The best Janes Walk 2016 tours in Toronto


The legacy of activist, author and urban theorist Jane Jacobs is celebrated each spring with Janes Walk, a series of citizen-led neighbourhood walking tours in more than 100 cities around the world. The walks are free and open to everyone, and theyre meant to be fun, engaging and community-based. Oftentimes, tours have themes, such as architecture and heritage, LGBT history, local culture or environmental impact.

In Toronto, where Jacobs lived for nearly 40 years before her death in 2006, more than 180 tours are planned. The majority of events take place May 6 to 8, but some walking tours start earlier and are running until the end of July. To help you sort through the dozens of local Janes Walk tours, weve highlighted 15 of the most interesting ones below.

[For a list of the best Jane100 events, which celebrate what would be Jane Jacobss 100th birthday, go here.]

Jane Jacobs 100 Birthday Janes Walk!

Celebrate Jane Jacobss 100th birthday at an early Janes Walk event on May 4 at 6 pm. Led by HiMY SYeD, a Janes Walk tour guide since its first year, this special tour uses three of Jacobss books to explore and understand our urban surroundings. The tour begins near Exhibition Place and ends at Victoria Memorial Square, where theres a plaque dedicated to the urban theorist. Details here.

Queer and Fabulous!

This tour meets five times, with two walking tours on May 2, one on May 3 and two more on May 7. Led by Mathew MacLean, this walk traces Torontos queer history while looking to the future of the Gay Village. Starting outside Wellesley subway station, you’ll make a stop at Glad Day Book Store, the 519 Community Centre, the Alexander Wood statue and more. The whole thing takes about an hour and a half. Find specific times and details here.

A Day in the Life of Marginalized Youth

Hear from members of the Students Commission of Canada during this walking tour, which focuses on youth engagement and barriers facing Torontos young people. The May 6 tour begins at 4 pm at the Students Commission of Canada building and makes stops at the YMCA, the 519 and Ryerson University. Hafsa Saeed and Kwaku Agyemang, youth facilitators at the Students Commission of Canada, will lead the tour. Details here.

Exploring Torontos Labour History

A Grade 8 class from City View Alternative School (and teacher Michelle Munk) lead this informative downtown tour touching on Torontos labour history. Held on May 6 in honour of International Workers Day, this tour begins at the United Negro Improvement Association (355 College Street) and stops at the Toronto Labour Lyceum before ending at Simcoe Park, the site of the 100 Workers monument. Details here.

Regent Park A Neighbours Tour

Over the past decade, Regent Park has undergone and still continues to experience major redevelopment. The landscape has changed, but how do its current residents actually use the neighbourhood? Regent Park resident and human rights lawyer Kate Sellar explores this question during a two-hour walking tour on May 7 at 10 am. The group will meet at Cole Street Child Care Centre and begin with a discussion of childcare challenges. Other stops along the tour include the Regent Park Aquatic Centre and the former Dixon Hall Youth Centre. Details here.

Skateboarding in the Financial District: A Wheeled Perspective

Grab your skateboard for this downtown tour, which starts at Nathan Phillips Square and ends at Simcoe Park. Seasoned skateboarder Ariel Stagni and environmentally-focused urban planner and architect Carolina Zabas Roelandt co-lead this two-hour tour on May 2 and 7. Find specific times and details here.

Under the Rainbow Don Mills to the Rainbow Tunnel and the East Don

Part urban landscape and part trail, this walking tour on May 7 explores the developed area around Don Mills and ends along the Don River on the East Don Trail. Led by Ron Kluger, a local resident and University of Toronto professor, the tour begins at the Shops at Don Mills, follows the Moccasin Trail and stops at the Rainbow Tunnel. Find specific times and details here.

The Tibetan Experience in a Gentrifying Parkdale

Organized by the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, this walking tour on May 7 at 1 pm focuses on Parkdales Tibetan community. Toronto hosts the largest diaspora of Tibetan migrants outside India and Nepal, with over 4,000 Tibetans calling Parkdale home. Tour guides include Parkdale residents Joshua Barndt, Tish Carnat and Kalsang Dolma. The tour starts at PNLTs table at Spring Into Parkdale (on Cowan Avenue and Queen W) and ends a few blocks away at Tibet Kitchen. Details here.

Reggae Heritage: Explore Eglinton Avenue West

Learn about the rich reggae music history along Eglinton with librarian Barbara Baillargeon on May 7 at 2 pm. The walking tour starts at Maria A. Shchuka Library and ends two hours later along Reggae Lane. Details here.

Little Free Libraries: An Impromptu Reading Walk with Neighbours

Ever wonder about those little sidewalk libraries encouraging people passing by to take and leave books? This walking tour around the Danforth highlights free book exchanges and introduces the people who install them on their front lawns. Led by Denise Pinto, the global director of Janes Walk, the May 7 tour meets outside Coxwell subway station at 4 pm. Details here.

Take a Walk on the Sunnyside

When Sunnyside Amusement Park and Sunnyside Beach opened in the 1920s, its popularity rivalled New Yorks famed Coney Island. Today, sadly, all of thats gone aside from a few buildings such as the Palais Royale. Sunnyside historian Meghan Edmonds and five other tour guides lead a walking tour on May 7 at 10 am exploring the areas rich history with a glance towards its future as part of Torontos waterfront redevelopment. The tour begins on the south side of Roncesvalles and King W, and participants are asked to look for the group wearing 1920s period costumes. Details here.

A Time Travel Adventure at Galleria Mall!

Tour guide Shari Kasman is a multidisciplinary artist whos held a long fascination with Galleria Mall. Take a trip back to 1972 the year the mall was built and discover random facts about Galleria you may not have known. Attendees are encouraged to wear time-travel costumes, and share memories from the 1970s with the group. The May 8 walking tour starts at 2 pm by Galleria Malls parking lot sign and ends an hour and a half later with a look towards the structures future. Details here.

East Danforth East A Culinary Walking Tour

There are four different times between May 1 to 8 to catch this food-centric tour, which explores Danforth Avenues culinary offerings east of Moberly Avenue to Victoria Park Avenue. Tour leaders, including environmental lawyer (and self-declared foodie) Phil Pothen and workshop facilitator Elise Aymer, start at Celenas Bakery and end near Marhaba Supermarket, making frequent stops at grocers, butchers and bakeries along the way. Details here.

The Beltline and Beyond: The Midtown Trail Loop

Hop on your two-wheeler and join guide Burns Wattie on an off-road cycling tour in Midtown. The tour starts at Ben Nobleman Parkette and follows 16 kilometres of trail through David Balfour Park and Cedarvale Park. There will be multiple stops along the way to highlight where the Beltline starts, underground rivers, history and more. Tours are three hours and take place May 7, 8 and 18. Find specific times and details here.

Portuguese Toronto: Early Decades

This tour, which explores Torontos Portuguese history, takes place a month after Janes Walk weekend on June 11. Tour guides Gilberto Fernandes and Susana Miranda, who are members of the Portuguese Canadian History Project, starts the tour in Kensington Market, where Portuguese immigrants first settled in the 1950s, and trace their history along Dundas W into Little Portugal. Details here. | @michdas



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