Winnipeg tree carving finds new home at local museum after toppling

Woody-Mhitik, a tree carving that once stood in Winnipeg’s Bois-des-Esprits Forest, officially has a new home at Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum.

The carved spirit tree toppled over this past August, mostly due to natural decay.

On Saturday, just months later, the museum and the Save Our Seine organization held a public launch of the three-foot carving at its new home.

Walter Mirosh, one of the carvers of Woody-Mhitik, said he’s very proud.

“We know he’s provided a lot of enjoyment to all the people who come into the forest, breathe all the good air,” he said.

Mirosh added that he hopes everyone who comes to see the sculpture at the museum enjoys it as much as he enjoyed carving Woody-Mhitik.

THE HISTORY OF THE CARVING

“Woody-Mhitik was an elm tree and it had Dutch elm disease and it was scheduled to be cut down and the elm beetle had to be destroyed,” Mirosh said.

He said they managed to get hold of the forestry department, which told them they could salvage the tree as long as they got off all the bark, so that’s what they did.

Mirosh noted they carved the sculpture over a two-year period more than 15 years ago, with something interesting occurring when they carved the eyes.

“We marked out where the eyes were, but we didn’t carve them. We just kept on carving for this two-week period,” he said.

Mirosh added that when it was time to start carving the eyes, he told the other carver, Robert Leclair, it was time to let Woody see what was in the forest.

“This is when he took the mallet and the other chisel and he started to carve the eye, but prior to that there was all kinds of noise in the forest,” Mirosh said.

“The ducks were quacking, the geese were honking, the frogs were croaking. You name it, it was all in this forest. As soon as he started, the first bang with his mallet on the chisel, carving out the eye – all the noise in the forest stopped. This made my hair on the back of my head raise up.”

He said once Leclair was done carving out the eye “all the noise in the forest started up again.”

“That was really releasing a wood spirit into this forest,” Mirosh said.

He added they decided to carve out the second eye a week later.

“Sure enough, the first smack on the other eye, it stopped all the noise in the forest,” Mirosh said, adding that the noise started up again about halfway into the carving of the second eye.

“I said Robert, ‘This wood spirit saw everything he wanted with his first eye and now he has both eyes. He can see everything.’”

– With files from CTV’s Zachary Kitchen.

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