Jane’s Walk in Ossington Village

This morning we went for a short neighbourhood walk as part of a North American initiative called Jane’s Walk, in honour of the legendary urban activist Jane Jacobs.

There were a whole series of Toronto walks, which continue tomorrow (Sunday). Ours was called Dundas and Ossington, the past and the future, and started at St. Christopher House, right on said corner. We walked west to Dovercourt, down to Queen and across to Trinity Bellwoods. The tour was led by someone from St. Christopher’s House with commentary from a couple of local Portuguese residents who talked to the group about the local churches and community centres.

We did learn a few great stories from some of the people who came along on the walk with us, including Ron Fletcher, who has written a few books on Toronto, including The Humber: Tales of a Canadian Heritage River, and is working on book on Queen West.

One of the pieces of trivia he offered up was that the wall that surrounds the CAMH was actually erected by patients of the facility, which has been a mental health facility since the 1800s (back then they had other terms for such institutions), in 1850. Tomorrow, there is another learning walk around the wall, given by Geoffery Rheaume. (Check out this little film his students put together)

Another little piece of trivia he offered up was that there was a toll booth at the bottom of Ossington, right near Queen. It was, at one point, the entrance to Toronto if you were coming along Dundas. You’d have to head down Ossington. Some of the locals who were coming into the city often used to duck around the toll booth and go down a little lane to the side. The lane ended up being named Rebecca St., after the Rebecca Riots in which Welshmen dressed up in their wives and daughters clothing and stormed tollbooths in the 17th century.

All in all it was an interesting tour!