A Rimbey resident, well known for his creative carvings locally, has expanded his horizons and after completing the sculpture of the Estevan Soldiers’ Tree Monument, was presented with a key to that city.
Darren Jones was presented with the key by Mayor Roy Ludwig at a November council meeting in Estevan, Saskatchewan.
“The only other person I’ve known to get a key to a city is Spiderman,” Jones joked.
The unfolding of the story that resulted in the gift of the key began last fall when Jones was working as a directional drilling in the area.
As always, he took his sculpting tools with him and his sculptures caught the eye of Lester Hinzman, a man who was delivering casing to the oilrig where Jones was drilling.
Hinzman, the son of a second of a Second World War veteran, asked Jones to create a tree sculpture from an old tree standing on a farmyard near Estevan honouring the men and women who fought in the First and Second World Wars.
Jones said the tree he sculpted was a huge, old poplar standing 23 feet tall.
“It was a 102 years-old,” he said.
The tree, once trimmed, was six meters tall with a five-metre circumference.
The idea of creating the sculpture gained momentum quickly. A committee was formed and interest grew and stories and pictures about the war and the families who lived through it helped Jones give the dying tree new life.
He began work on the sculpture, doing his best to re-create not only the figures, but the feeling of camaraderie and caring experienced on the battlefield.
He sculpted the bottom half of the tree to represent two infantry soldiers. One has been wounded and the other one is pulling him to safety.
The next phase of the project involved sculpting a navy officer emerging from the water on the left branch above the infantry soldiers. In the middle of the tree is a pilot with his airplane visible in the clouds.
A sergeant-at-arms has been sculpted in the right.
The tree monument took Jones 19 days of carving to complete.
He said he very much enjoyed the work, meeting all the people involved and being part of the big picture as it all unfolded.
“It is a brilliant story,” he said. “It’s way bigger than I ever thought possible. It has quite a following of people.”
He is honoured and pleased to receive the key to the City of Estevan and plans to return next spring to commemorate the women of the Second World War with another carving.
The tree was located south of the city, but was moved this summer to its permanent location next to the cenotaph in downtown Estevan.
Jones, who has completed 19 sculptures at Pas Ka Poo Park in Rimbey, is now working full time as a wood sculptor.
“It’s not really work to me,” he said. “It’s my passion. There is nothing I can’t make (when I know the story behind what my customer wants).
Striving to provide the best final product possible in keeping with the background story is important to Jones.
“It’s not a Walmart thing,” he said.