York School News


The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time to plant one is now. 
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time to plant one is now. 

“Oaks are wonderful team players in the forest, but they can be finicky,” York School
teacher and Eco-club coordinator Catherine Goldeye explains. “Their intricate root
system prevents erosion and they are the home and ‘dining establishment’ of choice for
many woodland creatures -- from birds to deer. They take a long time to establish and
get squeezed out by invasive species like the Norway Maple and the Japanese

Observing the city’s ravines in rapidly declining ecological health, Catherine knew
something needed to be done. She recruited the Eco club for help.

While pulling up invasive species at Tommy Thompson Park to make room for native
plants to grow and thrive, the club hatched a plan.

Teaming up with the Toronto and Regional Conservation Authority and the University of
Toronto Forestry Department, the club planted oak seedlings on the York campus. The
club will nurture them away from the bullying invasives and will replant them in the
ravines where they are badly needed.

With the School on urban Yonge St., it resides next to a massive fragile ecosystem, part
of more than 11,000 ravine hectares. “That’s more than 17 percent of Toronto,”
Catherine observes. “From food to water to fresh air….Walking on sidewalks all day
long, we quickly forget all the things that nature provides for us. It is our responsibility to
take good care of the forest. This is our community.”

Catherine laughs and says “Patience,” when asked what students learn from the
project. “It takes a few years for an oak to take root. Where instantaneous results are at
our fingertips, this will be a long-term project. Imagine, White Oaks can grow 35 metres
tall and live for several hundred years!” How does the saying go? “The true meaning of
life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.’”

What else might the students learn? “A nurturing spirit and a respect for nature and
biology,” Catherine adds. “In 1759 Voltaire proclaimed in Candide ‘we must cultivate our
garden.’ As humans, it is important to be part of something larger than our time and

With help from the York School Fund Catherine and the eco-club have started their seed-to-seedling programme in large planters at The York School. Their aim is to bring more native oaks back to Toronto’s ravines. 

About the York School

Canada's first co-educational independent IB World School
The York School is a co-educational JK to Grade 12 independent school located in the heart of Toronto. The York School was founded in 1965 and is the first school in Canada accredited to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) from junior kindergarten (JK) to university entrance. As an IB World School, The York School's motto is Experientia Docet or Experience Teaches.

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Junior School (Grades JK-5) 1639 Yonge Street Toronto, Ontario M4T 2W6

Middle School (Grades 6-8) & Senior School (Grades 9-12) 1320 Yonge Street Toronto, Ontario M4T 1X2
Tel: 416.926.1325

Mailing address: 1320 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario M4T 1X2
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