Thursday, May 24, 2012

Doors Open Is This Weekend!

Inside St. James Cathedral
It's probably the biggest and awesomest Toronto history event of the year: Doors Open. For one weekend, dozens of our city's most interesting and historically important buildings will be open to the public, letting you check out our heritage totally free of charge. And it's happening this very weekend, May 26 and 27. 

You'll find the  full list of participating buildings here. There's an app you can download, too. And I expect I'll be tweeting and instagramming from the places I visit. You can follow me on both accounts @TODreamsProject.

This year, as you might expect, I'm especially excited to check out some of the buildings that have played a role in events I've written about on the blog. St. James Cathedral, a central landmark in the story of the founding of Toronto, the War of 1812 and the battle to establish true Canadian democracy, is on the list. (You can read my post about its history on Torontoist here.) So is Mackenzie House, the home donated to our first mayor and pro-democracy revolutionary William Lyon Mackenzie once he was finally able to return from exile. (You can read about his failed uprising here.) You'll also be able to visit Osgoode Hall, the law school designed by William Warren Baldwin, another one of our earliest pro-democracy advocates (pun  very much intended), which is also where escaped slave Thornton Blackburn worked as a waiter to raise the money he needed to start Toronto's first horse-drawn cab company. The oldest surviving church in Toronto, Little Trinity, which Blackburn helped to establish, will be open too. (I wrote about Blackburn's story here.) Then, of course, there's Fort York, the military base that has been here since 1793 — the first part of Toronto ever built. And Regis College at U of T, which was once the Christie mansion, where the son of the famous cookie baron is said to have kept his mistress imprisoned in a secret room. (That weird story is here.) Plus there's the Tollkeeper's Cottage. (Torontonians have always hated road tolls.) Ooh and the gorgeous old Winter Garden Theatre, which actually looks like a garden. And that grand palace of public works infrastructure, the R.C Harris Water Treatment Plant. I could go on and on.

Sooooooo yeah. Lots and lots and lots of stuff happening. Take a little time to check it out and learn about the history of your city firsthand.

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