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Tree museum mulled for Kamloops cemetery

The Old Men’s Provincial Cemetery is a large grassy field with mature trees and home to more than 1,000 unmarked graves, which date back to the gold rush and the city’s incorporation in 1893
old mens cemetery
The Old Men’s Provincial Cemetery, just south of Columbia Street and Sixth Avenue, has more than 1,000 graves below the manicured lawns and trees on the property. The City of Kamloops is considering using the site as an arboretum to educate the public about trees and how they benefit the environment.

The city is branching out with a potential arboretum eyed for the Old Men’s Provincial Cemetery, located on Sixth Avenue, south of Columbia Street and just below St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in the Sagebrush neighbourhood.

“Essentially, it’s a tree museum,” city parks manager Jeff Putnam told KTW, noting the idea was born at a conference he attended this year in Oregon.

“There’s a catalpa, Rocky Mountain juniper. There’s some trees in there where the conditions are perfect. They’re thriving. There’s trees that are there now, some native ones, like Ponderosa, Rocky Mountain juniper,” he said.

“Then, with an arboretum, we would add different species, explaining if they’re native to the area, how long they live. It’s more public education and also benefitting the environment.”

The Old Men’s Provincial Cemetery is a large grassy field with mature trees and home to more than 1,000 unmarked graves, which date back to the gold rush and the city’s incorporation in 1893.

With stone grave markers beneath the grass, archival records show the location and name of each burial.

Putnam said the city would need to confirm where the grave sites are and work around them if it decides to establish an arboretum in that location.

Depending on the will of council, Putnam said he hopes to start the project next year, possibly as a phased-in venture.