Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher and Beaches-East York Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon brought the hammer down on the Toronto Council Chambers Tuesday morning, when they delivered a lectern and speaker’s mallet hewn from the branches of the famous Maple Leaf Forever Tree.
The political tchotchke are just two of the objects artisans have crafted from the silver maple tree that had stood on Laing Avenue in Leslieville for more than 100 years. The tree is said to have inspired Alexander Muir to compose ‘The Maple Leaf Forever’ — a song that for many Canadians stood for the country’s national anthem before the introduction of ‘O Canada.’
The tree was blown down during a storm in 2013, but that was not the end of it. Thanks to a motion brought forward by Fletcher, city staff from the city’s Economic Development and Culture, and Parks, Forestry and Recreation divisions gathered up the wood and made it available for public projects across the city.
“Currently over 400 unique pieces are being made from this tree and some of them will reside at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Ontario Museum and at the Canadian embassy in London,” said Councillor McMahon.
At Toronto City Hall, the tree provided wood for the restoration of the Speaker’s lectern, using the tree’s wood on top and also for a carving of the city’s logo. The lectern was refurbished by Dixon Hall’s Mill Centre.
The gavel meanwhile is all Maple Leaf Forever. Fletcher presented it to speaker Frances Nunziata at the start of the meeting, and by noon she had already put it to use, to cut off York West Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti as he tried to speak during a vote.
“It’s a very important part of council — it’s how the Speaker manages the crowd, it’s how she manages council,” said Fletcher. “The gavel used today by the speaker to tell one of the councillors to get back in order.”