Toronto Landmarks On Display at Annual Door’s Open Event

One of my favourite events of the spring happened this past weekend: Doors Open – the chance to uncover the secrets of some of the Toronto Landmarks that I pass by almost daily.

If you’re not familiar, Doors Open invites visitors to discover first-hand your city’s hidden heritage treasures, some of which have never been open to the public.

Started in 1984 in France, the idea spread throughout western Europe by 1991.  Toronto became the first North American city to participate in 2000, quickly followed by the launch of Doors Open Ontario – the first province-wide event of its kind in Canada in 2002.  The idea continues to spread with events now being held in Newfoundland, Alberta, Massachusetts, Western New York State, New York City and Denver. (Click Here for more info on those locations).

Doors Open Toronto 2017

This year there were 150 Toronto Landmarks that participated.  The Doors Open Toronto website provides a list and map-view to make planning your weekend easier.  Simply pick an area of the city and create a route that visits your favourite buildings.

This year I was joined by my good friend, Scot, to explore part of the downtown core on Saturday, then went solo to discover a couple great spots in the west end of the city on Sunday:

Sony Centre for the Performing Arts

This Modernist theatre was designed as a multi-use performance venue catering to artistic performances such as ballet, dance, and opera.  opening in 1960, Sony Centre is Canada’s largest soft-seated theatre.

A guided tour through the building provided first-hand history of the building and allowed us to explore areas that are normally closed to the general public, including the stage and backstage areas.

Tom Jones Steak House

Now home to one of the oldest and most unique steakhouses in Toronto, this building was built in the 1830’s and was the home of the original Grand & Toy in 1882.  There’s even a photo commemorating the 100th anniversary of G&T, given to the current owner from the grandsons of James Grand and Samuel Toy!

Tom Jones is best known for its hand carved oak entrance way, stained glass windows, and natural gas burning chandeliers.  The second floor features a New York Style Piano Bar and dining room, while the third floor is home to The Conclave room with mahogany paneled walls, a wood burning fire place, and a mahogany board room table inlaid with bark walnut.

Ontario Heritage Centre

This rare Edwardian office building was built in 1908, and is a great example of a transitional period of urban commercial design combining historical style with modern technology.  The Ontario Heritage Trust took over the building in the 1980s after completing a beautiful restoration.

A self-guided tour took us through 2 grand galleries, oak paneled Oval Board Room, and an original manually operated elevator!

The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre

Built in 1913, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre was the only double-decker theatre constructed in Canada and is now the last one operating in the world.  The theatre was saved from demolition in 1981 and is now designated as a national historic site.

The elegant Elgin Theatre and whimsical Winter Garden Theatre are amazing examples of Vaudevillian era theatres.  It’s easy to get lost for hours exploring the stunning detail.  If you ever get the chance to explore, I highly recommend you start with the Elgin and work your way up to the Winter Garden.  The Elgin is a beautiful example of what you’d expect from a theatre from that era, while the Winter Garden seems to appear from a dreamland.

Arts and Letters Club – St George’s Hall

This building was built in 1891 by the St George’s Society, and has been home to the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto since 1920.  The club, formed in 1908, is dedicated to the celebration and enjoyment of the arts.

The self-guided tour included medieval dinning hall, visiting a life drawing class in session, and the opportunity to view their permanent art collection which includes several Group of Seven paintings!

Fold

I love visiting re-imagined spaces, and Fold definitely fits that bill!

This 100 year old former stable has been used as a garage and residence, but is now a co-working space for design professionals.  It was a fun opportunity to meet some of the working designers, and learn how buildings go from ideas to reality.

St Paul’s Church, Runnymede

This west-end church was built in the architectural style of the Church of England, and has some of the most beautiful stained glass windows in Toronto.

The personal tour of St Paul’s told all about the making, installation and upkeep of the stained glass windows.  There was even an organist on-hand playing hymns.  The absolute highlight for me was the chance to climb the stairs up the bell tower and ring the bell!

What a weekend!

Can you see why this one of my favourite events of the year?  The chance to go behind-the-scenes at some of the amazing Toronto Landmarks throughout this great city is a great opportunity.

Will you be joining me next year? 🙂

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Be sure to comment below and let me know if there’s a Door’s Open event in your city!

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Resources

Here is a list of the resources mentioned in this post:

Doors Open Toronto – The Doors Open series invites visitors to discover first-hand your city’s hidden heritage treasures, some of which have never been open to the public.

Blogger’s Jumpstart Guide – Download my FREE guide outlining how to successfully start your own blog