Photos by Elayne Crilly-Gauthier
Farewell to the gracious giant willow on the Ashbridge Estate.
See more on the Ashbridge’s Neighbourhood Facebook page.
Here is an appreciation of the tree written in 2015, when this blog entered the willow in a “favourite Toronto tree” contest:
This amazing willow tree, almost 100 years old, is a striking feature of the Ashbridge Estate, a green oasis on Queen Street East. The tree is one of many gorgeous specimens on the Ashbridge Estate, which is a green remnant of the much larger Ashbridge Estate (farm) which extended from Ashbridge’s Bay to Danforth Avenue, between Greenwood and Coxwell Avenues.
A September 2014 tree tour of the Ashbridge Estate was led by Philip van Wassenaer of Urban Forest Innovations, an arborist who has worked to preserve the trees on the property over the years:
“A central stop on the tour was this amazing willow tree. We know from diary entries that it was planted by Emma Rooney (married to Jesse Ashbridge) way back in 1919. Willows are water-loving trees, and back then, a stream ran through the area to nearby Lake Ontario. This tree has been slated for removal several times, but Philip has fought to keep this striking specimen alive. To ensure it does not pose a hazard, he has removed some of the larger branches and put a fence around its base to keep people away from where branches might fall.”
(excerpted from this article about the tree tour.)
The stream where the willow stands is the Ashbridge’s Creek, now buried below ground, but its “valley” is still visible. Damp areas are of course a favourite of willows.