( Quercus alba) Neighbourhood: Leaside, East York Address: 1399 Bayview Ave. Height: 18 m (59 feet); diameter: 116 cm (3 feet, 9 inches)
Towering over the nearby church, its branches far out of reach of those who stroll beneath its limbs, this colossal white oak tree has been a part of its surrounding community since Leaside was Leaside. It was already growing tall in 1890 when William Lea, a member of Leaside’s founding family, donated part of his 200-acre parcel of land to build Leaside Mission, a small timber building that housed a bell and reed organ. By 1913, the wooden building had been replaced by the current red-brick church, which was used as Leaside’s first City Hall. For the next 105 years, the white oak continued to be a landmark for the church and community, says Heather Conolly, co-ordinator of property and maintenance at St. Cuthbert’s Leaside Anglican Church, which in 2017 celebrated its 125th anniversary. “It’s been our joy and honour to have the tree here,” she says. “It’s majestic, it’s regal, it demonstrates stability … It’s part of God’s cre- ation so we take care of it.” In 2017, Forests Ontario granted this tree heritage recognition, citing its links to the families who first settled Leaside. Conolly says the church will do everything it can to keep “this great and majestic tree” living for another 100 years.
The Leaside community vows to keep “this great and majestic” white oak, which was granted heritage recognition in 2017, living for another 100 years.