Category Archives: Doors Open

Doors Open 2015

R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

What can be said about the RC Harris Plant that hasn’t been said? It’s a stunner architecturally and just so pristine and sterile inside. While my mind was not equiped to really understand the water treatment process, I did enjoy the exposition for the need for such a facility – a growing city needs its infrastructure.

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Greenwood Subway Yard

A really popular site and for me, it was cool to say that I went, but I’m not sure it did it for me. It featured some very long lines, a ride on a subway car around the yard, and a self-guided tour through the machine shop. Massive facility, but like at the RC Harris Plant, I didn’t care much for how the subway cars worked.

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401 Richmond

401 Richmond wasn’t formally part of Doors Open, but they ran tours through the building in their own ‘Doors Ajar’. I did an architectural/historical walk, which was a complete treat because it is such a great building. The industrial history was great, and to know that it’s been repurposed into a beautiful space where great artists and groups can do good work is just amazing.

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High Level Pumping Station

Much like the water palace, I didn’t care much for the workings of machinery itself as much as the contextual significance of the site. A nice treat, though, was the 1885 house behind the building, which served as the original pumping station for the Yorkville Waterworks and later the engineer’s house.

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Masonic Temple

This was my favourite site of the weekend. The Masonic Temple has such a layered history and InfoTech pays such good tribute to preserving it and keeping in with its ethos. The top floor is the hall where the Freemasons themselves met. It also features Mick Jagger’s pool table from when the Stones stayed in the building and a swirly slide in an adjoined room. The bottom floors are largely office space, some of which was occupied by MTV, and to pay tribute to the building’s entertainment past, all the rooms are named after artists who performed on its stage.

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Arts & Letters Club

The Arts & Letters Club reminded me a lot of the Masonic Temple: performance hall on the ground floor, another ‘hall’ on the top floor with an elevated ‘stage’ as well, and office space in the floors between. It’s also a fascinating piece of cultural heritage as many prominent people have been members of the club, including the Group of Seven.

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Knox College

I did this site last year, but lamented not getting pictures. Bad timing prevented me from doing the tour again, but from what I remember, Knox shows up in more movies than any Toronto location (OK, next to Casa Loma). And for good reason – it’s gorgeous.

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Coach House Books

This was the smallest and most hidden of all Doors Open sites this year, but easily one of the best. Coach House Books is located in a laneway north of Robarts, and like the name suggests, it’s a publishing company headquartered in a former stable house. What’s remarkable about Coach House is it has a staff of only three that is responsible for putting out such an amazing line of titles. A few of my favourite books – uTOpia, Some Great Idea, StrollTO, and most recently, The Ward – are Coach House titles.

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Munk School of Global Affairs

I was really trying to get to St. George subway when I passed by the Munk School. Then I thought, ‘Eh, why not?’ and walked through its doors. I’m glad I did, because the school’s Transit House was a nice gem. It’s the only building in Toronto that’s positioned in accordance to the needles of a compass. It also has clinker bricks!

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My Doors Open Toronto 2014 Itinerary

In making this list, I quickly realised I would see the whole city if I could, so there are sites I likely neglected. I also had to map things in order to visualize how I’d go about the weekend, so check that out too.

Have to see:

Arcadian: Only open on the Sunday. I had no prior knowledge of its existence, but I am all for cultural and social venues in the city – especially those done in Art Deco. And I wonder about this City View Cafe…

Carlaw Creative Lofts: Anyone that has seen my posts, knows I’m fascinated by the industrial heritage of Carlaw Avenue. I’m very excited to see this readapted factory space.

The Great Hall: More West Queen West goodness. It’s impressive to look up at every time and I’m very curious about it. Plus, haunted stories!

The Theatre Centre: Practically adjacent to The Great Hall which makes this very convenient. Former Carnegie library converted into a cultural space. And a cafe!

Bank of Upper Canada: 1834 Neo-classical building in the oldest part of the city. Sounds fun enough…

Would love to see:

Artscape Youngplace: I remember reading about the opening of this place and thought it was a good idea. The reuse of old spaces, especially to turn them into community hubs, is a fascinating thing. Plus, there’s a Youngplace Coffee Pub. Hmm, I suspect coffee is going to be a theme in where I decided to go…

Bloor Hot Docs Cinema: The first non-new-this-year venue on this list. Choice here comes through an interest in old cinemas. Might have to weary that it closes at 3 though…

Bridgepoint Active Care Centre: This is the Don Jail – who doesn’t want to tour it? Actually, for that reason, Bridgepoint has warned several times about lineups and are making this a ticketed thing. Tickets will be handed out at 9:40am each day. Worth the hassle? Possibly. The crowds might be a deterrence…

CAMH Walls: West Queen West seems to be a goldmine for sites this year. The walls are the last physical remnant of the Lunatic Asylum. I would be curious to know about them…

R.C. Harris Plant: It’s a fan favourite and has eluded me every year. Will this time be the one? Possibly. I wonder if the construction on Queen East will get in my way…

Russell Carhouse – Old structure, old streetcars (and the new streetcars as well!) Similar transportation issues as R.C. Harris, though…

Necropolis – Fits right in with the ‘Spirits’ theme of the weekend. I’ve been here before, but never really toured it in search of the great Toronto names. This would be a great opportunity…