Interested in a peak behind doors that are normally closed? The annual Doors Open Waterloo Region is back on September 20 and this year 10 buildings in the townships will be highlighted, along with sites in Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge.Event organizer Karl Kessler said the townships rotate each year and there are six in Woolwich and four in Wellesley. The theme is “common threads.” Of the 41 total sites, smaller groups are tied together under subthemes to make it easier for people to see buildings that align with their interests.
“There’s one that’s agricultural, it’s called roots of the region,” Kessler said. “It’s farm sites or agricultural sites. There’s a small theme called watersheds which ties together sites that are located on our rivers or have something to do with our waterways. There’s one called tech tours which is high-tech spaces, so places where there are high tech businesses so you can see behind the scenes there.”
All the tours are free and in buildings that typically aren’t open to the public. And if they are open to the public, they’re allowing people to tour behind the scenes. Some sites will have kids activities, while others, like Block Three Brewing in St. Jacobs, are more geared toward adults.
“We try to have about half of our sites every year be buildings that have never been on before. Some of the new buildings that are coming on and we’re excited about in the Dunfield Theatre down in Cambridge. It’s a very modern theatre building and it’s just beautiful.”
A new one in Woolwich this year is Floralane Produce. They have massive greenhouses where they grow hothouse tomatoes from floor to ceiling. They’ll also be doing field tours.
“Sometimes our visitors are looking for specific kinds of sites so when you have a couple agriculture sites, there are people who really like to do that,” Kessler said.
Doors Open has been happening in more than 50 communities across the province for more than a decade.
The Woolwich and Wellesley sites are Block Three Brewing Company, Floralane Produce, Martin’s Family Fruit Farm, Nauman’s Farm, Quarry Integrated Communications, the Region of Waterloo International Airport, St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Schnurr’s Hall, and the West Montrose Kissing Bridge Heritage Walking Tour.
Kessler says sometimes when they were choosing sites different themes presented themselves. For example, many people like to see inside old factories that have been repurposed into other spaces. That theme is called industrial evolution and features University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Cambridge, Desire2Learn, The Communitech Hub, the Independent Living Centre and AirBoss Rubber Compounding in Kitchener, along with the Quarry building in St. Jacobs.
“This year we had lots of sites we wanted to get to and they seem to be making up these smaller sets.”
Block Three Brewing will be open until 8 p.m. and tastings start at 11 a.m. There will be three guided tours of the Kissing Bridge Trail, lasting 45 minutes each, at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Nauman’s Farm is offering field tours at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m.
“One that’s almost 100 years old and has never been on Doors Open is the home of HomeLife Power Realty Inc. in Kitchener,” Kessler said. “It’s rare that you get house sites and it’s a great chance to see inside.”
Another new site is the Quarry office. He said it’s a beautiful refit of an old factory. Kessler said the reason Doors Open is so popular is that people are curious about buildings. We drive by places on our daily travels and often wonder what’s inside, but can’t go in.
“Buildings affect us so profoundly,” Kessler said. “We don’t even know sometimes how much until we take a step back and look at them.”
He said the variety of buildings means there’s something for everyone. New people find out about it every year and they get more and more visits per site.
“There’s everything from one room churches out in the countryside to Sunlife Financial where more than 3,000 people work every day.”
The buildings will be open to the public September 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A full list of sites and addresses can be found on the Region of Waterloo website.
“Buildings are where we live our lives. To me and to thousands of other people they’re automatically interesting.”