One of Canada’s oldest trees, a towering red oak believed to be over 250 years old, was facing the ax when a new owner purchased the property. But now, thanks to a last-minute vote from the city, the tree will be saved for future generations.
On November 26, the Toronto City Council voted in favor of the conservation of this mighty oak by authorizing the purchase of the property for the creation of a mini park.
Due to its size, age, beauty and cultural significance, the magnificent tree is already recognized as a heritage tree in the Forests Ontario Heritage Tree Program.
Fully mature, the branches of the red oak stretch to 78 feet (24 meters) with a trunk circumference of more than 17 feet (5 m).
With the generous financial support of 1,300 donors who helped raise money, the city will make up any shortfalls to secure the property purchase and establish the space as a parquet, to preserve and display this beautiful oak tree.
A decade ago, Heritage Toronto unveiled a commemorative plaque, which captured the place of this great oak in the city’s natural heritage, which reads in part:
“The great red oak (Quercus rubra) located in the backyard of 76 Coral Gable Drive is over 250 years old, making it one of the oldest in the city. Before Europeans colonized this area, the Humber River branch of the Toronto Carrying Place Opens in New Window trail system passed nearby. The tree was part of its delicate savanna ecosystem. Indigenous peoples used this network of trails and transportation to travel between Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario and to trade in what is now southern Ontario and beyond. The tree survived European settlements despite logging along the Humber River, clearing the land for agriculture, and the development of this suburban neighborhood in the early 1960s. Coral Gable Drive’s red oak is a remarkable specimen of its kind. “
The ecological, social and economic benefits inherent in preserving and promoting canopy cover are many, including reducing fine particulate air pollution, cooling the air by shading surfaces and releasing water vapor, providing habitat for the wildlife, reducing stormwater runoff, sequestering carbon from the environment, and providing a link to the natural history of the area. In 2020, it was calculated that this oak stores 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
Donors from across the city, province and beyond have helped ensure the property is insured and will help create a new home for the Toronto tree. People can donate money to support the creation of the parquet and help create an appropriate setting for the magnificent tree.
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