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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Sunday, October 2, 2022
2nd annual Jane’s Walk highlights the peculiar past of Chautauqua
Jo-Ann Fraser and Dawn Orr walk down the streets of Chautauqua.
Jo-Ann Fraser and Dawn Orr walk down the streets of Chautauqua. Supplied

Jo-Ann Fraser

Special to The Lake Report

What do tornadoes, sky-high glaciers, monarch butterflies and the Crooks family have in common?

They will all form part of the conversation exploring the peculiar past of the Chautauqua neighbourhood during the 2nd Annual Jane’s Walk, on Thursday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m., starting in Ryerson Park.

Jane’s Walks are part of a community-led movement across Canada, named in honour of famed urbanist Jane Jacobs, who championed a community-based approach to city building.

Back by popular demand for the Niagara-on-the-Lake walk are Adam Martin, Kyra Simone and Rick Meloen, who will be joined this year by Kim MacDonald, one of the most familiar faces on the Weather Network.

MacDonald, a national host, weather expert and storyteller, will talk about why our last frost is later than our neighbours’ and how Lake Ontario and the escarpment affect our vineyards and orchards.

By the way, she also knows how many tornadoes have touched down in the last 300 years and how many times the temperature has dipped below –10C during last decade.

“When it comes to weather, NOTL can be considered a stand out community,” says MacDonald.

Simone, The Lake Report’s environmental columnist, has earned masters degrees in biology and in science communication, and is pursuing her PhD, will share stories from the perspective of the American eel, the monarch butterfly, the coyote and some migratory birds.

Her stories will outline some of the challenges they face and share some examples of hope for their futures.

“These animals and their ancestors have been acting out these stories for thousands and thousands of years and the balance is only disrupted when human activities put a stick in the bicycle wheel, so to speak,” says Simone.

Martin has a PhD and is an ecologist in U of T’s Centre for Critical Development Studies and the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences.

He will guide walkers through Chautauqua’s natural history by imagining the neighbourhood 10,000 years ago. He’ll help walkers imagine glaciers hundreds of kilometres high, understand why they started to melt and what they left behind.

“The natural history of our area and the glacial retreat plays a big part in today’s ecology of Chautauqua’s urban forest,” says Martin.

“Many tree species moved north to colonize the newly exposed land, which is why we share a lot of tree species with our southern neighbours.”

Wrapping up the event, Meloen, our resident historian and a NOTL native, will share stories of the Crooks family and the area formerly known as Crookstown – which is present day Chautauqua.

“The Crooks were involved in the fur trade, but the bulk of their business was provisioning for the military, shipping grain and flour to Lower Canada and brewing and distilling,” say Meleon.

“With their profits, they secured the land now known as Chautauqua.”

Chautauqua is a unique neighbourhood with a storied past and an uncommon urban forest. The second annual Jane’s Walk promises to reveal more about the area and help people understand some of its mysteries.

You can for the walk on Eventbrite by searching Jane’s Walk Niagara.

Jo-Ann Fraser is co-chair with Dawn Orr of Jane’s Walk Niagara.