The Burmis Tree: The Most Photographed Tree in Alberta?

At the end of April when travelling in southern Alberta on business I had time to visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre (to read about my visit, click here). While driving to Frank I turned through a bend in the road to suddenly find myself in front of a snow-capped mountain framed by a beautiful rainbow! The shutter-bug in me could not resist the temptation. With camera in hand I trundled out of my vehicle to take some photos. But wait, this blog post is not about mountain views and rainbows…

Upon turning my back on the rainbow to return to my vehicle, I discovered another beautiful site – the Burmis Tree! The Burmis Tree is a limber pine that marks the eastern edge of the Crowsnest Pass. Limber trees have one of the longest life spans of any tree in Alberta and are known for their ability to thrive in harsh conditions. As a standing testament to these facts, the Burmis Tree lived for approximately 700 years. It died in the late 1970’s but remained standing until 1998 when high winds toppled it over. The community, which regarded the tree as a significant landmark, refused to simply leave it. Rods and brackets were used to support the tree. To this day it still stands as a landmark, acting as a welcome sign to visitors of the Crowsnest Pass and as a symbol of home for area residents.

The leafless, gnarled tree simply needed to be photographed (if you are also a shutter-bug you will understand). As I explored the area photographing the tree from different angles, I next stumbled upon one of the heritage markers erected by the Government of Alberta and the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. You have all probably seen them – large blue signs located at highway rest areas or points of interest throughout Alberta. These interpretive signs tell of Alberta’s rich heritage. This sign provides context for the Burmis Tree.

Assuming that the Burmis Tree is perhaps one of the most photographed trees in all of Alberta, I did a quick search on Flickr. Check out some of the photos. 

Do you have a photo of the Burmis Tree that you would like to share with readers of RETROactive? If so, email it to me at by June 10, 2012 with a completed copy of the Government of Alberta’s Photograph, Video, Name and Quotation Release Form. A future blog post will feature the submissions.

 Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

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