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Wood's Douglas Fir Tree Sanctuary

Calgary

Other Names:
Calgary Trees
Douglas Fir Trees
Douglas Wood Fir
Rocky Mountain Douglas Fir Trees
Wood's Christian Homes

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Wood's Douglas Fir Tree Sanctuary comprises approximately 12.5 hectares of land located on the south bank of the Bow River near Bowness Park. The sanctuary features a variety of flora, including fir, spruce, balsam poplar, and aspen trees, as well as thick brush, and lush vegetation.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Wood's Douglas Fir Tree Sanctuary lies in its preservation of one of the few extant stands of the inland variety of Rocky Mountain Douglas fir trees remaining in Alberta.

The inland variety of the Rocky Mountain Douglas fir, also known as the Blue Douglas fir, can be found only sporadically throughout Alberta's mountain valleys and foothills. The stand of these trees preserved in the Wood's Douglas Fir Tree Sanctuary on the most easterly slopes of the Rocky Mountain foothills represents one of the last and best collections of this species in Alberta. Fires and lumbering have virtually eliminated this variety of Douglas fir trees from the province. The inland variety of the Rocky Mountain Douglas fir is a majestic, imposing tree; the largest species of tree in Alberta, it can measure over 1 metre in diameter and rise up to 45 metres tall. With a potential lifespan of up to 400 years, the Rocky Mountain Douglas fir tree is also one of the most enduring tree species in Alberta. Some trees in the sanctuary are several centuries old. Situated close to the river valley and in the transitional zone between parkland and the open prairie, the area of the present-day sanctuary was in previous centuries used by native peoples to hunt and collect medicines and other natural products. The Rocky Mountain Douglas fir trees in the area possessed a particularly elastic quality and were used by Natives to create bows. This region was known as man-a-cha-pan - loosely translated as "the place where they go for bows" - and provided the Bow River with its name. The continuing preservation of the inland variety of the Rocky Mountain Douglas fir provides a vital reservoir of seeds and gene pools of a species of flora largely decimated in Alberta.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1026)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Wood's Douglas Fir Tree Sanctuary include such features as:
- variety of flora;
- extant Rocky Mountain Douglas fir trees;
- environment conducive to the continuing preservation of the Rocky Mountain Douglas fir trees.


Location



Street Address:
Community: Calgary
Boundaries: Portion of Block 1, Plan 8911515
Contributing Resources: Landscape(s) or Landscape Feature(s): 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
5
5
5
5
2
2
2
2
24
24
25
25
33
33
4
4
13 (ptn.)
14 (ptn.)
3 (ptn.)
4 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
8911515
1
N/A


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
51.096659 -114.230787 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1990/11/30

Historical Information

Built: N/A
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Science
Peopling the Land : People and the Environment
Historic Function(s): Environment : Nature Element
Current Function(s): Environment : Nature Element
Architect:
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

The Douglas fir trees at this location make up one of the last stands of the Rocky Mountain Douglas fir which occurs sporadically in some mountain valleys and on the lower slopes, and discontinuously in the foothills. In several areas, this tree has been virtually eliminated, partly through fire but mostly due to human destruction, in such activities as lumbering. The Rocky Mountain Douglas fir is Alberta's largest tree, known to attain heights of up to 150 feet and diameters over three feet. The tree may live up to four hundred years. Two of the trees at the Wood's site were recently found to be 95 and 284 years old.

The Douglas fir was first discovered on Vancouver Island in 1791 by the Scottish naturalist and surgeon, Archibald Menzies. In 1825, David Douglas correctly identified it as being different from the other conifers. Two well-defined races of Douglas fir exist, the Coastal variety and the inland variety found in Alberta.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0566
Designation File: DES 1026
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 75067
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1026)
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