silver maple toronto

People in Toronto fighting to save a tree that's older than Canada from being cut down

A 160-year-old Silver Maple tree that's been dubbed the Black Barn Maple locally is at risk of being cut down despite still standing tall and healthy at 95 James Street in Toronto.

The tree and longtime neighbourhood landmark may be destroyed by the construction of a new detached dwelling on the property. Residents of the west Long Branch community are coming together to make sure that doesn't happen. 

"One of the overriding characteristics of Long Branch is the old-growth trees, so this would create a significant hole in the community," resident, Donna Struk told blogTO. "It's one of the oldest and largest trees in the area." 

The City of Toronto first opposed the property developer's request for a permit to remove the tree. But this was later revoked when the City revealed in a document that they had come to a settlement with the builder, which residents believe to be a numbered company. 

This news came just before the first hearing before a Toronto Local Appeal Board (TLAB) on Feb. 26, a hearing which will resume on March 29.

Struk, along with other concerned residents, is pushing for the tree that's been around since the 1860s to be given heritage status so that it can continue to be preserved.

"When the Eastwood family used to own this part of Long Branch, they had a number of barns and this tree was across from those barns," She says.

"When people were travelling along Lakeshore to go into Toronto when they saw the tree, they knew it was across from the Black Barns and so it was almost a mile marker, a point of reference."

Fellow resident Sheila Carmichael says the Long Branch community has experienced the greatest Tree Canopy loss in Toronto at nearly -44 per cent according to a City of Toronto study, with new developments the biggest threat.

"If you look at them one by one, it doesn't seem so bad but when you look at the overall picture of what is going on, there have been a lot of trees that have been removed," she told blogTO.

"We're looking for creative solutions from both the City and the builder to come up with a design that will accommodate this tree and allow it to continue to exist in its rightful place."

Carmichael says with many other similar developments in the works, the decided fate of this maple tree is pivotal.

"Builders are waiting to see the results of this particular tree battle before they make their moves," she says. "So this is a crucial time for people to become involved and make their opinions known or the trees will keep on coming down."

Lead photo by

Donna Struk


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