The following article by Lindsay Howe concerning two Long Branch Jane’s Walks in May 2013 appears in the March / April 2013 edition of The Lakeshore Villages Community Newspaper:
Exploring the History of Long Branch
Jane’s Walk 2013: May 4th and 5th
By: Lindsay Howe
This year there will be two Long Branch dates for Jane’s Walk taking place in the first weekend of May. The first walk on Saturday, May 4th begins at the East Parking Lot at Marie Curtis Park and ends at the Lakeshore Hospital Grounds in New Toronto. The second walk takes place on Sunday, May 5th, journeying through the South end of Long Branch, from Marie Curtis Park at Lake Promenade and Forty First Street to Colonel Samuel Smith’s homestead site. Over the course of both walks, you will get to experience and explore the history and prehistory of each of the historically significant landmarks across the Village of Long Branch.
Jaan Pill and Mike James lead the walks, sharing their detailed commentary and historical insights about the rich history associated with the land. Jaan Pill is a local resident and member of the Long Branch Historical Society. Mike James is a retired school principal who holds fond memories of growing up in the area in the 1960’s. Through Jane’s Walk, Pill and James bring together local residents to share historical insights and interact with one another, while observing and appreciating the natural landscape.
Last year’s Jane’s Walk took place on May 6th, and was a huge success. The weather was beautiful, and over 80 people attended, eager to learn about local history from the talented guest speakers Pill and James. Pill speaks about the success of Jane’s Walk 2012 and his anticipation for-this year’s walk stating, “We were very pleased with the turnout at last year’s South Long Branch Jane’s Walk. We had some great conversations, and we look forward to continuing those conversations at the two Jane’s Walks that we are organizing this year”. At last year’s walk, more ground was covered than time was allotted for. Therefore this year the walk has been divided into two separate walks in order to cover more ground and topics. If attendance is as large as last year, groups may be broken down into two or three smaller groups to give an opportunity for more quality conversations.
On Saturday, May 4th from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. the first Jane’s Walk will commence at the East Parking Lot at Marie Curtis Park, at the mouth of the Etobicoke Creek, and finish off at Lakeshore Hospital Grounds in New Toronto. This first walk will focus on such historically significant sites as Lake Promenade, the Long Branch Resort, and the Lakeshore Hospital Grounds. Many residents were very fascinated to hear that Lake Promenade once extended way past Forty-Second Street, and this area was previously a cottage community. When Hurricane Hazel hit in 1954 much of the plain bordering the river was flooded, wiping out many of the houses and cottages in the area. Fragments of the cottage community can still be located among the remaining houses in Long Branch. Come out to Jane’s Walk to learn more about and experience Lake Promenade, Long Branch as a cottage community, the Lakeshore Hospital Grounds and much more.
The second Jane’s Walk takes place on Sunday, May 5th from 10:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. The walk commences at Marie Curtis Park and finishes off at the colonel’s homestead site near the corner of Forty First Street and Lake Shore Blvd. West. The walk begins in Marie Curtis Park at the mouth of Etobicoke Creek, once a major wildlife habitat and scenic location. The Marie Curtis Park Revitalization Project is still underway; this long-term project aims to make the park more hospitable to visitors, and to make it a more welcoming place for the entire community.
The second walk concludes with a visit to the colonel’s homestead site, where Colonel Samuel Smith, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, built a log cabin in 1797.The school grounds of Parkview School at 85 Forty First Street are where the archaeological remains of the homestead are buried, as indicated by a preliminary archaeological survey conducted in 1984. Parkview School closed down many years ago and re-opened as St. Josaphat Catholic School this year. Come out on May 5th to learn more about Long Branch’s rich natural history, including Marie Curtis Park and the colonel’s homestead.
These are among a few of the stimulating and noteworthy historical details associated with Long Branch’s heritage and landscape. Join Jaan Pill and Mike James for Jane’s Walk on Saturday May 4th and Sunday May 5th to participate in meaningful conversations about the land, experience the scenic waterfront of Etobicoke Creek, and learn about Long Branch’s natural history.
For more interesting and insightful stories about Long Branch’s history visit www.preserved stories
[We owe thanks to Toby Gardiner, Publisher, and Lindsay Howe, Editorial Contributor, for permission to post this text, which is diligently researched and beautifully written.]
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