Alec Keefer at last year's Jane's Walk in Parkdale

Walk Walk Walk, the Jane Jacobs Way


Despite the cool temps and the threat of rain this weekend, the planned Jane's Walk will proceed as planned! Jane Jacobs will be duly celebrated with free walking tours through various neighbourhoods in the city. Jane's Walk was started up last year by a group of her peers and friends, as a way to honour her legacy and ensure our memory of this ground-breaking activist remains fresh. Jacobs died from a stroke on April 25th, 2006, at the age of 89, in Toronto Western Hospital.

For those of you who don't know (shame on you!), Jane Jacobs was a vocal urbanist, whose ideas centred on promoting community-based progress in our cities. She penned a now-infamous book in the early 60s entitled The Death and Life of Great American Cities, where she emphasized the importance of localized, mixed-use buildings that promote sustainable, community living. Her efforts were most visible here in Toronto when she played a large part in the cessation of the proposed Spadina Expressway in 1971, which would've carved an ass-fault through the centre of our city along Cedarvale Ravine.

Jane Jacobs


This is the second year these free walking tours are being offered by The Centre for City Ecology, commemorating Jacobs life. The program is being expanded, and includes not only Jacobs' home-cities of Toronto and New York, but other cities across Canada as well, namely Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

These walks aim to "raise urban literacy by offering a pedestrian focused event that combines insights into urban history, planning, design and civic engagement with the simple act of walking and observing." If you're a proud Torontonian, and even remotely interested in the history of our city, don't miss the opportunity to get to know your 'hood better!

Of the 65 walks being offered in Toronto (that's right, 65!), here are some of the tours I'm interested in attending. Unfortunately, there's lots of overlapping as far as start times go, so unless I learn how to fully replicate myself by Saturday morning, I'll have to whittle my choices down to just a couple.

The Bicycle in Toronto's History

Time: 11:00 am Saturday May 3, 2008
Meeting place: Corner of Yonge Street and Temperance Street
Tour Guide: Steve Brearton
Duration: 1.5 hours

Fort York Historic District: 200 Years of Lakefront Development
Time: Sunday, May 4, 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm.
Meeting place: Fort York canteen
Tour guides: Ren茅 Malag贸n

Growing Urban Landscapes
Time: Sunday May 4, 2:30pm to 4.30pm
Meeting place: The Green Barn at the northeast corner of Wychwood and Benson (one block south of St. Clair).
Tour guides: Rhonda Teitel-Payne, Laura Rainsborough, Roscoe Handford, James Kuhns

Hidden City: Take a walk with the CBC radio show!
Time: Sunday May 3, 3:30 pm
Meeting Place: We will meet at White Squirrel Way and Queen St. W. right under the street sign. White squirrel way is just west of Ossington and runs south off Queen. It is opposite Fennings Ave.
Tour Guides: Ira Basen, Wendy Mendes, Nick Purdon
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods area

Jane's Hood- The Annex
Time: Sunday May 4, 10 am
Meeting Location: St. George Subway Station (St. George exit)
Tour guide: Angus Skene
Neighbourhood: The Annex

The King West King
Time: 10:00 am Saturday May 3, 2008
Meeting Location: The Roastery - At the entrance of 401 Richmond, just east of Spadina
Tour Guides: Paul Bedford & Margaret Zeidler

Marginal spaces and modish places: tensions and curiosities of neighbourhood change on West Queen West
Time: 2:00 pm Sunday May 4, 2008
Meeting place: In front of the Post Office at 1117 Queen Street West at Lisgar, one block west of Dovercourt
Tour guides: Michelle Drylie and Mia Hunt
Duration: 90 minutes

Parkdale: Hangouts, Shortcuts, and Other Places That Escape The Minds of Adults
Time: Saturday May 3, 10:30 am
Meeting Place: Parkdale Public School, 78 Seaforth Ave. (Lansdowne and Queen W)
Tour guides: Parkdale Public School's grade 8 students from Ms. DeAngelis-Mullin's, Ms. Huot's, and Ms. Wallace's geography classes

Parkade with Two Politicians
Time: Saturday May 3, 9:30 am
Meeting Location: Roncesvalles and Queen St, southeast corner.
Tour guides: Peggy Nash MP and Cheri DiNovo MPP
Neighbourhood: Parkdale Village
Duration: approximately 90 mins

Places to Bonk on Your Lunch Hour
Time: Sunday May 4, 2 pm
Meeting place: TBA - see note below
Tour Guide: Sasha Van Bon Bon
Neighbourhood: Yonge St, Church St and beyond...

Queen West Triangle: Community responses to rapid change and gentrification
Time: Sat May 3, 2 pm
Meeting place: Country Site Cafe, 1181 Queen St W at Gladstone Ave
Tour guides: Brad Doner and other members of Active 18

The Roncesvalles Sausage Walk
Time: Sunday May 4, 2 pm
Meeting place: The south east corner of Roncesvalles and Grafton - just north of Queen, in the parkette
Tour guides: Tonya Surman, Executive Director of Centre for Social Innovation
and Mary Weins, CBC Radio

Second Annual Jane Jacobs Tribute Walk: An evening ramble with the Toronto Field Naturalists
Time: Sunday May 4, 6:45 p.m.
Meeting place: Meet at the north end of Glencairn subway station , (south side of Glencairn Ave. on the Yonge/University line).
Tour Guides: Helen Juhola and Pleasance Crawford

West Toronto Railpath Walk
Time: 3:00 pm Sunday May 4, 2008
Meeting Place: We will meet in front of the Post Office at 1117 Queen West (south west corner of Queen and Lisgar) and then walk to the rail line.
Tour Guide: Alex Speigel and Netami Stuart
Duration: 90 minutes to 2 hours

Photo of Alec Keefer on last year's Jane's Walk by Kari Gignac
Photo of Jane Jacobs courtesy of Time & Life Photos, Getty Images


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