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Compared to the crush of concrete, traffic and skyscrapers that surrounds it, McGill’s remarkably green downtown campus looks positively pastoral, thanks in no small degree to the nearly 1,000 trees representing over 60 species that adorn it. While a leisurely warm-weather stroll is still the best way to experience these arborial splendours, anyone seeking to appreciate them more fully should also take a walk through Environmental Stewardship’s recently launched virtual Green Tour.
Focusing on trees that have interesting histories, belong to rare species or are otherwise notable, the Green Tour allows users to learn about the Russian olive, Amur choke cherry and Kentucky coffee tree, to name just a few campus tree varieties, through photos, descriptions and maps indicating where to look for them.
Beyond the basic facts, the Green Tour also reveals the answers to some tantalizing trivia questions by divulging, for example, the identity of the oldest tree on campus, the location of McGill’s very own fruit orchard and the provenance of the honey-like scent that suffuses the air in July.
The online tour was created to raise awareness of McGill’s “greening” tradition, begun by McGill’s principal from 1855 to 1893, paleobotanist Sir William Dawson, and to outline Environmental Stewardship’s current conservation and education efforts, not to mention to highlight the downtown campus’ special status as a green corridor leading to Mount Royal.
Two McGill professors, David Covo, director of the School of Architecture, and Martin Lechowicz, director of the Gault Nature Reserve, made the Green Tour possible through their work in identifying the trees of the downtown campus and providing information about them.
To take the tour, see www.mcgill.ca/stewardship/greentour/