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Visiting the Alexander Muir mural, Leslieville, Toronto, Ontario: remembering the author of The Maple Leaf Forever

Updated on September 3, 2012
Flag of Canada
Flag of Canada | Source
Flag of Ontario
Flag of Ontario | Source
Leslieville mural, Toronto, Canada
Leslieville mural, Toronto, Canada | Source
Map location of Leslieville, Toronto
Map location of Leslieville, Toronto | Source

The Maple Leaf as a graphical exercise in civics

This mural recalls The Maple Leaf For Ever , the much loved song, known throughout Canada.

Some history and features

Written in 1867 by Alexander Muir (1830-1896), and sung more widely in the past than it is today, it is the subject of the striking — even poignant — mural situated opposite Leslie Grove Park at the intersection of Jones Avenue with 1160 Queen Street East, Toronto, Ontario, in the suburb of Leslieville. This mural has been sponsored by the Graffiti Transformation Fund, Mural Program, directed by Winnie Lee, of the Ralph Thornton Centre. The connection between Alexander Muir and Leslieville lies in that the author, who was a schoolmaster by profession, served as Principal of a local school — it is said that Muir was inspired by a maple leaf which fell from a maple tree in Leslieville. The mural was painted by local schoolchildren.

Interestingly, the maple leaf emblem occurs several times on the mural, as does a likeness of Alexander Muir. However, it also purports to show the trunk of a maple tree. Significantly, all of the maple leaves in the mural are connected to the main trunk. My reading of this symbolism of the maple leaves would be as follows: the mural seems to send the message that Canadians, who are many and varied, are all connected in one way or another to the main body of Canada, and should thus be viewed as living and vital parts of the whole.

Thus, the mural is as much a lesson in simple civics as it is a commemoration of Alexander Muir.

I have passed this mural many times, along with countless other travellers along Queen Street East; its bright colours are hard to miss.

Another issue that the mural raises is related to the fact that from time to time in recent years it has been modified clandestinely, by way of defacement, thus making further efforts necessary to restore it to its original state. But this begs the question, since mural art developed at least partly from the tradition of graffiti, then how can at least some changes to a mural be regarded as somehow lacking in any 'authenticity'? Defacement naturally needs to be remedied, but to some extent the inevitability of at least occasional changes to a mural of this nature cannot be avoided in the long term.

Given that the maple leaf is so central to the theme of this hubpage (The Maple Leaf, our emblem dear) , unlike my usual practice I am supplying flags of both the Ontario and Canadian flags!

Also worth seeing

In Toronto 's Queen Street East district, noted structures include: the Ashbridge Estate at 1444 Queen Street East; the Classical former Canadian Bank of Commerce building at 744 Queen Street East; the tastefully restored 111 Queen Street East, and the United Methodist 'Cathedral' at 56 Queen Street East.


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 1160 Queen Street East: 32.4 kilometres). However, visitors may prefer to use the TTC streetcar service No. 501 from Downtown Toronto, which passes the intersection of Queen Sreet East with Jones Avenue. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. 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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    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 5 years ago

      sandra: Thank-you; you are right and I have already made the necessary amendment. Thank-you for your comment.

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      sandra 5 years ago

      It was the Ralph Thornton Centre 765 Queen Street East, not the Grant Thornton Centre