Tag Archives: Big Walk

Big Walk-erville and some of the power of Google Maps

Quickly, for those of you who were clueless about the Big Walk…here’s the original Google Maps Pedometer I set up. Stephen Hargreaves told me about this site, and I rushed to it in order to get an accurate distance on our walk…but it served as a a map and became part of an information kit I sent to all the walkers. So check it out HERE!

While in Walkerville, the biggest expanse was Willistead Park, looking at Willistead Manor. Wow. Autumn in full effect, and over 40 legs traipsing through the leaf-litter was, if nothing else, an auditory experience not repeated since I went on a field trip in grade school to Optimist Park…near my old school, St Andrew’s.

The videos I shot of that area include talk of Albert Kahn, and discussion of other buildings in the area…if you can hear it over the leaves.

So the vids below will show you what that experience was like, if you weren’t there…or if you aren’t from Windsor, or Ontario, or Canada.

In closing, I just want to explain something that was supplied to all Big Walkers less than two days after we returned from the painful, beautiful trip.

Michael Johnson, tall guy, running around all day with his camera taking pictures, made another Google Map for the group. His was much more interesting, intriguing, and inspiring…

He took our trip, and mapped it on a Google Map. He then took his photos, and created slide-shows in a movie-editor of some kind  on his computer (iMovie?). THEN he took AUDIO he secretly recorded during the walk, and he set those stories, or discussions as bed tracks for some of his photos.  He THEN plotted those videos ON THE MAP. He also posted photo galleries on certain points of the trip that were relevant to the area he placed the marker that signified “click here”.

So, when we were in Walkerville, one of our walkers, Joan, talked about how she used to be pals with Paul Martin’s (past Liberal Prime Minister of Canada) sister and how she had partied in the Paul Martin house as a youngster. She went on to discuss the secret tunnels under the house that lead all the way to the lip of the Detroit River, and were used for rum-running at some point (she thought). Everyone crowded around Joan on Kildare Road as she spun this yarn…and I hoped it stuck with people. Well, it stuck in Michael Johnson’s audio recorder.

So if you go to this map, he has a marker in Walkerville, and when you click on it, a Youtube video opens, and you see an image of the Paul Martin family house, but you hear Joan telling her tale of late nights in the house, with her friend, daring to go into the tunnel in the basement of the house, and running back in fear of the strange noises and darkness. Amazing usage of internet tools! I, however, now cannot find the link to that map in my e-mail. I will try to find it and post it in a later post.

Do any of my Big Walk readers still have this link?

I can’t wait to have the technology night at Phog when the creative class gets a tutorial from their creative brethren. Watching that knowledge spread is going to be amazing!!

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Night and Day: Big Walk

When Pina from windsoreats.com heard about Big Walk, she was adamant that we walk down Indian Road.

I had no interest in the street, especially. I had never been down Indian Road before. I knew that the Bridge Company was doing some questionable things on Indian Road, buying up houses in order to demolish them…building a second span from Windsor to Detroit. I also knew that the City of Windsor was trying to prevent this from happening.

The result is several blocks of homes, mostly abandoned (owned by the bridge folks), boarded-up, looking like we live in a hurricane delta, preparing for a storm-front. They will stay this way until the city budges, and they are knocked down for a new bridge.

Conversely, we walked down Victoria Avenue. This is a street we can be proud of, exhibit, and share, as the houses on this street are incredible relics of a more prosperous time in Windsor.

I must say though, both of these streets elicited strong feelings from many of the Big Walkers.

Enjoy some more video and audio discussion (particularly about the Indian Road fiasco).

More to come!

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Walking Big, more recounting and video

One of the best things about that Big Walk was getting into spaces we don’t normally go.

In the video clip, Joan (retiree from Leamington and amazing walker) and I are storming through a park on the corner of Huron Church Road between University Avenue and Riverside Drive (before it becomes Sandwich Street) right beside the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit.

There’s an ocean of yellow foliage on the ground, heard heavily in the dragging footsteps of the group. We’re marching toward Assumption Church. It’s on the other side of the park(ette). I have seen this swath of grass before, but never got to be terrestrial in that block of land. And I was extremely “present” during the crossing of that park, which prompted me to take out my camera and film a bit of it.

Not enough is said about the feeling and sensory joy that can come from walking through a field of leaves. Some may think this is wishy-washy, but it’s so fulfilling.

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The other part of the walk that I enjoyed thoroughly was seeing parts of the city that are supposedly “dangerous”. Being in this neighbourhood near the University of Windsor, during the day, was wonderful. It was obviously devoid of any other human activity however, as it seemed we were the only ones out on our feet. As a whole, it seemed that during that whole day, we were the lone wolves using out two feet as a means of travel. In fact, I saw fewer bikes in use than I ever see. Perhaps it was our route that diverted us away from seeing other eco-travelers.

Another notable observation I wanted to share involves cars. While plotting out the course, I drove the route with my Mom. She was nice enough to donate the time and gas to drive the route while I made snap decisions to turn or u-turn, all in the hopes of helping my Big Walk go well. While we were driving, we were often closed in or stopped dead in our tracks from continuing onward. Why? Dead ends. You can’t drive the Ganatchio Trail where it begins on Wyandotte East and snakes behind homes, etc. You cannot get to College from Indian Road now that it’s closed off. On foot, this is all accessible. You can simply cross over a burm of grass, but in a car, you’re stuck, backtracking, wasting time and gas.

Walking through spaces that are designed to keep out motor vehicles has a special exclusivity feeling to it. Like I’m able to do something that MANY are not permitted to do. Loved that!

Here’s the video of the west-end neighbourhood that was picturesque, and not at all what I was expecting. Of course, I’m being sarcastic in the video.

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Big Walk Results

We walked on November 9th…I think.

That’s almost a month ago.

I can still feel the tweaks of that event in my bones. Muscles actually.

The group began on time, with a few stragglers. I expected this, as this event was conceived of and organized by the artists who regularly wake up at noon. To have people ready to move at 8pm was a stretch at BEST.

When we did get going, we had about 15 people, and that number adjusted when we were joined along the way by new faces. At times, we had approximately 25 people walking, talking, making new acquaintances, and exploring.

I didn’t realize that I would be cracking the whip as much as I did, corralling the walkers, infusing them with concern for our schedule. We kept a furious pace (it seemed) and it never wavered. The few breaks we got were greatly appreciated and NEEDED. However, every time we stopped, the joints would seize and the feet would pulsate.

The group was dynamic, helpful, eager, knowledgeable, and I was honoured to lead such a determined bunch.

People did drop out of the walk at different times due to previous engagements, parties, gigs, or due to soreness and fatigue. Each person can feel incredibly proud of the ground they covered, though, because they did something they hadn’t really done before. Ground level exploration and discussion. History and modernity in a mixed-media experience, changing from block to block.

My friend Dan Misener came from Toronto and got to walk for almost 8 hours before leaving for a party in Kingsville. I barely got to say a word to him. Not good. But this is the way these events climb up and bite you. You may think it’ll be a well-oiled machine, flowing perfectly with little intervention, but in reality, you are faced with group separation, spacing, time constraints, people’s needs for washrooms and food…it is not a social event for the group leader in the same way it is for the participants.

I will recount more of the Big Walk in coming posts, but this is something to say that we did it. It was a HUGE success, and I am thankful for everyone who made it happen (Big Table) from organizing, to participating, to allowing us into a building/business for a quick investigation or snack.

Enjoy a little video of the early part of the walk.

Again, I will update this blog with more posts along with an accompanying video or two.
So many great moments, and it would be endless (unreadable) to write in one post.

As you can see/hear in the video…I am already out of breath from walking about 3 blocks. The pace we kept for the entire darned thing! Jen Kimmerly gives us some history about a mob house, as she was frequent in doing, because she has spent SO much time walking in this city. She shared countless anecdotes and information bits about the things we were seeing. She was truly indispensable in this event.

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Windsor Star covers Big Walk, on the FRONT PAGE!

Photo taken by Nick Brancaccio, The Windsor Star

Photo taken by Nick Brancaccio, The Windsor Star

Well, it’s pretty nuts, but the Windsor Star covered this story (because Don McArthur does his job well, reading blogs, and looking for stories where great journalists look for stories, and he found out about Big Walk and liked it), and it made it onto the front page, under the fold.

I did not expect this.

However, if you are at all interested in reading the positive, very well-written article, go here:


Even crazier, is that the lawyer in the picture that I’m talking to…he’s a guy who I have been a fan of but not even known it. I mean, I knew I was a fan of his, but I did not know who he was.

He runs these amazing architecture walks in Detroit. Yes, a lawyer from Windsor runs architecture walks in Detroit. His name is Dave Ziriada, and he runs Preservation Wayne walks in downtown Detroit! I have wanted to go on these tours in the past, and have been unable due to scheduling…but here this guy is, knocking on the front window of the bar when I show up for the different photos used in the web and print  editions of today’s paper.

Someone in his office had heard myself and Stephen Hargreaves on CBC Radio’s The Early Shift, with Tony Doucette earlier in that same day.  So, he told Ziriada that the guy running Big Walk owns Phog Lounge. Guess what? He works in the building across the street!

I know! It’s kooky! I was shocked, and practically acted like a fan-boy over these walks he conducts in Detroit.

So “Big Thanks” goes out to Tony Doucette, who is always great to mix it up with, and to Don McArthur who has always been helpful and encouraging when it comes to my pursuing a life of journalism.

Big Walk: Where we’re going…


The Big Walk is coming up on Saturday. Yes, they say that the beautiful weather is going to end. The rain will begin. And the walk will not be stopped.

There are lots of folks coming, some leaving in the middle, some joining late.

Everyone participating will enjoy their time on the Big Walk, I am confident of it.

Here is a list of the places we will be trying to stop by and get a closer look at (in order):

Large Sitting-Tree in Odette Sculpture Garden, Historical Train Barns (The Junction), Odette Sculpture Park, Bridge Steps, Assumption Church, Chewitt Park, Peterson Park, Mill Park, The Mill Street Windmill (Russell & Mill, Mackenzie Hall, New Bedford Church (on Peter St.), Indian Road boarded-up houses, Duff-Baby House, McGregor Cowan House, U of W St. Denis Centre’s new football field, Sanctuary Coffee (College), Victoria Avenue housing, Windsor Grove Cemetery, St. Alphonsus Cemetery, Lanspeary Park, Canada Salvage, Rockhead Pub, Smoke and Spice restaurant, Unique Rabbit clothing, Judy’s On Ottawa gift shop, large Consignment Shop behind TD Bank on Ottawa St., Juniper Books, Windsor Market, The old International Playing Card Company Building on Walker Rd, Willistead Manor/Park, St. Mary’s Church (Walkerville), Paul Martin family house, Jones & Co., Timeless Treasures, Artspeak Gallery, Victoria Tavern, Old Bank Building and Post Office on Devonshire, Taloola Cafe, Walkerville Brewery, Hiram Walker, Ford Strike Protest Site, Nancy John’s Gallery, Vincent Franzoi’s Gallery, Paula’s Gallery, new Jitters Cafe, Nancy John’s artist’s loft, Prado-view walk to the river, Abar’s, Riverside Brewery (ruins), Ganatchio Trail, Seminole Walk, Ford City, Old Fire Truck Building site, Brownstones on Walker Rd., Big Tony’s Wood Oven Baked Pizza on Walker, Via Rail station, return to beginning along the river…

Big list huh?

And as for what to bring: (This is what I’m bringing, you may want to take more or less)

It might rain…umbrella.
A small flashlight…you never know.
Extra socks
Extra shirt
Water or juice
Cell Phone
Bandages (for potential blisters)
A book or magazine for some of our park stops (you may want to take park visits as a break rather than an exploratory opportunity)
Pain Medication

Cell phone (if you own one) for emergency or a cab if you get too tired!

Here’s the map of where we’re going:


Big Walk stuff

There’s been some unexpected support of the Big Walk concept…from Scaledown (scaledown.ca). This is pretty cool, since these guys are all about USING your city. Taking advantage of your surroundings.

Chris Holt, who ran for the Green Party in Windsor, apparantly has a keen eye on the Windsor blog roll, as he spotted the post about the Big Walk, and wanted to get involved, which is pretty obviously – flattering.

Here’s the link:

On another note, I apologize for the lateness of posts recently, but the shows at Phog Lounge (where I book acts/bartend) were nearly impossible to manage for the last five weeks. Very hectic, very stressful times because when you promise money to a band(s) you NEED bodies in the building paying cover charges. It’s my job to promote. And for 5 weeks, we have had an unpresidented level of talent through the doors.

There is less stress for November. Then Christmas-season unloads on us. Nice.
Also, my father had some complications with his gallbladder operation, and it was important that I see him as often as possible.

Oh yeah, and lastly, my wife’s 4-Year-Anniversary gift to me has been a MAJOR time consumer…and I warned her…
More to come about THAT topic very soon! It’ll be the next post.