Local student joined the federal Minister of Agriculture and the Environment at
On September 27th, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Minister Lawrence MacAulay
unveiled a new plaque at the Merivale Shelterbelt pavilion on the south-west corner
of the Central Experimental Farm (CEF). The commemorative plaque celebrates not
one, but two 150th birthdays; the federal Department of Agriculture was created
alongside Canada on July 1, 1867. The names of all previous Canadian Prime Ministers
and Ministers of Agriculture are listed.
Following the unveiling, Minister MacAulay helped plant the final of 150 new trees
in the Merivale Shelterbelt; a Red Oak, the Official Tree of the Minister's home
province of Prince Edward Island. They were joined by Hawthorne Public School grade
8 student Thomas Davidson who planted the 149th tree, a Ginkgo biloba, with his
previous year's classmates in June. Ginkgo biloba is the only living species in
the endangered Ginkgophyta division, all others being extinct.
"A tree planting is a great way to commemorate 150 years of Canada and the Department
of Agriculture and Agri-Food. These trees are a living display of Canada's celebrated
natural beauty and are a sign of our commitment to a greener future for the next
generation and a bright future for agriculture," said Minister MacAulay.
AAFC research and innovations have helped to make trees a powerful tool on Canadian
farms for generations. Trees are used to make shelterbelts, reduce soil erosion
in fields, and provide habitats for pollinators and other wildlife
The new trees on the CEF extend the existing roadside shelterbelt that runs north
from the corner of Baseline and Merivale roads. Roadside shelterbelts trap blowing
snow and reduce the possibility of blizzard-like conditions. This makes for safer
winter driving and reduces the burden of road maintenance.
Over 15 different tree varieties were selected for the planting, based on their
resilience to Ottawa's climate and the roadside conditions of the site. Included
are Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulate), two American Elm (Ulmus americana
'New Harmony' and ‘Jefferson'), and some of Canada's famous maple trees (Acer ginnala),
varieties of which grow natively in every province.
Ceremonial tree plantings are a long-standing Canadian tradition. In 1906, Prince
Arthur of Connaught, later governor general of Canada, planted a red oak at Rideau
Hall which still stands at the far end of the Upper Terrace Garden. Her Majesty
the Queen and members of the Royal Family have planted 17 ceremonial trees since
1939. In total, there are more than 130 commemorative trees on the grounds of Rideau
Why not plant a tree of your own to celebrate Canada 150! Urban trees absorb carbon
dioxide while providing habitat for birds, and if placed accordingly, can provide
home-cooling shade in the summer.