The 10th annual Doors Open is upon us this weekend, providing the opportunity to get a close-up look of Toronto’s most interesting, historically significant, and architecturally unique ‘real estate’. With 150 buildings open to the public this year, it is impossible to fully appreciate them all in one weekend. Here is my top 5 list of sites I am hoping to see:
The Old Don Jail - 550 Gerrard Street East
It’s older than Canada itself, and has sat vacant for the past 30 years. The Old Don Jail is about to be renovated and integrated into Bridgepoint Health’s new Riverdale development, so this might be the last chance for the public to see the jail in its original condition. The line-ups for this tour will probably be several hours long, so I might have to skip this one.
University College building at U of T - 15 King’s College Circle
This stunning landmark of the U of T downtown Toronto campus dates from 1856. Intricate carvings and other richness in design pervade its corridors and lecture halls - a stark contrast to the campus’s more modern and sterilized classrooms.
First new building at the revitalized Regent Park - 246 Sackville Street
Yes, I realize this is just an apartment building. But it also signifies the rebirth of a neighbourhood, which in turn has an impact on the communities and real estate in Cabbagetown and Corktown to its north and south. It’s a good chance to get a glimpse of what this mammoth project entails, and what it will all look like when it is finished. (The tour of the boiler room might be neat as well.)
Walking Tour of The Beach - 2161 Queen Street East
Led by a Toronto Beach historian and writer, the tour starts at the Beaches Branch of the Toronto Public Library (which is itself of historic interest), and includes a look at the architecture styles that are characteristic to homes in The Beach.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir - 61 Claireville Drive
This hand-carved Hindu temple was actually made in India and shipped to Toronto in pieces. It looks truly remarkable in pictures and video, and I eagerly look forward to seeing it in person.