a press conference on March 10.
It was put there on purpose, not to explode, but to serve as a guard stone to protect the side of the building from the horses and carts turning the corner.
Cannonball or not, Quebec City resident Ariane Jenest said she is sad to see the tree go.
“I said to him (the tree), ‘Goodbye, and thank you for having been there for us,'” she said before sobbing.
“I’m native and for me, that hurts my heart. Every time they cut a tree, that really hurts me, but it’s necessary.”
Members of the military have been on site since work began Tuesday, just in case there is still something explosive in the tree. The work is expected to finish on Thursday; the main reason for the meticulousness of the undertaking is to preserve the trunk and turn it into a piece of art.
Artist Paryse Martin explained the work will consist of an identical mould of the trunk with the form of a woman that comes out of it and reaches up to the sky. She said it will be both a poetic and aesthetic tribute, which will be installed in the same place that it’s been for a century.