The Red Oak has stood for at least 250 years, if not longer. It is formally recognized by Forest Ontario’s Heritage Tree program. In September 2019, a commemorative plaque was placed next to the tree that reads as follows:
“The large red oak (Quercus rubra) situated in the backyard of 76 Coral Gable Drive is more than 250 years old, making it one of the oldest in the city. Before Europeans colonized this area, the Humber River branch of the Toronto Carrying Place trail system passed nearby. The tree was part of its delicate savannah ecosystem. This network of trails and portages was used by Indigenous peoples to travel between Lake Simcoe and Lake Ontario and to trade throughout what is now Southern Ontario and beyond. The tree survived European settlement despite logging along the Humber River, clearance of the land for agriculture, and the development of this suburban neighbourhood in the early 1960s. The Coral Gable Drive red oak is a remarkable specimen of its species and in 2009, Forests Ontario recognized it as a heritage tree.”
The Red Oak provides many invaluable ecological services, including cooling shade, stormwater filtration, acting as a habitat for wildlife, reducing fine particulate air pollution, and sequestering carbon — 2.5 tons annually. Its branches span 24 meters, and the circumference of the trunk is over 5 meters.
The City of Toronto must fundraise $430,000 by December 12 in order to purchase the property and establish a parkette to showcase this beautiful piece of natural history.
If this initiative does not reach its goal by December 12, funds collected will go to Toronto Urban Forestry’s Community Planting and Stewardship Grant and the Greening Partnership Grant programs.