Explore Your Neighbourhood During Jane’s Walk in Toronto

St. Lawrence Market in Toronto
St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood in Toronto
St. Lawrence Market in Toronto
St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood in Toronto

Spring weather has definitely arrived in Toronto, which is a great reason to get outside and explore different parts of the city. Jane’s Walk, a tribute to urban activist Jane Jacobs, takes place on Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5, 2013, and features free guided tours of many Toronto neighbourhoods. Jacobs advocated for walkable cities, higher density neighbourhoods and mixed uses with a focus on a pedestrian-centred vs. car-centred core. This weekend is definitely the time to live like a tourist in your own city. You can discover the history of neighbourhoods while witnessing newer developments and gentrification.

This year’s Jane’s Walk includes a walk in tribute to Jack Layton, walks throughout historic old Toronto, nature walks along the Don River and tours of Parkdale and the Ossington strip.

The Architectural Legacy of the Village of Parkdale, 1879-1889 – Sat., May 4 at 1:30 p.m., 1.5 hours

Having been a real estate agent, I can advise that Parkdale contains some of Toronto’s most stunning residential architecture, which is reflective of the area’s former status as the playground of wealthier Torontonians. Beginning at the McDonald’s at Queen Street West and Roncevalles Avenue, this tour will take you through Parkdale’s residential streets where you can admire the area’s Victorian architecture. You’ll also learn about street name origins and local historic events. Look for the person in 19th century clothing and top hat at McDonald’s. The tour ends at Queen Street West and Elm Grove.

Three Centuries of Corktown – Sun., May 5 at 10 a.m., 2 hours

Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in Toronto, photo by Wanda G
Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in Corktown, photo by Wanda G

If you’re a fan of Murdoch Mysteries, then you’ll enjoy taking a walking tour through Corktown, one of Toronto’s oldest neighbourhoods and an area that is the frequent focus of the popular Canadian TV series. Find out the history of Victorian era residents who were some of the city’s early labourers as you stroll along narrow streets lined with rowhouses. You’ll also learn about new developments in this increasingly high demand area. Meet at the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse at 106 Trinity Street.

An Insider’s View of Ossington – Sat., May 4 at 4:30 p.m., 1 hour

If you’ve wanted to explore the hot Ossington Avenue strip, join this tour to find out about the area’s restaurants, club, retail stores and theatre. The tour begins on the south side of Queen Street West at Ossington Avenue at the park beside Shopper’s Drug Mart.

Jack’s Walk – Sat., May 4 at 3 p.m., 2 hours

City Councillor Mike Layton will take walkers on a tour of his father, Jack Layton’s stomping grounds including the University of Toronto, City Hall, Ryerson University and Cabbagetown. Hear stories about Jack’s life from family and friends. The tour starts at the University of Toronto (check website for exact location TBD) and ends at a pub.

Coming Out – A History of the Gay Village – Sun., May 5 at 2 p.m., 2 hours

Toronto's Gay Village on Church Street, photo Ed and Eddie
Toronto’s Church Street in Gay Village, photo Ed and Eddie

If you’ve wanted to learn more about the Wellesley and Church area of Toronto, join this tour to explore local business operations and find out about the changing status of the neighbourhood. The tour begins in front of the Wellesley Subway Station; look for the guy wearing the moose hat.

East Toronto: Heroes and Rogues in the Old Town of York – Sat., May 4 at 1 p.m., 2 hours

Meet at the Market Gallery at the south St. Lawrence Market, 95 Front Street East, 2nd floor for a 10-block tour of the Old Town of York during which you will find out about some of the early Loyalist merchants and politicians who settled did business here. The tour ends in the Distillery District where you’ll find many great bars and restaurants to stop for a refreshment.

Down the Lower Don Trail – Sun., May 5 at 10 a.m., 2.5 hours

Todmorden Mills, photo theminmin
Todmorden Mills, photo theminmin

Learn how the Lower Don area is being transformed into a greenspace at this tour led by Evergreen Brick Works staff. The tour begins at Evergreen Brick Works, passes by Todmorden Mills, Helliwell’s Hill Wetland, Chester Springs Marsh and Riverdale Park and ends at Keating Channel. Walkers will be able to purchase lunch at the Manulife Paddle the Don Take-Out Party.

Big Street Create Small Villages – Sat., May 4 at 3:30 p.m., 2 hours

City Councillor Adam Vaughan will lead the tour, which begins and ends at Ed and Anne Mirvish Park, 843 Bathurst Street (just north of Bloor Street West) throughout the neighbourhood Jane Jacobs called home.