This weekend, keep your eyes out for knowledgeable volunteer tour guides all over the city, participating in the annual civic engagement event, Jane’s Walk. This is the tenth year for Jane’s Walk in Ottawa and the schedule of free walking tours covers all aspects of our city’s evolving story. In a capital crisscrossed with tours catering to out-of-towners, this weekend is an opportunity to improve ‘urban literacy’ with a focus on local history, planning, design and culture in the hands of our own passionate citizens.
No one can find out what will work for our cities by looking at garden suburbs, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk. — Jane Jacobs
In the heart of the city, the Central Experimental Farm has been in the news often lately, with the controversial Civic Hospital debate prompting the popular question “what the heck is that place used for, anyway?” Well, it turns out—a heck of alot. A popular topic for walkers, three separate tours take place on and around the Central Experimental Farm this weekend, each with an individual story to tell.
On Saturday at 1pm you can find a group of curious citizens following Jane’s Walk flag-toting geographer and historian Pete Anderson. Pete is a dedicated researcher of the farm whose anecdotes and insights into the scientific purpose of the Farm, past and present, will make a green space advocate of even the most staunch development believer. Discussions about the importance of science will punctuate the walk as it winds through the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, Central Experimental Farm, and Arboretum. Conservation, re-wilding, and species development are at the heart of these iconic, and often misunderstood spaces. Not just for picnics, this space played an important role in the 19th century development of the capital and continues to ensure Canadian food security. This walk will be both informative and casual, so bring your questions and opinions, because this guy can handily address both.
If farms aren’t your style there are walking tours in the Byward Market, Lebreton Flats, and Sandy Hill discussing development and conservation of some of our oldest and most vibrant neighbourhoods. You can explore Beechwood Cemetery or ask the hard questions about the LRT expansion and what is really going on with Elgin Street. Indigenous focussed tours discuss colonialism and sacred spaces in our downtown core. Search for edible urban plants, or explore the mysterious Pinhey Sand Dunes if you’re looking for something truly different and Instagram worthy. There is even a foodie tour for those of us who base our knowledge of the city on where we can eat.
Put on your walking shoes, and get your learn on!
Jane’s Walk are free to attend and take place throughout Ottawa and Gatinaeu Saturday and Sunday. Don’t miss the Jane’s Walk Wrap-Up Party on Sunday at 3pm at allsaints (10 Blackburn Avenue, at Laurier Avenue East). For more, check their site or follow them on Twitter.