Tree Tributes

January may seem like an odd time of the year to be thinking and blogging about memorial tree planting, especially when most of Canada seems to be digging itself out from this week’s winter snow storms. What better time than now, however, to be uplifted by thoughts of Spring, renewal, and spring planting, ahead!

The reasons and ways in which to remember and pay tribute to ones we have lost in our lives are countless. Tree tributes offer but one such opportunity to honour the loss of a loved one, or, perhaps to recognize someone we may not have known personally but for whom we owe a debt of gratitude for having made the ultimate sacrifice, as one of Canada’s fallen heroes.

(The sites and organizations we profile below are for our Readers’ information, and not endorsements, as such.)

BC’s Heritage Gardens Cemetery expresses eloquently why tree planting might offer a special kind of memorial –  “Trees are symbolic of the cyclical nature of life. As the seasons change, so do our relationships with those we love. There is no change more personal than the loss of a loved one; it marks the end of their earthly journey, and the beginning of your relationship with their memory. Planting a tree for them is a beautiful way to reflect the significance of their values, or to acknowledge their impact on your life…”

Their website also explains how it works, with illustrating costs, “…At Heritage Gardens we have two gardens allocated for memorial trees and tree burials. Cremated remains may be buried in a bio-degradable vessel, or scattered and mixed into the soil. Depending on your preference, the place may be acknowledged with a memorial tree or plant, type and species of which vary. Basalt columns throughout the grounds will pay lasting tribute to those laid to rest in our gardens and green burial areas. Alternatively, families are welcome to purchase a marker to be placed in front of their memorial plant or tree. The right of interment for the garden costs $650 for scattering or $900 for an urn burial. Trees range in cost depending on size and species. Plants typically range from $55-$85.

Toronto Tree Planting Opportunities

The City of Toronto offers a number of tree-related opportunities for volunteering and/or to plant a commemorative tree. Their website also offers useful lists of trees suitable to the local habitat that might help gardeners plan for their own tree planting, in sunny or shady locations for example.

Typically the City of Toronto has two application windows for its commemorative tree planting program, Spring and Fall. While it is not yet taking applications for Spring 2020, here is the link to the application form in case Readers may want to start planning ahead and saving up:

The website states that the application fee is $738 and the donation is tax deductible. The form asks for 1st and 2nd choice of commemorative park location, 1st and 2nd choice of tree, and requested plaque wording of 120 characters maximum.

Here is the list of 12 trees native to southern Ontario that are available for selection

The City of Toronto also invites volunteer participation to help it reach its goal of a 40% tree canopy, through street tree planting, tree planting and stewardship volunteering, Don Valley Brick Works Ambassador volunteering (May to September), and, Natural Environment Trails volunteer opportunities (May to September). More information is available by subscribing to their mailing list at: For gardeners’ information, here is their list of trees that are native to Toronto’s habitat,, such as Full Shade trees like Black oak and White pine, and Partial Shade-Shade trees like the Sugar Maple and Maple-leaf Viburnum.

One final opportunity for tree gifting to consider in Toronto, is the University of Toronto’s Landmark Tree Project campaign. Its website states, “Trees contribute to cleaner soil, air and water, and provide vital cooling and shading during summer months. They also improve biodiversity by attracting a greater variety of birds, insects and animals. The Landmark Project adds more than 180 new trees to the Front Campus and areas surrounding King’s College Circle. Join us in making the St. George campus greener and more beautiful by planting a tree.”

Other Tree Memorial Options Across Canada

We look forward to being able to profile commemorative tree planting opportunities in the City of Edmonton in future, once it has completed its program review.

Across Canada, Tree Canada, which we have profiled in the past, also offers memorial tree options as part of its National Greening Program. The program is aimed at reforestation and afforestation in areas of need in five regions across the country.  A certificate in memory is issued to donors for each $29 memorial tree donation,

Thanks to our Readers for pointing out two other tree memorial options across Canada:

Love Lives On, at:

This site profiles its list of 77+ best places for memorial benches and trees in these provinces across Canada – Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

A Living Tribute, at:

“A Living Tribute was created in 2012 to connect people looking to have trees planted as living memorials or gifts with national reforestation projects. As our goal is to make the world greener through environmental gift giving, every commemorative card that we send out is sustainably sourced, acid-free, REC-Certified and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified.” 

This organization offers tree planting options in Fort McMurray, Alberta; British Columbia; Ontario; Manitoba; Quebec; New Brunswick; Saskatchewan; and the Boreal Forest.

Boreal Forests

Boreal Chickadee

On the topic of the Boreal Forests, did you know they are very efficient as a carbon sink? We learned from this New York Times article, that, “The boreal forests surround the world just below the Arctic Circle, extending through Canada, Alaska, Siberia, and northern Europe. Together they form a giant reservoir that stores carbon dioxide. The boreal forests are different from the tropical forests, closer to the equator. The boreal forests contain about 703 gigatons of carbon in woody fibers and earth, while tropical forest store about 375 gigatons.” (A gigaton is a bit difficult to describe, but it is a lot.) However, these are difficult times for the world’s forests. Think of the fires in Australia and those of last year in the Amazon. Agriculture, logging and urbanization are also taking their toll.

Highway of Heroes

Thank you to Reader Nora for bringing to light this special Memorial Tree Planting Campaign. The Highway of Heroes Two Million Tree campaign has as its mission to, “Honour our Military, Protect the Environment, and Beautify North America’s Most Travelled Highway.” In doing so, it aims to build “the world’s largest living memorial, together.”

Here is part of the moving tribute posted on their website, outlining what inspires this memorial tribute, created initially in 2014, and evolving in 2016 to the two million tree campaign with the inaugural tree planting actions of Corporal Nick Kerr and project co-founder Mark Cullen, “….When a member of Canada’s Armed Forces falls in combat, his or her final journey is along the Highway of Heroes from CFB Trenton to the Coroner’s Office in Toronto.

“We are planting 2 million trees for all Canadians that have served during times of conflict since Confederation and including the war of 1812. 117,000 of the most prominent trees will be planted along and near the stretch of the 401 known as the Highway of Heroes, one tree for every life lost while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.

“As Canadians we’re proud of our values that guide us to respect green spaces and wilderness, yet too few of us realize we have the highest carbon footprint per capita in the world. We can and will do better.

“They have fought to protect our land and our freedom. It is now our collective duty to protect what they’ve fought for.”

The Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign is a Fund of the Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation. It is a Registered Charity

Golden Globe Awards and Wild Fires in Australia and Reforestation

We were pleased at the shout out to global warming given recently by so many actors at the Golden Globes Awards ceremony. Several mentioned the ongoing fires in Australia as another sign of global warming and encouraged fellow actors to donate to Australia and consider changing their personal habits, such as by not flying in their personal jets to awards ceremonies.

The Golden Globes ceremony also served a plant-based meal for the first time.

Here is an article about 15 of the celebrities who donated generously to help Australia Fire Services.    “…Australia is currently being ravaged by bushfires that spread across the country as the regular bushfire season took an unexpected and severe turn. Unfortunately, so far an estimated 8.4 million hectares (21 million acres; 84,000 square kilometres; 32,000 square miles) were lost to flames, alongside 2,500 buildings (including over 1,900 houses). The fires took lives of 25 people (as of 5 January 2020) and there are more gruesome losses of life as it is feared that an estimated billion animals were killed or will die due to starvation and loss of habitat caused by the flames.”

If Readers have been thinking about how they might donate to support Australians and Australian habitats to recover from this disaster, here are two options (among many worthy initiatives underway), for information and consideration:

OneTreePlanted is offering a limited edition “I Love Australia” T-Shirt for $15 tree planting donations in aid of Australian reforestation at:

The Canadian Red Cross has established a specific Australia Fires Appeal, with the stated commitment that “…the fundraising costs related to any emergency appeal will not exceed five percent.”

World Economic Forum – January 21-24, 2020

We will be watching the news intently this week for coverage of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2020 being held January 21-24 in Davos, Switzerland. The theme of this 50th edition of the WEF is “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World,” and the Forum will be calling upon companies “to raise their ambitions for climate action.” The annual forum brings together political leaders and business leaders from around the world, with over 3,000 participants attending. 2020 is the fourth year where the meeting will be carbon-neutral.

This 2 minute BBC clip outlines what to expect from Davos this year, noting that the top five risks to be presented and discussed are all environmental (e.g., climate change, biodiversity, extreme weather)

The Global Agenda and a suite of informative and interesting briefs may be accessed here

Here is the link to chapter four  – “A Decade Left: Confronting Runaway Climate Threat” –  in the Global Risks report  that informs the discussions A sobering read. More on this and the WEF meeting in in future.

Good News Story for the Week

We end today’s blog post with a climate action good news story from Thunder Bay.

This article profiles Thunder Bay’s plans to be carbon neutral by 2050, at:

We find their approach to be incredibly comprehensive as they have hired the company EarthCare to help them meet this goal. You can spend all day in the city’s website, and at EarthCare Thunder Bay’s website at, opening all the informative links. We encourage you to peruse them. Sudbury is also using this company to meet the same targets. We are encouraged to see these commitments at the local level and hopeful evidence that indeed meaningful change is beginning to happen and become embedded in mainstream practice.

One little video on the site compares the carbon footprint of an electric car versus a gas car. Basically, you can cut your carbon footprint in half driving an electric car and as time goes on and Canada uses more clean energy, the electric car will become even more favourable.  We also found a section on podcasts on the website, and that interested Lucia, who shares 6 podcasts here:

Hidden Brain

2050: Degrees of Change


Science Vs

Outside Podcast

WTF with Marc Maron.

She was impressed with how professionally these podcasts are done and says she learned a lot while walking indoors to deal with Edmonton’s very cold weather. Ahh, the joys of wintertime in Canada!

We both love CBC’s What on Earth? e-newsletter – have you signed up for your free weekly copy yet? This week’s article on electric bikes (e-bikes) as a viable option for going car-free and emissions-free has us thinking….and looking forward to the possibilities that Spring will bring, including warmer bike- and human-friendly weather!

Next week, we look forward with excitement to welcoming and introducting our very first guest blogger.

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