Walk Leader: Jino Distasio
Text by: Jino Distasio
Photographs by: Donna Cudmore
I woke up early on Saturday morning. Over the past five years, I’ve started each walk the same way: I go over my notes, find some fun facts, and load up on coffee. Then I walk to the starting spot, which is stressful, as it’s hard to tell whether anyone is waiting for you until you are nearly there.
Osborne is a great street, and Riverview is a great neighbourhood, with a history that goes back more than 100 years. So each year, as I approach the meeting point, I begin to get a bit nervous. I worry that maybe I don’t know enough about my area, despite having lived here for over 40 years. Do I have my facts straight? Can I make people laugh, or should I be serious? Will people show up? Happily, this year, like the previous ones, there is a large group waiting!
There are young kids in strollers, seniors, and an assortment of Winnipeg’s diverse citizens, all looking at the guy with the clipboard and the hot coffee! Our walk through time starts with a discussion about beer and the colourful characters of the neighbourhood. I love to share stories about Riverview. I talk about our rich history, and more importantly, the people who make this place what it is: a community with a heart and soul.
As I lead the group of 50 or so down a bustling Osborne Street, the occasional shop owner pops out to see why there is such a commotion on a Saturday morning. Simone steps out of his barbershop, says hello to the crowd, and tells them that their guide “used to come get his hair cut here!” Each year I add something new to the tour, learned not through research but from a comment shared by someone during the last walk.
It is the dialogue and interchange of ideas among all of us who walk these streets that make Jane’s Walk an experience for everyone!