You there! That’s right, you! Did you know Toronto has a really cool history? One that flourishes with innovative ideas and brilliant architecture? Well, in case you are generally blacked out on bourbon as you walk around the streets of this incredible city, IT DOES! This Saturday and Sunday, 150 culturally significant buildings are opening their doors for public access, tours, lectures, and some fun treats – and they’re doing it for free! Here are the doors we are going to open:
1. 401 Richmond St. Home to over 140 cultural producers, this building has been described as a village in a box, one that is packed to the max with culture. To give you an amuse bouchee of what goes down within these walls, the building houses 12 galleries, studios for fashion designers, film makers, jewellers, architects, animators, healers, charities and a Spanish dance school. This open house will be a smorgasbord of art and ideas. Guided tours Sat. at 11am and 1pm, Sunday at 1pm.
Fun extras: The roof top garden will be open to the public. On-site galleries, shops and studios will be open on Saturday. There will also be a window restoration demonstration at 1:45 pm on Saturday, for those of you who can get down on some DIY home repairs.
2. Evergreen Brick Works. 550 Bayview Avenue. This internationally acclaimed hub for environmental innovation is loaded with history. From 1889 to 1980, this place pumped out 43 million bricks per year, and all of them went into the well known Toronto buildings we love so well today. National geographic named it one of the world’s top 10 geotourism destinations ! Tours Saturday and Sunday 10 – 4.
3. Coach House Press. 80 bpNichol Lane (Bloor and Spadina) Coach House Press is an independent book publishing company, and one of the few in Canada that actually prints its own books. Their publications have been known to push the envelope and assault literary conscious’s worldwide. Come see the presses in action! Guided tours Saturday and Sunday 10 – 5.
Fun extras: Free print give-aways! Saturday at 1 pm, Shawn Micallef, Eye Weekly columnist and author of brand new book Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking tours of Toronto, will be giving a walking tour of the Annex.
4. Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. 34 Isabella St (Young and Bloor). Come and be inspired by this comprehensive collection of stories that illuminate contemporary gay life. The archive grew from a couple boxes of materials in 1973 to the world’s second largest LBGT archive in the world. Tours Saturday and Sunday 10 – 5.
5. City Hall Podium Green Roof. 100 Queen St. West. 35 000 square feet of concrete on the podium roof has been transformed into an urban jungle of greenery to reduce the buildings environmental impact and maximize Torontonians daily dose of foliage. The architects will be giving tours Saturday and Sunday 10 – 5.
Fun extras: Our main man Mayor Miller will be there Saturday at 11 am for the official opening ceremony of Doors Open.
6. John St. Roundhouse Steam Whistle Brewing. 255 Bremner Boulevard, south of the CN tower. Built in 1929, the roadhouse was originally a Canadian Pacific rail steam locomotive repair shop. Now, they brew delicious beer and host raucous parties and shows. Tours Saturday and Sunday 10 – 5.
Fun extras: They’re going to have an operational miniature steam railway with rides for visitors (from which you can leer at the absurdly attractive staff!) If you show up at 12 – 1, Steam Whistle’s architect, Dave Taylor will be there to talk about the design process of creating a brewery in a historic building.
7. Factory Theatre. 125 Bathurst St. (at Adelaide). The architecture of this recognizable 1869 house was inspired by a classic Queen Anne Gothic Design, which might explain why it is so astonishingly bad ass looking. It became a hot house for Canadian playwrights in 1970, and has since produced over 200 plays. Tours include a behind the scenes look at the facilities with lectures on the history of the house and area. Saturday 10 – 5, Sunday 10 – 1.
8. Gladstone Hotel. 1214 Queen St. West. Yes, you do Karaoke there – but have you really taken this historic building in? The Gladstone is the oldest continuously operating hotel in the city and has a rich and controversial past. The building itself is an amalgamation of Greek, Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architecture, and has remained an iconic structure amid the many fleeting fads of Queen West. Open Saturday and Sunday 10 – 5, guided tours taking place at 11:30, 1:30 and 3 on both days.
9. Humber Arboretum Centre for Urban Ecology. 205 Humber College Boulevard. What happens when Humber students join forces with the City of Toronto, and the Region Conservation? A world of natural beauty erupts in the GTA! Sometimes, you just need a little nudge out of the downtown core to remember that wildlife exists in forms other than road kill (harsh reality, but true). Architects tours Saturday and Sunday 10 – 2.
10. Market Gallery, South St. Lawrence Market. 95 Front St. East. The St. Lawrence Market used to be Toronto’s main food provider back in the 1800’s. It carried black bear, deer, wild swan. It still carries many obscure treats, but has become a bit of a novelty now. The Market Gallery, on the second floor of the St. Lawrence Market, occupies the 19th century civic council chamber – the only remaining section of Toronto’s original City Hall. Tours involve a behind the scenes glance of the fine art vault on the third floor featuring the cities art collection, and talks on the history of the building and the hood. Tours will take place Saturday 9 – 4, talks run on the hour from 10 – 2.
Places we have very much enjoyed in the past – Artscape Wychwood Barns, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Canada’s National Ballet School, Moriyama and Teshima Architects, Mountain Equipment Co-op Green Roof,
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