Your Guide to Jane's Walk 2012
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Your Guide to Jane’s Walk 2012

Comfy shoes, water, and lots of Toronto love. Jane's Walk 2012 is here.

Toronto, we often hear, needs to get over its insecurities and embrace itself—stop worrying and wondering what others think, and enjoy the city we have. One excellent way to do this: Jane’s Walk.

Held the first weekend in May in cities across the world, Jane’s Walk celebrates the life of urban theorist Jane Jacobs, and the attitude of urban appreciation she cultivated in her work. Volunteers sign up to create and lead tours which are as varied and eclectic as life in the city, exploring everything from edible gardens to historical homes to social and political issues.

Because the schedule, with its dozens upon dozens of walks, can be daunting, we’ve pulled out a few themes and suggested some walks for each. Some Jane’s Walks to consider if:

If you have kids, or are one (either actually or at heart)…

Toronto: not just for grownups. While that is not, nor ever shall be, the city’s motto, it’s decent slogan material for the following kid-friendly city strolls. (Kelli Korducki)

TITLE: Toronto: City as Urban Playground

STARTS AT: Saturday, 10 a.m.

MEETING SPOT: Central fountain at Berczy Park, behind the Flatiron Building at Front and Church

Recommended for kids aged 5-12 years, this walk covers the ‘underground city’ of the PATH system, public art, and the financial district’s distinctly downtown-y architecture. It should also be mentioned that this walk includes a treasure hunt—for the kids, that is.


TITLE: These are the People in Your Neighbourhood

STARTS AT: Saturday, 1 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: In front of St. Anthony’s Church, 1041 Bloor Street West

This particular walk—a kid-guided neighbourhood tour that demonstrates how Sesame Street utopia can be found right here in the grand ol’ smoke—is an interactive performance piece brought to you by students from Ms. Brougham’s and Ms. Furdyk’s Grade 4/5 class at Dovercourt Public School.


TITLE: Why Cheap Parks are More Fun

STARTS AT: Sunday, 3 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: MacGregor Park (on the west side of Lansdowne about one block north of College)

Beginning and ending with grill pits and “campfire treats” at two area parks, this walk includes craft making, a show-and-tell of Lansdowne Avenue lore, and kid-friendly discussions about low-cost community approaches to invigorating public space.

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If you’re into burroughs and ‘burbs…

Toronto’s not just about the city centre, as Jane’s Walk helpfully reminds us. With walks further afield, the weekend invites downtown bubble-dwellers to be intrepid tourists of the megacity. (Kelli Korducki)

TITLE: Albion Road, Exploring the Fringe and its Food

STARTS AT: Sunday, 12 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: Front Doors Sikh Spiritual Centre, 9 Carrier Drive, Rexdale

Guided by Sony Rai, this walk traces the influences of the area’s South Asian, Caribbean, and African diasporic communities through a jaunt down Albion Road. A chai break will be held in the middle of the excursion.


TITLE: Gleaning Walks

STARTS AT: Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: 96 Cornell Park Avenue Markham

This tour begins in Cornell, Markham’s pedestrian-friendly planned enclave, and ambles into the York Durham Line beyond the Rouge, to pick apart the interaction between Greenbelt conservation and New Urbanism.

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If you’d rather bike…

Why Jane’s walk when you can Jane’s ride, with these bike’s-eye-view perspectives on the streets, backstreets, and non-existent streets around town. (Sarah-Joyce Battersby)

TITLE: Jane’s Bike Ride

STARTS AT: Sunday, 1 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: Eglinton West Subway Station

For those more interested in the “Jane” part of Jane’s Walks than the walking part, the good people at Bike Pirates present a bike tour of Jane Jacobs’ Annex neighbourhood. The 90-minute jaunt will focus on what the area would look like if the Spadina Expressway had been built.


TITLE: Hidden Laneways of Ward 19 Bike Tour

STARTS AT: Sunday, 2 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: Main gates of Trinity Bellwoods Park (Queen and Strachan)

The Toronto Cyclists Union (or should we say Cycle Toronto) will lead this tour through west-end back alleys. Pausing to note laneway landmarks like nice graffiti spots and tucked-away houses, the tour also promises to equip participants with some alternate routes to avoid traffic and one-ways.

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If you like parks…

Because, really, who doesn’t like a stroll through a park on a spring day? These walks in and around parklands, from the waterfront to the woods, will cover the terrain, the tactics, and the toilets that make up the city’s parks. Yes, we said toilets. (Sarah-Joyce Battersby)

TITLE: High Park Habitats

STARTS AT: Saturday, 1 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: 440 Parkside Drive

Strap on the hiking boots for an all-ages tour of the flora and fauna that inhabit High Park. At 90 minutes, the trek will cover wetlands, woodlands, and lands in between.


TITLE: Trinity Bellwoods Park

STARTS AT: Sunday, 1:30 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: Northwest corner of Queen and Gore Vale

You think you know Trinity Bellwoods, but you have no idea. For instance, did you know the park was home to one of Toronto’s oldest trees? Check out this walk to hear the tale of the 200 year old Bitternut Hickory Tree, the park’s role in the War of 1812, and what happened to Garrison Creek.


TITLE: Why Cheap Parks Are More Fun

STARTS AT: Sunday, 3 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: MacGregor Park

This walk hits two parks—MacGregor and Campbell parks in the Lansdowne and Bloor area—and boasts a campfire at each end, complete with “campfire treats.” Leading the tour from one fire to the other is local firebrand Jutta Mason, a woman we can all thank for the wonderfulness that is Dufferin Grove Park. This walk will include a bit of history, some fun and games for the kids, and did we mention “campfire treats”? (Also recommended above, for those want to experience a kid-friendly walk.)


TITLE: How Parks Work: An Eastern Beaches Walkabout

STARTS AT: Sunday, 4 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: Balmy Beach Club parking lot, at the foot of Beech Avenue

Lead by City staff, this walk gets into the nitty gritty of what goes into making a park, from the planks on the boardwalk to the newly renovated public washrooms. While the potty may not be the prettiest part of any park, there’s always the view of the lake to ease your eyes.

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If you want to find out for yourself whether St. Clair is a disaster or not…

If you believe Mayor Rob Ford and his pals, the installation of a streetcar right-of-way has destroyed St. Clair Avenue, leaving motorists angry and businesses faltering. But is St. Clair the hopeless basketcase those people make it out to be? Hardly—and these Jane’s Walks are out to prove it. (Jamie Bradburn)

TITLE: #StClairDisaster: Seeing is Believing

STARTS AT: Saturday, 2 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: St. Clair West Subway Station entrance, in front of Loblaws.

Journalist John Lorinc, who has written extensively about “the St. Clair Disaster” will show walkers “the good, the bad, and the indifferent” of post-ROW St. Clair Avenue. See if criticisms of local transit service and its implications on the rest of the city are valid or not.


TITLE: St. Clair Kick It! Soccer culture on St. Clair Avenue West

STARTS AT: Saturday, 5:30 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: Chappa Corner Café, 1340 St. Clair Avenue West

Whenever global soccer fever hits Toronto, St. Clair Avenue is flooded by sports fans. Starting with Italy’s 1982 World Cup victory, the street has filled with honking cars and people waving the flags of their ancestral home. This walk promises “photography, anecdotes and debate, in multiple languages.”


TITLE: Changes in St. Clair West with the NEAT group

STARTS AT: Sunday, 1 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: North exit of St. Clair West station.

The NEAT (Newcomers Explore and Appreciate Toronto) West walking group explores the demographic and historical elements of a changing neighbourhood, including Wychwood Barns and the gentrification of St. Clair Avenue.

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If you’ve always wondered what’s at the west end of the Queen Streetcar line…

The answer is three of Toronto’s earliest commuter suburbs: Long Branch, Mimico, and New Toronto. Explore one or all of these communities through the following walks. (Jamie Bradburn)

TITLE: Mimico-by-the-Lake

STARTS AT: Saturday, 11 a.m.

MEETING SPOT: Norris Crescent Parkette

A look back at Mimico’s history, and a discussion of its revitalization plan, Mimico 20/20.


TITLE: Long Branch: A walk along the “Main Street”

STARTS AT: Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

MEETING SPOT: Parking lot of Long Branch Beer Store, 3580 Lake Shore Boulevard West

An exploration of the business heart of Long Branch, Lake Shore Boulevard, which is springing back to life years after the construction of the Gardiner Expressway/Queen Elizabeth Way caused its decline. This walk will end at the Lakeshore Hospital Grounds, where it will meet up with a concurrent Long Branch stroll…


TITLE: Long Branch to the Lakeshore Hospital Grounds

STARTS AT: Sunday, 10:30 a.m

MEETING SPOT: East parking lot of Marie Curtis Park (Forty Second Street south of Lake Shore Boulevard West)

This walk examines the history of Long Branch, from prehistoric times to the 20th century. Learn how the area evolved from an aboriginal hunting ground to an early incarnation of cottage country, along with the story of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.


TITLE: New Toronto

STARTS AT: Sunday, 12:30 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: Assembly Hall, 1 Colonel Samuel Smith Park Drive

Discover why the Grid called New Toronto one of the city’s most underrated neighbourhoods.

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If you like eating your way across the city…..

Toronto, always interested in food, has been paying even more attention to the state of eating in our city of late. From food trucks rolling out across town to temporary restaurants popping-up in unexpected places to the availability of more (and better!) street food options, it’s a great time to be a foodie in Toronto. Here are a few sidewalk strolls for city slickers that like to take a walk on the savoury side. (Jess Davidson)

TITLE: An Insider’s View of Ossington

STARTS AT: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: In front of Bellwoods Brewery, 124 Ossington

A walk though one of Toronto’s culinary hot spots begins at one of the city’s newest breweries and continues along a city strip chock full o’ restaurants, coffee shops, and watering holes.


TITLE: Albion Road, Exploring the Fringe and its Food

STARTS AT: Sunday, 12 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: Front Doors Sikh Spiritual Centre, 9 Carrier Drive (Westmore Road and Carrier Drive)

Concentrated on the two centres of Albion Road between Highway 27 and Islington Avenue, this Jane’s Walk explores a few of Rexdale’s South Asian, Caribbean, and African communities. While sampling some of the area’s local cuisine, walkers will gain insight into how Albion Road has adapted, changed and thrived. (Also recommended above, for those want to learn more about Toronto’s suburbs.)


TITLE: Momos and Moo-Moos: How Food Has Shaped Parkdale

STARTS AT: Sunday, 1 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: Parkdale Community Health Centre, 1229 Queen West and Gwynne

A stroll through the diverse foodie community of Parkdale includes Tibetan cuisine, community gardens, the PARC kitchen, Cowbell, Mitzi’s Café, the Sorauren Farmer’s Market, and the West End Food Co-op. Participants will indulge in treats (and tales) along the way.

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If you’re interested in social justice…
A weekend of celebrating Jane Jacobs and her vision for better cities just wouldn’t be complete without exploring local social justice issues. These walks take a look back into history at how far we’ve come in achieving a more equal city for all residents, and a peek at the present (and future) that provides insight about how far we still have to go. (Jess Davidson)

TITLE: A Poor People’s History of East Downtown Toronto

STARTS AT: Saturday, 10 a.m.

MEETING SPOT: 51 Division Police Station (Parliament and Front)

Focused on the history of low-income people in the area, this Jane’s Walk will explore the significance of industrialization of Toronto in the early 1870s and how this led to the formation of slums in the city. A walk perhaps suited for Occupiers, it will also look at the role played by the 1% in the creation of one of the country’s largest skid rows.


TITLE: A Pioneer in Social Welfare: Walking the History of the Central Neighbourhood House

STARTS AT: Saturday, 1 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: 84 Gerrard St West (corner of Elizabeth and Gerrard)

If you don’t know much (or anything) about Central Neighbourhood House, this is your chance to gain insight into both the history of the House and the neighbourhoods it serves. This Jane’s Walk will be followed by an archival photo exhibit, a multimedia presentation, and light refreshments.


TITLE: A Walk on the Radical Side: Gentrification and other downsides of becoming a desirable neighbourhood

STARTS AT: Saturday, 3 p.m.
MEETING SPOT: Jimmie Simpson Recreation Centre, 870 Queen St. East (site of the former Dunlop Tire factory)

This Jane’s Walk will explore rising inequality in Toronto’s east-end as neighbourhoods become wealthier and less racial diversified. Leave your Starbucks travel mug at home for this one.


TITLE: A Fresh Look at Social Housing

STARTS AT: Sunday, 2 p.m.

MEETING SPOT: The courtyard, 1555 Queen Street East at Craven

An east-end tour focused on social housing with the chance to hear from people representing Toronto Community Housing, Innstead, Riverdale Co-ops, and Project Amik. An interactive Jane’s Walk that asks walkers to join in a 15-minute game of “spot the social housing.”

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