Discovery afoot with Jane’s Walks

The Jane’s Walk festival is set to take to the streets, laneways and urban trails of Toronto on the weekend of May 2, 3 and 4.

The walks are free, locally-led tours that organizers call “walking conversations.” The event pays homage to the late Jane Jacobs, an urban activist who encouraged residents to become involved in their communities. To honour her legacy, her friends founded Jane’s Walks as a way to immortalize her vision of walkable neighbourhoods.

Here in the East End there will be a selection of community walks on offer.

On Friday, May 2, beginning at 6 p.m., Sarah Dewar will answer the question Toronto has a Main Street?, by leading a tour through the neighbourhood around Main and Gerrard. Starting at Stanley G. Grizzle Park, the small park across the street from the Main Street subway station, the walk will meander down Main Street, stopping at historic points of interest along the way, such as the Main Street Library (built in 1921), Community Centre 55 (a former police station dating from 1910), Fire Station 226 (circa 1910), and St. Saviour’s Anglican Church (founded in 1891). The area was populated predominantly by railway workers at the turn of the century and the tour will visit the site of a long-gone railway roundhouse that sat at the intersection of Ted Reeve Drive and Crossovers Street.

Stops along Danforth include the site of the former Empringham Hotel at Dawes Road. The hotel was a local watering hole for railway workers.

The Ashbridge’s Neighbourhood – Since 1793, led by Robert Miller, will explore the Beach founding family’s original property on Sunday, May 4. Starting at the Beach skatepark at Lakeshore and Coxwell at 10:30 a.m., the route heads north, following the former Ashbridges Creek, making stops at Jonathan Ashbridge Park, the historic Ashbridge estate on Queen Street East, the 100-year-old Duke of Connaught School, and the Gerrard India Bazaar. The walk winds up at Monarch Park.

Mix it Up in Taylor Massey! will traverse the Taylor Massey neighbourhood around Victoria Park Avenue north of the Danforth on Saturday, May 3. Organized by Action for Neighbourhood Change, a community development initiative funded by the United Way, the tour will be led by local residents involved in the Taylor Massey Neighbourhood Network. Meet at 40 Teesdale Place at 10:30 a.m. and spend the next three hours visiting Crescent Town, Dentonia Park, Taylor Creek Park, the Children’s Peace Theatre, Gower Park, Joshua Crockwright Parkette, and Dawes Crossing.

The burgeoning art scene along Danforth Avenue is the subject of Hidden in Plain Sight on Sunday, May 4. Travel along with Cindy Rozeboom of East End Arts as she visits the artistic enclaves of LucSculpture School and Studios, East End Arts, Quack Quack Animation, and Artisans at Work. The walk begins at 2 p.m. at The Beer Store parking lot at Danforth and Greenwood Avenue, and ends at Woodbine Avenue.

Early risers will enjoy From Landfill to Parkland: Exploring the Leslie Spit on Sunday, May 4. Meet at 8 a.m. at the entrance to Tommy Thompson Park at Leslie Street and Unwin Avenue and set off on a leisurely three-hour tour of a birder’s and nature lover’s paradise with walk leaders Felicia Cohen and Bruce Thompson. Binoculars are suggested.

Local historian and Beach Metro News columnist, Gene Domagala, along with Ward 32 Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, will take participants on their traditional Spooky Night Walk, a nighttime traipse around the historical tombstones of St. John’s Norway Cemetery. This journey into the past begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 3. Meet in the parking lot of St. John’s Norway Church, 470 Woodbine Ave.

Councillor McMahon and the Beach Village BIA will lead a Go Local on Queen stroll along Queen Street East on Sunday, May 4. After meeting up at the Wunderland Café, 1905 Queen St. E., at 1 p.m., the group will head east, meeting business owners and sharing ideas about the benefits of shopping locally.

Each walk offers differing levels of terrain and accessibility. To find out which walks are family-friendly, pet-friendly, cycling-appropriate and for walks across the city, visit

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