This interview originally aired on May 1 on CHUO 89.1fm.
If you’re someone who wants to get to know your city a bit better, then the Jane’s Walks happening May 5th and 6th are for you.
Says Simpkin, “Jane’s Walk is a free festival that… puts people in touch with their neighbourhoods and their neighbours, by offering free walking tours throughout the city, both in Ottawa and in Gatineau.”
Jane’s Walks are named for famous urbanist and activist Jane Jacobs, and were started just after her death in 2006. The first Jane’s Walk in Ottawa was in 2007.
“She was active in New York City and Toronto over the course of her life,” Simpkin says. “She did a lot of writing about how we build cities and how we understand them. She wasn’t a formal urban planner, she didn’t have any formal training, but she wrote a book in 1961 called The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It really helped us understand better how we regard urban space, urban life and urban infrastructure. ”
Jennifer David is one of the dozens of people who will be leading walks this weekend. She’ll be leading one in the Elgin Street area from an Indigenous perspective. She explains that sometimes you need someone help you see the special places you might not otherwise notice.
“There’s a lot of gems in downtown Ottawa where you could learn a lot about Indigenous people, but some of them are quite hidden away, or maybe even hidden in plain sight, and you really need a guide to sort of open your eyes and show you what they are and where they are.”
So, where will you be walking this weekend?
Jane’s Walk is a festival of free walking tours happening in cities all over the world including Ottawa-Gatineau on May 5 and 6. All walks are free of charge.