This Bur Oak, located on a private property in the Annex, is a giant among giants. With a diameter of 1.8 meters and a circumference of 5.8 meters, its massive trunk holds a web of limbs that curve symmetrically and conically to support a canopy over 35 meters high, covering 8 backyards. The tree is between 350 and 400 years old and is by far the oldest in the city.
In 1834, when the Town of York became the City of Toronto, it would have already been standing for at least 175 years. Its long life is nothing short of miraculous. The property owner tells of furniture companies, which for several years in the 1980s offered him substantial amounts of money for its removal. But he was not to be tempted, for he is profoundly moved by the Oak’s indescribable size, the beauty of its limbs and shape, and its age which he is fond of describing as “more than twenty human generations.”
Living in the bosom of the Oak, right below its branches in a converted coach house that abuts the trunk at the rear of the property, he likens the tree to an ancient grandparent and affords it due respect and care. The simple wooden gate leading to his home opens to a path of paving stones positioned, in deference to the ancient monument, to follow the curvature of the trunk. Pots of geraniums are placed at the foot of the trunk like devotional offerings. The tree brings him the joy of songbirds, as well as the frustration of nocturnal raccoons that cavort in the darkness above. He grumbles only a little at the fifty-odd bags of leaves that he collects every fall for composting. But most important of all, he is the guardian of the tree. He watches over it, and when necessary, pays for tree doctor visits. We, his fellow citizens, owe him a debt of gratitude, for his tree is also our tree and our heritage.
By: Vincenzo Pietropaolo Published on Sun Nov 08, 2009 thestar.com