On Bayview Avenue just south of York Mills Road, sits the grounds of the Canadian Film Centre. Off-set from the road and screened by a wooded area, you can drive right by without even noticing it. However, the site is also home to Windfields – the historical estate of notable Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist, E.P. Taylor. Its large grounds house several mature specimen trees and a truly unique apple orchard, with some apple trees estimated to be over 100 years old.
History of the site
The land was settled in 1808 by the Whitney family. The Taylor family came to reside on the property in the 1930s. The original estate house and stables were built in 1937, with the north wing addition, cottages, greenhouse, gate house, and potting shed being added between 1946 and 1952.
The Taylor family lived on the property until 1987. The estate was transferred to North York and “eventually amalgamated into the City of Toronto, with the agreement that it be leased to the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and adapted for use as a creative media institution.”
The site was originally given heritage designation due to the history of the Taylor family, but in 2011 the heritage designation was expanded to include the landscape and archeological sites on the property as well. This was one of the first sites to be given landscape heritage designation after amendments were made to the Ontario Heritage Act in 2005.
Preserving the natural heritage of the site was always a priority for the CFC. After the ice storm of 2013, a number of the apple trees from the orchard were lost. Replacement trees have since been planted to restore the orchard. They have planted cherry blossom trees along Bayview Avenue to give passing motorists something beautiful to see on their commute. The site also features a Butternut tree in the front woodlot – Butternuts are endangered, so a 100-metre protection zone has been put in place around this tree.
The CFC is proud of their stewardship of Windfields. Along with a detailed outline of the site’s history, their website hosts an interactive map of the property and includes an inventory of all the trees on the site. They are also committed to the ongoing care of the trees on the property – the enlist forestry students and professional arborists alike to maintain and care for these trees.
Cohen & Master was fortunate enough to be entrusted with maintaining the trees on the property for this year. Our crew was out in the early spring to prune the orchard, as it is always best practice to prune fruit trees before they bloom. It is a privilege for us to be involved in the preservation of these trees. They are unique in age, form, and character and we want to make sure they can be enjoyed by the CFC and members of the public for many years to come.
See below for a slideshow of photos from the orchard pruning.
Be good to your trees.
Kristie Nairn, MA, MMst
Cohen & Master Tree and Shrub Services Ltd.