Led by: Jaan Pill and Mike James
Text: Jaan Pill
Photos: Gay Chisholm
The first Jane’s Walk in Long Branch, in 2012, attracted over 80 people. It took longer than we’d expected, and we were glad 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. The walkers were delighted to hear about this. “Wow, I never knew that!” was a typical response.
This year, our neighbourhood had two Jane’s Walks. We 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 picked up as much new information as everybody else.
Again, we conducted advance research. We spoke with long-time residents who knew the area as children in the 1930s; some even provided us with photos and several hand-drawn maps, which we brought along to show the walkers. Though few of our interview subjects had the stamina to join us for a walk, they were delighted that they could share this valuable information. We also posted relevant images and details on my website about local history and events, PreservedStories.com.
The historic building shown in the photo is in New Toronto, a community just east of Long Branch. Now part of a skating facility at Colonel Samuel Smith Park, the building was formerly part of the Lakeshore Hospital Grounds, a psychiatric hospital which was closed down in 1979.