Qualicum Beach’s eagle tree lives on thanks to Pauline Pike. The local artist recently finished a watercolour painting of the landmark that she started over 20 years ago.
“That’s the eagle tree as it was then from West Crescent before they did the first trimming, I think,” she said.
Pike said the work began as a sketch she completed in the early 1990s while she was doing paintings of the Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Course.
At that point, however, the sketch moved to Pike’s studio and sat unfinished as she focused on other works. It came back to her attention only recently when she was commissioned to do another image of the eagle tree for someone who had moved away from Qualicum Beach.
“It means a lot to a lot of people,” Pike said of the tree. “It is the tallest one around and you can see it from everywhere.”
While the artist has noticed that many people’s feelings haven’t changed over the years, the tree itself definitely has.
“I was surprised at the difference between now and how it was then,” she said. “It hasn’t had that many branches in years.”
Yesterday, the town of Qualicum Beach held a “waterfront tree celebration of life” for community members to honour the rotting eagle tree before it is cut down. According to an arborist’s report, the tree has been dead for some time, likely from a phaeolus infection.
“I thought now’s the perfect time to bring it in,” said Pike of her painting.
The eagle tree work is one of several pieces in Pike’s new show at the Gallery @ Qualicum Art Supply that features mainly local scenes in watercolour and acrylic. Pike is a regular feature in the space; in fact, she has shown her work in the Gallery for around nine years, changing her paintings every three or four months.
“I’m fortunate to have been in the gallery that long,” said Pike. “It just works. It works for me. It’s works for Bonnie.”
Pike, who retired from teaching painting nearly 10 years ago, continues to be a prolific artist. “It’s sort of a way of life,” she said. “No matter where I go, I have my sketchbook.” She also shows her work at the Old School House Arts Centre, The Reflecting Spirit in both Tofino and Ucluelet and her home studio, The Sketchbook.