Thunder Bay Events: Biannual Doors Open Event

A walk through our community’s heritage

By Sabrina Nordlund

Every two years the City of Thunder Bay runs a city-wide event built on the concept that buildings of architectural and historical significance should be accessible to and appreciated by the community. This event, known across Ontario as Doors Open”, features a number of historic and/or cultural buildings in Thunder Bay. For the month of September, these locations open their doors to the public and welcome them to explore and learn about the building’s historical significance to the community. In the past, some sites have offered guided tours, special lectures, or exhibits. Last year, Doors Open celebrated their 10th event. For the past two events there has been a theme affiliated with the sites—2016’s theme was “Medical Science and Technology.”

Pc Thunder Bay Historical Museum

Activities such as these may seem daunting to many students – there usually isn’t a ton of information about the event, and if you’re anything like me, that might make you feel too uncomfortable to walk into a building that’s normally closed to the public. You shouldn’t let that stop you! This is a very cheap (ahem, free) event, that you could either get a lot out of or make a great day out of. If you’re new to Thunder Bay, it’s a great way to see some of the sights (the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, City Hall, and the Grain Elevators have all been featured in the past two events) and become more familiar with the area in a more formal way. If you’re from around here, it’s a great way to get behind the scenes of the places you’ve seen from the outside looking in.

September can be a slow and stressful month when you have to transition back to school while also (if you’re lucky) not actually having a lot of schoolwork to keep you busy. Doors Open is a great event if you’re looking to kill some time with friends while also learning a little about our local history. The city provides lists of locations that are close to one another so you can plan your own visits. My take would be to gather a group of friends to come visit the most interesting places in an area and maybe stop off for lunch or coffee in between.

Essential Information: Most locations are open between 10am and 4pm, site tours take 30 minutes on average. There is a wealth of information that can be found on the Thunder Bay Events: Doors Open webpage including lists of locations that are handily grouped together based on proximity, booklets on that year’s featured buildings, and information regarding the history of the program.   

Cool Previous Locations:

Waverly Park, O’Kelly Armoury & Military Museum, Prince Arthur Hotel, Western Grain Elevator

Bad News Bear: As you may or may not have noticed… it’s the end of September. Not to worry, we’re just getting you way ahead of the game – the next Doors Open event doesn’t run until  September 2018.

(Kind of) FUN FACT: This event is a part of a larger Doors Open project that runs in over one hundred communities across Ontario through the Ontario Heritage Foundation! One of the aims is that, through the Doors Open experience, the community will gain more interest in the preservation, protection and promotion of Ontario’s cultural heritage.