Two poplar tree stumps in the 1200-block of Third Street are going to have a different look, thanks to Darren Jones’ latest project in the city.
Jones is the chainsaw artist who carved the Estevan Soldiers’ Tree monument that is located near the Estevan Court House, and the Forever in the Clouds monument that pays tribute to the 21 Royal Canadian Air Force members who died in a plane crash south of Estevan in September 1946.
But now he’s working on something completely different through a project with the City of Estevan.
“I’m carving Estevan,” said Jones.
The first tree stump will be transformed into a tribute to local industry, with the coal mines, power generation, the oil sector and agriculture. There will also be featured pieces of Estevan in the middle, including the Souris River.
At the bottom people will be able to see wheat sheaves and animals.
‘I went down to the Souris River last night, down to Lester’s (Lester Hinzman), and enjoyed the view and got a feel for it,” said Jones.
He began work on the first tree on Friday and was expected to wrap up on Canada Day. Then his attention will shift to the other tree, which he started carving on Canada Day and should finish on July 4.
“They’ll be carved and airbrushed with a hint of colour,” said Jones. “And then we’ll urethane them with an exterior urethane, so that they entrap the colour, they entrap the tree. It’s already dry, so we’re not capturing moisture in there.
“Everything else that’s in that tree for moisture will just go down through the roots.”
The second tree will be based on sports in the community and the province, with the Power Dodge Estevan Bruins, lacrosse and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“I’m going to try to incorporate what you guys passionately do in this town,” said Jones.
The City of Estevan approached Jones to create the two carved trees, and then it was up to Jones to bring their vision to life.
“Sometimes it’s a bit a challenge, but there’s so much history down here, and if I can capture the essence of Estevan, that’s a really nice accomplishment on my side. It’s all about the art.”
Rod March, the manager of parks and facilities for the city, said that three years ago, he was doing hazard assessments of some of the older poplar trees in the city. Those trees were at the end of their life span.
“They were in really rough shape,” March said. “The tops of the trees were rotting and pieces were falling down.”
An employee of SaskEnergy came to March and suggested doing something with the stumps, so the city reduced the stumps to 12 feet in height. And once they were ready for sculpting, March approached Jones.
“Then we discussed what we could potentially put into the two stumps, so here’s where we’re at today with two different stumps,” said March.
The finished products will be great to see, he said.
“Darren and I sat down for about two hours and went through different images of what it means to be in the city of Estevan, and we also took a little bit provincially with the provincial flower and the provincial animals being the white-tail deer,” said March.
“I have a really good idea of what the artist is thinking, and I think it’s going to be beautiful.”
He has known that something had to be done with the stumps for the past three years, so it’s nice to see this plan come to fruition.
The project was included in the city’s beautification budget.
March said most of the massive poplars have been taken down, but there are still a few more out there. They would need to meet certain criteria to be transformed into sculptures similar to what Jones is working on now.
Jones said the wood is beautiful to work with, and there isn’t any rot, other than in the middle where there was a branch previously.
“Literally the bark just fell off. It was nice and easy on me and my saws on the dirtier part of this,” said Jones.
He’s not sure how old the trees are, but he was glad to work with them.
“The one thing that you have to keep in mind is that when it comes to a poplar tree, the size of the branches above is the size of the roots below,” he said with a laugh. “So it was a good time (to be carved).”
Barricades have been set up in the affected area of Third Street so that Jones can carry out his work safely, but traffic has been able to get through on the busy stretch of road.
Once he’s finished carving the two trees, Jones will be in Moose Jaw for the Saskatchewan Air Show, where Forever in the Clouds monument will be making an appearance.