After a windstorm toppled the Toronto tree thought to have inspired the Maple Leaf Forever, an 1867 song that cemented the leaf as an enduring Canadian symbol, some worried history might die alongside the roughly 150-year-old silver maple.

But the City of Toronto, overseen by the Ontario Heritage Trust, stepped in and saved the wood.

City workers carved it up into logs and distributed more than 3,000 kilograms of wood to artisans across the country, who have honoured it by creating mementoes.

Starting on Sunday -- the 50th anniversary of the unveiling of Canadian flag on Parliament Hill -- more than 400 of these wooden creations are on display in the rotunda of city hall.

Some items will be donated to cultural venues like the Royal Ontario Museum. Others will be sold.

There are pens, a tray for a Maple Leaf Forever songbook, a frame containing a maple leaf – even a set of functional wooden headphones.

City hall, meanwhile, got a new lectern and gavel, thanks to a project by Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services, a community hub in Regent Park, and the Ontario Wood Carvers Association.

Mayor John Tory said he was deeply honoured to receive the lectern and gavel on behalf of the city. “The preservation and celebration of these historical masterpieces is an enduring symbol of our patriotism,” he said.

The exhibit ends Feb. 18.

History of the tree

The silver maple stood outside a building called the Maple Cottage at 62 Laing Street in Leslieville, until a storm knocked it down in July, 2013.

The site was designated of national importance by the city in 1992, because it is believed to have been the place where Alexander Muir and George Leslie (for whom Leslieville is named) were walking when a leaf fell on Leslie’s arm, inspiring Muir to write the song.

Here are the original lyrics to Muir’s ‘Maple Leaf Forever,’ from

In Days of yore,

From Britain's shore

Wolfe the dauntless hero came

And planted firm Britannia's flag

On Canada's fair domain.

Here may it wave,

Our boast, our pride

And joined in love together,

The thistle, shamrock, rose entwined,

The Maple Leaf Forever.


The Maple Leaf

Our Emblem Dear,

The Maple Leaf Forever.

God save our Queen and heaven bless,

The Maple Leaf Forever.

At Queenston Heights and Lundy's Lane

Our brave fathers side by side

For freedom's home and loved ones dear,

Firmly stood and nobly died.

And so their rights which they maintained,

We swear to yield them never.

Our watchword ever more shall be

The Maple Leaf Forever


Our fair Dominion now extends

From Cape Race to Nootka Sound

May peace forever be our lot

And plenty a store abound

And may those ties of love be ours

Which discord cannot sever

And flourish green for freedom's home

The Maple Leaf Forever