Jane’s Walk Ottawa

On 5 May 2012, I was one of the volunteer marshals for an Old Ottawa South walking tour called “A walk on the Sunnyside” led by fellow Canadian Studies-er and Ottawa resident Leo B. Doyle (who came to Ottawa for his MA and never left… raise your hand if you fall under the same category!).

This was the fifth annual Jane’s Walk Ottawa intended to “increase our shared ownership of the city.” While giving the introductory speech, I learned that the program began in 2007 in Toronto and has since spread to 75 cities in 9 countries. (I love to make Canadians laugh, so I was quite pleased that my co-marshal let me ham it up.)

Although it leaves out the awesome anecdotes about the “Home for the Incurable” and Doyle’s commentary on the Monstrosity Known as Landsdowne Park, here’s a brief tour description:

Old Ottawa South has become one of Ottawa’s most popular and successful neighbourhoods.  Construction of a new Bank Street Bridge in 1912, and the southward extension of the streetcar, stimulated the development of this suburb. But the car-oriented urban planning of the 1950s, that activists such as Jane Jacobs criticized and opposed, took hold in Ottawa. The streetcar tracks were ripped up in 1959, and roads such as Sunnyside were widened to speed up vehicular traffic as if it were the only thing that mattered.  Fortunately, in Ottawa South and elsewhere, citizens fought back and worked to preserve and to restore neighbourhood liveability. This walk traces the death, life, and renewal of Old Ottawa South and its streetscapes.

We ended our tour with a short video in the renovated fire house just off Sunnyside. There was a great turnout, we had lovely weather, and it was an altogether educational and enjoyable event!

Hope to see more people out next year, and I’d definitely recommend going on a walk in your area if they are offered. (Chicago offers neighborhood tours led by volunteers, if you find yourself in that neck of the woods.)

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