In 2013 when My Rare One and I visited Quebec City, we splurged on a ride in a horse-drawn calèche through the streets of the Old City. The tour also went just outside the city's historic stone walls to Battlefields Park, a long, manicured green space now used for sports, relaxation, outdoor concerts and festivals.
However, this green space on top of the steep Quebec escarpment is better known in military history as the Plains of Abraham. It was here that France lost its colony of French Canada to the British following a surprise attack and brief battle in 1759.
Back through the Old City gate, our carriage driver stopped by a particular tree and showed us how it had grown right over a cannonball fired during that famous battle, which had landed inside the city walls. We ooh-ed and aah-ed like good tourists but secretly had our doubts. Does that tree look 250 years old to you?
A CBC news story recently caught my eye about how the old Cannonball Tree, now largely dead, had to be uprooted and removed from the city sidewalk this month where it had subsisted for so many years. The Canadian Armed Forces oversaw extraction of the cannonball, in the unlikely event that it was still live ordnance.
Closer inspection showed that it was not a cannonball at all, but an old-fashioned bomb that originally would have required ignition via a fuse.
On the basis of an old photo of a nearby street, an historian speculated that this (and other) de-activated bombs had been deliberately affixed along the way as wheel guards to protect homes from passing carriages. In time, a tree grew over one of them and voilà! A folk legend was born!
Farewell, Cannonball Tree! I'm glad we got to see you when we did.
[Photos #1-4 © Debra She Who Seeks, June 2013; Photo #5 © Radio-Canada, 2021; Photo #6 is from the Internet; Photo #7 © La Collection Gino Gariépy, 1908]