Due to its size, age, beauty and cultural significance, this magnificent 250-year-old oak is recognized as a heritage tree under Forests Ontario’s Heritage Tree Program. Following Council’s direction, the City has an agreement to purchase the property and establish the space as a parkette to preserve and showcase this beautiful example of our natural heritage. The completion of the sale is conditional upon the City fundraising $430,000 by December 12, 2020. Donate now to help ensure this magnificent specimen thrives well into the future!
Watch this short video and hear about the historic Red Oak’s story.
As of October 5, 2020, $169,000 has been committed to the campaign, putting us at 39 per cent to target. It’s a good start, but time is running out and more help is needed if we’re to reach the goal by the deadline.
Should the donation target not be met by the deadline and the purchase of the property not completed, funds collected will go to Toronto Urban Forestry’s Community Planting and Stewardship Grant and the Greening Partnership Grant programs. These programs support tree planting and stewardship on private land and publicly accessible green spaces in Toronto, helping reach the target of 40 per cent tree canopy cover in the city.
The red oak throughout the seasons. Courtesy of Edith George.
In September, 2019, Heritage Toronto unveiled a commemorative plaque, which captures this great oak’s place in our natural heritage as follows:
The large red oak (Quercus rubra) situated in the backyard of 76 Coral Gable Drive is more than 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 trail system passed nearby. The tree was part of its delicate savannah ecosystem. This network of trails and portages was used by Indigenous peoples to travel between Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario and to trade throughout what is now Southern Ontario and beyond. The tree survived European settlement despite logging along the Humber River, clearance of the land for agriculture, and the development of this suburban neighbourhood in the early 1960s. The Coral Gable Drive red oak is a remarkable specimen of its species and in 2009, Forests Ontario recognized it as a heritage tree.
The ecological, social and economic benefits inherent to preserving and fostering canopy cover are many, including reducing fine particulate matter air pollution, cooling the air by shading surfaces and releasing water vapor, providing habitat for wildlife, reducing storm-water runoff, sequestering carbon from the atmosphere and providing a link to the natural history of the area. In 2020, it was calculated that this oak stores two and a half tons of carbon dioxide per year (courtesy of Association for Canadian Education Resources)! Now in its full maturity, this red oak’s branches span 24 metres with a trunk circumference of over 5 metres – a natural cathedral and a shining example of our urban forest.
Upon achieving the fundraising target of $430,000 by Dec. 12, 2020 and completing the purchase, the vision is to convert the property into a local parkette with the oak tree as its primary feature. The City would do a formal landscape plan for the parkette but the inspirational rendering below illustrates what the space might look like. Donors from across the city, province and beyond have already committed to making this vision a reality, including a leadership pledge of $100,000 from Mark and Mary Cullen. Join them in celebrating this natural wonder by donating now. Alternatively, cheques can be mailed to: City of Toronto, Metro Hall, Finance & Treasury Services, 55 John Street, 14th Floor, Toronto, ON M5V 3C6, Attn: Roy Moniz. Please make cheques payable to Treasurer, City of Toronto and include Historic Oak in the memo section on the cheque.
Preserving this tree only makes sense. The question is not, “Should we help this tree?” but, “If we don’t, what does that say about us as a City.
Mark Cullen, celebrated gardener, author and Order of Canada recipient
Ancient trees are precious. There is little else on Earth that plays host to
such a rich community of life within a single living organism.
Sir David Attenborough