The Balsam Fir Wreath
Wreaths have been around since the dawn of time in one form or another, celebrating everything from victory, births or remembrance ceremonies. Wreaths are mostly made from some type of local material near at hand, such as the laurel used in Greek and Roman times assumed to have some special properties to award the victor.
The Balsam Fir Wreath however was the thoughtful creation of one man, Stafford Dore of Perry, Maine.
In the 40’s the Dore & Dore Company of Perry, Maine was creating and selling Christmas products made from local evergreens. Old company letters show that Stafford Dore was corresponding with the American Cyanamid Company for a chemical dye in an attempt to lengthen the shelf life of evergreen products.
Stafford Dore decided to look at natural evergreen products that were locally available to him. He decided on Balsam Fir, the premier Christmas Wreath shipped from the Northeast (Wabanaki Territory today). The first heavy frost in the fall of the year will “set” the Balsam Fir needles. This “set” of the needles will make them very slow to shed which gives these products the necessary shelf life without chemical treating.
The Balsam Fir if properly “tipped” is a completely renewable resource. The “tips” are snapped off by hand at varying lengths of 12 to 18 inches. They are packed onto a stick and tied for transport from the woods to the wreath factory. In early days, the “tippers” used grain sacks in place of this newer more efficient method of getting “tips”. The fir tree responds to proper “tipping” by thickening and producing more tips the following years.
Decorations for our beautiful, original Christmas wreaths consist of natural cones of some sort, red berries and of course the velvet Christmas Bow.
The company owners, starting with Stafford Dore and his wife Dorothy “Dot” (Altvater) Dore, who had links to the local Passamaquoddy Reservation, have always operated out of Traditional Wabanaki Territory. The business is currently on its third generation in the Dore family. In 1990 Robert Dore, grandson to Stafford Dore, took the reins from his dad, Cliv Dore. Cliv was a former Chief of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
Today Robert and his wife Barbara still operate the wholesale business but are returning to the basics with a wreath called the “BPC” wreath. The BPC wreath is made in memory of Dot Dore, the creator of this balsam, pine and cedar masterpiece. This is the first offering of this wreath directly to the public by Wabanaki Wilderness. We will of course be offering the traditional balsam wreath created by Stafford Dore as well.
Please share in our family traditions this Christmas with a beautiful wreath created with greens from Traditional Wabanaki Territory by a direct descendant of the creator of the Balsam Fir Wreath.