When it comes to wildlife, Oakville is stunningly diverse, with over 900 different native species of plants.
One of the oldest trees in Oakville, if not the oldest, is a white oak tree that stands in the middle of Bronte road across from the Halton Regional Centre. The tree was planted in 1760, making it more than 70 years older than Oakville itself. An oak tree of this age in Oakville is extremely rare, as most of the abundant population of Oak trees were cut down by the 1900s and used for home and shipbuilding.
Recently, the great white oak was threatened by roadwork. The region was considering expanding Bronte road to four lanes, which would put the white oak directly in its path, so the tree was going to be removed. Unhappy with this plan, the town banded together to raise the $343,000 needed to reroute the road and save the tree. Today this great White Oak is protected as Oakville’s first standalone Heritage Tree.
As white oaks were cut down during the founding of Oakville, land was freed up for the town’s next plant-based industry: farming. Fruit became Oakville’s biggest export. There were several orchards growing apples, plums, cherries, and pears, but fruit fields growing strawberries ended up having the most impact on the community. Strawberry pickers of all ages were brought in from different parts of Ontario, and were paid 2 cents per box of fruit picked. For a time, Oakville was known as the strawberry capital of Canada.
The logging industry was given new life as a result of fruit farming, as logs would now be sent to the Oakville Basket factory, and would come out as a finished basket within two hours. The factory produced baskets in the hundred-thousands every day, but were very vulnerable to fire.
In addition, two jam factories were opened to make use of the abundance of fruit.