Annual UVic Xmas tree sale goes on despite loss of beloved tree farmer

Mike Fleming of Saanichton Christmas Tree Farm partnered with students for annual fundraiser for nearly 20 years

For nearly 20 years it has been a holiday tradition for an impromptu Christmas tree lot to pop up beside Centennial Stadium at the University of Victoria. And this year, despite the loss of local tree farmer Mike Fleming, both his family and their team are carrying on with the partnership.

Having started back in 1999, the annual sale – this year running until Dec. 22 – is a major fundraiser for the school’s cross country program.

In 2001 the Vikes began purchasing their trees from Fleming’s company, Woodstock Evergreen Inc.

With a reputation for growing the best trees in Western Canada, Mike established the business in 1968 and opened the Saanichton Christmas Tree Farm with his sister Joan in 1981.

RELATED: Central Saanich Christmas tree farmer passes unexpectedly

“Mike liked the idea of partnering with us because he enjoyed being around the student athletes and appreciated the fact all the funds from the sales were going back to the students,” Brent Fougner recalls.

While harvesting Christmas trees in the Kootenays, Mike suffered a heart attack and passed away Oct. 27.

Saanichton tree farmer Mike Fleming passed away unexpectedly Oct. 27. (Facebook/Saanichton Christmas Tree Farm)

Fougner called the loss “shocking” saying it was important the team kept the holiday tradition going despite Mike’s absence. He would often swing by the lot during the sale to check in with the team, offering advice on everything from tree maintenance to customer service.

“He was always smiling and with his grand beard you would think it was Santa driving the delivery truck,” says Fougner, who regularly travelled to Shawnigan Lake to see where the trees were grown and out to Mike’s farm in Central Saanich.

“It was a great partnership and friendship that I had with him,” he says. “He is one person that you just always thought would be there.”

Generosity was a big part of Mike’s business style and the former president of the B.C. Christmas Tree Council also donated the iconic trees that have lit up the B.C. legislature for the last 48 years.

“He certainly knew his trees and he was so passionate about what he did,” Fougner says. “He just loved his job.”

The Christmas Tree sale at Centennial Stadium is open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and all proceeds support the Uvic Vikes men’s and women’s cross country teams.

In the new year, Bartlett Tree Experts will be on hand donating tree chipping services from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Jan. 5 and 6.

For more information visit govikesgo.com/xmas or email Fougner at bfougner@uvic.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Mysterious polaroid camera left along Metchosin trail reveals art project

Artist ‘Jar Binks’ lays claim to waterproof camera

Pet photos with Santa funds pair of Greater Victoria animal-friendly organizations

Broadmead Centre Pets West hosts the events Nov. 30 and Dec. 1

Thousands of cigarette butts collected and recycled from downtown Victoria

Canisters placed throughout the downtown core have made an impact on local litter

School strike: SD63 says grade 12 students ‘will not lose their graduation year’

Parents, students concerned about educational impact of CUPE 441 strike

Population growth on West Shore strains wait lists for family services

Funding not keeping pace with demand at Pacific Family Services Association

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

Petition for free hospital parking presented to MP Jody Wilson-Raybould

What started as a B.C. campaign became a national issue, organizer said

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

Most Read