The top 15 buildings to see at Doors Open Toronto 2015
Doors Open Toronto is back for its 16th year. On May 23 and 24, more than 155 buildings and institutions across the city will be inviting the great Canadian public inside for a look around.
In honour of the upcoming Pam Am Games, this year's theme is Sports, Recreation and Leisure, and there are a preponderance of stadiums and other athletic sites on offer, including BMO Field and the Toronto Track and Field Centre.
Here are my picks for the top buildings to see at Doors Open Toronto 2015.
NEW THIS YEAR
TTC Greenwood Complex
The central service yard for the Bloor-Danforth subway is turning 50 this year. To celebrate, the TTC is offering transit enthusiasts the chance to explore the various workshops that make up the complex and take a ride through the special train washing machine. A children's activity area and a BBQ are also part of the offerings. Saturday only, 11-5.
Recently expanded to seat 30,000 spectators ahead of the Pan Am Games, BMO Field, the backdrop to the never-ending drama of Toronto F.C., is opening its back-of-house to the public via a self-guided tour. An exhibit on the history of the sports at Exhibition Place will also be on display. Sunday only, 10-5.
See the source of some of Toronto's best loved brews by visiting Amsterdam's new facility in Leaside. The building, of course, comes second to the selection of craft beer that's on offer free of charge: Natural Blonde Lager, Boneshaker IPA, the new Cruiser All Day Pale Ale, and more. Saturday and Sunday, 10-5. Bring ID.
The National Club
Many prominent Torontonians have been members of the National Club including Architect E. J. Lennox, department store magnates Timothy Eaton and Robert Simpson. The private members-only club, established in 1874, invites the public to look around the clubhouse, see the rooftop patio, and wine cellar. Saturday and Sunday, 10-5.
The Aga Khan Museum
New for 2015, the stunning Aga Khan Museum, which opened in September 2014 at 77 Wynford Dr., is offering visitors a chance to poke around for free both days of the Doors Open weekend. See the courtyard, auditorium, and a selection of ceramics from the permanent collection. The new Aga Khan Park is also open for inspection. Saturday and Sunday, 10-5.
York Railway Modellers
One of the largest model railways in Southern Ontario is hidden away on Oakland Ave. Based on the Toronto of the 1950s, the 23-year-old railway includes historically accurate locomotives, freight cars, and scenery. Saturday and Sunday, 10-5.
Ismaili Centre Toronto
Explore the gorgeous, otherworldly new Ismaili Centre on Wynford Dr. Guided tours of the prayer hall, atrium, social hall, social hall, terrace, and garden are on offer, and so too is an expert-led tour of Aga Khan Park. Photography is not allowed inside the prayer hall.Saturday and Sunday, 10-4.
The Masonic Temple
Led Zeppelin, the Ramones, David Bowie, Rolling Stones, and Frank Sinatra all played the Masonic Temple. Most recently the home of MTV Canada, the venue is now owned by an IT company, but Doors Open guests will be allowed to see the main auditorium, posters, records, and other music memorabilia. Saturday and Sunday, 10-5.
The Arts & Letters Club of Toronto
This historic institution dedicated to the furtherance of artistic endeavours is still open to private members, but for one day only the public is allowed to walk its storied halls and peruse its unique art collection which includes paintings by the Group of Seven. Sunday only, 10-5.
The ever-popular Canada Life building is returning to the Doors Open program for another year. The line ups will be long, but patient visitors will get a chance to see the 17th floor observation room and explore the historic lobby area. (Ask nicely and the person manning the front desk will give you a card explaining how to read the famous rooftop weather beacon.) Saturday and Sunday, 10-5.
Legislative Assembly of Ontario
It's not always easy to get inside Queen's Park (security tends to be tight,) so Doors Open is an excellent opportunity to explore the beautiful Ontario legislature building. Guided tours on both days will call at the Legislative Chamber and move through historic hallways. Interior photography is allowed without a tripod. Saturday and Sunday, 10-5.
Old and New City Hall
Toronto's historic city hall, now home to court rooms and offices, is well worth exploring. Check out the main lobby with its grand staircase and take in Courtroom 121 - the former council chamber. At New City Hall, snap photos from the disused rooftop observation deck, drop by the mayor's office, and explore the council chamber. Saturday and Sunday, 10-5 (both.)
The 183-year-old home of the Law Society of Upper Canada is one of the city's oldest surviving buildings and its interior is exquisitely detailed. Pose for photos in legal robes and visit the Law Society library where Berlin-based artists Hadley+Maxwell will be working on a Pan Am legacy project. Saturday and Sunday, 10-5.
Redpath Sugar Ltd.
One of the Toronto waterfront's last surviving industrial concerns, Redpath Sugar receives and processes thousands of tons of the sweet stuff every year. During Doors Open, visitors will be allowed to see the massive raw sugar shed where Redpath keeps its product prior to processing and enter the sugar museum. Saturday, 10-5, and Sunday, 10-4.
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library
The Thomas Fisher Rare Book library is a priceless repository that contains some 700,000 volumes and 3,000 linear metres of manuscript. It's also home to the University of Toronto's archival holdings. But it's the library itself that is something to behold: six floors of books looking down over an open exhibition area. Saturday only, 10-5.
Submit your photos of this year's Doors Open Toronto for a chance to win a $300 gift certificate from Henry's Canada. Just upload your photos to our Doors Open Toronto stream or tag them with #blogtodot15 on Instagram. The submission deadline is midnight on May 24th. Starting May 25th and running through June 1st we'll showcase 10 finalists where a reader vote will decide the top three. Prizes include:
Note: all photos must be of a 2015 Doors Open Toronto venue and taken on May 23rd or 24th, 2015.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.
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