A May 2, 2018 Etobicoke Guardian article, highlighting a key feature of the Third Stop, is entitled: “Long Branch’s towering red oak designated a Heritage Tree: Heritage Trees are protected by one-of-a-kind bylaw in Ontario.”
A ceremony was held on April 30, 2018, as the article notes, at which a 200-year-old red oak tree, at the southeast corner of Long Branch Avenue and Park Boulevard, was officially unveiled as a Heritage Tree.
The Long Branch Neighbourhood Association played a key role in doing the research that led to the heritage designation of the tree.
At 200 years of age, the tree would have been a sapling in 1818, a few years after the War of 1812 had ended. Colonel Samuel Smith, the first landowner in Long Branch, in the European settler system of land ownership, would still have been alive at that time. The colonel passed away in 1826, at which time the tree was about eight years old.
The tree is Long Branch’s first officially designated Heritage Tree.
Students from James S. Bell Junior Middle Sports and Wellness Academy were on hand to take part in the demonstration – and to eat some cake that was served, at the end of the ceremony, to celebrate the occasion.
In a key part of the official unveiling, Toni Ellis, heritage tree co-ordinator with Forests Ontario, spoke of the significance of the designation of the 80-feet-tall, 200-year-old red oak tree.
As the May 2, 2018 Etobicoke Guardian article notes, Ellis shared the following comments:
“While we recognize the important trees, such as this one today as a recognized Heritage Tree, we want people to look at all big trees, and recognize the role they play in adding beauty, sequestering carbon, storing stormwater and cleaning our air, and all those wonderful unsung gifts that trees give us.”
An additional excerpt from the Etobicoke Guardian article reads:
Every Ontario Heritage Tree has cultural, social or historic significance and tells a story, Ellis said of the Forests Ontario program launched in 2009 in partnership with the Ontario Urban Forest Council.
A municipal bylaw protects Heritage Trees in Toronto, the only bylaw of its kind in Ontario, Ellis added.
Etobicoke-Lakeshore Councillor Mark Grimes unveiled the oak’s heritage plaque under a bright sun on Monday, assisted by Grade 3 and Grades 6 and 7 James S. Bell Junior Middle Sports and Wellness Academy students.
“The Long Branch Neighbourhood Association really kicked off things in Long Branch,” Grimes said. “Not only trees, like the one we’re conferring here, but there’s a beautification committee starting.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg for the association.”
Association of 200-year-old Heritage Tree with the original Long Branch Park
During the Long Branch summer resort era, the article adds, the tree served as a “cooling canopy over one of the water fountains at Long Branch Park, established in 1884.”
An additional excerpt reads”
Steps away, the stately tree was in full view of the famous Japanese pagoda Long Branch Hotel, a carousel, a ballpark, dance pavilions and a waterslide on the lakefront.
Long Branch got its name from its founder, Thomas Wilkie, who named the exclusive summer resort area of 250 villa lots “Long Branch Park,” likely after New Jersey’s famous seaside resort, the Etobicoke Historical Society reported.
The article notes you can visit the Forests Ontario website to view a map of Heritage Trees across Ontario or to nominate a tree for heritage designation.