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Visitor looks at shoes on tree.
Visitor looks at shoes on tree.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

You could easily miss it as you're driving to Prince Rupert on Highway 16. The quirky tree stump, decorated with footwear, is just four kilometres from the northern British Columbia city, on the coastal side of Kaien Island.

A short dirt path, past small trees and shrubs, leads you to the 2.5-meter-diameter Western red cedar.

Shoes and boots of all descriptions, sizes and colours adorn this "home for lost soles."

Pink rubber boots, cowboy boots, Mickey Mouse boots, ski boots and hiking boots mingle with sneakers, sandals, baby shoes, high heels, slippers, clogs, loafers and flip-flops.

A wooden plank lists the names of former owners of the row of shoes nailed to it: Corissa, Morgan, Abby, Claire, Mom and Dad.

Interspersed with the shoes are other items—a paint brush, T-shirt, baseball, bat and a poem: North Coast Country Man, written by Ken Cote in 1982. A sign, nailed at twice a man's height reads: The Shoe Tree II.

Port Hardy shoe tree

Shoe Tree I, near Port Hardy, in northern Vancouver Island, motivated Brendon and Crystal Fitzpatrick to create this successor in 1994.

Footware and sign on Shoe Tree II
Footware and sign on Shoe Tree II
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

"One night, we nailed the sign, my old work boots and a couple pairs of kids' shoes to the dead tree," recalls Brendon. "Other people started adding their discarded footwear. We didn't own up to it for a couple years, but eventually the word leaked out."

Who knows? As passers-by add their cast-off footgear to the collection, lack of space may inspire one of them to create a Shoe Tree III!



Tourism Prince Rupert: www.tourismprincerupert.com

Tourism BC: www.hellobc.com