Christmas tree donation a family affair
By Angelica Ingram
Published Nov. 29, 2016
When Chris Chumbley was a kid, he planted a small tree in front of his parents’ house that became a memorial to his grandfather, Ron Sisson.
That tree, which now stands about 16 feet tall, is the same one in the middle of Haliburton Village, lit up with lights on Friday, Nov. 25 just prior to the Santa Claus parade.
The history of the tree goes back to the mid 1990s, said Leslie Chumbley.
“Whatever year it was that big storm went through Kennisis, we lost a lot of trees here, on the river side of the house,” said Leslie.
At the time, Leslie’s son Chris was about 11 or 12 years old and wanted to plant a new tree.
“The one he planted was about three inches tall,” she said. “We didn’t think it was going to survive.”
Located in West Guilford on Pine Lake Road, the tree was planted right in front of a big picture window, on the river side of the house.
It survived the first few years and became a memory tree for Leslie, whose dad Ron Sisson, passed away in 1993.
“Over the last couple of years, it really thrived,” she said. “When it was really small, Christopher, he would put little fences around it so that his dad didn’t cut it when he cut the grass. Then as it got bigger we could see where it was.”
This spring Leslie told her son she thought it was time for the tree to find a new home, as it was starting to block the view of the river.
“It was really Christopher’s idea to donate the tree to the town,” she said.
Chris, who is now 34, mentioned the idea to Lyle Stamp, who arranges the tree transportation every year for the lighting, said Jim Frost.
Frost said he got a phone call from Chris about the tree donation and arranged for a visit to see it.
Leslie said she always thought it would make a glorious Christmas tree.
“When Jim came out and looked at it he said that’s a beautiful Christmas tree,” she said. “We decided to donate it in memory of grandparents and parents.”
Frost said Stamp always helps bring the tree into town, which he described as “wonderful and gracious.”
The village tree tradition dates back about six or seven years now, said Frost. However he believes it was also done a few decades ago.
A number of years ago, a member of the community reached out to Frost about the idea of putting one in front of the Village Barn, he said.
The connection to Stamp was made by former Dysart fire chief Miles Maughan.
Since then the volunteer firefighters have helped erect the tree.
Frost said everything is done by volunteers and by donation.
“Everybody is just so helpful. That’s the type of community it is,” said Frost.
The tree lighting and carol sing event was conceived by Jerelyn Craden, he said. It is always held just prior to the Haliburton Santa Claus parade.
Although the Chumbley tree has found a new home, the memory of it will live on with the family and may soon be replaced for another special occasion.
Dave and Leslie are expecting a new grandchild soon and may plant a tree in honour of the new addition, she said.