A Tree for Every Hero

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOntario’s Macdonald-Cartier Freeway, better known as Highway 401, is the main transportation corridor linking Windsor with Quebec City, and crosses through some of the most densely populated areas in Canada. In 2007, a 170 kilometre portion of the highway stretching from CFB Trenton to the Don Valley Parkway (and later Keele Street) in Toronto was designated the Highway of Heroes, reflecting its use as the route for funeral convoys carrying fallen Canadian Forces service men and women from CFB Trenton to the coroner’s office in Toronto.

This designation honours those men and women who have made such a vital contribution to our way of life, and offers a wonderful opportunity to tell the story of Canadian Veterans. We are implementing a large-scale planting program and creating a series of elements along the roadway that will remind those who pass by of the great debt we owe these courageous Canadians.

We Stand On Guard For Thee

winterThe impression visitors take away from a community is often shaped by their experience driving through it. As they drive, visitors form a series of visual images in their mind – either positive or negative – and these in turn influence their overall impression of the place. How they remember their visit can influence whether they decide to return in the future.


For many people, their first impression of Southern Ontario will be shaped by what they experience along the Highway of Heroes. This impression is formed by the aggregate of all the images to which they are exposed. For someone driving down the Highway from the vantage point of a car, this experience involves a linear progression through a defined landscape at a high rate of speed. In designing the Living Tribute, we can have a profound impact on what reaction is realized through the careful manipulation of the surrounding landscape. People traveling along the road are generally looking forward and are viewing the surrounding area through a 60 degree cone of vision. Like a baton in a relay race, each new vista briefly captures the viewer’s attention before giving way to the next visual experience. Understanding this will allow our designers to effectively place trees and landscape features in such a way as to block or distract the viewer from undesirable views and enhance attractive ones. Our objective is to maximize the positive view experience and leave an overall good impression.

fallThe driving experience is also enhanced if we are able to reduce the linear appearance of the highway by creating a series of defined spaces through which the driver passes. These “rooms” are created through the development of a series of doorways that mark the beginning and ending of each event. In this way the scale of the highway can be made more intimate, the visual experience is more varied and the overall impression improved.