The Doors Open Toronto Special Event
By Elli Davis, May 23, 2012
An exciting event will be happening towards the end this month, friends. Once again, the City of Toronto presents the annual Doors Open Toronto. If you are new in Toronto and have never heard of this event, do not worry; this article will familiarize you with it. Whether you have participated in the past or not, however, you might be wondering what you can look forward to this year. Read on to find out!
What is the Event About?
Doors Open Toronto was developed as a millennium project in 2000 by the City of Toronto, and its aim is to let citizens and visitors of our city see Toronto as they have never seen it before. To be more specific: more than a hundred buildings of “architectural, historic, cultural and social significance open their doors to the public” every year. Modern structures, heritage landmarks, museums, lighthouses, cemeteries, and much, much more are open to anyone interested. The event is a wonderful chance to freely visit properties that are usually closed to public or charge an entrance fee. Guided tours and various special activities are offered at a number of locations to maximize the positive effect of this family friendly event.
Toronto was actually the very first city in North America to launch its ‘Doors Open’. It is extremely popular and many people eagerly await the last weekend of May, when it takes place every year. Since its beginning it has attracted more than 1.5 million visitors. As every year offers new locations to see, those who participated in the past can keep coming back to explore what their beloved city has to offer. The Ontario Heritage Foundation was so inspired by the event that in 2002, it launched its own Doors Open Ontario.
In 2012, the main theme of the event is ‘200 Years of Building Our City.’ Toronto is commemorating the War of 1812 Bicentennial and thus this year’s edition of the event “looks back over the past 200 years to reveal the fascinating personalities who shaped Toronto’s architecture and history.” On May 24th, the official Toronto Guide will be available in the Toronto Star Newspaper; and Doors are Open Saturday and Sunday May 26 and 27. For now, I advise you to check out the webpage of the event to satisfy your curiosity about specific buildings opening their doors this year.
What to Expect
Lambton House by Wikimedia Commons
This year, more than 135 buildings are opening their doors for you! Some, such as the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, Scarborough Museum, Toronto Botanical Garden, Fort York National Historic Site, and Lambton House have participated in the event before and you might have visited them already. Others, such as Fool’s Paradise, Gretchen Ross Production Centre for The National Ballet of Canada, Periya Shivan Temple, Atlantis, St. Vincent de Paul Church, Queen City Yacht Club House, and the TIFF Bell Lightbox will be premiering at DOTO this year.
Doors Open Toronto offers an increasingly high number of free walking tours. Wear comfy shoes, appropriate clothes, take a bottle of water, and participate! The Harbord Village Neighbourhood Tour is ideal for those who would love to see "Victorian buildings surrounded by large mature trees; The Faces on Places Tour offers something exciting and unique: it aims to showcase the hidden portraits all over Toronto; The Islington Village Stroll is ideal for those who want to see amazing building-sized art murals. These are just a tiny fraction of all the fabulous walking tours available this year. I am sure you will enjoy taking part in one, or more, of them!
Fort York by Vlad Litvinov
Besides all the walking tours, a number of special events are being held for curious visitors as well! Take a chance and explore Toronto’s financial history with ‘Diaspora Dialogues,’ discover the buildings and ships of Toronto’s Waterfront or check out Fort York, which played a key role in the War of 1812 and ties in to this year’s main theme of the event. It is always lovely to learn about our city and its history. These events are free and will teach you more than any book would.
Do you want to learn more and get regular updates? It is very simple. Follow Doors Open Toronto on Twitter or join their fan page on Facebook. Moreover, you may want to download one of the special Mobile apps, or you can to access the Doors Open Data and create an app yourself.
The photo contest, which only premiered last year, is returning! With more than 500 entries, the 2011 edition of the contest was a huge success. This year, pictures will be judged in four categories:
- Best Building Exterior at Doors Open Toronto 2012
- Best Building Interior at Doors Open Toronto 2012
- Best Architectural Detail at Doors Open Toronto 2012
- Best Door at Doors Open Toronto 2012
The judges (a professional photojournalist, a representative from Lumix, and a Doors Open Toronto featured architect) will evaluate the shots based on “content, image quality, creativity, uniqueness, relevance to the contest theme and category, and overall visual appeal.” They will select first place in each of four above-mentioned categories and the overall winner of the competition.
A brand new People’s Choice Category is being introduced this year. The judges will select ten runner-up pictures from the four categories. These images will be posted on BlogTO, which means that we, the people, will be able to have our say on one of the five winners. I strongly encourage you to post your photos in the official Doors Open Flickr and win one of five LUMIX DMC-GF3X cameras. The winning pictures will furthermore be announced in the Toronto Star and be displayed on the City of Toronto Doors Open Toronto website.
If you like photography, go for it! Nearly anyone who is 18 or older and attends the event can participate in the contest. There are a few restrictions for City of Toronto employees, Councillors/elected officials, and sponsors.