British Columbia

What's it like to live with a historic landmark on your doorstep?

There is a natural phenomenon on the front lawn of Husain Shaikh’s home in the Kennedy Heights area of Surrey.

Two Surrey homes have centuries-old trees on their front lawns

The Red Cedar Stump, which is between 500 and 1,000 years old, sits in the front yard of this Surrey home. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

There is a natural phenomenon on the front lawn of Husain Shaikh's home in the Kennedy Heights area of Surrey, B.C.

A red cedar tree, known as the Rock Tree, has sprouted through a glacial split in a massive boulder, and now towers over the family homes that make up Shaikh's classic suburban neighbourhood.

Husain Shaikh says if you look closely at the left side of the rock, you can see a human face. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

He says he knew he wanted to live in the Rock Tree home from the moment he laid eyes on it.

"I was shocked at first because I had never seen anything like that," Shaikh said.

"It got my attention and I said I'll buy the house here."

Shaikh moved into his home eight years ago and every year he brings in an arborist to inspect the Rock Tree.

Nearly 20 years ago, the Friends of Kennedy Park Community Association fought to save it when a developer proposed a new subdivision for the area.

The Sto:lo and Kwantlen First Nations were consulted and they determined the Rock Tree was a sacred site.

Council gave the tree heritage designation and the new subdivision, including Shaikh's home, was built around it.

Today, it sits behind a small wooden fence, about six steps from Shaikh's front door.

"I said at any cost I will buy this house but I didn't tell the seller," he laughed. "Otherwise he would raise his price. I'm not stupid."

Shaikh says he read that plants and trees respond to the human voice, so every morning he speaks to the tree.

The Rock Tree towers over the houses in this suburban area of Surrey. (Jesse Johnston/CBC News)

Red Cedar Stump

His is not the only historic tree in the area.

If you take a short drive from Shaikh's home, you'll find the Red Cedar Stump.

It's estimated to be between 500 and 1,000 years old, and stands between Kiran Dhaliwal's house and the boulevard in front of her home.

The tree has been dead for years, but it's still tall enough to tower over her porch and it is roughly nine metres in circumference.

"I like it because I like these old traditional things," she said.

"Some of my family and relatives said it can affect my resale value but I said, no, it's fine. I like it."

Dhaliwal says she doesn't mind the visitors who come to her home to see the old landmark.

"Most of the time when I'm sitting upstairs in my window, I see people come by and take pictures and read [the plaque]," she said.

"I say go ahead. It's public property."

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