On Concession Road 8 in Flamborough, Ontario I came across this interesting tree - loaded with all kinds and sizes of shoes. I wish I had thought to do a more detailed photo shoot of these shoes. They all must have great stories attached to them.
Photo - @countrygirl
I thought I had found a one of a kind piece of “art” but there are hundreds in small towns near me.
A little research showed some interesting stories and facts that surprised me. There are many ideas and conflicting stories about the genesis of these shoe laden trees., but...
Shoe trees have been around for at least 100 years.
Where did the idea come from?
I’m pretty sure most of us have seen tossed shoes on overhead wires some time or another. Evidently this trend started after soldiers threw their boots onto power lines near their barracks to mark the end of their service.
It was noted that the tossed shoes on overhead wires, or even tree limbs, came from old fashioned bullying and sometimes even gang turf markings.
In Europe hanging shoes were a sign that someone had died. In another article it was stated that the shoes were simply a kind of three-dimensional graffiti – something the shoe tosser could point to as evidence that they were there.
Some say that the actual shoe tree phenomenon started during the Depression by a woman with a large family. When her children outgrew their shoes she put the shoes on a tree near the road so that anyone who needed them could take them. This trend caught on and many people paid it forward to help others in need.
Today, the shoes are not taken or reused anymore but the craze continues– which is why shoe trees can be found on country roads, like the one I found.
I found these “rules” in a day trip guide regarding these trees.
Rule 1: Never use nails on a tree. Preferably pick a tree that is on its last branches or a stump.
Rule 2: Tie shoes together and throw towards the higher branches, or place gently over a branch or notch.
Rule 3: Knock a pair of shoes off a shoe tree and you will be cursed. The shoes probably hold the spirit Manitou of their previous owners, and disturbing them, even accidentally, is a heinous sacrilege. (Taken from Roadside America)
Rule 4: Shoe trees can be dangerous. Watch for hornets nests, smelly old shoes attract hornets.
Sources – Toronto Star
Ontario Tourism, Day Trip & Getaways North of Toronto
Photos -– used by permission