(c) By Jim Fox
The doors are about to swing open for another season of discovery in what has become one of Ontario's most popular tourism events.
Doors Open Ontario -- offering a chance to see what goes on often behind closed doors -- returns for its 10th year, starting with Guelph next Saturday (April 30).
"This season, participants will have the opportunity to explore iconic landmarks, natural wonders, architectural gems and hidden heritage treasures at 56 community events across the province," said Liane Nowosielski of the Ontario Heritage Trust.
There are seven new destinations: Deseronto-Napanee; Grimsby; Highlands East; Kapuskasing; Middlesex; Merrickville; and Pickering.
|Visitors to Doors Open Guelph can explore Sleeman House, a Queen Anne-style home built with state-of-the-art facilities in 1891 for politician George Sleeman and family. (Doors Open Ontario)|
Going back, way back
This program "provides a glimpse into the past -- to a different time, another world or a distant place," Nowosielski said.
Each year, hundreds of historic buildings, places of worship, private homes, industrial areas and heritage gardens, some of which are rarely accessible to the public, are open to tour at no charge.
Doors Open started with 17 communities and by the end of this season will have topped four-million visitors.
|Old St. Thomas Church was constructed in 1824 in the early English Gothic revival style and the oldest church in the Talbot Settlement. (Doors Open Ontario)|
New sites to explore
Visitors can check out the Old St. Thomas Church and churchyard, constructed in 1824 in the early English Gothic revival style.
With its picturesque graveyard, it's the oldest church in the Talbot Settlement.
Sleeman House, made of local limestone, is a Queen Anne-style house built in 1891 for Guelph politician George Sleeman and his family.
There are custom-made interior finishes, state-of-the-art electrical, gas and water facilities and speaking tubes and electric bells the family used to communicate with its servants.
The Cleeve Horne House, built by Cleeve and Jean Horne in the 1950s in Pickering as an artist's getaway, is an architectural treasure described as a "hyperbolic paraboloid."
The Circle, circa 1921, is one of the best examples of Kapuskasing's formal street patterns as influenced by the City Beautiful movement.
The Circle, from 1921, is one of the best examples of Kapuskasing's formal street patterns. (Doors Open Ontario)
Guelph opens its doors first
Doors Open Guelph, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., has 10 historic buildings to tour along with a Trails Open hike.
Joining the Sleeman House (mentioned earlier), there's Woodlands House, a Georgian, cut-limestone mansion, built in 1846 for Col. Thomas Saunders.
Vimy Ridge Farm from 1846 housed rehabilitating First World War soldiers and was a summer camp for orphaned children.
Norfolk Street United Church; City Hall; the Guelph Provincial Court House; Sacred Heart Catholic Church and Rectory; Carter House former mayor Samuel Carter used as a knitting factory; and Bernardi Precast, whose clients for its fountains and statues include Donald Trump, are also on the list.
Explore the Speed River Trail on 30-minute and 90-minute outings led by the Guelph Hiking Trail Club.www.guelpharts.ca/doorsopenguelph; (519) 836-3280.
|The Cleeve Horne House built in the 1950s in Pickering as an artist's getaway is described as a "hyperbolic paraboloid." (Doors Open Ontario)|
Coming soon to a community near you
Here are the upcoming Doors Open events (most are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.):
- Guelph, April 30; Chatham-Kent, Whitby, May 7; Hamilton, May 7-8; Temiskaming Shores, May 14; Deseronto-Napanee and Milton, May 28; and Brockville-Thousand Islands and Toronto, May 28-29.
- Whitchurch-Stouffville, June 4; Huronia, Ottawa and Owen Sound, June 4-5; Smiths Falls, June 5; Clarington and Richmond Hill, June 11; Burlington and Highlands East, June 11-12; Kingston and Perth, June 18; Fergus-Elora, June 25; and Muskoka, June 25-26.
- Aurora, July 9; Kapuskasing, July 23; Norfolk, Aug. 13; Georgina and Markham, Aug. 27; Belleville, Sept. 10; Cornwall-Seaway Valley, Sept. 10-11; Kawartha Lakes, Sept. 11; Amherstburg, Haldimand County, Newmarket, Rideau Lakes-Westport, St. Marys and Waterloo Region, Sept. 17.
- London, Middlesex and South Bruce Peninsula, Sept. 17-18; Merrickville, Sept. 18; and Brant, East Elgin, Oxford County and Pembroke, Sept. 24.
- Grimsby, Oakville, Oshawa and Peterborough, Sept. 24-25; Barrie, Mississauga, Pickering and Port Stanley-Sparta, Oct. 1; Gananoque, St. Thomas and Vaughan, Oct. 1-2; and Kincardine, Oct. 15-16.
See artists at work in Oxford
The doors are also open for the fourth Annual Oxford Studio Tour on April 30 and May 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Forty-four artists will show and sell their works at 25 locations and studios, featuring pottery, jewelry, wood turning, stained glass, photography, weaving, original art and spinning.
Artist Sue Goossens, co-founder of the tour, said there is a "diverse mix of creativity that you will see as you visit the different studios." www.oxfordstudiotour.ca; (519) 842-6151.
If you go:
To learn about the Doors Open Ontario events and sites: www.doorsopenontario.on.ca; 1-800-ONTARIO.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com