One hundred and seventy-eight years after it first took root at Acadia University in Wolfville, the Tupper tree, or at least parts of it, came to the Ottawa House near Parrsboro today. The ancient elm was originally planted by Sir Charles Tupper in 1837 when he was a student at Horton Academy, a school that later became Acadia University.
The 100 kilogram section of the massive tree truck and some branch cuts will join other artifacts at the Ottawa House that once belonged to or are associated with Tupper, the last surviving Father of Confederation who named the Ottawa House in honour of Confederation and used it as a summer home.
Tom Tupper, a distant relative of Sir Charles who lives in Coldbrook, King’s County, asked Acadia for part of the 166-year-old tree when the university cut it down in 2003 because it was dying of Dutch Elm disease.
“I was expecting like a little tiny branch,” Tupper says, “and here they’re giving me this massive thing and I’m so happy that they did that.”
Tupper had been worrying for the last 12 years, however, about what would eventually happen to the tree parts.
“I had the tree stored in the garage,” he says “near the end of my life I would have had to find some place in the family (for it). I don’t have kids so I don’t have anyone to pass it on to.”
Tupper says he happened to read a recent newspaper story about the Ottawa House Museum and when he e-mailed manager Susan Clarke she was enthusiastic about acquiring the Tupper tree — much to his delight.
“I’m happy that everyone’s going to get to enjoy the tree now,” Tupper says, “and I mean this is the place, where you can say, they idolize Sir Charles Tupper, so you couldn’t think of a better place possibly, to bring the tree.”
Pat Townsend, an archivist at Acadia, says other parts of the Tupper tree were used to make gifts when long-serving people retired from the university. She recalled that one part of it had been fashioned into a coffee table.
Acadia still has the plaque that was displayed on the tree. The inscription reads:
THE TUPPER TREE
THIS TREE IS DESIGNATED AS ONE PLANTED BY THE RIGHT HONORABLE SIR CHARLES TUPPER, BARONET, G.C.M.G., ONE OF THE FATHERS OF CONFEDERATION, WHILE A STUDENT AT HORTON ACADEMY, 1837
DOMINION DIAMOND JUBILEE, JULY 1st, 1927.