A tree in downtown Edmonton needs a little love for its 100th birthday
Dan Rose is gathering support to recognize the Holowach tree's rich history
A neglected horse chestnut tree in downtown Edmonton, surrounded by dumpsters and parked cars, will soon turn 100 years old.
Dan Rose, the chair of the Edmonton Historical Board, is gathering support to recognize the tree's historical significance and clean up the little park around it.
Standing at about 30 feet tall, the leafy tree is in a parking lot south of Jasper Avenue near 106th Street.
It is named the Holowach tree after Sam Holowach, a Ukrainian immigrant and entrepreneur who lived in Edmonton in the early 1900s.
"You wouldn't know it's here unless you were walking down this particular alley," Rose said interview this week.
Fun fact: the Holowach Chestnut is tucked away in an alley in the middle of Downtown Edmonton. <br><br>It's old as heck and has an amazing story behind its near century of growth. <br><br>Let's celebrate this tree and it's story. Let's clean up this parklet.<br> <a href="https://t.co/LSzsvAI70k">https://t.co/LSzsvAI70k</a> <a href="https://t.co/ftx8j6TniJ">pic.twitter.com/ftx8j6TniJ</a>—@The_Rosbif
Rose found the tree on his way to work one day, and was surprised when he learned about its rich history.
"It's a great example of our city's history hidden in plain sight," he said. "It's really cool to see."
Sam Holowach was a tailor who later owned a dyeing and dry-cleaning business, according to the website Edmonton Maps Heritage.
His legacy runs deep in Edmonton. Holowach's son Ambrose was the first Alberta cabinet minister of Ukrainian descent, and another son, Walter, was a violin concertmaster with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.
The Holowach tree is a species not native to Alberta. Around 1920, Walter Holowach came home from Vienna with a horse chestnut seed in his violin case and planted it in the family's downtown Edmonton yard.
"There was probably not any or certainly not very many horse chestnuts in the city at the time," said Dustin Bajer, a horticulturalist who is researching heritage trees in Edmonton.
"It would have been a surprise to the family that planted it, and the fact that it's done as well as it has is one of the things that makes it quite unique, and quite interesting," Bajer said.
Rose has plans to celebrate the Holowach tree's birthday with a party next year. He'll also be looking to renovate its bench, repaint the fence, add some flowers, and install a plaque to recognize the tree's history.
"It's a great opportunity to have a conversation about public places in the downtown core, and how citizens can get involved in making their city a greener, more livable, more friendly place to be," he said.