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Preserving the Victoria Park Elm Tree

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The Victoria Park American Elm tree, affectionately referred to as the Stampede Elm, is thought to be approximately 125 years old and planted at the intersection of four backyards in the early 1900’s. It has stood the test of time as development expanded and changed around it.

Though it will be removed this spring, a commitment to honouring its legacy and significance persists. Several preservation efforts, both completed and underway, will ensure the essence of the Victoria Park Elm will live on into future generations.

3D animation

In 2021, The City partnered with The University of Calgary to digitally capture the tree. The tree was scanned from twelve locations with a terrestrial laser scanner and is now part of their Alberta Digital Heritage Archive.

We are grateful the U of C was able to use this technology to capture the Victoria Park Elm. They were able to create a tactile tool that can be used to tell the tale of this tree for future generations. Their work will allow us to remember and honour what Calgary’s landscape looked like in its first 150 years.

Bob Hunter, Event Centre Lead

Cloning and seedlings

Calgary Parks collected approximately 150 seeds directly from the tree itself, some of which have already been propagated in a city tree nursery. As of February 2024, the seedlings were between 6-18 inches tall.

Additionally, branches were cut from the tree and are also being cultivated into new and self-supporting trees of their own. If these branches propagate successfully, they will result in genetically identical trees to the Victoria Park Elm that can be re-planted back into Calgary’s urban forest. Currently, they are in the early stages of establishment with hopes of rooting and leafing this spring.

Seedlings and cuttings take several years to propagate. While the success rate is not guaranteed and often unpredictable, we are hopeful that between 100 – 200 trees will be re-planted into Calgary’s urban forest in the coming years between all the preservation efforts underway.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What type of laser was used?

The scan and 3D animation was completed using a terrestrial laser scanner. This type of technology is able to capture the shape and precise measurements of physical objects for future research or 3D modelling. In this case, it captured measurements likes the length of the tree branches, diameter of the trunk, and size of the canopy.

For more information, visit: https://alberta.preserve.ucalgary.ca/sites/stampede-elm/

How is the 3D animation being used?

The 3D animation and printed models of the Stampede Elm can be used for education purposes to raise awareness of Calgary’s heritage trees. The scanning data for the Stampede Elm is open access on the University of Calgary’s website and has been downloaded a total of 80 times by people all over the world.

Additionally, the information captured can be useful to groups like Urban Foresters as they study the landscape of our urban forest.

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