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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Knock, knock . . . it's Doors Open Ontario's new season for 2015

   One-Tank Trip for April 18/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   History buffs, culture fans and the just plain curious can join in visiting some of Ontario’s historical and cultural gems.
   It’s time again for the Ontario Heritage Trust’s popular Doors Open program from later this month through mid-October.
   The doors of many of the “most intriguing and charming heritage sites” will swing open for a peak that will include some buildings that have never been open for public tours or visits.
Boarding House Arts limestone heritage building in Guelph
    It’s a chance to “discover the story behind every door,” the provincial government agency says.
   “Throughout the province, there is a growing pride in our heritage,” said trust chairman Thomas Symons.
   “Communities boast of their commercial buildings, courthouses, theatres, museums, places of worship, gardens, natural heritage and other sites,” he added.
   Admission is free for this “eagerly awaited” program now in its 14th year and that has attracted more than five-million visitors in that time.

   Royal City opens
   Again this year, Guelph leads the Doors Open parade with the first of the season on April 25.
   That’s followed next month by Peterborough and Whitby on May 2; Hamilton, May 2 and 3; Richmond Hill, May 9; Brockville-Thousand Islands, Kincardine and area, and Toronto on May 23 and 24; and Oxford County on May 30.
The entry of the historic Knox Presbyterian Church in Guelph. (Photo by Melissa Gobeil)
   Guelph’s event has 12 locations for visiting including guided hikes along the Hanlon Creek Conservation Area (Preservation Park) Trails.
   The “Royal City’s” limestone heritage buildings open for visits include the first Masonic Lodge established in Guelph in 1849.
   The stone building, constructed in 1860, was expanded with brick additions in 1906 and 1912 and includes the original, fire-charred furniture.
   Knox Presbyterian Church, designed by Toronto architect James Smith, was built in 1869 with seating for 1,000 worshippers. Its bell tower and vestibule were added in 1900.
   The Guelph Masonic Centre can be toured during the Doors Open event.
    Also to be seen in Guelph is Planet Bean headquarters and roaster with backroom tours of the legendary fair-trade business and Stonehouse Pottery at the rear of the historic limestone Masonic Block built in 1877.

   Talk to the animals
   Among the open locations in Hamilton is Alpacas from Eighth and Mud to visit with the animals and see how their fibre is processed for yarn, rugs and roving.
  There’s also Weir’s Lane Lavender and Apiary with its new hazelnut grove and expanded apiary, offering field walks to see the beehives and making crafts with lavender.
   Participants can “explore the world of nuclear energy” at the Bruce Power Visitors’ Centre in Tiverton as part of Kincardine and Area’s show.
   There are 40 exhibits and displays along with tours of a simulated reactor and control room, and views from the deck of the world’s largest power development.
The lavish interior of the historic Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, a part of many Doors Open tours.
   Toronto’s event provides “free and rare access” to more than 155 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings.
   In association with the summer Pan Am/Parapan American Games, attendees will get a “sneak peek” inside private and public recreational sites, ranging from aquatic centres to athletics stadiums.
   Out in the country, Oxford County is known for its dairy and cheese industry, but as well it has an “impressive sport heritage.”
   Visitors to Doors Open will learn of the first recorded baseball game in North America.
   It will be recreated with visitors at the Beachville District Museum where there are also exhibits about the history of baseball and historical artifacts.
   June events are: Stratford and Whitchurch-Stouffville, June 6; Northumberland, Ottawa and Owen Sound, June 6 and 7; Smiths Falls, June 7; Clarington and Frontenac, June 13; Fergus-Elora, Gravenhurst, Kingston and Orillia, June 20.
   Things ease off in the summer with just East Elgin on July 11 and Aurora on Aug. 15 before picking up again.
   London’s Doors Open is Sept. 26 and 27 among that month’s events and the season ends with St. Thomas on Oct. 17.

   Need to know
   Doors Open visiting hours are generally 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (some are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays).
   Details and hours are available at doorsopenontario.on.ca; (416) 325-5000

Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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