PEI

Lobster trap Christmas tree lights up as memorial to fishermen lost at sea

Just two months after tragedy struck Tignish, the tight-knit community was given a reason to smile Sunday night.

'I've never seen anything more beautiful in my life'

The tree stands outside the church in the centre of the town. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Just two months after tragedy struck Tignish, the tight-knit community was given a reason to smile Sunday night.

An estimated 600 people gathered outside the Catholic Church in the western P.E.I. town — which has a population of just 700 — to watch a six-metre high Christmas tree, made up of 150 lobster traps, light up the night sky.

Isabelle Getson was struck by the beauty of the tree. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

"It was just beautiful.  I've never seen anything more beautiful in my life," said Isabelle Getson, niece of Moe Getson.

Moe Getson was one of two fishermen who died in September. He, along along with Glen DesRoches, died when their boat capsized off North Cape. The tree is a memorial both to them and all of the area's fishermen who have died at sea.

An estimated 600 people gathered for the lighting. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

"This is really nice, a place for the community to come and reflect," said Blair DesRoches.

"I'm thinking a lot about my brother Glen tonight … I miss him a lot."

'No, you need fishermen'

The community came together to search for the two fishermen in September, and they did the same to build the tree.

Tignish's recreational director Tina Richard said the 100 sets of lights needed to cover the tree were quickly donated by locals. Dozens of fishermen then stepped up to stack all the traps in just two and a half hours.

"Fishermen are wonderful. I thought we needed carpenters. But they're like, 'No, you need fishermen,'" said Richard.

'I'm thinking a lot about my brother Glen tonight,' said Blair DesRoches. (Shane Hennessey/CBC )

"I put it on Facebook, and in an hour we had 25 people here … It was amazing."

As part of the tree lighting ceremony, fisherman Mark Arsenault performed a song he wrote just days after the bodies of his two friends were found, which reflects on the tragedy. 

"The community was in shambles, and this was my way of helping to heal myself I guess," said Arsenault.

Local singers lead the crowd in Silent Night as part of the tree lighting ceremony. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

"You don't look at the water the same anymore.  Maybe I will some day."

Richard said  the lobster trap tree will be lit every evening throughout the holiday season, in an effort to bring some peace during what will be a difficult Christmas for many in the community. 

Mark Arsenault performed a song he wrote just a few days after the bodies of his friends were found. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

Getson's brother, Stewart, said he appreciates the gesture.

"It'll be nice to come up here, and see the tree," he said. 

"I'll be coming by plenty often … This is going to help a lot with the healing."

Among the crowd were some of the Ground Search and Rescue volunteers who helped with the search for Moe Getson and Glen DesRoches. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

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About the Author

Steve Bruce

Video journalist

Steve Bruce is a video journalist with CBC P.E.I. He landed on the Island in 2009, after stints with CBC in Fredericton, St. John's, Toronto and Vancouver. He grew up in Corner Brook, N.L.

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