Oak Bay tree 'grows' hundreds of candy canes during holiday season
Before we can appreciate why a pair of siblings are sprinting across the street with delight today, we need to know what Doug was spilling around the base of his tree about 15 years ago.
“By accident, I spilled some organic cane sugar on my grass,” Doug says.
He says it happened around the time he was hanging Christmas lights on the tree, after moving here from Switzerland.
“They celebrate Sinterklaas,” Doug explains. “They always do that around Dec. 5.”
That just happened to be the same date that Doug says he noticed that spilled sugar seemed to provide the tree with some sort of festive fertilization.
“It started to sprout candy canes the next morning,” Doug smiles. “Magical candy canes!”
The trunk of the tree was covered with a proliferation of striped and blended “blossoms,” hundreds and hundreds that continued growing throughout the holiday season. That didn’t go unnoticed by the children around the neighbourhood.
“Look at that!” eight year-old Remy exclaims, while pointing up to a large candy cane wrapped in the tree’s Christmas lights.
“That is sure a giant one!”
The boy and his older sister Sonnen are two of the hundreds of children who relish making regular visits to the Candy Cane Tree. While Doug claims to know nothing about how the canes “blossom,” he couldn’t be more grateful for the box full of cards and letters he’s received from appreciative children and their parents.
“I am just honoured to be the keeper of the Candy Cane Tree,” Doug smiles. “That’s unique. How many people can put that on their resume?”
Then again, how many people resumes — like Doug’s — also include running a charitable foundation for more than 30 years that provides funding for educational opportunities in Eastern Europe and Southern Africa?
“I believe that education is the best single investment we can make anywhere in the world, including Canada,” Doug says.
Like his work strives to better children’s futures through education, Doug says the Candy Cane Tree is proving to be a place for learning too.
“I’ve seen kids coming, they pick a candy cane, and another kids says, ‘That’s the one I wanted,’” Doug says. “And they learn to share.”
And thanks to a sign attached to the tree that says if you take more than one cane the tree will stop blossoming (which it has), Doug says kids are learning about regulating themselves and respecting boundaries.
“I also believe in helping children have fun and enjoy life,” Doug says.
Which is why when Remy picks an Oreo candy cane (“It’s my favourite taste!”), and Sonnen chooses a traditionally striped one (“It’s my favourite colour!”), Doug is reminded why he now pours sugar purposely beside the tree every year. And the siblings are inspired to sprint across the street with delight and embrace the Candy Cane Tree with a giant hug.