This has been a rough week for a lot of us, myself included. I’ve been out with a bad ear infection and on antibiotics, and Dear A has been picking up the slack around here. Bo (our new puppy) is teething like crazy and is unhappy I’ve been in bed and not around to play. I’ve been sad about Scarlet on top of everything else, stressed about missing work, and annoyed about several other things. This is one of them.
Last week, I got a tweet in my Twitter stream from The Minden Times, linking to this article. I got mad, then pouted for a bit, and then moved on because everything else was bothering me (see above). Now that things have kind of calmed down, I’ve got a few things to say about this.
This is probably one of those ideas that look OK on paper. It appeared rational, an act in response to “safety” and something that supposedly “reflected badly on the community”. I haven’t heard from many people who share this opinion, that of Ward 3 Councillor David Hodgson, but now we can all rest assured that we are free from the menace that was the Kinmount Shoe Tree(s). They have all been cut down and replaced with a NO LITTERING sign.
I wrote a blog about the region’s shoe trees last summer. It was a positive blog. As a former resident of Minden, I’d always been a fan of these shoe trees. They were a surprising and mysterious thing to come across while driving along a wooded highway. I loved them as a kid and continued to love them into adulthood. They reminded me that there were people out there who liked the same slightly odd stuff that I did, who had come together to create these installations of art, often without really understanding the history or reason why. And yes, I considered the trees pieces of art.
A few weeks ago, I received a comment on that original post, and I’ll reproduce it here. It’s from the grandson of the man who started this movement:
Yes it was Bill Boland and Betty Boland that started the “Shoe Tree” in Kinmount. – They moved there in the 70′s after they sold there business in Wallaceburg ont. My grandfather died 26 years ago of colon cancer.
He would of appericated the support from everyone – He was very upset when the lady burnt the tree down…
grandson of bill boland
I was excited to get the comment, but didn’t really follow up, because, honestly, I’m kind of lame like that. I didn’t realize that this thank-you for support was indicative of the shit going down with the City of Kawartha Lakes. I try to keep up with local politics in my hometown, but it’s difficult from a distance. It hurts now to realize that perhaps I could have voiced some support, despite what appears to be David Hodgson’s overt power-tripping to have the shoe trees destroyed.
No one asked me if I wanted to remove these trees, and apparently a lot of other people didn’t get to have their say either. No polls, no votes, no discussion – just small town politics. I don’t even know if there was a warning.
I don’t really understand what these supposed issues were with the shoe trees. I’ve driven past them numerous times and never had trouble with people parked to take a look or to take photos. It’s not like those roads are ridiculously busy. Throw a few “caution” or “pedestrian” signs up along the highway. The only potential issue I could see is that the shoes often got wrapped around the nearby power lines, not necessarily on purpose, but by people trying to throw shoes into the tree branches. That could have been a hazard, but isn’t that Ontario Hydro’s beef? No mention of them.
It seems that the main motivation, at least from articles I’ve read, has been the “eyesore” factor. Seriously? Remove a piece of living art & history because it’s an “eyesore”? You can’t just destroy things you personally find ugly or disagreeable. That’s not a valid reason in the slightest. That’s just small-town bullshit.
Quite frankly, those shoe trees were something that put our towns on the map. As lame as it may sound, it was true. Kinmount, Minden, Haliburton – they’re beautiful little towns, but they’re not exactly the number one destination for a lot of folks. I spent 19 years of my life there, so I’m allowed to say it. People drive through these towns or pass by on the way to somewhere else, and if anything makes people stop or even remember the town, isn’t that something to hold on to?
Not according to some, I guess. And I disagree.
I hope everyone ignores David Hodgson’s NO LITTERING sign and builds more of these shoe trees. Get your neighbours together, collect some old shoes, find a suitable tree, and go to work.
And if you’ve got a good roadside location, maybe even make a shoe tree on your OWN property, so Hodgson & Company will have to keep their paws off it.
Please follow Lynne Kilby’s blog about the Kinmount Shoe Trees, as it is much more up-to-date and closer to the source than I am! She’s now operating a blog at blogspot.com, as Kinmount.ca made her remove her infosite there!