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How a 19-year old Queen’s student used boredom (and his CERB money) for good

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During the enforced break from his political science studies, Jayden Daniels realized that Torontonians increased time spent walking could be a more enjoyable experience with his tour app narrating area history. | Photo: Courtesy Jayden Daniels

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Despite the anomalous circumstances of COVID-19, I can unequivocally admit that, at 19, I wasn’t nearly as resourceful as Jayden Daniels, a political science student at Queen’s University currently living with his family in Toronto.

I mean, I was working, but that work was to pay my phone bill and support my social life; it wasn’t being used as a creative way to give back.

Mr. Daniels, like many Canadians, has spent the last 120-days in isolation, unable to do much of anything. Focused on daily walks to keep his mind sharp, taking different routes in the upper Forest Hill area of Toronto where he resides, Daniels quickly became bored of this, too. 

“I went to a once a week Hebrew school for grades 1-6, as well as a Jewish camp. I have always walked a lot to get places, but never really walked for the sake of it until the pandemic began. I found my neighborhood fascinating to walk through on a daily basis, but something needed to be done to make it less mundane,” said Daniels in a phone interview. “I decided it could be cool to have an app that offered a walking tour of my neighborhood, something that offered insight into the history of what I call home.”

After doing some preliminary research and realizing that the offering didn’t exist on either the iOS App Store or Google Play, respectively, Daniels took it upon himself to make it happen.

“I had the government assistance money (CERB) coming in and wanted to do something good with it,” continued Daniels.

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And he did just that; going as far as connecting with a New Zealand-based dev shop, My Tours, known for building out similar walking tour-style apps for museums and establishing a relationship with them.

“They liked that there was a charitable angle to what I was doing, so they cut me a good deal to develop and help me update it,” said Daniels. Within a few short weeks “Toronto Neighborhood Walks” was born. “The walking tours can be biked, but I’d definitely recommend walking them, as I think the experience is best walked.”

Currently featuring walking narrated tours of Upper Forest Hill, Cedarvale, and Humewood areas of Toronto. Daniels plans to expand to a fourth tour, Lower Forest Hill, but unsure of how much further he’ll go after that with school right around the corner. He emphasized the walking tours illustrate how “history can be found everywhere, not just in a museum or “historical district,” but even in the places you walk by every day”.

Jayden Daniels tells the story of some Jewish neighbourhoods in Toronto with his new walking tour app.

“All of the neighbourhoods that I feature have significant Jewish populations, particularly Upper Forest Hill and Cedarvale, where Jewish history is explicitly discussed,” Daniels explained.

“In the 1930s, Upper Forest Hill had yet to be developed, while Lower Forest Hill was already a wealthy neighbourhood. A huge controversy ensued when the wealthy residents of Lower Forest Hill fought against Upper Forest Hill selling smaller housing lot sizes, which would have made what was then the Village of Forest Hill more accessible to other social classes and ethnicities, particularly Jews, who ended up moving into the village in big numbers. I also discuss how Holy Blossom’s move from downtown to its current location in the early 1930s started the trend of Jews moving from downtown north up Bathurst Street.”

Free to download and use. The app offers a direct link to make a donation if you can to the North York Harvest food bank, which Daniels chose because it’s local to him as well and a wonderful cause.  

You can download Nextdoor – Neighbourhood App via Apple’s AppStore here:

https://apps.apple.com/ca/app/nextdoor-neighbourhood-app/id640360962

Corey Herscu is Director of Media Relations at VerbFactory, a marketing agency focused on technology and emerging vertical sectors. He previously ran RNMKR, a Toronto-based communications agency focused on cannabis, technology, and lifestyle.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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