Monday, 3 May 2010

Jane's Walk in Ottawa

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank the organizers of Jane's walk in Ottawa, and especially those who guided the three walks that I took in on Saturday and Sunday.

Named for Jane Jacobs, "Jane's Walk is about getting close to your city, about getting out and observing, meeting your neighbours, discovering new areas, and learning about the urban landscape, streetscape, buildings, parks, public art and monuments, and the details of daily existence that weave together into the fabric of our urban existence."

The Social Lives of Statues was a walk conducted by University of Ottawa PhD candidate Tonya Davidson. Beginning at the National War Memorial she guided us past a series of monuments on Elgin Street, in Confederation Square Park, and surrounding City Hall. This tour included the Boer War and North-West Rebellion monuments, the National Aboriginal War Veterans’ Memorial, the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights, and Enclave: The Women’s Monument. She did an excellent job exploring the contexts within which each monument was created, details of their unveiling, and how they have been engaged throughout their lives including the surprising wandering existence of some of the older statues.

Apartment613 Blog Walk was an exploration of some of Bank Street's businesses. Billed as a series of live "blog posts" by apartment613 editors featuring local business leaders it featured smaller businesses, including some I would never likely have entered otherwise. Although it was interesting the tour was less satisfactory than the other two as more so than other walks it left it to the participants to draw together experiences from the individual business visits.

Ottawa’s Notre Dame Cemetery: sacred space, social space and a lieu de mémoire (place of memory) by Jean Yves Pelletier was a tour of the older sections of the National Capital Region’s largest Roman Catholic cemetery which has close to 124,000 people buried there and some 35,000 monuments. Pelletier is author of a 2009 book on the cemetery’s history which includes short biographies of many well-known people buried there. In many ways this was the most successful of the three tours, largely because of Pelletier's in-depth knowledge and enthusiasm for his topic. I was surprised that there is no Friends organization for the Cemetery, and as a consequence a lack of historical interpretation, and perhaps greater vulnerability of the monuments than at the adjacent Beechwood Cemetery.

An overall impression, and an encouraging one, was the relative youth of both the guides and many of the participants.

5 comments: said...

It must be hard to choose from the many walks! A good event to mark on one's calendar for next year. I notice on the Jane's walk website that mention is made of a Doors Open Ottawa historical walk on June 6. It will start at George and Sussex street at 11 AM.

Anne S.

anne s. said...

Sorry, the notice I saw for the Doors Open walk was for last year. There is likely one for this year.

JDR said...

Open Doors Ottawa is scheduled for June 5-6 this year. The annual walking tour at Beechwood Cemetery, this year profiling Ottawa photographers, is the following weekend.

Leigh Thorpe said...

Hi, John,

Thanks for sharing your feedback on Jane's Walk. I will share this with the other organizers. They will be very pleased to read your comments.


Hamish said...

As the nation's capital, Ottawa is home to many interesting monuments and the National Aboriginal Veterans Association Monument pictured in this post is certainly no exception. There is more information on this subject at Canada's Got Treasures, which is also a space where you can share your images, videos or other media.

Canada's Got Treasures, a VMC initiative