Thursday, 25 March 2021

The Cannonball Tree


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]

46 comments:

Laurie said...

Well,imagine that! It’s amazing how some legends are created, some not of fact based info! Wow! Cool though, I’ve never heard this before, thanks so much for bringing us this.

jaz@octoberfarm said...

how did i miss this? i've been to quebec (one of my favorite places) a bunch of times and missed this.

Moving with Mitchell said...

And so the story goes. This is wonderful.

Travel said...

Quebec is on the list of places to go, If Canada ever lets Americans back across the border.

Marie Smith said...

I hadn’t seen the latest report. Thank you for sharing!

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Fascinating!
I love how it became this legend that everybody took for true. And people used deactivated bombs as wheel guards? Whoa.
Also, I think that horse-drawn calèche rides are soooo romantic!

XOXO

Martha said...

I loved reading about this. I'm glad you got to see it when you did too. :)

Liz Hinds said...

They say if you reach out your arms and hug a tree each span equals 70 years. Or something like that. I was going to say, no, it doesn't look that old, but then the it looked bigger being removed. A great tale whatever the reality.

Frank said...

I'm thinking of an old adage, poem (?) "scratch a myth, find a fact" or in this case, uproot a tree, find out you had it all wrong for years...

anne marie in philly said...

I have been to montreal, but not quebec city. interesting story; sorry it turned out not to be true.

we have legends in this city too.

Bob said...

I like both stories, but, yeah, that tree wasn't 250!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Brings back great memories for me. I used to live there; my daughter was born there.

My Grama's Soul said...

So were do ya think they put that cannonball tree. Hopefully they attempted to plant it somewhere else.

BTW.......thanks for being so supportive of my little posts....it means the world to me.

Jo

Mistress Maddie said...

What an interesting story. When I was in Quebec City I didn't know about that point of interest.

Tundra Bunny said...

The British put all those leftover French cannon balls to good use then.... up-cycling for 21st century tourism!

Parnassus said...

Hello Debra, They must not have much snow in Quebec if they can use such short bollards. Perhaps the point was to make drivers more careful to stay in the center of the driveway!
--Jim

DVArtist said...

Wow what a great post. I love the story of the cannonball tree. Have a great day.

Tasker Dunham said...

That shows why one should never believe everything we're told. Interesting to see the Heights of Abraham - we all learnt about General Wolf at school here when the British Empire wasn't a non-PC topic.

Guillaume said...

I don't remember seeing it in my many visits to Quebec City. I want to go back there, last time was for Easter 2006 I think.

Guillaume said...

Actually no, it was Easter 2010.

Suz said...

Wow. This shows you that rumors can be started and perpetuated for many, many years. Very interesting.

Yvonne said...

It's said the tree was an American Elm. Hardly any exist anymore. The tree itself was a legend, as it escaped the Dutch Elm disease that wiped out most American Elms when I was still a child. Nice post.

Mike said...

Hey, what's this? Well, it's a bomb! Should we leave it after the tree is gone? After all, it's history.

Joanne Noragon said...

A good story is hard to let go.

Janie Junebug said...

It's sad that the tree had to be removed, but the photo is interesting, as is the story of the "cannonball." We once went on a carriage ride in Victoria, B.C. It was lovely.

Love,
Janie

Kirk said...

I love the fact that a tree grew on top of a bomb no matter what the reason!

balanced a.f. said...

That is absolutely crazy! What a fantastic story.

Elsie Amata said...

Well, that shows how much I know. It looks like a bowling ball to me. Good thing I wasn't around it, I'd be poking and prodding it.

Linda said...

It was a really great story to tell tourists, now they'll have to find something else. Thanks for sharing this, it's funny to read how something starts to live its own life even if it's wrong.

LL Cool Joe said...

Interesting! Fingers crossed we will all be travelling again soon!

Lady M said...

Well that is a bit of fun. To bad it died. Now that carriage driver has lost a point of interest.

This N That said...

No surprise that the tree died..It couldn't have gotten much water with all the concrete surrounding it..Too bad...Interesting "tale"..good story!!

Ol'Buzzard said...

Interesting.
the Ol'Buzzard

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Sneaky tree- fooling people for 250 years. But "old bomb tree" doesn't have a good ring to it.
Fun story, Debra.

pam nash said...

Cool legend. Too bad that now future tourists won't hear or see the Cannonball Tree.

Polly said...

It's a good story. Clever idea using the de-activated bombs to protect the houses.

Pam said...

Oh wow...great history.

Cynthia said...

I want to go to Quebec, and soon! What a story!

Magaly Guerrero said...

Wow! I love how your visit makes the story real for me. I wonder if you or your Rare One got nervous when you guys went by the tree...

Blogoratti said...

What a legend. Thanks for sharing those!

Rommy said...

Oh that's wild! It's pretty cool you got to see it before it got removed.

John M said...

Very interesting

baili said...

wow such an interesting sharing Debra !

how nice you both were there as city looks fantastic and lush :)
never heard such amazing tale before
glad you shared and glad that tree could survive over the bomb for more than two hundred years wow

Magic Love Crow said...

That is so interesting and cool Deb!!!

Fundy Blue said...

So interesting, Debra! There is truth in every legend.

JACKIESUE said...

no matter the story..hate to see the old tree go..sad.