West Long Branch residents fight to save historic 160-year-old Black Barn Maple tree – March 6, 2021: South Etobicoke News

A March 6, 2021 South Etobicoke News article is entitled: “West Long Branch residents fight to save historic 160-year-old Black Barn Maple tree.”

The text includes details on how to contact the Save the Black Maple Committee. An excerpt from the article reads:

Some west Long Branch residents are banding together to save an historic 160-year-old Black Barn Maple tree that is older than Canada.

Black Barn Maple, as it is known locally, is located at rear of 95 James Street near Brown’s Line and Lake Shore Blvd. W. in Long Branch

This majestic, healthy Black Barn Maple, as it is dubbed locally, is located at the rear of 95 James Street, in Brown’s Line and Lake Shore Blvd. W. area.

Members of the community are mobilizing the community to try to prevent the destruction of this iconic landmark tree that can be seen for miles around.

Residents say the property was purchased a number of years ago and the developer has since obtained a lawyer and applied to the City of Toronto to try and remove the tree to build a larger home.

A hearing into the fate of the maple is before a Toronto Local Appeal Board (TLAB), which will resume hearings on March 29.

The City originally objected to the tree’s removal, then withdrew their objection, to have the tree destroyed. The City in a document stated it had reached a settlement with the applicant/owner, which residents say is a numbered company.

“Everyone should have an interest in this significant loss to the tree canopy and understand the value of trees to our environment,” said group spokesperson, Sheila Carmichael. “This isn’t the first tree to be threatened with destruction nor sadly will it be the last. We all need to be involved and become advocates for trees.”

The Long Branch Neighbourhood Association’s History and Culture Committee has conducted research that shows the tree was a sapling in the 1860s, when James and Martha Eastwood purchased 500-acres of the Samuel Smith Tract running south of Lake Shore King’s Highway from Etobicoke Creek to about Thirty-First Street.

“This beauty (tree) is healthy, vibrant and full of wildlife,” the committee wrote in its research. “The view of this tree can be enjoyed from James, Forty First, Fortieth and Garden Place.”

Members said the tree managed to be spared over the years.

“Our Black Barn Maple was not felled for development but was allowed to mature to be one of Long Branch’s oldest remaining potential Heritage Trees,” the committee stated.

“With ‘intelligent planning’ the Black Barn Maple can safely remain a ‘beacon of arboreal stewardship’ for years to come.”

Detail from July 21, 1905 survey of former Samuel Smith homestead site prepared for Eastwood Brothers. Source: Private family collection


Aerial view looking east along Lake Shore Blvd West at Forty First Street across from the Long Branch Loop showing Eastwood farm in 1949. Ontario Archives Acc 16215, ES1-814, Northway Gestalt Collection.

That area of Long Branch near Lake Ontario is home of some of the oldest trees in Canada, officials said. Some are older than Confederation which forged us into a country, from a Dominion, in 1867.

Detail from 1949 aerial view looking east along Lake Shore Blvd West at Forty First Street across from Long Branch Loop showing Eastwood farm. Ontario Archives Acc 16215, ES1-814, Northway Gestalt Collection.

Residents are concerned the Black Barn Maple will be removed, like the fate of a historic home at 98 Superior Ave., in Mimico, that was demolished last November even though it had heritage status pending and community efforts to save the home.

Eastwood farm

Over the years I’ve written about the Samuel Smith homestead site which was later purchased by the Eastwood family. The Eastwood farm site at 85 Forty First Street eventually became the site for the former Parkview School.

View of Parkview School (subsequently renamed as École élémentaire Micheline-Saint-Cyr) on Forty First Street across from Long Branch Loop, photographed from top of Aquaview Condominiums, November 2012. Photo credit: Jaan Pill

A Sept. 21, 2011 Etobicoke Guardian article provides a quick overview of how the school came to be saved from demolition, thanks to an intensive letter writing effort involving large numbers of area residents.

The article is entitled: “New French school to open in Etobicoke: School will sit on site of former Col. Samuel Smith homestead.”

View of new main entrance stairs, one of many new landscape features at École élémentaire Micheline-Saint-Cyr, 85 Forty First Street in Long Branch. Jaan Pill photo.

An excerpt reads:

The provincial government announced last week $5.2 million in funding to open a new French school in Etobicoke, much to the delight of both a growing parent population keen to enrol their kids in French-language schools and local preservation advocates.

Conseil scolaire Viamonde, the French public school board, is set to purchase Parkview Public School – the site of the archeological remains of Col. Samuel Smith’s homestead at 85 41st St. – from the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) with the provincial funds.

Set to re-open as a French school in 2013, the kindergarten to Grade 6 elementary school will serve as many as 200 students from Etobicoke and Mississauga. The funding for the school, which was announced last Thursday, Aug. 25, is part of the provincial government’s investment of $45 million to expand access to French-language education across Ontario over the next three years.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore MPP Laurel Broten said she’s proud of the announcement, and in the value her government places in French language education.

“Investing in local school infrastructure in Etobicoke-Lakeshore is an investment in student success that not only builds a brighter future, but strengthens our community and makes our neighbourhoods more vibrant,” she said.

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