One Thousand Years Strong


Standing around the tree baseOpa’s trunk stands tall, its branches reaching up and away, trying to gently grasp the wispy clouds above. Heavily scarred, the trunk is so wide that 11 people could not wrap their arms around it. It is the truest symbol of this 1,000-year-old Douglas fir tree’s age.

Authors, poets and playwrights often visit Opa, hoping for inspiration. It is one of only two old-growth trees remaining on Bowen Island, which was cleared of almost all its old trees by the 20th century. 

two admirers of the treeResidents at Peninsula Retirement Residence in Surrey paid the Opa tree a surprise visit after exploring Snug Cove, a tiny town on Bowen Island. The group of 11 tried to wrap their arms around the tree, but could not quite make it. They described the tree as “awe inspiring”.

Below is the first-hand account of Peninsula resident Roy McLean’s encounter with Opa.

Roy McLean:

“Certainly, for those of us who were viewing the tree for the first time it was an awe-inspiring sight, and the most noteworthy part of the trip.

view from the tree baseThinking back to my reaction at the time… I was amazed at its height, but after walking around it, I was even more impressed with its circumference.

As I viewed the various indentations and the scars on its surface, I thought of what the person, or persons, would be like, so long ago, as they attempted to cut it down with a crude axe, a cross-cut saw, or something even prior to their use.

I knew in advance that the tree was at least 1,000 years old, but as I stood there viewing it, it made me fully realize just how long it has been standing there with us. Wow, what a story it could tell.”


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