Royal Acorns finally arrive in Quebec

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Photo: Mike Boden

Mike Boden of The Jeffery Hale Foundation poses for a photo with Daisy Lambert, manager of Boscobel House in Shropshire, England.

Thanks to a generous donation from English Heritage, a few dozen acorns from England’s most famous tree, The Royal Oak, have now arrived safely in Quebec. While they may be quite small themselves, the importing of these noble acorns was, in fact, quite a huge feat.

QCT readers may recall that, in 2016, Jeffery Hale Hospital celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding. Two events were held: one at Mount Hermon Cemetery here in Quebec City and the other at Woodbury Park Cemetery in England. Both ceremonies paid tribute to Jeffery Hale, the man, philanthropist and founder of the hospital, through three parallel gestures.

The first gesture was the restoration of gravesites, with funding primarily from The Jeffery Hale Foundation. Jeffery Hale’s tomb in Woodbury Park Cemetery had been in desperate need of repair and hence was carefully restored. In turn, the Hale Family monument in Mount Hermon Cemetery was also rejuvenated. As Jeffery Hale was a co-founder of Mount Hermon Cemetery, his parents were buried there, according to his wishes. The restored Hale monument at Mount Hermon now features an inscription that commemorates Jeffery Hale’s many philanthropic contributions to our community.

The second gesture, at both cemeteries, was the installation of memorial benches with engraved plaques, where passers-by can pause to contemplate their loved ones.

The third gesture, and the reason for this article, is the planting of a Canadian maple tree overseas in Woodbury Park Cemetery, as a symbol linking the beautiful Victorian cemetery with Mount Hermon, and indeed with our nation.

In reciprocation, The Jeffery Hale Foundation undertook plans to import acorns from descendants of England’s Royal Oak in the hope of planting saplings at Mount Hermon. This idea proved considerably more complex than anticipated, due to the many government regulations surrounding the importation of plants and related products, including, of course, acorns.

The Royal Oak grows at Boscobel House, a historic manor in Shropshire, England. Over the past several months, its manager Daisy Lambert and her team have worked diligently to make this collaboration happen. Once all the required permits and documents were obtained, the acorns made it through Canadian customs.

Now that they have arrived in Quebec City, the next step of the project is actually getting the acorns to germinate. Acclaimed local author Larry Hodgson, affectionately known as the Laidback Gardener, has kindly agreed to assist the foundation through this crucial next step.

The foundation chose Hodgson as a partner not only because of his horticultural expertise but also because of his great enthusiasm in seeing this project to fruition. The team over in England at Boscobel House and Hodgson here in Quebec City are all confident that – thanks to the number of acorns donated and their healthy state – germination is very likely and a sapling is sure to take root.

See more about the history of The Royal Oak below.

* Mike Boden is the executive director of The Jeffery Hale Foundation and Diane Kameen is the communications advisor, Jeffery Hale Community Partners.



At Boscobel House in Shropshire, England, this oak tree, estimated to be at least 250 years old, is the “son” of the original Royal Oak and still attracts visitors today. Photo courtesy of Mike Boden