Torottawalk: (Pape to Parliament On Queen @ 1:00)

Supposedly walking down Queen - or taking the Queen Car is a Metro-morning style thing to do in Toronto. We're going to do it.

Supposedly walking down Queen – or taking the Queen Car is a Metro-morning style thing to do in Toronto. We’re going to do it.

We’re headed out to Queen and Pape and set to wander back west today, past through the heart of the beach, Degrassi and over the Don and into city centre.

Queen Street in the East End is as old as Toronto, with suburbs established in 1834 around the Don – initially called Liberties the expansion began and continued to grow. Around 1908 to 1910, the city expanded right to Victoria Park my old hood, though we’ll only be headed to Pape today.

With the changing face of Queen Street, and the diverse history of the area, I expect our chats along the way to be illuminating.

Come along or follow @torottawalk on twitter or Torottawalk on instagram to follow along digitally.

Ottawa should also be joining us today!

Torottawalk: (Shaw, Harbord & Bonus Walk @ 1:00)

English: Philosopher's Walk (Toronto)

English: Philosopher’s Walk (Toronto) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This 3K walk takes us through one of my favourite Toronto streets.

This 3K walk takes us through one of my favourite Toronto streets.

Last week was my birthday, and so, instead of exploring Toronto, I built a snow yurt in my backyard. So today, to make up for it, today I have two walks planned. This first leg is 3K and should take around 30min, passing by parks, small businesses, institutions and beautiful residential architecture.

Starting on Shaw, where the city recently proposed (auspiciously, on my birthday) the installation of a “contra flowbike lane to provide cyclists with a space to legally cycle northbound. I bike year round, and use the northern end of Shaw on my way home at night, and so the proposed installation of a contra flow lane warmed the cockles of my heart. There have been too many poorly lit close calls on that street (which currently operates as an illegal bike highway). Contra-flows are rare in Toronto, and some residents of the community are upset at the idea of more space being legally designated to cyclists. If this cause matters to you – call your Councillor.

Other Interesting history about Shaw Street:

Then on to Harbord Street, where local businesses, the Harbord Collegiate Institute, and one of the best bike lanes in the city, Harbord is one of my top five favourite strips to walk and explore. Hard to believe that it was the centre of a debate 3 years ago where NIMBYs faced off against small business. In addition to the business scenery, there’s also two amazing parks in the area that – depending on the frigidness today – we may take a brief trip through. Art Eggleton Park and Bickford Park, two sanctuary retreats, sandwich the strip at its west end. I’m in love with park-lands that integrate into a community, and these are two great examples.

From there, on to the University and Hoskin. We’ll be walking through campus about a week before winter break, so it could be interesting.

Our bonus walk is the Philosopher’s Walk which – as Wikipedia states – is a scenic footpath in the main campus of the University of Toronto in TorontoOntario. It runs in the north-south direction along the ravine landscape created by Taddle Creek, once a natural waterway that was buried during the Industrial Age and now flowing underground. The path is bounded by several Toronto landmarks, including the Royal Ontario Museum, the Royal Conservatory of MusicTrinity College and the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. We should get spit out right at the ROM and be able to cuddle up to some fine bones, if we’d like, and maybe enjoy a quick Red Stripe with c5’s Black History Month menu. 

Discovery Walks vs Torottawalk

Discovery Walk

Discovery Walk (Photo credit: ManHole.ca)

I’ve been walking around Toronto officially with Torottawalk for a fall and winter, learning how to be more mindful and attentive about my city, learning to be inquisitive and appreciative, and learning to take really great photos with a cellphone camera. What I’ve found amazing: how ancient some places around my home are, how connected I can be to nature in the middle of a whirling dirvish of a city, and the absolute dearth or resources to guide me on walking.

I’m looking at you, Discovery Walks.

Discovery Walks is a program of self-guided walks that links City ravines, parks, gardens, beaches and neighbourhoods. Other Discovery Walks include: Central Ravines, Belt Line and Gardens; Don Valley Hills and Dales; Western Ravines and Beaches; Northern Ravines and Gardens; Eastern Ravine & Beaches; Garrison Creek; Humber River, Old Mill & Marshes; and Uptown Toronto.

What discovery walks doesn’t include: history. education. Along the walk you’ll notice signage is sun bleached and graffiti ridden; directions haven’t been updated, and – most frustrating – it could be so much better.

Encouraging pedestrian-ism, walk-ability and livability in this city is of utmost importance: start with taking Discovery Walks and using the existing infrastructure to support more. Mashing up the Discovery walks with a smartphone application like the Local History App “It Happened Here“, integrating Stroll, Jane’s walk, or Toronto City Library Genealogy & Local History tools into an application – or more cheaply: stick a QR code onto any discovery walk sign and link it to a map with local history.

which is why I started Torottawalk. in part to connect with far away friends and in part to connect with the cities I love.

Torottawalk: Trinity Bellwoods Park & Area ( Sunday @ 1:00)

New Trin instead of Old Trin

New Trin instead of Old Trin

This week, we head to Trinity Bellwoods, one of my favourite parks in the city. Named for Trinity College, one of the colleges that now make up the University of Toronto, the college which was built in 1852 and stood at the centre of the park and remained there for just over 100 years. Today the only remaining artifacts of the school are its restored gates at the south end of the park. The area has gone through so many historical changes – from WASP holy land, to new immigrant settling point, from creek to toboggan-site – and I’m excited to visit a place I’ve been to so many times with the view to just: look at it.

I’m not sure the route we’re taking today, but I know we’ll be walking over Garrison Creek and the former Crawford Street Bridge, which once ran over it – because we have to walk by the “dog bowl”. I know we’ll be on the spot where Shaw defended Toronto during the War of 1812 – because we’ll be near Queen, and I’m sure we’ll track down the 200 year old Bitternut Hickory tree, one of the oldest trees in Toronto. For more research read this Jane’s Walk and the Friends of Trinity Bellwood’s page.