See Behind Closed Doors in Ontario

Miriam Porter April 24, 2019

Doors Open Ontario is a province wide initiative working with communities to literally open doors, gates and courtyards so curious visitors can explore what’s inside and learn about the history and background of each site. This includes heritage treasures, historical houses, natural spaces, cultural landscapes and other sites that help define Ontario communities. The list below includes sites open in April, May and June with events appropriate for families, seniors, couples, friends and those that love exploring solo. So whether you want to plan a road trip to explore an ancient stone bridge in Guelph; a cotton factory in Hamilton; have a behind the scenes glimpse into the legal system in Toronto; or make toys for rescued animals in Stouffville, there is truly something for everyone at Doors Open Ontario.

Guelph – Gow’s Bridge.

When: April 27, 2019.

Take a road trip to Doors Open Guelph to celebrate the kick-off event for Doors Open Ontario. This free community celebration is fun for all ages and gives visitors the opportunity to explore the unique buildings and architecture of Guelph.  Take a guided tour in small groups and learn the history of the various sites you choose to explore. Start your tour at Gow’s Bridge and discover this 1897 Edwardian stone bridge and the fascinating local scandals surrounding it from years ago. Stay for the Art Walk if you love galleries, art spaces, and public art. This exclusive guided walking tour by an artist will have you falling in love with downtown Guelph.

Photo of Gow’s Bridge in Guelph courtesy of: Leanne Piper

Peterborough – Black’s Distillery.

When: May 4, 2019.

If you have always wanted to know how spirits are created now is your chance. Black’s Distillery is one of many fascinating doors you can enter at Doors Open Peterborough. This new commercial food and drink building opened in East City in 2018 and remains Peterborough’s only distillery. Spirits are manufactured right on site using locally produced grain and red fife wheat that creates small batches of rye, gin, and vodka. Other doors opening in Peterborough include radio stations; churches; the former county jail that first opened their doors in 1842; and the water treatment plant that has been running for nearly a century. Save time for a free ride on the historical trolley.

Hamilton – Griffin House National Historic Site.

When: May 4 – 5, 2019.

The Cotton Factory is offering guided tours at Doors Open Hamilton where guests can explore over 35 artist studios, shops, galleries and a kids zone that is perfect for families. This commercial building was constructed in 1900 and located in the heart of lower Hamilton. It’s a former cotton mill but is now a completely transformed building that houses studios for talented artists, film productions, special events and a creative space for workshops. Other Hamilton venues opening their doors include Griffin House National Historic Site where you can explore a farm cabin dating back to the early 19th Century; Cable 14; the Hamilton Police Museum; Mohawk Trail School Museum; and the Playhouse Cinema.

Toronto – Osgoode Hall.

When: May 25 – 26, 2019.

Regardless if you are an aspiring lawyer or just have an interest in how the Canadian court system works, a visit behind the closed doors of Osgoode Hall is an exciting way to explore Doors Open Toronto. Osgoode Hall is a Toronto landmark representing the highest courts in the province and home to The Law Society of Ontario. These self-guided tours are sure to ignite a fascination for the law. Also happening for the 20th anniversary year of Doors Open Toronto is a tour of Fort York National Historic Site. This venue is great for families and you will learn all about the barracks, fortifications, and the history of Canada’s military. Stick with this history theme and visit Mackenzie House to learn about Toronto’s very first Mayor.

Owen Sound – Highland Manor Inn Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast.

When: June 1, 2019.

Doors Open Owen Sound is celebrating their 17th year by opening their doors to museums, mansions, and spring gardens. Learn about the historic Old Post Office that was used until 1957 for mail, customs and revenue services. Years later it was transformed into a bank, bookstore and even a fitness center. These days it’s home to the ever popular escape rooms that keep popping up. Other sites include Roselawn Bowling Club where you can learn why lawn bowling has been a favoured summer sport for over 100 years in Owen Sound. Or check out High Victorian Gothic architecture at Highland Manor Inn Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast and admire the stunning Roman arches.

Whitchurch – Stouffville – Shadow Lake Centre.

When: June 1, 2019.

Get the whole family ready for a road trip to Doors Open Whitchurch-Stouffville to explore the historical, architectural and cultural sites of the community. The kids can ask all their animal adoption questions at the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) during an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the center. They can also make an original toy for the adorable furry animals currently in their care. Continue the day with this creative theme and head to Latcham Art Centre for a tour of their current visual art exhibition and a behind the scenes look at the colourful art world or visit Shadow Lake Centre for crafts, games and treats.

Erin – Century Church Theatre.

When: June 8, 2019.

If you are passionate about reading and books check out Hillsburgh Library at Doors Open Erin. It’s a new library that opened last year located on the shores of the pretty Mill Pond. What was once an 1892 rural home is now a modern glass and brick building where you can sit and read with views of the pond. This charming town has several other sites to choose from including the Century Church Theatre, Datta Yoga Centre of Canada, and Woollen Mills Trail where you can join a naturalist and historian on a short hike to learn about the flora and fauna located along the West Credit River. If you want to take your own tour, the trail is ideal for hikers, walkers and bikers and the perfect outdoor adventure to get a sense of the town of Erin.

Have fun discovering unique sites at Doors Open Ontario!

Photos provided by: Doors Open Ontario