Community of Currie celebrating some of Calgary’s oldest trees

CALGARY — Developers were challenged with building a community on an old army base and keeping as many of the historic trees, many of which were planted when the base was built in the 1930s, as possible.

Canada Land Company did just that.

“The trees are something people value and rather than removing that we wanted to incorporate it and develop and make a positive attribute in the community,” said Kelvin Whalen, senior director of real estate for Canada Lands Company.

In honour of Earth Day April 22, the community will launch the ‘Currie Tree & Treasure Hunt’ to help guide the exploration of some of Calgary’s oldest and largest trees.

From April 22-30, Calgarians can enjoy safe outdoor fun by scanning QR codes at 10 noteworthy trees throughout Currie to learn more about the various species, historical anecdotes, fun facts and more.

THE MUGO PINE

Whalen likes a massive mugo pine located in the Officers’ Garden and the stories it was a backdrop for.

“It was there in the gardens where after the dinner parties the generals would come out and have a cigar and cognac and have private conversations and the private conversations would happen right in front of that tree,” said Whalen. “You wonder what that tree would have heard over the years and what it was witness to.”

Arborist Jean-Mathieu Daoust said with his trained eye, he can see many of the trees in the community were planted with purpose 80 years ago, like on the walkway to the now office of Canada Land Company.

“You can tell that they were all shaped to be the exact same size, they were all put at about the same distance apart from each other,” said Daoust. “So they’re kind of like soldiers standing at attention on the way up to the commander’s quarters but then, when the base was recommissioned, they were left to grow naturally.”

Julie Guimond, the City of Calgary’s urban forestry lead,  praised how the developer was able to keep many original trees in Currie.  Guimond said some of the city’s oldest species are found around the Douglas Fir trail in southwest Calgary.

“We believe (they) were established shortly after the glaciers retreated in Alberta,” said Guimond. “So these individual trees that are along this trail today are anywhere from 300 to 600 years old, but the habitat that supports them is likely thousands of years old.”

Guimond said that to find trees even older you have to look underground. She said aspen groves have deep established root systems that are thousands of years old, while the actual tree only lasts a few decades. She said examples can be found in Nose Hill Park.

“The living organism is really the root system and so it’s believe that the oldest aspen grove based off of its roots is 6,000 years old,” said Guimond.

Learn more about Currie’s Earth Day events here: www.currielife.ca

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