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Arbor Day

Celebrate our trees and green spaces on Arbor day, an annual event that happens each year on the first Thursday in May. This year, we will celebrate Arbor Day at St. Jerome Elementary on Thursday, May 5.

What is Arbor Day?

Arbour Day tree

Arbor Day celebrates the importance of our trees and green spaces. It's an annual event held in the United States, Canada and in many other countries that all share a common vision of greener communities.

Arbor Day is the longest running civic greening project in Calgary and is celebrated on the first Thursday in May. On this day, each grade 1 student in Calgary's schools receives a tree seedling to be taken home to be planted on private property. To date, annual Arbor Day celebrations in Calgary have distributed an estimated 425,000 tree seedlings to grade one students.

Arbor Day is a joint program of the City, the Public and Catholic School Boards, and the Landscape And Nursery Trades Association. The seedlings are provided by Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

Arbor Day schools

Each year a different Calgary elementary school is awarded the honour of hosting our official Arbor Day ceremony, and an official Arbor Day Ceremonial Tree is planted on the school's grounds.

Previous Arbor Day Schools:

  • Grant MacEwan School - 2015
  • Valley View School - 2014
  • Corpus Christi School - 2013
  • Buchanan School - 2012
  • Keeler School - 2011
  • Father Scollen School - 2010
  • Elbow Park School - 2009
  • Pineridge School - 2008
  • St. Joseph School - 2007
  • W.O. Mitchell School - 2006
  • Roland Hichener School - 2005
  • Father Doucet School - 2004
  • Windsor Park Elementary - 2003
  • Sunnyside Community School - 2002

How to plant an Arbor Day tree

  • Plant your Arbor Day tree in your garden right away. Please provide assistance to children who might be planting.
  • Give your tree enough room to grow. Lodgepole Pines can grow to be 30 metres tall.
  • Plant your tree at least four metres away from other trees, shrubs or buildings.
  • Don’t plant your tree under power lines.
  • Keep your tree cool and moist. Handle your tree gently, since the roots break easily.
  • When you plant your tree, remember:
    1. Remove the plastic bag.
    2. Spread the roots in the hole and cover them quickly.
    3. Press the soil firmly around the roots and water the tree.
    4. Please protect the tree with a small fence while it is still small.
  • Please take care of your tree by giving watering regularly when the soil is dry. Remember, not too much, you don’t want to drown your tree.

Arbor Day history

Arbor Day was first observed in 1872 with the planting of more than a million trees in Nebraska, and is now observed throughout the world.

Calgary's first Arbor Day was May 8, 1905. On that day, Mayor Emerson and nine City Aldermen planted 10 trees in Victoria Park.

In those early days, Arbor Day was so popular that it was declared a bank holiday and businesses closed so employees could join their neighbours in beautifying Calgary by planting trees at their homes and in parks. But perhaps the most important Arbor Day happened in 1922, when trees were planted along Memorial Drive in honour of Calgary's fallen in the First World War.

For more information on Arbor Day, please contact Parks.