Doors Open an opportunity to visit more than 140 buildings, sites for free

May 27, 2023 | Culture, Life

Many of Toronto’s most architectural, cultural and socially significant sites are free to visit without having to book anything. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

This weekend’s Doors Open event is an opportunity to visit more than 140 of Toronto’s most architectural, cultural and socially significant sites. It’s the first time the event is being held since the pandemic.

Pratishtha Kohli, the programming supervisor, said it’s a way to get a look at many places that are both popular but may not always be open to the public. She said smaller spaces might want to put themselves on the map by sharing some of the things they’re doing.

“All events are free and most sites you can go and see without having to book anything; only tours you have to book. And it’s open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday,” she said.

Each event is listed on the Doors Open website The link? may include both in-person listings and digital listings.

“This year we have a couple of digital and virtual tours that folks can see,” Kohli said. “There are going to be performances that are being showcased by the Royal Conservatory of Music, by Array Music, which is another space downtown and Small World Music.

“There are also virtual tours of City Hall, St. George on the Hill and the TD Centre. And you can see all of these things on the Doors Open website,” she said.

Some spaces can be experienced virtually and see what it looks like to be in those spaces if they are not able to physically access them.

According to the Doors Open Ontario website, it has drawn more than two million visitors to about 700 distinctive sites since its beginning in 2000. It is still Canada’s biggest event of its sort.

Kohli said that every year, they see between 200,000 to 250,000 people visit these sites during Doors Open weekends.

She said some spots near Humber College’s Lakeshore campus and across the city would be cool for students to check out.

“At Humber itself, there’s going to be a really cool walking tour that’s happening at Colonel Samuel Smith Park, as well as the Assembly Hall will be open,” she said.

“The City of Sound is our Doors Open 2023 theme for folks who are interested in seeing some performances closer to the west end of the city but also places like Billy Bishop Airport,” she said. “You can check out the Juno Award music office. You can check out what it looks like to be behind the scenes at a radio space such as JAZZ.FM or ZoomerMedia.”

People can attend a limited number of sites.

CANVAS is a Toronto art gallery established in 2003 and for the first time, is a part of the Doors Open event. Mark Hunter, an owner of the gallery, said Doors Open is about the neighbourhoods and they have been undiscovered, but artists are always around there.

“We’ve done a pretty good job of being one of the busier galleries in Canada. But we wanted people to have more fun,” he said.

“People can come, they don’t have to pay. They just wander around,” Hunter said. “They can flip through the art. We have about 80 Canadian artists. But whether it be landscape, abstract, or urban, we have tonnes of different things. But we want people to experience culture and enjoy art.”

Hunter and his wife Megan were working in the film industry before opening up the gallery, so people can see lots of their artists and art in feature films, TV series and commercials.

“We rent our art to film and television because we come from film and television. In fact, pieces are going out today to TV shows and movies. So, we really try to mix it up,” he said.

The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (JCCC) is a not-for-profit organization that celebrates the unique culture, history, and legacy of Japanese Canadians for the benefit of all Canadians and also opens its doors during the weekend.

Theressa Takasaki, archives and collections manager at JCCC said the centre takes part in the Doors Open event because they have so much to offer. She said although the JCCC has been in this area of the city for more than 60 years, they know that there are a lot of people who don’t know who they are or what they do.

“We are free to the public every day for them to come in and visit,” Takasaki said. “But I think a lot of people make the assumption that they can’t just walk in and see what we have.

“Doors Open lets people feel like they can walk in and see what we have on offer, even though we’re open and willing to answer questions any day,” she said.

People can visit the 60 Years of Friendship Through Culture exhibition, which highlights the centre’s journey to create a safe space for Japanese Canadians, champion Japanese culture and ensure a bright future for the Nikkei community in Canada.

“Last year we had almost 3,000 visitors through our doors for Doors Open, and this year we expect to exceed that,” Takasaki said. “So, we’re expecting about 3,500 to 4,000 people.

“I think that events like Doors Open, which are promoted by the city, help to introduce all of Toronto’s institutions to the citizens,” she said.