Wanderer’s Tree owner Bruce Schmaltz, centre left, shakes hands over a $1,000 donation cheque with Wild Pacific Trail manager ‘Oyster’ Jim Martin, centre right, while surrounded by happy WPT Society members, from left, Hans Terlingen, Shannon Szymczakowski, Ed Chernis and Don Ferris.

Wanderer’s Tree a giving tree for Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail

“Nothing ranks or compares to the Wild Pacific Trail in what it’s doing for the community.”

Ucluelet’s Wanderer’s Tree has yielded fruit for the Wild Pacific Trail Society for the second year in a row.

The sculpture’s owner Bruce Schmaltz was delighted to dish out a $1,000 funding boost to the society last week. The funds came from donations collected from locals and visitors to hang messages written on oyster shells from the tree.

Schmaltz purchased the unique steel tree sculpture from Ontario-based artist Mike Camp in 2015.

“The delight was when we started putting the oyster shells on and Mike Camp was here, we realized we had a wind chime,” Schmaltz said. “That was a bonus, two old guys going, ‘Wow, we’ve got a wind chime!”

He added that offering the oysters by donation helps people connect with the experience and give back to the community.

“I tell people that if you stop by and do the oyster shell, do a donation also because it’s very important that you have that relationship to energy called money…Once you go through that little ritual, you will always remember Ukee and the wanderer’s tree,” he said.

“It also works cathartically in that people have things built up inside of them. They can write it out hang it and let it blow in the breeze so that they’re released of that concept or idea. Sometimes we have things in our mind that we need to externalize and focus on to get it out of the head. This way, you write it out and then it’s put out into the cosmos and that solves some of your problems.”

He said the tree has held an impressive array of messages hung by people from around the globe.

“They’re from all over the world. It’s an international tree. That’s the exciting part about it,” he said. “Some will hang for a long time, some will fade and then some will fall off. It’s very symbolic of what life is.”

Schmaltz said the idea was always to gift the donations gathered by the tree to a local organization and the Wild Pacific Trail was an obvious direction for the funds to go in.

“All the donations go to the Wild Pacific Trail because it is one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen,” he said.

“The people that are dedicated to developing it are just marvellous and, hopefully, they’re getting the acknowledgement in the community and the Island in general…Their impact on this community is just phenomenal.”

He added the trail is “the gift that keeps on giving,” to Ucluelet.

“Nothing ranks or compares to the Wild Pacific Trail in what it’s doing for the community and the individuals that pass through here,” he said.

“It’s something that’s going to go on forever and there’s not many projects you can be involved in, or contribute to, that has that type of stamina and appreciation in society. Beauty makes everybody’s life a little lighter. It takes us to another level.”

He said it’s important to support community efforts like the trail.

“We all want a relationship to life,” he said.

“Believe it or not, everybody wants to make things a little better…It’s for the betterment of humanity on the big scale and, on the immediate scale, it’s the local residents and the tourists coming through.”

The Wanderer’s Tree is planted at the corner of Bay Street and Peninsula Road along with the Raven Lady and Surfer Girl statues, both also sculpted by Camp and owned by Schmaltz.

Schmaltz hopes to drum up active art appreciation in the area by promoting a ‘Posing with Sculptures’ campaign.

“In my opinion, there’s something to be achieved by seeing something that has a lot of creativity and very neat lines in it. You might call it archetypal in that it touches people,” he said.

“I see people coming up posing, interacting, with the sculptures and that gives me a great deal of satisfaction in that people are enjoying it.”

He said interacting with the artistic playground he and Camp have created helps boost appreciation and well-being.

“If you do it well, you get a tremendous feeling. The participation in it gives one a feeling of being part of something,” he said adding many perusers imitate the Raven Lady’s pose.

“They’ll make that gesture and that movement and that’s an archetypal classic movement that has gone through history. When you’re in line with that, you get this added feeling. Almost an ecstatic feeling because you’re in line with yourself.”