Arts Ottawa

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A New Beginning

A glorious autumn day. The cemetery is quiet. Since it is the weekend the noisy machines that try to collect the fallen leaves are mercifully asleep. Maruschka and Astrid have agreed to take a walk through Beechwood Cemetery as they always do at this time of the year. There is another reason: Maruschka has discovered the three sculpted trees on her last walk and wants to show them to her friend. She has read up about them and is eager to give her friend a little tour. At first they stop in front of the Tulip tree.


The tree, turned into a sculpture celebrates Spring. At the bottom is a Trillium and it is crowned by three tulips. Maruschka explains: “ The people at the cemetery had to decide what to do with a tree that had died and lost most of its branches. So they commissioned a chainsaw artist to turn the stump  into a sculpture dedicated to Canada’s flora and the many tulips that adorn Ottawa so widely in the spring.”

Astrid wrinkles her brows: “ A chainsaw artist? What is that? I thought sculptors use hammer  and chisel? A chainsaw seems a very crude instrument. Do you think those tulips there at the top look good -  to me this looks like folk art.“


Maruschka shrugs. “ I agree, the tulips up there look a bit strange. I wonder whether they should not have left the tree stump alone. I love dead trees; they make beautiful works of art in themselves.”


The two continue walking until they come across the next tree sculpture. It has two arms and is covered by carved animals native to Canada. You see a bear, a turtle, a raccoon, Canada Geese, a squirrel, a beaver, a puffin.  “I love the beaver”, exclaims Maruschka. “ Look at his little sharp claws. I am sure the artist used another tool to carve them. Anyway, I think this sculpture is quite charming and a lot more successful than the Tulip tree.”


Astrid agrees but then says slowly, as if she was still thinking,

” Don’t you find that it reminds one of the totem poles of the Haida on the Northwest Coast? They also feature animals, although much more stylized and not as realistic.”


“Well, replies Maruschka, ”the artist was asked about that; he said that he preferred the term wood carving, not totem, because he is not a member of the indigenous community and would not want to show a disrespect for their culture. He is quite emphatic about that.”

Our friends continue to admire  in detail the many delightful creatures on the tree which the Cemetery calls “The Next Beginning”, while the tree devoted to Canada’s flora was called “A New Beginning”, meaning that the tree had been given a second chance at “life” rather than be chopped down.


Finally, next to the Military Cemetery they see a tree sculpture covered with carved red poppies. Maruschka explains: “ This was commissioned in 2018 to commemorate the hundred years since the  Armistice in 1918, the end of World War I and the contribution of Canadian soldiers to that peace. The artist, Peter van Andrichem, was asked to include the poppies, Brodie helmets* and three maple leaves to symbolize the contribution of Canadian soldiers on the land, at sea and in the air.”

 Astrid walks around the tree and is impressed by the ingenuity of an artist having been given such detailed instructions. One branch which was sticking out he turned into an arm holding a sword, as if saluting the soldiers whose graves it faces.


At the bottom the inscription “Lest we forget”, both in English and in French - “Nous nous souvenons” - reminds the visitor of the sacrifices made by Canada's armed forces and the brutality of war.


While the two friends take photographs of the “Armistice Tree”, two women driving by seem to be very moved by what they see. It would appear that the artist has brought the poignant message successfully home.


  • The Brodie Helmets are well-known as a symbol for Canadian soldiers.


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Our Shepherds – Nos Bergers

by Patrick Bérubé



It is a gorgeous day. Perfect for a stroll through the Byward Market. Maruschka and Astrid have just passed the courtyard with the statue of a dancing bear when they stop in the middle of what is called the Tin House Courtyard. A bright-blue statue of two faceless men standing on the back of sheep bars their way.


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