Longing for the Land: Greenwood. Rock. River. Field.

by JaneFairburn on August 12, 2018

I had the pleasure of visiting David and Louise Bazett-Jones in May of 2018. They run a small organic farm in Prince Edward County, and appear in this video with Natalia Shields, the photographer for Longing for the Land. We covered many topics relating to the project, including the Bazett-Jones’s wood lot conservation efforts.

Experience binds us to the land. By this I mean not just the experience of a lifetime, but of the generations. It is subjective and collective. It is conscious and unconscious. It is known and unknown.

Land is the ultimate mirror of our experience. God is in the land. The land holds our hopes, our dreams, and even our darkest despair. Our personal mythology is reflected in the land and we seek our consolation there. It embodies what we remember, but also what we have chosen to forget. We long for the land.

Like Along the ShoreLonging For the Land: Meditations on Rural Ontario covers a lot of ground. It is a book is about place. It is autobiographical, anthropological, mythological and historical. It describes the layered Indigenous and European presence on the land, along with the points of intersection and synergies between the cultures. It contains information on ancient and modern farming practices. It describes the architectural landscape of rural Ontario. It is a guide to fall fairs. Most importantly, it considers the value of the land in relationship to that most nebulous of concepts: the human spirit. It describes the language of the land, and considers  approaches to its conservation.

Okay. So let’s state the obvious. This is going to take me a while! (Note to self: next project not to contain serious slogging over arcane, but necessary theoretical infrastructure!! In this department, I’m sending a particular note of appreciation to Michel Foucault and his discussion of the “Gaze”…). Also, suffice it to say that this is not a book I could have written at 25, 35 or even 45 years of age. A series of concentric circles in my life have brought me here, to this place.

The good news is that I’ve reached the stage with the project where I feel like the book is leading me. I’m on a roll, so to speak, so I thought I’d re-focus with a series of little videos, posts and blogs on elements of the rural Ontario landscape that take centre-stage in the project: Greenwood. Rock. River. Field. In doing so, I’m intentionally riffing off of Sir Simon Schama’s Landscape and Memory.

I’d like to thank my dear friend Judith van Bastelaar for arranging a series of interviews for me in Prince Edward County this spring, while the earth was waking up and bursting with promise. (Judith appears near the end of this video). I’m also sending a warm thank you to Rikki (Julius Reque) of Port Medway, Nova Scotia, for making sense of my crazy iPhone footage and creating this video.

Please feel free to comment widely and without restraint — I’d love to hear from you, especially about your experiences on the land.



Saving Grey Abbey Beach: Progress, At Last

by JaneFairburn on June 2, 2018

I’m very happy to report that significant progress was made on the preservation of Grey Abbey Beach at the City’s Executive Committee on May 14, 2018. The beach, located directly to the east of Guildwood Park, was slated for destruction as part of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s Scarborough Waterfront Project.

The Committee has requested that the TRCA, “maximize, maintain and/or create new sandy shorelines, including a further review of key sand shorelines such as Grey Abbey”, as part of the next design phase of the project. Furthermore, City Council has directed their Chief Financial Officer and City Manager to work with the TRCA to explore partnerships to accomplish this objective.

A special thank you goes out to Councillor Gary Crawford, who moved the Motions, and to Councillor Jaye Robinson for caring about the insidious practice of shoreline hardening. Thanks also to Mayor John Tory for his decency and ability to respectfully listen.

You can check out my submission to the Executive Committee in the video below.



Sinfonia Toronto — Toronto Hunt, with Jane Fairburn

May 22, 2018

I’m on the Board of Sinfonia Toronto, one of the city’s premier chamber orchestras. See: http://www.sinfoniatoronto.com/web/home.aspx A fundraiser for the orchestra is taking place at the Toronto Hunt on June 21, 2018 — I hope you’ll consider joining me. Please click on the link below to order tickets. Order tickets here

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Out on the Land: From Skibbereen to Killala

May 4, 2018

I’ve had the pleasure of being in Ireland the last little while, exploring the theme of cultural memory. I’m interested in how remembrance in the Irish and Ireland’s diaspora is tied to the land, and how it animates and informs identity and a mystical spirit of place. I thought I’d share a little of what […]

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Up the North: A Chat On the Way to Belfast

April 24, 2018

Here’s my latest missive on landscape, en route to Belfast.

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Longing for the Land: Meditations on Rural Ontario

February 25, 2018

All of us yearn for something. By this I mean a deep feeling of wistful desire, or longing, for myriad objects and aspirations as diverse as our own life experiences — a lost child, the inner peace that comes from solitude, forbidden love. Can landscape embody, or at least metaphorically represent these desires and mirror our internal […]

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Reflections on the Shore: Deconstructing the TRCA’s Paved Paradise at East Point

January 20, 2017

Happy New Year, everyone. I thought I’d get 2017 rolling with some thoughts on the TRCA’s recent update to their Scarborough Waterfront Development Project (SWP). In case you haven’t yet learned, the TRCA is planning to roll out a whole multi-year make-work project at the Scarborough Bluffs lakefront, from Bluffer’s Park at the foot of […]

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The TRCA’s Scarborough Waterfront Development Project (June 28, 2016 meeting): My Comments

July 16, 2016


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Re-birth of an Island Nation

March 28, 2016

Hello Everyone, Here’s a Facebook post I did recently on the 1916 Easter Rising Commemoration at the Residence of the Irish Ambassador in Ottawa, earlier this year: https://www.facebook.com/janefairburnalongtheshore/posts/1062570570473422. Also, please check out Terry Glavin’s article in the National Post.  

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Walking the Eastern Shore with Christopher Hume

February 28, 2016

I spent last Friday morning walking Scarborough’s beaches with the Toronto Star’s urban affairs and architecture critic Christopher Hume. You can check out the video here:

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