I’ve recently put together a text about Jane’s Walk for a book at blurb.ca that the Jane’s Walk organization is putting together, and which I look forward to publicizing in the weeks ahead.
Here’s the text (see below).
It will serve as a reminder to mark the date in your 2014 schedule book!
Name of Walk: Jane’s Walk in Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey)
Led by: Jaan Pill and Mike James
I became involved in organizing of Jane’s Walks in Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey) when the local councillor’s office asked me in 2012 if I knew of anybody who could organize such a walk. I could not find a person to take on the task.
I thought, “Well, why don’t I organize a walk myself?” I decided I would go ahead if a friend, Mike James, agreed to help me – which he did! Our first walk attracted over 80 people. It took longer than we’d expected to finish. We were pleased that we’d brought along a portable sound system. The week before the walk, we learned details about a local park that we hadn’t known about before – especially about a road that used to extend along the shoreline of Lake Ontario, when the area was a thriving cottage community in the 1930s. When we shared these details, people were delighted to hear about them. “Wow, I never knew that!” was a typical response.
In 2013, the following year, we had two Jane’s Walks instead of one. We also rehearsed and edited the routes for each event, to ensure they would not take more than 90 minutes. As before, we made a point of turning each walk into a conversation, not a top-down lecture. The walk leaders pick up as much new information as everybody else.
Again, we conducted research – speaking with long-time residents who knew the area as children in the 1930s – before the walks. We even had several hand-drawn maps, distributed during each walk, prepared by long-time local residents we had interviewed. Some of the people we’d spoken with didn’t have the stamina to join us for a walk, but they were delighted that they could provide valuable information – as well as photos and maps – that we could share during each event. We also posted relevant images and details on a website (PreservedStories.com) that we use to share information about local history and events. We’re looking forward to similar walks on May 3 and 4, 2014, again based upon recent research focusing on the memories of long-time residents.