1867 - The Maple Leaf Forever!

Yes, indeed - Forever!  The famous tune,  by a Toronto Scotsman,  was written in 1867.

 Alexander Muir,  (1830–1906) a Leslieville school teacher,  wrote the work after serving with the Queen's Own Rifles of Toronto in the Battle of Ridgeway against the Fenians in 1866.

Muir was said to have been inspired to write this song by a large maple tree which stood on his street in front of Maple Cottage,  a house at Memory Lane and Laing Street in Toronto.   The song became quite popular in English Canada and for many years served as an unofficial national anthem.   Because of its strongly British perspective  it became unpopular amongst French Canadians, and this prevented it from ever becoming an official anthem, even though it was seriously considered for that role and was even used as a de facto  anthem in many instances.

The tree which inspired Muir's song was felled during a windstorm on the night of  July 19,  2013. Residents have expressed their hope that the city will be able to start a new tree from one of the branches.

It has been asserted that Muir's words, however, while certainly pro-British, were not anti-French, and he revised the lyrics of the first verse from "Here may it wave, our boast, our pride, and join in love together / The Thistle, Shamrock, Rose entwine" to  "The Lily, The Thistle, The Shamrock,  the Maple Leaf forever" – the thistle representedScotland; the shamrock, Ireland; and the rose, England – adding "Lily", a  French symbol, to the list. According to other accounts, this was actually the original wording. Muir was attempting to express that under the Union Flag, the British and French were united as Canadians.

.The song makes reference to James Wolfe capturing Quebec in 1759 during  the Seven Years' War and the Battle of Queenston Heights and Battle of Lundy's Lane during the War of 1812.

wikipedia

Muir received his early education at home, from his father, but later graduated from Queen's College. .  He became a school teacher, in central Toronto, as well as in what were then much more suburban areas like Scarborough, Parkdale, and Leslie-ville.    Muir was active in the Loyal Orange Lodge, and was no doubt tempted to combine his philosophies as a member of this fraternal organization with his memories of active military service, by decrying the "evils" of Irish Catholicism in the classroom. 

 John McPherson, The House of A. Muir after a Shower in Toronto, 1907. (Toronto Reference Library)