Fort Edmonton Park is where Edmonton’s memories find physical form. Often this is in the shape of a building or artifact, but you’ll also find benches, cairns, and plaques dedicated to the memory of persons or groups.
This autumn, Fort Edmonton Park would like to showcase living trees and bushes that are dedicated to strong women who have made a significant impact on Edmonton and Canada. These flora stand to remind us of our potential; we too have the ability to act in a way worthy of remembrance! See here for Part 1: the Princess Diana Tree.
Have you ever wandered to the south end of the train platform while waiting to hear the whistle of the beloved train? If so, you may have noticed one such dedication: a small Bur Oak tree that Edmonton’s first female Mayor, Jan Reimer, presented to the Rotary Club of Edmonton. The Rotary are properly honoured, as they are responsible for funding many of the park’s projects, but Reimer is an important Edmontonian herself.
Reimer was a City Councillor (then “Alderman”) from 1980-89 and Mayor from ’89-1995. She was rarely without some controversy while in office and if the HBC employees of our 1846 Fort had the chance to know her, they may not have been pleased with her refusal to wear the beaver fur associated with the chain of office. One wonders, however, if they’d have been shouted down by the suffragists of our 1905 Street, proud of her for personifying their hopes of women in government and paving the way for future female leaders.
Since her years as Mayor, Jan Reimer continues to add to Edmontonians’ quality of life as the Executive Director and Provincial Coordinator with the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, and as the Project Manager for the Alberta Council on Aging.
Knowing the efforts of Jan Reimer and the Rotarians to better their city, it makes sense that an Oak tree was chosen for this dedication as the Oak tree represents generosity and protection. The oak is young and smallish now, but may one day grow to over 20 metres tall, giving shade and shelter to our hundreds of thousands of visitors. It personifies our title very well, having 1-2 metre taproots that help ensure the tree is drought-resistant, which helps it survive on the western prairies.
Make sure to check out the Bur Oak the next time you visit the park, see how tall it has grown, and pick up a copy of our Women’s History Self-Guided Tour to gain insight into the lives of Ms. Reimer’s forebears, without whom Edmonton would not be the remarkable city that it is today.
Stay tuned for our next post about prominent women and their deep roots!