Sense of Place and Walking Tours: A Case Study of the Tour Guys Downtown Toronto Tour

by Katherine Belshaw

Institution: University of Waterloo
Year: 2017
Keywords: Sense of Place; Cultural Planning; Guided Walking Tours
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2222123
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10012/11849


Sense of place has been deemed an important notion for planners as it is understood to have both economic and social benefits. However, profound social, economic, and cultural transformations have made it increasingly difficult to retain a sense of local place and its particularity. Losing this sense of particularity limits a places cultural and social capital each of which are huge drivers of economic growth. As a response to this, guided walking tours for example Janes Walks established in 2006 have emerged as a form of cultural interpretation to help maintain and foster a meaningful sense of place. Despite a growing awareness of the benefits of guided walking tours, existing literature on how guided walking tours ought to be designed does not sufficiently address their complexity or understand their relationship to sense of place. This research attempts to fill this gap by analyzing how place is presented and experienced on the Tour Guys Downtown Toronto Tour. Using participant observation and interviews, this study suggests that guided walking tours have the potential to change the way people think and act by presenting them with distinctive place experiences. Therefore, guided walking tours, as they interact with sense of place, can be a powerful means for social and cultural transformation. Based on these findings, recommendations are made for effectively designing and using guided walking tours as tools for cultural interpretation.