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Doors Open Canada

The Doors Open concept is a simple one: buildings and sites of architectural and/or historical significance, many of which are not normally open to the public, open their doors to visitors for a day or a weekend. Many provide guided tours, special exhibits, displays or performances. In all cases, it is absolutely FREE.

The National Trust for Canada introduced Doors Open Canada in 2002. Our primary role is an inspirational and promotional one focusing on the principles of access, awareness and advocacy. Municipal councils and civic organizations then take the lead and invite other local voluntary organizations and owners to join them. 

By registering your event with Doors Open Canada, an information kit will be made available to organizers providing valuable information on such topics as :

  • The role of the Organizing Committee
  • How to market your event
  • Tips on fundraising
  • Co-ordinating your volunteers.

To order your kit, click Organize Your Event.


Doors Open originated in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1990 as Doors Open Days and quickly expanded nationwide under the overall coordination of the Scottish Civic Trust. It evolved into Scotland's contribution to European Heritage Days, launched in 1991 as a Council of Europe initiative, which spread across Europe. By 1998, 19 million people had visited some 28,000 sites in 44 countries. To find out more about Doors Open in Europe, click on Links.

Doors Open first arrived in Canada in 2000 when the city of Toronto's Culture Division, under the auspices of Heritage Toronto, launched Doors Open Toronto. By 2002, the event had exploded with over one hundred buildings and 130,000 visitors joining in. That same year, seventeen Ontario cities and towns (from Cobalt to Windsor) organized their own Doors Open events, with the encouragement and support of the Ontario Heritage Trust under the Doors Open Ontario banner, with similarly encouraging results.


The aim of Doors Open events is to facilitate people's understanding and enjoyment of their local heritage environment. 

The immense popularity of these events reveals people's curiosity about buildings and about history. Heritage places are the cultural artifacts that surround us. And like all artifacts, they reveal something about our society, our values and our history -- they remain the tangible evidence of our past. But unlike other artifacts found in museums and galleries, buildings and sites are part of our everyday lives. They define our living spaces. A Doors Open event captures our imagination by allowing us the opportunity of entering inside those spaces -- to eagerly venture through doors and discover the inner workings of a place, why it is there, its purpose today, its story within a neighbourhood, what secrets it may hold.