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What is it like to navigate a city without sight? Participants of this 2018 walk with blindfolds.

Jane’s Walk: Get to know Ottawa through a festival of free walking tours—05.04.19 & 05.05.19

By Bruce Burwell on May 1, 2019

A map of the 2019 offering

“No one can find out what will work for our cities by looking at garden suburbs, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You have got to get out and walk.” —Jane Jacobs

I really like that quote. You don’t need to know a lot about Jane Jacobs or her writing in order to understand what Jane’s Walks are about after reading that quote. Jane’s Walks are free walks on a wide variety of topics led by enthusiastic volunteers in many cities around the world.

Jane’s Walk in Ottawa is coming up on May 4th and 5th. So are you ready to walk? I seem to have missed every other year of Jane’s Walk for some reason but this year I have my itinerary all planned out, my walking shoes ready and my umbrella on standby. Just in case.

A Little Free Library

There are over 60 walks planned in Ottawa-Gatineau this year. On the website there is a map with all the starting points indicated. You can plan your weekend by looking at the list of walks, filter by language/dates/areas and read a detailed description of each walk.

I was surprised by a couple of things when I looked through the offerings. The first surprise was in the amazing diversity of the walk topics. There are walks/talks on a skateboard park, Little Free Libraries, trees and a Makerspace.

The second surprise was the quality of the leaders for the walks. I knew that they would all be at least knowledgeable about their areas. But I was surprised to see that I knew the names of many of the walk leaders since they are local politicians, community leaders, educators and historians.

I am going to highlight a few of the walks which showcase the diversity of choice or amazing leaders or both!


Let’s start with something both timely and topical. Councillor Mathieu Fleury will lead a walk that examines two of the downtown LRT stations and gives an update on progress of LRT phase 1. I am sure he has some good answers for the tough questions.

May 4th at 2:30pm, starts at the SW corner of Laurier and Nicholas. Takes 2 hours and covers 1 km. English.


Fleet Street Pumping Station

Did you know that there was a new clubhouse for kayakers in downtown Ottawa? What about the whitewater course that is downstream of a pumping station? I didn’t until last summer. In this walk, Doug Corkery will walk around Bronson Creek showing off the pumping station, the kayaking course and the new clubhouse.

May 5th at 10am, starts at Fleet Street Pumping Station, 10 Fleet St. Takes 1 hour 30 minutes and covers 2 km. English.


Stittsville’s walk in 2018

Of course you remember the expression ‘What happens in Stittsville, stays in Stittsville’? No? Well you can learn about the dirt that Stittsville wants to keep hidden in another walk lead by a city councillor. Glen Gower is revealing the past, present and future of the community in a talk called ‘Secrets of Stittsville Main Street’.

May 4th at 9:30am. Starts at Village Square Park. Takes one hour 30 minutes and covers 2 km. English.


The starting point for a foodies walk is Whalesbone on Kent.

Want to nosh a bit as you walk around Ottawa? Of course there is a foodies walk in Centretown. It highlights four popular local food stores. You have to pre-register in order to participate and previous walk enjoyers have told me that these are VERY popular so you will be with a big group.

May 4th at 11 am. Starts at the Whalesbone, 504a Kent St. Takes 2 hours and covers 1 km. English. Pre-registration required.


ByWard Market walk in 2016

On my long list of walks to do is ‘Ottawa’s Byward Market’. Barry Padolsky is a renowned local architect and heritage advocate. The walk will be visiting heritage sites in and around the market area.

May 4th at 11 am. Starts at the south entrance to the Market Building. Takes 1 hour and covers 1 km. English.


Pinhey Sand Dune walk

If you’re a nature lover and you have never visited Pinhey sand dunes in Ottawa this would be a great walk. ‘Environmental Restoration at the Pinhey Sand Dunes’ will take you along a visitors trail through this fascinating area near Woodroffe.

May 5th at 12:00 pm. Starts at Vaan Drive and Pineland Avenue. Takes 1 hour and covers 1 km. Available in both English and French.


There are a ton more great options but you get the idea. Check the site and your calendar and get out there and walk. Visit janeswalkottawa.ca to see the complete list of walks with up-to-date details on timings and start locations. They also have a lot of great tips on how to plan your weekend and what to wear. Note that some walks may be cancelled or rerouted due to the recent flooding so it’s best to check the site just before you head out.