Maple Leaf Forever tree lives on in design exhibit

As part of the Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO), an exhibit curated by LEAF (Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests) will showcase four unique pieces by Brothers Dressler, Dystil, The National Design Collective and Paus + Grün. The designers have transformed small branches and leaves from the famous Maple Leaf Forever tree into lighting and other design fixtures. The Maple Leaf Forever window installation will be on display from Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 to Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 at Agora Café, 3015 Dundas St. W. (Dundas St. W. and Keele St.).Maple-Leaf-Forever-Poster-final

“Not only was this a gorgeous tree, but it has an amazing history! We want to celebrate that, and be able to share it with future generations. I am thrilled to be a part of preserving the history, as it was not only a landmark for Toronto but also has great significance for Canada,” said Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, Ward 32 Beaches-East York.

The silver maple tree that grew in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood is said to have inspired the song, The Maple Leaf Forever, once Canada’s unofficial national anthem. When a storm brought the tree down last year, many rushed to save the wood from being turned into mulch.

“All elements of the wood salvaged from the Maple Leaf Forever tree are being used to produce artifacts to preserve the legacy of this historic tree,” said Rob McMonagle, of the City of Toronto, Economic Development and Culture, who is coordinating use of the wood. “I’m pleased that LEAF has partnered with four of Toronto’s top designers as a first step to showcase designs using some smaller branches from this renowned storm-felled tree.”

The City of Toronto is currently developing an initiative to craft the majority of the wood salvaged from the tree into community art and cultural pieces. However, the smaller tree branches and leaves would have rapidly deteriorated to a point where they could not have been used. To ensure these parts were utilized immediately, the City supplied them to local designers selected from interested members of the juried group from the 2013 IIDEX Woodshop exhibition. The four works are the first of many that will be created from the wood of this iconic tree.

“Trees growing in an urban environment face a variety of challenges. This makes for interesting shapes, sizes and grains in the wood and gives it a beauty and uniqueness beyond compare,” said Janet McKay, Executive Director of LEAF. “The capture and use of this incredible resource is part of responsible urban forest stewardship.”

Each of the four items will be on display at the Agora Café in the Junction as part of TO DO, an annual city-wide, not-for-profit, independent, design festival, which is now in its fourth year. The work can be viewed indoors during operating hours of the café or throughout the entire week through the front window display. Later this year, these four works will be auctioned to raise funds for LEAF’s urban forest programs. Visit for more information.