By Rizwana Shaikh, Federation of Calgary Communities
Eau Claire is one of the oldest communities in Calgary, with its origins dating back to 1886 when a sawmill was transplanted here from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and placed on the banks of the Bow River.
This community contains chapters of history which Dained Vera, a board member of the Eau Claire Community Association, reveals on her annual Jane’s Walk in May — The City I Chose as My Home. These walks, inspired by urban activist Jane Jacobs, encourage people to come together and celebrate their neighbourhoods.
“I like to tell the history of this city (Calgary) through the history of Eau Claire,” says Vera.
She remembers when she moved to Calgary in 2013 and the wonder she felt in every corner of her neighbouhood, which inspired her to share it with others. Often, we forget the magic of our streets because we’re busy in our daily routines.
Before hosting the Jane’s Walk, Vera spent a year doing research on the history of Eau Claire,. She says residents who participate are surprised to learn the stories buried in every brick of their buildings.
The walk is divided into decades, with explanations of what the city was like and the journey Eau Claire took. It takes roughly 90 minutes to complete, strolling through Prince’s Island Park, and finishing up at the Peace Bridge.
Vera feels the walk has brought the community association closer to Eau Claire residents and engages them in a healthy and informative conversation about where they live. Other board members also come out for the walk to connect with their neighbours.
“They’ve (Eau Claire Community Association) been very supportive,” Vera says.
She has led two Jane’s walks in the past two years and has another planned for this year’s Jane’s Walk festival taking place May 3-5, 2019. She says every year she learns something new from the walking tour and the residents who participate. Next year she plans to elaborate on what the everyday life was like for residents during different time periods in Eau Claire’s history.
*Photos provided by the Eau Claire Community Association