Urban Wood Utilization

Making the Most of Our Urban Resources

Urban Wood is wood from urban forests. Trees face a variety of challenges when growing in an urban environment, often coming with unique shapes, sizes and grains that make them desirable for designers and makers of special wood products. Urban wood comes from these trees that die of old age, diseases and pest infestations, or which need to be removed for safety or development reasons. In many cases this wood is considered a waste and its disposal is a cost to the homeowner or to the community; but this does not always need to be the case.

LEAF worked with the City of Toronto and other key stakeholders to increase the utilization of wood from urban trees in Toronto and Southern Ontario. This Urban Wood Utilization Initiative sought to encourage the salvaging and re-use of what we consider a valued urban resource to celebrate the intersection of urban and natural, create unique Toronto wood products and recognize the value and importance of urban trees to our city and its residents.

This section of the LEAF site was supported by the City of Toronto - Economic Development & Culture and provides the resources developed as part of the initative.

Urban Wood Utilization Resources

©2016 City of Toronto

Urban Wood Directory - Toronto

Your source of information on the businesses that turn Toronto's waste wood into a valuable resource. If you’re a business in the GTA and provide one of the services listed in this directory then you can get listed in the next issue of the directory by emailing your contact details and a brief description to greentech[at]toronto.ca.

©2013 Michael / LEAF

Featured Resource

NeighbourWood! Reclaim Trees. Reduce Waste, Create Beauty.

An educational flyer that promotes the local wood industry in Toronto. Attention arborists, tree service companies, community groups, etc. - copies of this flyer are available to give to property owners removing urban trees. If you are interested in receiving a free packet of 50 flyers please send your request to greentech[at]toronto.ca.

More Brochures

My Ash Tree is Dead… Now What Do I Do? (Michigan)

Emerald Ash Board (Illinois)

Harvesting Urban Timber (Illinois)

Marketing Urban Trees for Higher Uses (Illinois)

©2013 Michael / LEAF

Ontario Wood Utilization Organizations

Social Media Groups

Using Toronto's Wood group on LinkedIn

This LinkedIn group is for members of Toronto's local wood industry including arborists, sawyers and wood crafts people who are interesting in turning the dead wood in Toronto into valuable products.

Urban Forest Products Alliance group on LinkedIn

This LinkedIn group has over 550 members focused on sustainable recovery and highest and best use of products from urban forests.

Maple Leaf Forever





On July 19, 2013, a storm brought down an aged silver maple tree on Laing Street in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood. This famed maple tree was the inspiration for the song "Maple Leaf Forever" by Alexander Muir, written in the year of Confederation 1867.

©2013 Lija Skobe / LEAF

Maple Leaf Forever Tree Wood Projects

A comprehensive catalogue of items made from the Maple Leaf Forever tree.

Todmorden Mills Commemorative Plaque

A plaque made from the MLF wood has been made to commemorate the distribution of the wood from the Maple Leaf Forever Tree to projects across Canada held at Todmorden Mills on June 7, 2014.  The plaque will be given to Todmorden Mills as part of their permanent collection.  The plaque was made by the Toronto Tool Library.

Ontario Science Centre Display

Our Forest Hall offers a wonderful opportunity to showcase this piece of Canadian history – it fits thematically with our intentions and would be seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors each and every year.  The Forest Hall exhibition space focuses on forests and trees, with an emphasis on our local forests. Taking advantage of our location within the Don Valley, our goal is to provide visitors with the opportunity to make connections between the world outside our building, as well as their own backyards and neighbourhoods.  We will use cross sections of the stem and branch for the display.

The Toronto Totem

The Ontario Wood Carvers Association is working with the Ontario Science Centre to host the carving of a large stem piece of the tool with panels on the history of Toronto.  The totem will be on permanent display at the Ontario Science Centre when completed.

©2015 LEAF

LEAF worked with the City of Toronto, the Green Living Show and Ontario Wood on a design exhibition and auction. Unique designs, submitted through a competitive process and selected by a panel of judges, were crafted by local artists using wood from the Maple Leaf Forever Tree. A portion of the proceeds from this project will support LEAF's urban forestry initiatives.

The auction is now closed. Thank you to all of the designers who participated!

Read our designer guest blogs that explain the process of crafting their pieces.

Maple Leaf Forever Canada's Flowers by Ontario Wood Carvers Association

Sharpe's Hedra by Storyboard Furniture

Forever Bench by the Baker Brothers

Maple Leaf Forever Lamp by Devin Shaffner


Learn more about why LEAF is interested in promoting better use of urban wood. 

©2014 Janet McKay / LEAF

Past Events

Maple Leaf Forever Design Exhibition at the Green Living Show, March 27-29, 2015

Presentation Ceremony and Reception (free and open to the public but registration required

View some of the designs made from the tree and celebrate a little bit of Canada's heritage.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

City Hall Rotunda
100 Queen Street West 
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

If you can't make the ceremony, items will be on exhibit in the City Hall Rotunda 

Sunday, Feb 15 - 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Monday, Feb 16 - 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb 17 - 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Feb 19 - 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

For highlights and coverage of past events, click on the links below:

Leslieville Tree Festival - (LEAF booth displayed design pieces made from MLF branches)
June 2014

The Maple Leaf Forever Wood Distribution Event at Todmorden Mills  
(LEAF displayed design pieces made from MLF branches)
une 2014

Green Living Show - (LEAF booth displayed design pieces made from MLF branches)
April 2014

Milling the Tree 
March 2014

The Maple Leaf Forever (part of Toronto Design Offsite Festival)  
January 2014

©2013 LEAF

Photo Galleries

Click here for photo galleries showing the Maple Leaf Forever tree - from salvaging the wood to milling to making the beautiful final products!


Maple Leaf Forever Tree Wood Projects

A comprehensive catalogue of items made from the Maple Leaf Forever tree.

Maple Leaf Forever Tree - Lumber and Unique Pieces Catalogue
Consult this guide to learn how the wood will be used and how you can obtain a piece!

Maple Leaf Forever Tree on Facebook

This Facebook page is dedicated to identifying opportunities to use the salvaged wood of the tree to preserve its cultural and historic legacy.

City of Toronto Staff Report on Use of Maple Leaf Forever Wood
This report follows up on the direction by City Council at the October 8, 2013 meeting to report back to City Council on the final allocation and uses of the salvaged wood from this tree. This report was adopted by Council on September 30, October 1 and 2, 2015.

©2014 Janet McKay / LEAF



...more Urban Wood Utilization Media & Promotion here