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Your guide to 2017 Jane's Walks in Canada's big cities

The annual festival of walking tours runs this weekend, with locals teaching each other about Vancouver's best pizza, Ottawa's little free libraries, and more.

Urbanist Jane Jacobs would have been 101 on May 4.

Torstar News Service

Urbanist Jane Jacobs would have been 101 on May 4.

Jane Jacobs was a journalist with no degree in planning or architecture. Yet she became arguably the most influential figure in city planning because she listened to people who knew the most about their neighbourhoods, in turn seeing cities in new ways.

This spirit informs Jane’s Walks, the annual festival of strolls that coincides with Jacob's May 4 birthday. Locals lead walks, teaching neighbours about something they’re passionate about, from local heritage or transit planning to public art or pizza. We aren’t sure if Jacobs was a pizza enthusiast, but she would probably be proud.

Jacobs, who died in 2006, was all about giving power back to local residents. She was firm in her belief that they were more in touch with the pulse of the local community than city hall officials. Now she’s something of a folk hero to city-loving people around the world (see: “What Would Jane Do?” buttons and t-shirts).

One thing Jane would do is explore. She would hear new ideas, and imagine all the possibilities that cities hold. She would go for a walk.

Check out selected Jane’s Walks near you, and find more at


Pizza walk: If you take pizza very seriously then this is the walk for you. Led by pizza enthusiast Jen Harvey, participants will walk north along Main and sample local pizzerias, which are a part of any vibrant neighbourhood. Friday at 6:30 p.m., Ripples Kitchen and Bath.

It's Always Sunny in Strathcona: A look at the history, architecture, and affordability of Vancouver's first neighbourhood. Saturday at 11:30 a.m., Strathcona Community Centre

Happier Streets: Led by Mitchell Reardon, this walk promises to re-shape how you see public spaces, and how they can make people happy. Saturday at 2:30 p.m., Wall Centre.


Ghost Signs of Downtown: Have you ever wondered about the history of those faded painted signs? This walk will take you back in time to answer those questions, and re-capture a part of the city's heritage. Friday at 12 p.m., south steps of city hall by the fountain.

Imagining a Sustainable Urban Food Future: Check out the local food initiatives happening around Northlands and how they fit into Edmonton’s city-building objectives. Saturday at 9 a.m., Coliseum LRT station.

Edmonton’s Chinatown: A Living Library: It’s the largest Chinatown in area of any city in North America. Learn about its history and evolution from Kathryn Lennon. Sunday at 10:30 a.m., Chinatown Multicultural Centre.


Walking with Coyote: Understand the ecosystem and challenges of the coyote with a walk that takes you through their native grassland ecosystem. Friday at 10:30 a.m., Brisbois Parking Lot.

Refugee Youth Walk: Hear from refugee youth about their first experiences of the city and what settlement has meant to them. Friday at 4 p.m., Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre.

Downtown Alley Tour: Check out the art, history, and alternate uses of the city’s downtown alleyways. Saturday at 10 a.m., The Bow in front of the art sculpture.


Literary Walk: The branch head of the West End Library will read aloud passages from novels, plays and poems to connect literature to the city around it. Saturday at 2 p.m., West End Library inside CKRC.

What Makes Public Artwork?: This stroll through St. Boniface will include Michel de Broin’s artwork Monument, and how public art reflects and shapes a community. Saturday at 11 a.m., St. Boniface Cathedral.

The Wild Edibles of Whittier: Edible plants are all around us, if you know where to look. Follow forager and nature guide Craig Bailey as he gives his best tips. Saturday at 4:45 p.m., outside Fort Gibraltar.

Jewish Winnipeg: A Historical North End Perspective: Over 15,000 Jews once called the North End home, and their legacy lives on in the area’s buildings, cultural institutions, and politics. Walk leader Zach Fleisher will bring that history to life. Sunday at 11 a.m., CPR station at 181 Higgins.


Bringing Linear Parks Back to Life: Originally a series of parking lots, three parks form a trail running parallel to Yonge St. south of Bloor. This walk will look at how the green space can be revitalized as a park instead of just a place to pass through. Friday-Sunday at 1 p.m., top of George Hislop Park.

Explore “Accidental Wilderness” at Tommy Thompson Park: Learn how the human-made peninsula became a bird paradise, with history about the park and opportunities to spot wildlife you’d never thought you’d see in the city. Saturday at 10 a.m., Tommy Thompson Park information centre.

Fifteen Dogs Poetry for People and Pooches: Re-trace the steps of Prince the dog from the final chapter of Andre Alexis’s novel Fifteen Dogs. Poems will be recited, and “dogs are welcome.” Saturday at 11 a.m., top of the stairs to Glen Stewart Park.


Lindenlea: An Original Garden City: One of Canada's first planned communities, explore the architecture and principles that went into the neighbourhood built in the aftermath of WWI. Saturday at 9:30 a.m., Lindenlea Park.

Elgin Street Redesign: It has seen a lot of retail turnover in recent months, and now Elgin is undergoing a city-led redesign. Understand what that will look like and what it means for pedestrians and local businesses. Saturday at 11 a.m., St. Luke's Park.

Little Free Libraries: Everyone likes libraries, so there's no way that you can't love the quaint little free libraries throughout Ottawa neighbourhoods. Visit these bookish outposts in the Glebe, and learn how to participate in the little free library movement for yourself. Sunday at 12:30 p.m., 237 Fifth Ave.


Changing Young Ave.: This lunchtime jaunt down Young Avenue, which will end at Point Pleasant Park, includes stops at the Womens Council House and the Gates. Friday at 12 p.m., corner of Young and Inglis.

Everything you wanted to know about Edward Cornwallis but were afraid to ask: This stroll will go to Parade Square and Citadel Hill looking at Edward Cornwallis, Halifax’s sometime-controversial founder. Saturday at 10:30 a.m., Murphy’s on the Waterfront.

Storm Porches: If you’ve never noticed the charming porches on late 19th century houses in the Old South End, now’s your chance to learn how the little walk-ups are both functional and part of the city’s heritage. Sunday at 9 a.m., Queen and Morris.

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