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Posts Tagged ‘Uptown Rideau’

This past weekend marked another year of guided neighbourhood Jane’s Walks. The walks started in 2007, in Toronto, in homage to the late Jane Jacobs. Of the 600 walks in 85 cities in 19 countries, Ottawa hosted 51 walks and I made it out to two of them.

Wallis House / General Hospital, circa 1920, photo Wikipedia

Sunday morning I headed over to Uptown Rideau: A Mainstreet Interrupted. The walk/talk was led by Chris Bradshaw, a longtime advocate of walkable cities and neighbourhoods and covered the section of Rideau Street between King Edward Avenue and eastward to the Rideau River bridge. It’s not quite a neighbourhood but rather a boundary between Sandy Hill and Lower Town. The street, which is home to the successful ByTowne Cinema lacks a strong BIA and Chris is working to organize the business owners. The street has pharmacies, beauty salons, restaurants, a heritage library and a grocery store but it recently lost its only cafe and is rather bland. Like other streets and neighbourhoods, it has undergone many changes. For instance, trams once ran along Rideau Street and the area housed a transit hub where now there is a strip mall. Wallis House, a heritage building, was an infectious disease hospital and is now a condominium. The street is slated for revitalization and may see public art, benches and wider sidewalks.

Older restored building on Wellington Street in Hintonburg, photo urbantoronto.ca

In the afternoon I headed over to a neighbourhood closer to home to take in the walk/talk Escaping Urban Renewal – Hintonburg past, present and future, hosted by Linda Hoad and Paulette Dozois, co-chairs of the Hintonburg Community Association Heritage and Zoning Committees. Actually, we broke into two groups and I went on the tour led by Linda. I’m not a Downtowner/Uptowner at heart, so to me, Hintonburg is the more appealing neighbourhood. It’s a highly walkable neighbourhood with blue collar roots. Many earlier inhabitants worked at the trainyards and the Experimental Farm. It’s had a seedy history but is now considered a very desirable up and coming neighbourhood.

The walk noted a few older buildings, such as Bethany Hope House and Richmond Lodge, however, many of the lots, particularly north of Wellington are small with little yard space. Apparently, you built onto your house as you could. These are mostly clapboard construction while south of Wellington the houses are brick. The residential redevelopment is quite interesting and features a “boxcar” style of housing. The neighbourhood has a walled park,  complete with a new sundial and hosts outdoor theatre in the summer. The Wellington Street West area is home to many different businesses, including an arts district, and both walks pointed out examples of early work/live architecture – buildings where people ran a commercial establishment on the ground floor and lived above.

Thanks Chris and Linda. Jane’s Walks are a great way to learn about and explore neighbourhoods. Chris mentioned a website where you can check how walkable a neighbourhood is. It can be a bit off, for example, Uptown Rideau scored a 95 and cited a school but the school is a driving school. I like this tool though – my current address ranks a 68 and the place I grew up ranks a 97. How does your neighbourhood rate?

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