Visiting Alexander Muir Park in Beaverton, Ontario: honouring the author of The Maple Leaf Forever
Remembering a soldier, poet and teacher
Born in Scotland, Muir emigrated to Canada and studied at Queen's College. He subsequently pursued a teaching career.
The circumstances of Muir's authorship of this important song are of particular note. As well as his teaching career, Alexander Muir did military service. He served at the Battle of Ridgeway (1866) in The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, against the Fenian invaders. It was while he was serving in this regiment that he penned the words of the song in 1867 in commemoration of Confederation that year.
In the year 2000, as part of their Millennium Project, the Beaverton Thorah Eldon Historical Society erected a plaque at the Park named for Alexander Muir in Beaverton, particularly in the light of the fact that, subsequent to writing The Maple Leaf Forever , Muir had taught at the Beaverton Public School on North Street, from 1876 until 1879 (1).
Particularly in English Canada, Alexander Muir 's song became very popular and acted as a kind of unofficial national anthem. Over the years, Muir's song has been amended and rewritten on a number of occasions. In its original form, the song runs to several verses, but the chorus goes as follows:
The Maple Leaf, our emblem dear,
The Maple Leaf forever!
God save our Queen and Heaven bless
The Maple Leaf forever!
(1) Muir went on to become Principal of what was eventually known as the Alexander Muir/Gladstone Junior and Senior Public School, Toronto, named for Muir after his death. Various other Ontarian schools have also been named for Alexander Muir.
Other parks in Ontario have likewise also been named for him.
Also worth seeing
In Beaverton itself, adjacent to the Alexander Muir Park are the Library and former Town Hall, which are both of architectural merit, dating from the early 20th century. The Old Stone Jail and the Beaver River Museum , which is sponsored by the Beaverton, Thorah and Eldon Historical Society, are worth a visit. On Lake Simcoe, Beaverton Harbour is in a picturesque location.
Orillia (distance: 38.5 kilometres) is in a picturesque setting on Lakes Simcoe and Couchicing. Orillia has some interesting structures; these include the Samuel de Champlain monument by Vernon March (also the designer of Canada's National War Memorial in Ottawa), commemorating the 17th century explorer, who visited the area. In addition, Orillia is noted for its Stephen Leacock Museum , which is a National Historic Site.
Leaskdale (distance: 29.1 kilometres), the home of writer Lucy Maud Montgomery, where many of her books were written; the Leaskdale Manse Museum is now based at her former residence.
How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson Airport to Beaverton: approx. 120.3 kilometres). Beaverton is also served by a GO Bus route. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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