Don't let a little rain stop you from exploring the city for the annual Jane's Walk weekend.
Spring officially kicks off with Jane’s Walk annual festival the first weekend of May (although there are walks all year round).
There will be more than 200 walks crisscrossing the city led by locals and folks passionate about their neighbourhoods. Jane’s Walks honours the legacy of Jane Jacobs, the legendary Toronto author, activist, and urbanist. The walks are free and run from May 5 to 7.
Here are Torontoist’s top picks for exploring Toronto on foot this weekend.
May 6, 10 a.m. (Two hours)
151 Hiawatha Road (Gerrard and Coxwell)
Housing is the hottest topic in Toronto these days and multiple generations are feeling the pressure of an overly heated market. Joy Connelly discusses how housing in her neighbourhood has changed from blue collar to multi-million, and what can be done from citizen activism all the way up to federal policy. Given that everyone we knows these days is house hunting, this sounds like an informative and cathartic group.
May 6, 10:30 a.m. (1.5 hours)
Jenner Jean-Marie Community Centre (Buses from Broadview, Pape, and St. Clair stations)
In one square kilometre, over 30,000 people live in high rise apartments. Thorncliffe Park is a fascinating pocket the city, seeing how people from all corners of the globe have built their neighbourhood together, learning about its pioneering urban planning history in Toronto, and learning about what challenges the neighbourhood faces today. Worth the visit.
May 6, 1 p.m. (Two hours)
Good Earth Coffeehouse at 198 Jarvis Street (at Dundas)
Toronto is known for being a city of neighbourhoods and cultures, but first and foremost, we all live on Indigenous land. Where is the Indigenous neighbourhood? This tour looks at Indigenous space, culture, and history in the downtown corridor, led by Chief R. Stacey Laforme, chief to the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, Carolyn King, an Indigenous historian and previously elected chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, and Sam Mukwa Kloetstra, an Anishinaabe youth advocate from the Mattagami First Nation. This is an amazing lineup of tour guides!
May 6, 2 p.m. (Two hours)
Maria A. Shchuka Library (1745 Eglinton Ave W, Eglinton and Dufferin)
Toronto is home to one of the largest Jamaican populations and is one of the most historic and important sites of reggae and dancehall music in the world. Learn about the truly rich musical history of Eglinton West and get a taste of its Caribbean food and flair on Saturday afternoon.
May 6 and 7, 2 p.m. (2.5 hours)
Dundas Square – The corner of Yonge Street and Dundas Street
If you ever needed a sign for where you are going in life (or, really, somewhere in Toronto), it’s probably partly due to Ted Van Vliet, the manager of the City of Toronto Sign Bylaw Unit. You can hang with him on both Saturday and Sunday and learn all about the realm of signage in the city, from exploring how it compliments the built form to how it can create and boost perceptions of a space. Cool! This is top-notch wonky urbanism.
May 6, 5 p.m. (One hour)
Lawrence Ave. West and Dufferin
This is a classic Jane’s Walk: led by a community member, this tour explores the area around Dufferin and Lawrence and stops to discuss local institutions, the built environment, and a local textile factory that is a hub of employment. The walk leader, Virginia Barquero, is a newcomer and a trainee of the Immigrant Women Integration Program, and the walk caps off at an hour. Short and sweet.
May 7, 1 p.m. (2.5 hours)
30 Bond Street (Ryerson campus, Yonge and Queen)
How does mental health fit into a city? What does Toronto’s mental health landscape look like? This group will tour mental health services in the downtown core and participants are encouraged to share their own experiences. Mental health is not an aspect that is commonly considered in city building today, but as we continue to build our city it is essential to factor in what impact our physical spaces have on our psychological and emotional well-being.
Dragon City (Spadina and Dundas)
May 7, 12:30 p.m. (1.5 hours)
Andrew Do, the brain behind 6ixspots.com, explores two Chinatown malls and contemplates how their interiors are a reliable source of nostalgia as Chinatown itself seems to march more quickly to the tune of change. Andrew invites people to wonder and wonder aloud about identity and intersections. Bubble tea and bao optional but encouraged.
May 7, 11:00 a.m. (1.5 Hours)
King and Bay
This tour surveys defensive architecture in the city. How are places designed to welcome some people and not others, and whose best interests are being served and why. A critical lens applied to who the city is really built for. How do they spaces we create in turn create our experiences? This sounds like a fascinating topic for urbanists.
Can’t make it to any walks this weekend? Don’t worry! Community members host walks year round.