Interacting with the History of your City

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Doors Open Ontario season is about to begin. Doors Open is a free event held in communities across Ontario. In each community historic buildings and cultural places are open to the public over the course of one weekend a year. Events start in late April and go until late October. There are variations of this type of event all over the world from New York (Open House New York) to the UK (Heritage Open Days).

In Ontario, the events will start off with a bang this year. The first weekend will be in Guelph on April 30th and one of the new additions to the list of sites that will be open is the Manor “Adult Entertainment Complex” in Guelph – the former house of the Sleeman family (of Sleeman Beer). Maybe this will attract a whole new audience to heritage!

Many buildings such as Auchmar Estate in Hamilton are not open to the public during the year; the only time to step into their history is during Doors Open.  Last year Auchmar volunteers used the event to begin selling posters to raise money and awareness for the restoration of the publically owned building.

Museums that are open during the year often plan special events and activities on the weekend of Doors Open. For instance at the First Post Office in Toronto you can write a letter by candle light using a feather and close it with a wax seal. Pay for shipping and you can have it mailed anywhere in Canada.

One of my favourite places to visit last year was the Stinson School in Hamilton. It is school that has been closed and was purchased by Henry Stinson to turn into condos. The building only had two show condos to visit, and the rest of the school was exactly the way it was left on when it was closed. I will be interested to return to the building this year see the progress.

Buildings that are not necessarily historic, but contribute to the culture of a community are also featured on Doors Open. In Waterloo this year the Perimeter Institute will have tours of its new addition, the Stephen Hawking Centre.  The Institute is an international research centre focused on Theoretical Physics. The new Stephen Hawking Centre will double the space available for scientists as well as contribute to the Waterloo Region’s reputation as one of the most innovative places in Canada.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Doors Open event in Ontario, and during that time over 4 million visits have been made to participating sites. These free events are a very successful way to allow people to interact with the varied history of their city. Churches, museums, homes and public spaces provide varied interpretations of historic events, and ongoing place making.

  • Alex URBACT

    European historic centres experience the same
    situation as United States historic cities. Today historic cities undergo
    multiple pressures to be attracted enough for competitiveness and  tourism, to offer an agreable way of life, a
    wide access to services  etc.  The imbalance of progress and the preservation
    of the historic urban fabric often results in either economic stagnancy or the
    loss of cultural heritage values, and with it the loss of identity.

    Therefore URBACT,
    a European learning and exchange program on sustainable urban development,
    elaborated the HerO
    project – Heritage as
    Opportunity, which aims at developping management strategies for historic
    cities to facilitate the right balance between the preservation of built
    cultural heritage and the attractiveness and competitiveness of these specific
    cities. Emphasis is placed on capitalising the potential of
    cultural heritage assets for economic, social and cultural activities.

    HerO gathers 9 European cities: Regensburg,
    Graz,
    Naples,
    Vilnius,
    Sighisoara,
    Liverpool,
    Lublin,
    Poitiers
    and Valleta.
    Each partner city must develop a local action plan which means an integrated
    cultural management plan. For instance Liverpool, the 2008 European capital of
    culture, developed within this framework the Paradise
    project : this relevant regeneration project has been designed to
    solve the lack of additional retail floor space. Strong demands of
    cultural preservation have been incorporated into the masterplan, such as retaining
    and conserving the historic buildings within the site,  and undertaking a major archaeological evaluation
    of the whole site.

     

    For more information :

    -         
    HerO
    website

    -         
    Liverpool
    local action plan

    -         
    2010
    Urbact conference

     

  • Alex URBACT

    European historic centres experience the same
    situation as United States historic cities. Today historic cities undergo
    multiple pressures to be attracted enough for competitiveness and  tourism, to offer an agreable way of life, a
    wide access to services  etc.  The imbalance of progress and the preservation
    of the historic urban fabric often results in either economic stagnancy or the
    loss of cultural heritage values, and with it the loss of identity.

    Therefore URBACT,
    a European learning and exchange program on sustainable urban development,
    elaborated the HerO
    project – Heritage as
    Opportunity, which aims at developping management strategies for historic
    cities to facilitate the right balance between the preservation of built
    cultural heritage and the attractiveness and competitiveness of these specific
    cities. Emphasis is placed on capitalising the potential of
    cultural heritage assets for economic, social and cultural activities.

    HerO gathers 9 European cities: Regensburg,
    Graz,
    Naples,
    Vilnius,
    Sighisoara,
    Liverpool,
    Lublin,
    Poitiers
    and Valleta.
    Each partner city must develop a local action plan which means an integrated
    cultural management plan. For instance Liverpool, the 2008 European capital of
    culture, developed within this framework the Paradise
    project : this relevant regeneration project has been designed to
    solve the lack of additional retail floor space. Strong demands of
    cultural preservation have been incorporated into the masterplan, such as retaining
    and conserving the historic buildings within the site,  and undertaking a major archaeological evaluation
    of the whole site.

     

    For more information :

    -         
    HerO
    website

    -         
    Liverpool
    local action plan

    -         
    2010
    Urbact conference