Creating the Forest Labyrinth

The Forest Labyrinth was built in several stages during 2018-19. It began late autumn with the trimming of countless lower branches in a ¼ acre section of White Pine plantation. Meanwhile, in consultation with a labyrinth expert in Germany, a modified 7-circuit Chartres pattern was further modified to be squared and accommodate the trees. In addition to White Pine, there are also scattered elms and a cluster of Trembling Aspen within the labyrinth area.

The Haudenosaunee [Iroquois] called this five-needled pine the “Tree of Peace”… after burying their weapons of war under a giant White Pine at the beginning of their confederacy.

Robbie Hanna Anderman “The Healing Trees” 2017

In winter 2019 minor variations of the pattern were tried out, marching them out in the snow then like a real-life Etch-a-Sketch erasing after each snowfall. Once the best route had been established, marker flags were placed in the final pattern prior to spring thaw marking each 90° or 180° turn.  Over spring and summer the big work took place: finding, moving, and laying over 2000 stones to mark the path border, making minor adjustments to work the pattern within existing tree placement. As the stones were laid, the path width was varied based tree placement but a minimum width of 1m was maintained with hopes to make the labyrinth accessible to people with mobility impairments. Only 6 live trees, none of them large, had to be removed.

All stones are from the property and were extracted, moved and set in place without machinery. The entire job was accomplished with just a (much-abused) flatbed cart, shovels, several pairs of work gloves, and one set of (much abused) muscles. Stones had to be laid working from the centre outwards in all directions, rather than following the progression of the labyrinth walking pattern, or else cart access would have become impossible. Walking the labyrinth, you may notice there is intention in the choices of stone placement, wherever possible having their shapes fit naturally together.

The final stone was laid late in July 2019 and an opening ceremony took place on August 29th, bringing together friends and community members to walk the labyrinth for the first time and contribute their energies to the space. In 2021 a round centre-piece was installed and a “petal” shaped border added to the labyrinth centre as a nod to the Chartres pattern which was its inspiration.

“The last stone” – see if you can find it after your Forest Labyrinth walk

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