Forests Ontario

News & Events

First Ontario Heritage Tree Celebrated with the Help of Ontario Girl Guides

TORONTO, September 30, 2009 – Early this morning, five enthusiastic members of Girl Guides joined Adrina Ambrosii, Ontario Urban Forest Council Director (OUFC) and Trees Ontario President and CEO, Michael G. Scott under the canopy of a giant Red Oak to celebrate the first recognized Ontario Heritage Tree and the harvesting of its 2009 crop of acorns.

The venerable Red Oak is located in Toronto’s unique Wychwood Park and is one of four that stand on the property owned by Douglas Goold and Libby Znaimer. A Heritage Tree is usually more than 70 years old. What sets them apart is the important cultural and historical significance they represent to their communities.

“We have nominations coming in from across the province as people wish to celebrate those trees that have been part of the fabric of their community – some of the trees are over 200 years old,” said Michael G. Scott. “We are very pleased that Ontario Girl Guides  have joined Trees Ontario and OUFC to take part in the Ontario Heritage Tree Program. We are glad that all the young people of our province can be involved in forestry stewardship.”

An equally important aspect of this program is the opportunity to collect Heritage Tree seeds for future propagation to grow new, native, and healthy trees, also referred to as ”legacy trees.” Growing trees from native seed is important as those species have adapted to the regional environment over thousands of years and are more likely to survive. Some of these native species include: Pines, Oaks, Maples, Elms and Hickories.

“2010 marks the 100th anniversary of ‘growing girls’ through Girl Guide programs.  Outdoor activities and protecting the environment have been cornerstones of our organization throughout our long history and continue to resonate with today’s girls.  We are very pleased to participate in this special project that recognizes the past and builds for the future,” said Marnie Cumming, Provincial Commissioner for Ontario Girl Guides.

“OUFC is happy to be working with Trees Ontario, landowners and youth groups in nominating and recognizing trees as part of the Ontario Heritage Tree Program,” said Toni Ellis, President, OUFC. “The tree seed collection component of the program is an excellent opportunity to remind us all about the value of tree seeds, especially those produced by the provinces heritage trees. We are delighted that so many people are taking the time and making the effort to nominate heritage trees – it speaks volumes about how much we value them.”

Groups such as schools and Girl Guides can nominate Heritage Trees through the program and take part in seed collection. Later this fall, Trees Ontario and partners, the Ontario Forestry Association and the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation will be launching an educational resource package focused on tree seed identification, forecasting, collecting and germinating. This program will be available for download online. Toronto District School Board’s Whitney Public School teachers Carole Mandel and Mark Barta are already planning activities for their grades five and six students that will include nominating a Heritage Tree in Chorley Park and using the new tree seed resource package.

Recently nominated trees include:

Red Oak – Wychwood Park – One of Toronto’s unique neighbourhoods, whose natural landscape is a critical part of it. Named after Wychwood Forest in Oxfordshire, it was founded in 1874, and is well known for its Arts & Crafts houses, Taddle Creek and pond, and 800 or so significant trees, including several hundred large White and Red Oaks, as well as Black Locust, Bassword, Beech and Hemlock. The Park, with 60 houses on 50 acres, was named a Heritage Conservation District in 1985. The impressive nominated tree is estimated to be more than 100 years old, is in excellent condition, and provides beauty, elegance and shade to the front of the Goold/Znaimer home.

Eastern White Pine – Kingston – This tree is a remnant of the original forest that once resided in this area. The tree has been a landmark rooted at the 18th hole at Cataraquai Golf and Country Club, since its opening in 1917. In addition to this, the tree is a prominent figure on the organization’s corporate logo and has been since 1933.

Sugar Maple – Fort Erie – Estimated by a local arborist to be between 200 and 300 years old, it stands approximately 21.3 metres tall and is 375 centimeters in circumference. It overlooks the eastern end of Lake Erie just west of the lakes confluence with the Niagara River and a beach where the Neutral Indians are known to have camped and harvested chert with which they made stone tools. The tree is about a mile from Old Fort Erie and quite likely observed preparations of British and Hessian infantry to retake the fort from American forces during the War of 1812. The tree is a landmark to boaters and fishermen on the lake and holds together the sand dune on which it stands.

Red Oak – Elora – The house behind the tree was built in 1895.  Originally, it was a retirement cottage for the director of Chalmers Church. The church is located in the neighbourhood of the site.  The home was named the Mansfield Cottage. It is estimated that the tree existed before the home was built.  The tree is now a spectacular focal point in the neighbourhood and is greatly valued by all residents and visitors.

White Oak – Etobicoke – This is a beautiful and impressive tree, and perfectly scaffolded. Located on the Toronto Carrying Place, this tree is a living witness to people and events, which are part of the history of Canada. This was a young tree when the French established their second trading fort, Fort Toronto in 1749 at the foot of the Portage on which the tree stands – the fort from which Toronto takes its name. It was part of the forest canopy in 1764 when Alexander Henry passed by on June 19th with a group of Mississaugas on his way to Fort Niagara from Mackinac, where he had been taken prisoner the previous year in the Pontiac wars. His account of the journey may be seen in Percy Robinson’s ‘Toronto During the French Regime’.

Anyone can nominate a tree by registering on the Trees Ontario Heritage Tree web site ( A nominated tree is evaluated by a certified Heritage Tree Expert based on the following characteristics: rarity of species, prominence based on size and age, aesthetics and/or artistic peculiarity, its historical and cultural importance to local and broader community and its physical conditions and expected longevity. The evaluation criteria can be found on the Heritage Tree web site. If the tree meets the above criteria, it will be placed on the Heritage Trees online database. If recognized, the tree will also be recognized with on site signage.

For more information on Trees Ontario and the Heritage Tree Program, and to find more nominated and designated trees visit


Ontario Urban Forestry Council
The Ontario Urban Forest Council (OUFC) is a non-profit group that works to advance the conservation and maintenance of urban forests across Ontario. They provide technical support for groups addressing urban forestry issues and offer various workshops on a wide range of topics. OUFC works in partnership with all sectors, bringing together professionals, academics, industry, government and the general public in a multi- stakeholder approach to urban forest conservation.

Property Owners, Doug Goold and Libby Znaimer, stand in front of their newly recognized Red Oak with Rob Keen, Director of Operations, Trees Ontario, Adrina Ambrosii, Director, Ontario Urban Forest Council, Michael G. Scott, President and CEO, Trees Ontario and members of Girl Guides, who were eager to show their support.  

Members of the Girl Guides joined Adrina Ambrosii and Michael G. Scott under the canopy of the Wychwood Park Red Oak to celebrate the first recognized Ontario Heritage Tree and the harvesting of its 2009 crop of acorns.

Click here to listen to an MP3 radio interview with property owners Doug Goold and Libby Znaimer.