National attention was drawn to the historic cherry trees that were chopped down in Prince Rupert, and eight months later the federal government is trying to make amends.
Seven members of the Shimizu family are travelling to Prince Rupert for a special presentation on Nov. 15. Empire Tree Services was tasked to plant two cherry trees. The government has also installed a plaque to commemorate Shotaro Shimizu, the man who donated 1,500 cherry trees to the city in 1959-60 — after he had been interned during the war.
Shotaro’s son, 90-year-old Henry, who lived in Prince Rupert before internment, will be at the ceremony, as well as his son Gregory and his fiance Twilla MacLeod, who are taiko drummers using some of the salvaged cherry wood for bachi drum sticks.
“We managed to upset a lot of people and we’re hoping we can make it right,” said Dan Del Villano, regional manager for Public Services and Procurement Canada. The federal government is footing the bill.
Empire Tree Services ground down and removed three stumps from the trees that were cut down, and they’ve landscaped the green space outside the federal building on Fourth Street and Second Avenue West.
Rupert Lawn and Garden ordered the trees in, and they were planted on Nov. 14 to replace the trees that had been removed on March 23.
“It’s good to be a part of the solution trying to fix things up,” said Vern Barker, owner of Empire Tree Services.
While Barker was there, he noticed the four other trees that received grafts in an effort to save them. These trees had been partially cut down but the Terrace contractor, Big D Contracting. But they didn’t complete the job when they were met with resistance from residents.
Looking at the trees now, nearly six and a half months after receiving the grafts, he thinks they’re going to be okay.
“It seems to be working out, but it will be years before they’ll be beautiful again,” he said.
The plaque dedicated to Shotaro Shimizu and his cherry tree donation will be revealed Thursday afternoon, Nov. 15.