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Doors Open Toronto 2012 a huge success in the Annex

May 31st, 2012 · 1 Comment


By Kristin Eliason

Doors Open Toronto gave residents and tourists the opportunity this weekend to get outdoors and in doors of some of the city’s most unique and stunning buildings.

Doors Open, originally conceived of in France in 1984, quickly spread throughout Europe. Today, Doors Open is celebrated in 48 European countries. Toronto followed suit in 2000.

Intended as a one-time celebration of the millennium, the popularity of the first Doors Open Toronto led to its becoming an annual event in 2002.

Held the last weekend of May each year, this year’s Doors Open Toronto commemorated the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812, by opening up over 135 of Toronto’s most historically significant buildings.

Some sites unlocked doors normally closed to the public, while others waived entrance fees charged for access to their grounds.

Twenty-three sites in all participated in the Annex. Among them, the familiar: Casa Loma (1 Austin Terrace), Spadina Museum (285 Spadina Rd.), and the Church of the Redeemer (162 Bloor St. W.).
But, there were also the unfamiliar, opening their doors for the first time. Among them were the recently renovated Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (506 Bloor St. W.), the Chapel of St. Alban the Martyr and Royal St. George’s College (120 Howland Ave.), and Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church (427 Bloor St. W.).

The event was a huge success for both participants and patrons, new and old alike.

“It was a great weekend”, says Karen Edwards, museum administrator for the Spadina Museum, where nearly 3,000 people passed through.

Rosalie Villanueva was one of those patrons, and pleased with her overall experience.

It had lovely gardens and gorgeous rooms, she says. Friendly volunteers, informative staff and video presentations helped make the experience positive. “It might have been my favourite destination of the day.”

Bloor Hot Docs Cinema was likewise successful. This year marked the cinema’s first participation in Doors Open since its renovation and reopening to the public on May 16th, 2012. Heather Belot, marketing and communications manager for the cinema, says this opportunity has given the staff a chance to meet and receive feedback from their community.

“We let people know how their input helped shape the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema,” she says, “and they provided us with very positive feedback about the renovations.”

Former owner and manager, Carm Bordonaro, was on hand to chat with guests, while executive director Chris McDonald and managing director Brett Hendrie welcomed them in. Projectionist Rob, a staff member with the cinema for over 30 years, treated guests to a special behind-the-scenes tour into the projectionist’s booth, an area normally off-limits to the public.

Over 1,100 people came by the cinema this year, and next year there will surely be more. In 2013, the building will celebrate its 100th year anniversary as a cinema.

With positive feedback of Doors Open Toronto in the Annex, guests had very few suggestions to make to improve their overall experience.

Making official event guides and electronic apps available further ahead of schedule would aid planning, they say, and longer hours at the sites would be welcome.

“I wish there were buildings that were available for both days during the weekend,” says Joanne Angelina, lifestyle blogger for The Painter’s Studio, who had planned on visiting nine sites over the weekend, “it would be nice to worry less about time and observe more in the places you explore.”

And exploring, after all, is what Doors Open Toronto is all about.

An introduction to hundreds of buildings brings recognition that no matter what neighbourhood you live in, wherever and whenever you have the time, there is always a exceptional building and the opportunity to stop on by.

Tags: Annex · General

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