Jane’s Walk in Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey) – May 3 & 4, 2014

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

City: Toronto


One of the walkers shares information at the start of a May 4, 2013 Jane’s Walk focusing on Long Branch, a community at the west end of Toronto on the shoreline of Lake Ontario. A co-leader of the walk is standing on the right, holding his notes. Photo credit: Gay Chisholm

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.

Conclusion of a Jane’s Walk in Long Branch on May 4, 2013. The photo shows a historic building in New Toronto, a community just east of Long Branch. The building, now part of the Skating Trail at Colonel Samuel Smith Park, was formerly part of the Lakeshore Hospital Grounds, a former psychiatric hospital in the area which was closed down in 1979. Photo credit: Gay Chisholm

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.


4 replies
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    We will meet at the East Parking Lot at Marie Curtis Park. That’s on the east side of Etobicoke Creek not far from the Lake Ontario shoreline. The walks start each day (May 3 and 4, 2014) at 10:30 am. I will post the walks to the Jane’s Walk website soon.


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