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Most of us walk the streets of our cities each day, passing landmarks and private houses, busy institutions, churches and schools both large and small—all the structures that reinforce our present while forging a vivid link to the days and years that have gone before. Too often, we take our surroundings for granted, but every now and then, we might wonder, if these buildings could speak, what would they tell us? How would knowing more about our built community enrich our daily lives?
In 1990, the Scottish Civic Trust decided it was time to open the doors of Glasgow to its citizens. Since then, the open-door movement has spread across the world. Toronto embraced the idea in 2000 as a millennial project, and the enthusiastic response to this tangible link to the community’s heritage has never wavered. Each spring in Toronto, on the fourth weekend in May, visitors are welcomed into more than 150 buildings. This year, there are 55 new participants, among them the Amsterdam Brewery, the Bata Shoe Museum and the Canadian Film Centre, a stone building built in the Revival style and the former home of Canadian businessman E. P. Taylor.
But whether your tastes lean toward music, film, architecture, history, government, business or popular culture, there is something fresh to discover. Ever had a hankering to peek into the inner workings of the Coach House Press, tucked away on bpnichol Lane? Curious about the Design Exchange on Bay Street? The City of Toronto Archives on Spadina Road? Old City Hall? The Pure Spirits Still House at 3 Tank House Lane? To further enhance the open-door experience, there are more than a dozen walking tours organized around architecture, design, natural heritage and neighbourhoods.
For two glorious days in spring, there’s an unbelievable treasure trove at your fingertips, and access is absolutely free. On May 23–24, don’t miss out. For more information, visit: www.1.toronto.ca
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