A letter to Toronto city council

by resident Jacquie Perrin


I am writing in support of preserving the 250 year old red oak at 76 Coral Gable Drive, the purchase of the property around it and the establishment of a park for community use.

This is personal for me. I remember that tree well from many years ago. My family was amongst the first in the new subdivision on Florida Crescent and Coral Gable Drive in 1958. I went to Gulfstream Road Public School when it first opened, attended Emery Collegiate from 1962-1967. I then headed to York University before embarking on a successful broadcasting career in news and current affairs which included CTV and CBC.

As a broadcast journalist, and for many years, a local reporter, I saw first hand the changing landscape of Toronto. I witnessed so many heritage buildings, forests, farmers’ fields and rich woodland suffer the fate of wrecking balls and bulldozers, all in the name of progress. Times were good but so much was lost.

It is time to stop, reassess, preserve and cherish what remains.

The giant red oak on Coral Gable Drive is nothing short of a natural treasure that we must preserve and nourish for future generations. It’s been reported this magnificent tree, once part of a local forest, predates the 1967 Confederation of Canada. It was a marker on the historic Carrying Place trail which linked Lake Ontario with Lake Simcoe and the Northern Great Lakes The giant red oak survived the wholesale slaughter of forests and woodlands, known so well by indigenous inhabitants at the time, as new housing developments were carved out of the fields of those who had farmed the land for years. My young school friends and I used to play in the houses as they were being built, all surrounded by mud until grass slabs were rolled out to make instant lawns. Little saplings, skinny twigs actually, were planted in yards in the hope they would flourish. Many have and are part of this now mature community. In the meantime, this massive 250 year old red oak on Coral Gable Drive stood tall despite the indignity of a house being built, quite literally, by its massive trunk and root system. Some owners meticulously cared for it despite the fact its branches were reaching farther and farther out, all but engulfing the house. The house has become collateral damage to nature and the tree’s giant will to live.

It is now our responsibility to honour this wonder of nature for generations to come. What better way than for Toronto City Council to buy the land, demolish the house and turn the area into a park for the community. These days, we are so involved in the wonders of technology that we seldom look up to see the wonders of nature. How amazing for our generation, our children and grandchildren and those beyond to sit under the branches of this grand oak, some have referred to as ‘like a cathedral’ and experience the grandeur of its presence. This simply cannot be lost.

I strongly urge City Council to act, and act now to preserve and protect one of Canada’s natural wonders. Jacquie Perrin