Bats, Beans and Bridges is a new historical walking “tour”:http://museumlondon.ca/walking-tours?utm_source=Museum+London&utm_campaign=a2e69296c4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_08_02_05_53&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_266c1f5cef-a2e69296c4-277825829&goal=0_266c1f5cef-a2e69296c4-277825829&mc_cid=a2e69296c4&mc_eid=23b94179e7 organized through Museum London with the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario. This tour takes you across the Queen Bridge (bridge #1) to the oldest baseball grounds in the world (bats) and into the Blackfriars neighbourhood (beans) to the Blackfriars Bridge (bridge #2) back across the Thames River.
The Queens Bridge was erected in 1973 and provides great views north along the river with Harris Park on the right and the new dyke on the left necessary due to consistent flooding of the Thames River – the floods of 1883 and 1937 being the worst. Directly across the bridge to the right is Labatt Memorial Park where we saw the local baseball team practicing. Our guide pointed out the osprey nest atop one of the light poles. A new pole and platform was erected just for the nest so the birds wouldn’t be disturbed by the lights around the ball diamond but the ospreys refuse to use it.
Our walk through the Blackfriars neighbourhood, a Heritage Conservation District, took us past some different styles of Ontario Cottage homes constructed of lovely yellow brick: one and a half story bungalows with a peaked roof in the middle with Gothic Revival windows, two story homes with Italianate “eyebrow” windows. Some of the homes have been extended over the years and are more than double their size when viewed from the side or back. Our guide had spoken to the homeowner of the 1867 Alexander Leslie house (81 Wilson Avenue) to get permission for us to take a closer look as it is set back from the road. Sadly the gingerbread around the roof was missing as it was being repaired. Leslie was a market gardener and is the reason for the “beans” in the name of the tour. Another standout in some of the homes were the London Doorways (symmetrical windows on each side of the door and a transom window above the door, some of which were Italianate as well – arched).
Blackfriars Bridge is the oldest known (1875) wrought iron bridge in Ontario. When I first moved to London my GPS kept trying to get me to drive over it to get downtown however it was closed as it needed repairing. It was dismantled, taken away, restored and then rebuilt and is now open for business again. It is a one way bridge spanning 65.8 meters and is definitely my easiest way into downtown. When we walked across the bridge at the end of our tour our guide had us all looking for the points where the bridge was joined together.
The walks cost $10 per person and you have to book on line through the museum’s website. Different themed tours are offered sporadically on Saturdays throughout the summer and each one is run twice the same day; 10:30 to noon and again from 1:00 to 2:30 pm. I usually take the morning tour to miss the heat of the day. Tours meet in the lobby of the museum and occur whether it is raining or not. I had an umbrella with me for this tour as rain was forecast but ended up using it to protect myself from the sun!
On-street metered parking near the museum is free for 2 hours on Saturdays.