A chance to take a look around

Dozens of build­ings not usu­ally ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic set to wel­come vis­i­tors Satur­day for Doors Open Water­loo Re­gion

The Woolwich Observer - - LIVING HERE - ALI WIL­SON

CU­RI­OUS ABOUT WHAT GOES on in­side some of the re­gion’s prom­i­nent and historic build­ings? Satur­day pro­vides you a chance to take a peek be­hind the closed doors, un­locked for Doors Open Water­loo Re­gion.

This year’s theme is Iden­tity and In­no­va­tion, rec­og­niz­ing Canada 150 and also the event’s 15th an­niver­sary. The dual theme rep­re­sented in more than 50 host venues offers a sam­ple of who the peo­ple are that have made this place home and the hap­pen­ings in the re­gion, says or­ga­niz­ers.

“Doors Open is an On­tario-wide se­ries of events that hap­pen in small towns and big cities across the prov­ince,” said co-co­or­di­na­tor Karl Kessler, not­ing there are some 50 com­mu­ni­ties that par­tic­i­pate provin­cially. “They are all at dif­fer­ent times from April to Oc­to­ber and the dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions choose dif­fer­ent times and dates to run their event, ev­ery­thing from Doors Open Toronto, which is a gi­gan­tic event, to Doors Open Owen Sounds for smaller places. We are sort of a large mid­dle-sized Doors Open.”

Hap­pen­ing on the third Satur­day of ev­ery Septem­ber for the past 15 years, the event show­cases in­ter­est­ing places in the com­mu­nity. More than 300 par­tic­i­pat­ing sites have opened their doors to some 100,000 vis­its over that time.

Kessler says the event fo­cuses on open­ing the closed doors we pass each day, and en­cour­ages peo­ple to fol­low their cu­rios­ity of those yet-to-be-dis­cov­ered build­ings.

“It is a pretty com­mon ex­pe­ri­ence to go past un­usual build­ings or historic build­ings or just re­ally big build­ing and won­der ‘what’s going on in there?’ Or won­der ‘what is that place?’” he said. “You get to go in to see a lit­tle bit be­hind the scenes on what goes on there, so it’s a chance for peo­ple to kind of go deep in­side to these places you go past ev­ery­day and won­der about.”

Re­flect­ing the “in­no­va­tion” theme this year, Google’s Kitch­ener-Water­loo of­fice (no drop-in vis­its, pre-reg­is­tra­tion re­quired), McMaster Univer­sity’s Michael G. DeG­roote School of Medicine, Agfa Health­care and Cora Group build­ing are open­ing their doors. Ad­di­tion­ally, fall­ing into the theme of “iden­tity,” Kid­sA­bil­ity Cen­tre for Child De­vel­op­ment, Fash­ion His­tory Museum and Water­loo Pioneers Memo­rial Tower are among the sites open to the pub­lic.

“The peo­ple who par­tic­i­pate in Doors Open at the sites love to show off their build­ings,” he said, not­ing that the event is all about show­ing a snap­shot of what hap­pens at each of the sites and cre­at­ing a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween them and the pub­lic.

Each year, the host venues are a com­bi­na­tion of both first-time par­tic­i­pants and prior year favourites.

“About half of the lo­ca­tions on any given year are new,” he said. “We try to bring back some favourites, places peo­ple have liked, and places that wanted to par­tic­i­pate again from past years. Then the other half are new, so it would be be­tween 20 and 25 of our sites are first-time sites.”

A first-time host, Fin­d­away Eques­trian Ser­vices’ owner Cindy Bal­lan­tyne was ap­proached to show­case their 35-stall hunter and jumper eques­trian fa­cil­ity. Their 28-acre prop­erty was com­pleted in 2011 and in­cludes an in­door arena, out­door jump­ing ring and large fenced-in pad­docks. Pro­vid­ing les-

sons, board­ing, train­ing and show­ing, the fam­i­lyrun sta­ble is home to riders from five years of age to those up past 65.

Al­though she has been in the in­dus­try for close to 40 years, Bal­lan­tyne said the Doors Open event will be a great op­por­tu­nity to show­case the new fa­cil­ity.

“We are a fairly new barn – this is our sixth sum­mer here – so I just thought it would be good ex­po­sure for the com­mu­nity. We have had one open house since we have moved here but that’s about it,” she ex­plained. “It will be a nice day and hope­fully the weather is going to be nice.”

In ad­di­tion to sites in Cam­bridge, Kitch­ener and Water­loo, the event usu­ally al­ter­nates lo­cales in the town­ships, this year fo­cus­ing on Wil­mot and North Dum­fries.

Be­cause of the re­gion’s large size, Kessler says they work hard to find hosts lumped to­gether in groups.

“We try to clus­ter them a bit so that you’re not driv­ing all over the Water­loo Re­gion try­ing to get from site to site. We try to keep it grouped a lit­tle more rea­son­ably,” he ex­plained. “Typ­i­cally, what peo­ple will do, be­cause our event is one day, they will have to pick their favourite four, maybe five sites to get to.”

Last year the event brought in 17,000 vis­its to the var­i­ous lo­ca­tions.

In recog­ni­tion of the 15th an­niver­sary, there will be six free talks re­lated to the event theme by one of Canada’s top ar­chi­tects, an Indige­nous ex­pert on treaties and land is­sues, two his­to­ri­ans, a med­i­ta­tion teacher and a the­olo­gian.

Most sites will be open for the full pe­riod of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but some may vary. The Doors Open Water­loo Re­gion web­site, www.re­gionofwa­ter­loo.ca/ door­sopen, has a full list of par­tic­i­pat­ing venues as well as in­for­ma­tion about the event.

[ALI WIL­SON / THE OB­SERVER]

Fin­d­away Eques­trian Ser­vices in Baden will be one of some 50 hosts for the 2017 Doors Open Water­loo Re­gion. The event is cel­e­brat­ing its 15th an­niver­sary with this year’s theme of Iden­tity + In­no­va­tion.

[ALI WIL­SON / THE OB­SERVER]

Nicki Cas­sidy-Small with Parker at Fin­d­away Eques­trian Ser­vices, where they will be wel­com­ing the pub­lic to tour the fa­cil­ity on Satur­day.

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