I moved with my wife and 6 month old daughter to Toronto and a new job in 1971, rented an apartment and started searching for a permanent home. I soon happened on an aging but tempting Victorian beauty on Albany Avenue in Toronto's "Annex". As a newcomer I needed advice before deciding.
I was awestruck to learn that my neighbour might be one Jane Jacobs, inspirational author in my days as a graduate student of architecture and urban planning! Who better to advise me if only I had the courage to ask? Sure enough the Telephone Book (yes kids, we had them back in 1971) listed a Jacobs on Albany Avenue. I dialed. She answered. I confessed respectfully to her significance in my education and presented my reason for intruding. She was friendly yet perfunctory: regarding the house she would turn the phone over to her husband, architect Robert; regarding a broader issue, before I made the purchase I should become aware that Albany Avenue was one of five alternative routes for an imminent "Spadina" expressway, to which I blurted "that's awful", thus launching my professional awakening in my new hometown.
Two weeks after moving in we received an invitation to dinner at the Jacobs' home to discover upon arriving that the dinner had been extended to many other neighbours as a welcome to us. This was our introduction to Toronto, to our neighbours and to Jane and her family that continued for years to demonstrate Jane's commitment to "every life matters" beginning with her neighbours.
By: Larry Sherman