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Arbor Day

This year, Arbor Day is on May 7. The celebration scheduled for Douglas Harkness School has been cancelled and the 16,500 seedlings that would have been handed out to the Grade 1 students throughout the city on May 7 will be included in Urban Forestry’s Canopy Expansion Program. They will be installed on City road right of ways and in natural area parks throughout the city of Calgary.​

What is Arbor Day?

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:

  • Douglas Harkness School - 2020
  • St. Cecilia School - 2019
  • Tuscany School - 2018​
  • Cranston School - 2017
  • St. Jerome Elementary - 2016
  • 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

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. Lodg​epole Pines and White Spruce 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.​​​​​​​​​