White oak

Toronto Star - - INSIGHT -

( 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.

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