Terrace has a new face downtown, reviving its historic 104-year old maple tree into a unique work of art.
Local artist Joerg Jung of JJ’s Woodart has carved out a sculpture that resembles a logger out of a tree stump at the northeast corner of Lakelse Avenue and Emerson Street.
The Norway Maple tree, planted by Terrace founder George Little in 1915, was cut down in July by the City of Terrace after being noted a safety hazard.
“We hadn’t thought of that until we saw what was left behind with the tree and trying to think of what to do with it,” says Dave Gordon, president of the Terrace Downtown Improvement Area (TDIA). “It’s another cultural component to the downtown area than just cutting it leaving it as a stump.”’
The tree’s life span was coming to an end and with its branches already falling off, a concern was raised following this year’s windstorm that the tree itself would fall down and be a danger to the public.
Gordon says the tree held a lot of importance for Terrace and they didn’t want it to go to waste. The idea to turn it into a wooden sculpture was brought up and they contacted Jung, also known as JJ, to do the job.
“His expertise as a carver is unmatched in town, he is a world-class carver and is always interested in contributing to Terrace,” Gordon says. “The tree had to be taken down but thankfully they left the bottom six feet, instead of about one foot, and gave us a piece of wood anchored at the sidewalk that we could carve for art.”
Although Gordon says JJ doesn’t usually work with maple wood, he was still able to bring it to life and worked on the project for almost a month. A logger was chosen to symbolize Terrace’s logging history, a tribute rarely seen throughout town.
“We could have carved a salmon, a bear or an eagle but the logger was a compromise between the past and future,” says Gordon. “The TDIA wanted to have a logger as a lot of the other art is focused on either the environment or salmon, so we thought it was fair that the next piece of art would be a little bit of a throwback to the culture and history of Terrace.”
The TDIA commissioned $5,000 for the logger sculpture.
City councillor Lynne Christiansen, who is also a descendant of George Little, says she’s glad to see a part of her family history preserved and most importantly, have homage paid to the early days of the town.
“There were so many great people who worked in the very old days… that whole statue there makes you think of all those people that were a part of our history here,” says Christiansen.
“My dad referred to them as the ‘gentleman of the woods’, people who really invested and worked in forestry here… It’s a beautiful carving. I think he did a really nice job and it represents forestry, which is a big thing for us… that’s what kept us going. That’s why we exist here.”
As for preservation, Gordon says it’s likely the wooden sculpture won’t stand at the corner forever as the city will have to reconstruct the sidewalk there one day. Although maple wood is strong and difficult to break off, the elements of nature will eventually take its course with time so their plan is to cut the sculpture at its base and preserve it elsewhere.
“We told JJ that we may call him to come and move it to another location… It’ll last for a while and we’ll take care of it over the time, we’ll just see how it goes,” says Gordon. “It will be there for as long as we can keep it there.”