This is Ernie's tree, I dedicate this photograph of this old gnarled tree for my great uncle Ernie who passed away today at 97 years of age. Many knew Abe Ernest Swanson as "Swanee", I always called him Ernie as did my Dad. Ernie was an unforgettable character and like this tree was likely one of the biggest and toughest of the forest which now stands alone in this empty field along side Highway 97 east of Enderby, BC.
I was on my way to visit Ernie and his wife Pauline who live near Salmon Arm about 3 weeks ago when I made this picture, I hadn't planned on stopping but I had my camera with me and as I passed by this beautiful old tree cloaked in fog, it called out to me and I knew I had to stop and make a picture, it was something special. I was not able to see Ernie on my last visit, he was not having one of his "good days", in recent year the tides of time have washed away most of Ernie's memory, up until a couple of years ago I was able to visit with him at the nursing home where he lived, he enjoyed looking at my pictures on my laptop computer screen.
Ernie, was one of those fellows that was larger than life and as tough as a railway spike, but at the same time he had a kind and gentle side, he was as big in physical stature as the Mack trucks he once drove. Ernie had an endless variety of jobs in his long life, one of the most interesting was as a truck driver during World War II during the construction of the 2,700 kilometre ( 1,700 mi ) Alaska Highway that was completed in 1942. He always had great stories to tell, I remember him telling me of how he would sleep under the engine of his truck while on long hauls during the winter.
Our family will miss Ernie, he was one of those rare , "They don't make them like that anymore" kind of men. He lived life to the fullest. R.I.P. ( August 28, 1917 - March 5, 2015 )
This the last photo I made of Ernie, September, 2013.