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A day of beauty, and dirt

June 10, 2014 — 

Campus Beautification Day was held on June 6 on both the Fort Garry and Bannatyne campuses. Thank you to all staff who made it a successful and fun day.

And the participant who won the Grand Prize – a pair of WestJet tickets – is Z. Bill Cofnas, a truck driver in Physical Plant.


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This year’s beautification day involved a special project:  reforesting the Avenue of Elms with 100 new Memorial Elms. This planting replaces many aging trees and also commemorates the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the first planting of the Avenue of Elms along Chancellor Matheson Drive.


Avenue of Elms, preserving this legacy

1950 photo showing avenue of elms flooded out

1950 photo from The Bulletin showing the Avenue of Elms flooded out

During the First and Second World Wars, the University of Manitoba served as a training ground for troops and watched some of its best and brightest to go off and fight for their country. Their sacrifice was recognized after the First World War with the planting of the Avenue of Elms stretching from the Administration Building to Pembina Highway along Chancellor Matheson Drive.

Staff, students and alumni of the Manitoba Agricultural College planted the trees to honour the students who gave up their lives fighting in the First World War. The names of the fallen soldiers are inscribed in the entrance to the administration building and the man who came up with the idea for the Avenue of the Elms is buried beneath the first elm. The plaque at the base of the tree reads:

In Memorium
Wilfrid John Rae, B.S.A.,M.S.c
Whose cremated remains are buried under
the elm tree he planted in 1923
opposite the south west corner of the
Administration Building site.

Many of these elms are entering their twilight years and so the university is developing a reforestation plan. The plan begins with General Services planting 100 elms on May 22, Campus Beautification Day, to preserve this living memorial.



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3 comments on “A day of beauty, and dirt

  1. Pingback: A day of beauty, and dirt | Interpeg

  2. Kim

    Great story. I was expecting the usual story of our traditional campus beautification day involving all hands on deck, planting, weeding, etc, but instead I learned of a very moving story about the “Avenue of Elms”.

    This will change my thoughts whenever I drive down Chancellor Matheson Drive. I am really pleased and proud to hear that we are preserving this legacy.

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