“By its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by traveling; namely, the strange.” – Jane Jacobs, original lady-boss urbanist
Toronto is on the map, and there to stay. As scores of tourists begin to explore our urban nest, it’s probably about time we do the same. There’s no better way to ring in spring than finally getting outside and knowing that this time, hopefully, there won’t be a surprise hail storm coming to chase us back into hibernation. Spending the day on your favourite patio may be tempting, but this weekend wander a little further to discover the strange and wonderful at the Jane’s Walk Festival.
Jane’s Walk takes its name from legendary urban activist Jane Jacobs. If you don’t know her, google her. Now.
You back? Great.
The Jane’s Walk Festival has become wildly popular over the last decade, expanding to hundreds of cities around the world, and it’s easy to see why: the community led weekend of local walking tours is fun, informative, and free! Anyone can lead a Jane’s Walk, from veteran arborists to middle-school students, and walks cover all kinds of topics, from history to architecture to ecology.
With that in mind, we can’t wait to get outside again this year and learn about hidden creeks, ghosts, elevators, and more. Here are five walks-within-walking-distance of the Gladstone that we’re particularly stoked about:
Discover the New Ontario Place!
Sunday May 6 | 11am
After years of waiting and wondering about the future of Ontario’s once-futuristic theme park, the revitalization of the public space has begun, and we can’t wait to see it! Join Norman Di Pasquale of Waterfront for All to ”explore the new park and trail, discuss the vision of the landscape architects and ponder the past and future of our iconic green space.”
2) Ghost Walk at Exhibition Place
Saturday May 5 | 7pm
Having been on this walk before, I can tell you that the City of Toronto’s General Services Building is actually a lot more exciting than it sounds! Join Steve Collie to explore the haunted history of the exhibition grounds. The walk is also a great opportunity to see buildings and parts of the exhibition grounds not usually accessible to the public
3) Voices of Resilience: Claiming Places in Parkdale Saturday May 5 | 12pm.
This one is “the first-ever AR-enhanced Jane’s Walk experience in Parkdale” and it’s addressing change and development in the area. It’s refreshing to have new perspectives on gentrification, and as development is still happening all over the west-end (and the city at large), it’s important to stay engaged with the change going on around us.
4) Going Up: Architecture, History, and Elevators
Saturday May 5 | 1:30pm
While it’s not right in our backyard, we think this one is just too cool to miss. As keepers of one of two hand-operated elevators in Toronto, we’re all for restoring the meaning of “call a lift” to its true vertical roots. Take a walk downtown and check out the other amazing vertical transportation the city has to offer.
5) Landscape Archaeology of Garrison Creek
Saturday May 5 | 1:30pm
It might be too late to dig up the old creek and see it for ourselves, but we can definitely still explore the creek’s route and see the way it’s shaped Toronto’s west end. Join Jon Harstone for a topographical exploration of the city from Bloor to Trinity Bellwoods and learn some cool local history on the way!
Here’s a little teaser: there might just be a bridge hidden in plain sight, somewhere just in the background of this picture.
Looking to fill out more of your weekend walking calendar? Check out the Jane’s Walk website for full listings. There are over 100 walks to choose from, from Scarborough to Mimico, and they’re happening all weekend long (May 4- 6)!