Sunday, July 21, 2013

End of an era for 'The Maple Leaf Forever' tree

TORONTO - The Maple Leaf might actually live forever.

The tree believed to have inspired Alexander Muir to write his 1867 song The Maple Leaf Forever toppled around 6 p.m. Friday after the city was hit by a storm.

It split in two and landed on top of a power line outside of Maple Cottage at Laing St. and Memory Lane, near Queen and Leslie Sts. It remained there until around 2 p.m. Saturday when city crews were finally able to cut it down.

“It fell with so much force that it landed on a live wire and shifted the cement poles on each side of it, and ripped out of the mast of several other houses,” Toronto Hydro crew leader Ross Russell said.

The more than 150-year-old tree has deep roots in Canadian history and huge sentimental value attached to it, as was evident by Leslieville residents who lined up along yellow police tape anxious to get a piece of history.

“I’ve been taking leaves from this tree for 60 years. I’m going to take these home and press them and so I can keep them forever,” said Toni Muse, with a small branch in her hands.

Large pieces of the maple were loaded into the backs of two trucks and smaller ones were shredded.

Some people looked devastated.

“This truly is the end of an era,” longtime area resident Maria Loria said.

“I’m going to take this to a woodworker and have them make me miniature paddles,” said Richard Chambers, who walked away with a smile and a small piece of a branch.

Chris Hazard, who had waited patiently with his wife for a memento, said: “I want to do something that reflects what it is and where it came from, something inspired.”

But it looks like the tree is going to live on, in a way.

Crews left the stump intact and said they believe it is going to be turned into a sculpture.

And just down Memory Lane, a small maple stands behind the cottage.

Realizing the maple didn’t have long to live, Carolyn Swadron and her husband, Bill Wrigley, planted 13 keys from the tree back in 2000. One survived.

It is the baby of the tree.
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