This past weekend the annual Jane’s Walks took place across Toronto. With thousands of participants and dozens of walks to choose from, Jane’s Walks are an amazing way to learn more about the neighbourhoods we live in.Whether you walked until your feet were sore or weren’t able to attend any, we’ve compiled some of our favourites here for you to learn more about.
Fields of Dreams
It was a spectacular day for the Fields of Dreams Jane’s Walk – sunny, fresh and an azure blue sky. Apartment towers on Jane St and five schools are all within walking distance of the Black Creek farm, and in fact, several of the full time farmers and interns do just that to get to this workplace everyday. Jane’s Walkers came from near and far to check out this exciting urban farm consisting of eight fertile and lush acres located just inside Toronto’s borders on Jane St between Finch and Steeles. Farmers and interns were there to welcome us and get us holding the dirt in our hands, smelling it and learning about the crops going into the ground – cassava, asian greens, scotch bonnet peppers, various kinds of beans, lettuce, squash and lots of herbs. Plans for marketing the food to local neighbourhoods hinge on keeping the food affordable and accessible – markets and innovative distribution networks are taking shape. We capped it off wandering down the embankment to the Black Creek ravine bed – wild and overgrown with willows and old apple trees. Black Creek is a more than a farm – it’s a creative and clever innovation between the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority and Everdale Farm who have joined the forces in the service of sustainability and healthy land use. Stay tuned and go the farm at 4929 Jane St.
Embracing Our History @ Jane/Finch
This walk was hosted by the Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) and the Jane and Finch Family and Community Centre. Attendees learned about the Black Creek Bike race taking place in the fall, walked through Driftwood park where new trees had just been planted two weeks ago, walked through the hydro corridor that was lush and green and had a bike path running right across it from Norfinch Drive to Yonge street and Black Creek intersecting it. Carolyn King from the Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation spoke about the history of this place, how the Anishinabe would have lived in small villages along the Black Creek and that the trail we were on would have been the same trail the First Nations people would have traveled hundreds of years ago. Our stop at Black Creek Pioneer Village was very much about “embracing our history”, a place we can go to find out how people lived in the 1800s. Agriculture, history, industry & infrastructure, all just a stone’s throw from a ‘notorious’ part of Toronto. Jane & Finch has so much history that needs to be shared, has an abundance of green space that needs to be experienced and has amazing, hard working people.
Photos Courtesy: Anice Wong, www.anicewong.com
Alex Dow, the manager of Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) of Malvern led a group 80-100 people from all parts of the city to visit the wild side of Rouge Park and the Toronto Zoo. The walk started at Old Finch Ave and Morningview Trail in Scarborough. At that intersection corner, the ANC and other local associations wants to transform the two pieces of land side-by-side to become an urban farm. As we continued along into the forest, we saw the old Toronto Zoo Monorail which is now no longer in use. The group adventurously slid down the forest area and walked on the Monorail to see the outskirts of the Toronto Zoo.
While walking the Monorail, the group witnessed three bison, a lone deer and goats who enjoyed being on their own and soaking up the sun. People were fascinated to see the animals up close, with no cage between the animals and the viewers! The remnants of the monorail track are a wonderful trail through the wilderness of the Rouge watershed. Wild Scarborough indeed!
Art and Living in Bathurst/Finch
On Sunday, May 5th, the Bathurst and Finch community gathered at the new community hub for their annual Jane’s Walk through the surrounding neighbourhood. The title of the walk was “Art and Living in Bathurst/Finch”. One stop was along the local hydro corridor where community members discussed creative uses for the under-used green space. A new, multi-use path through the corridor has sparked ideas for the open space including a soccer tournament and a running race. A special thanks to walk leaders Dina Schneider, Mojgan Rasouli, Marina Slobodkina and Anna Lyulina.
Steeles L’Amoreaux Jane’s Walk
Steeles L’Amoreaux is a community bounded by Steeles, Kennedy, Huntingwood and Victoria Park. The wall near the location where the walk started was a bright, colourful mosaic; an art project of the organization Art Starts that works in four priority communities in Toronto.
We walked down a residential neighbourhood across Timberbank Park to the Timothy Eaton Public School that closed down in 2008 and will be torn down to build townhouses and a brand new building that houses the YMCA, the Steeles L’Amoreaux Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) offices and community hub and a part of the Scarborough Hospital. We also learned of a youth hub being built at 365 Bay Mills Road. This is a hub by the youth, of the youth but not just for the youth. The youth will incorporate programs that engage the entire community.
The Bridletowne Park Church, our next stop on the walk has partnered with the community to provide space to allow Mandarin speaking seniors to participate in weekly programming, a great way of breaking isolation. The church also provides space for the Steeles L’Amoreaux Youth Empowerment group (SLY) to carry out a Tamil youth mentorship program.
What an exciting weekend of Jane’s Walks across the city, in honour of ubanist and activist Jane Jacobs. Jane’s walks are a great way to learn about communities you don’t know about but even communities you do know about. Their vision is to create walkable neighbourhoods, increase urban literacy and build cities planned for any by people. Learn more on their website.
Jane Farrow, former Director of Jane’s Walk and Policy and Campaigns Advisor to Park People, sums up the importance of events like this to Toronto:
“There are many neighbourhoods in Toronto that either have no profile at all, or rather negative ones. A lot of those neighbourhoods are in the inner suburbs. Jane’s Walks are a chance for those people to tell their own stories about the places they live, the neighbourhood as they live in it. These are not the stories you’ll hear on the media – you have to go there and soak it up in person. And the next time you read a story about that neighbourhood – you’ll know it’s not the complete picture. People everywhere love where they live, and that’s what makes any neighbourhood livable, connected and resilient.”
You don’t have to wait until next May to bring a Jane’s Walk to your neighbourhood. You can host one year-round! Visit the Jane’s Walk website to learn how.
- Five Jane’s Walks Focused on Community Resilience, Project for Public Spaces
- Jane’s Walk puts Toronto on display, Toronto Star