Discover hidden gems on Jane’s Walk May 4-5

Laura Mueller

Have you ever wondered where to find wild food growing in the city? Have you discovered Ottawa’s rare urban sand dune or wondered about one of the Capital region’s many monuments? Have you hoped to explore the revitalization of Sparks Street? Or is there something in your own backyard that you want to share with others?

If you like to get outside and you’re enthusiastic about learning about your community, its history and its future, join Jane’s Walk to explore Ottawa-Gatineau through free walking tours on May 4 and 5.

Last year, 3,000 people joined us for this “sidewalk ballet,” a community-driven festival of more than 60 free walking tours celebrating the work of late urban thinker Jane Jacobs. Jane was a writer and activist who studied how cities work, how they grow and change. Her work helped define what makes cities livable, how to promote street-life vitality and how to design attractive, uplifting places where people feel safe. Jane’s Walk is a pedestrian-focused event that improves urban literacy by offering insights into planning, design, local history, and civic engagement through the simple acts of walking, observing, and discussing.

This year, Jane’s Walk Ottawa-Gatineau expects to offer more than 60 free walks to choose from as the local event celebrates its eleventh edition. Jane Jacobs considered citizens to be the experts on their own communities and our walks are all led by volunteer leaders who have something to share—you could be one of them! Visit our website,, to find out how we can help turn your advocacy efforts into action as part of Jane’s Walk.

At least three walks involve Sandy Hill: one, led by our Councillor Mathieu Fleury, will focus on Phase 1 of the LRT and take a look at the two stations in our ward, Campus and Rideau; a second walk, led by IMAGE contributor François Bregha, will travel back in time to what Laurier Ave. East used to look like in 1904; a third (this one by bicycle rather than on foot) will highlight the houses built by architect JWH Watts, two of which (Australia House and the Fleck-Paterson House, both on Wilbrod) are in Sandy Hill.

A typical Jane’s Walk tour is given once during the weekend, takes about an hour, and covers around one to two kilometres. Jane’s Walk also relies on help from volunteer marshals who attend the walks, carry a flag, and assist the walk leader. If you’re planning to attend walks this year, consider carrying the flag and helping as a marshal. There is more info on the marshal’s role and how to sign up at

As a highlight of the May 4-5 weekend, we are planning a celebration marking what would have been Jane’s 103rd birthday—stay tuned for details. To get updates on the festival, be sure to watch our website,, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@JanesWalkOtt) and Instagram (@JanesWalkOttawa).