When the first war called, Charlie Perkins and 4 close friends left the serenity of Fraser Valley farmland. Charlie, a flight instructor with the Royal Flying Corps was the only survivor. On his return in 1919, he honored fallen comrades by planting ivy at the base of a massive Douglas Fir, a tree close to the swimming hole they frequented – a simple act of remembrance.
The following year fire ravaged the 210 foot behemoth Fir – the Perkins family managed to save some of the tree. Ivy unscathed and flourishing, Charlie’s tree rested quietly until 1960 heralded the Trans-Canada Highway. Horrified the tree he tended for 40 years was about to fall beneath asphalt, Perkins appeared before highways Minister Phil Gaglardi. Perkins efforts go down in Canadian history as the only time a major highway was diverted to protect a tree.
Traveling east on Highway 1 between 176 & 200th St. – the Trans-Canada takes a noticeable bend at Charlie’s memorial.