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Take a walk through East Kildonan

Jane’s Walks to be held May 7 & 8

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This article was published 29/04/2016 (2412 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

You may not be aware of it, but those homes and businesses you drive by every day have plenty of stories to tell.

Some of them will be told on May 7 and 8 when a series of Jane’s Walks take place in East Kildonan.

The walks are named after Jane Jacobs, one of the most influential figures in urban studies. Even though she did not have any formal training in the field, Jacobs’ influence can be felt in neighbourhoods from Winnipeg to New York and beyond.

Tony Zerucha Local author Shirley Kowalchuk stands in front of Linden Avenue’s famed ‘Purple House’ which is a focal point of the Jane’s Walk she hosts on May 8.

On Sat., May 7 at 1 p.m. Jim Smith hosts a tour of Watt Street between Rossmere Country Club and Munroe Avenue (the tour begins at 925 Watt St.). He will share the history of different buildings and talk about some people who shaped the community.

Smith knows the area well because his family has lived there for generations. His father was a former city councilor, school board chair and judge.

Several other noteworthy people lived on or near the route, Smith said. Hollywood actor Len Cariou, star of the police drama Blue Bloods, grew up on Chelsea Avenue and first took up acting while attending nearby Miles MacDonell Collegiate.

Bill Lumsden founded the Kelvin Community Club and was a pivotal figure in the local, provincial and national curling scenes.

Smith said walkers will get a sense of a neighbourhood that used to offer everything a person needed within walking distance, a principle Jacobs always supported.

“Jane Jacobs thought it was important to build communities where people could walk and get all the basics they need,” Smith said.

Watt Street used to be just that, Smith added. Many of the houses and commercial spaces were built in the mid-1950s. Businesses such as hardware stores, textile merchants and banks filled areas like the now mostly vacant strip mall on the southwest corner of Watt and Kimberley.

Smith used the 7-11 building on Neil and Watt as an example. Before it was a convenience store it served as a gas station under several banners, including Gulf.

Another is the Holy Eucharist Church on Watt and Munroe. There used to be a fire hall on the site before it moved a half block north to 545 Watt Street. Across the street where Holy Eucharist’s Parish Centre now stands used to be the original Polson School, which was built in 1910.

On Sun., May 8 at 1 p.m. local author Shirley Kowalchuk hosts a tour of the Hazel Dell area between Henderson Highway and Kildonan Drive. The walk begins at the pillars at Hazel Dell and Henderson Highway.

People will hear about developer Robert Newton Lowery, who built many of the homes in the area. Like Smith’s walk, some notable residents and homes will also be profiled, including Linden Avenue’s famed Purple House and the Munroe home on Roberta Avenue.

The neighborhood was deeply affected by the 1950 flood, Kowalchuk added, and walkers will get a sense of that as the route dips toward the Red River.

A third walk runs through the Frasers Grove neighbourhood on the same Sunday afternoon. Beginning at the Henderson Library at 1:30 p.m., walkers will meet librarians, politicians and neighbourhood children while also stopping for ice cream.

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Twitter: @HeraldWPG

Tony Zerucha

Tony Zerucha
East Kildonan community correspondent

Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

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