Doors Open Toronto
Enjoy the Georgian / Neo-Classic architecture at Osgoode Hall during Doors Open Toronto.
This 17th annual Doors Open Toronto gives the public free access to more than 130 buildings on May 28 and 29. This year’s theme, Re-used, Re-visited and Revised, explores the adaptive reuse of historical, architectural and cultural buildings across the city. This includes the neo-classical Campbell House Museum, modernist Sony Centre for the Performing Arts and the recently built Daniels Spectrum.
In addition to accessing these buildings, a number of free walking tours and special programs are planned for the weekend. Below, we pick out 10 of the most interesting Doors Open Toronto events.
Art and Performance Architecture Tour
Discover Toronto’s artistic hub as it relates to art, theatre and film with this one-hour walking tour led by seasoned guide Eric Gertner. Attendees will learn the stories behind some of the city’s most popular arts and culture buildings downtown, including the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the Sharp Centre at OCAD University and the Art Gallery of Ontario. The free tour is offered five times and starts outside Roy Thomson Hall. Register for the tour here.
Join some of the city’s writers, poets and playwrights at this special presentation of Diaspora Dialogues at Doors Open. The event takes place from 10 am to 4 pm on May 28 and 29 in a courtroom at Old City Hall, and features readings by Pasha Malla, Priscila Uppal, Kerri Sakamoto, Rabindranath Maharaj, Sheniz Janmohamed and more. Their works reimagine Canada’s history through a diverse, inclusive lens. Find details for the event here.
Truth and Reconciliation on the Streets of Toronto
While Residential Schools were never built in Toronto, its legacy exists in churches, government buildings and other educational sites. Reflect on how non-Indigenous Torontonians can repair their relationships with Indigenous communities – a year after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 94 calls to action. The walking tour will be led by First Story Toronto, a group that provides tours of the city’s Indigenous history, and is offered four times. Register for the tour here.
In the mid-1960s, a dramatic transformation began sweeping downtown Toronto, with major banks and corporations competing to build the city’s tallest towers and Finnish architect Viljo Revell designing the New City Hall. This one-hour walking tour led by architect Daniel Gaito looks at these grandiose towers, including First Canadian Place, TD Centre, Trump Tower and the former Stock Exchange. The free tour is offered three times and meets in front of Old City Hall. Register for the tour here.
Why New Ideas Need Old Buildings
To celebrate the life of Toronto activist, author and urban theorist Jane Jacobs, a number of Jane’s Walk events continue this month and Jane100 events run throughout the year. Jacobs’s oft-quoted idea, “new ideas must use old buildings,” is the inspiration for a panel discussion at the Masonic Temple on May 29 at 2 pm. Moderated by Jane’s Walk executive director Denise Pinto, the discussion features six speakers, including architect Megan Torza, sustainability strategist Michelle Xuereb and Evergreen CityWorks director Robert Plitt. Find details for the event here.
Village of Islington BIA Mural Tour
Head west to Islington to explore Toronto’s “village of murals.” Organized by the neighbourhood BIA, this one-hour tour looks at 26 large-scale murals within five city blocks. Hear about the history of the art and how its impacted the area. The free tour is offered 10 times over the weekend and meets in front of Montgomery’s Inn. Register for the tour here.
Waterfront Toronto West Don Lands Public Art Tour
Learn about the transformation of the West Don Lands from post-industrial flood lands to vibrant community in this hour-and-a-half-long walking tour. Organized by Waterfront Toronto, the tour looks at the area’s abundant public art pieces and how they’re integrated into the community. The free tour is offered four times and meets in front of Paul Raff’s art installation, Mirage, at Underpass Park. Register for the tour here.
Bomb Girls – Trading Aprons for Ammo
Over four kilometres of tunnels run below Scarborough, used by a top-secret munitions factory during WWII. Author Barbara Dickson, a Scarborough resident for over 50 years, uncovers General Engineering Company, which owned the factory and employed over 21,000 Canadians in her book, Bomb Girls: Trading Aprons for Ammo. Join Dickson at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus on May 28 at 11 am to learn more about this history. Find details for the event here.
Honest Ed’s Site Tour
Get a behind-the-scenes look at Honest Ed’s before the famous discount store closes at the end of the year. Guided tours conducted by Franca Longobardi, who’s been with Honest Ed’s for 38 years, highlight the company’s 65-year-long history and legacy. The tour includes a look at Honest Ed’s iconic sign shop and receiving department. Pre-registration for the tour, limited to 15 people at a time, is required. The free tour is offered three times and starts at Markham House. Register for the tour here.
Architecture is Art?
Join some of Canada’s top architects in a panel discussion debating the artistic merits of local buildings. Presented at the Aga Khan Museum on May 28 at 2 pm, the discussion features architects Christie Pearson, Paul Raff, Kim Storey, Rohan Walters and Betsy Williamson, and is moderated by architect, photographer and University of Toronto architecture professor Michael Awad. Find details for the event here.
Get more community events here.