What Is Doors Open Toronto?
Located on the Toronto Islands sits the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse. It was finished in 1808 and is the second oldest lighthouse in Canada and the oldest on the Great Lakes and in Toronto. The light house only stands 12 feet tall, but for a long time it helped guide ships into Toronto harbor. Although not terribly tall, some of good images can be taken of the Toronto skyline in the distance and the tranquil nature of the Toronto islands is perfect for picnics and general relaxing.
What most interesting about the lighthouse is that it is the center of a long running urban legend due to the disappearance of its first keeper John Paul Rademuller in 1815. There was never a murder charge and it’s said his ghost haunts the tower to this day.
To get to the Lighthouse you’ll need to catch a ride on a Ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at the bottom of Bay Street. You can walk to the terminal from Union Station and it costs just $7.25 for a round trip. You can stay on the island for as long as the ferries run, but the best time to visit is later in the afternoon when the city lights up. The last ferry is at 11:45pm and they run generally every 15 minutes to and from the island.
The Canada Life Building dominates University Avenue with its imposing tower and architecture style. It was designed to symbolize the company's stability and although its only 17 stories (276 feet) tall, it really nailed the message at the time. It was completed on March 16, 1931 and later featured the iconic weather beacon in 1951 which displays the weather forecast and temperature changes for the local area.
For the annual Doors Open event, you can travel up to the 17th floor observation deck “Tower Room.” From this vantage point you’ll be can take in the downtown core and the bustling University Avenue below. While not the highest point in the city, it does have a certain air of charm as you look over the densely packed buildings in the core and the traffic below.
Getting to the building is very easy, it’s just a short walk along Queen Street west from the TTC Queen Subway station, or right outside the TTC Osgoode Subway station. We recommend the walk from Queen as you can slowly watch the building come into view and tower over the other buildings as you get closer.
More information on the Canada Life Building can be found here.
Toronto City Hall is the podium from which the city of Toronto and its municipal government is run from. The building itself is also recognized as an international architectural masterpiece as its sleek post-modern look still gives the building a near futuristic look as it rises from from the large square below. Since it was opened in 1965, this site has been one of Toronto's most famous landmarks and the design itself was the result of one of the largest architectural competitions ever held by a city. The entire complex has a sculptural quality that makes it a unique landmark for the city. This September marks the 50th anniversary of Toronto City Hall and as a result there are some additional events going on here for Doors Open.
This year visitors will be able to explore the buildings key features like The Mayor's Office, The Council Chambers, Green Roof and the crown jewel of them all…the 27th Floor Observation Deck. The Observation Deck was supposed to be opened to the public back when city hall opened, however due to harsh winds and security issues the deck had to be closed to the public shortly after. During Doors Open though you’ll be able to go up the deck and take in the unique perspective it offers on the city skyline and the hustle and bustle in Nathan Philips Square far below.
Getting to City Hall is very easy, it’s located on Bay and Queen Street, just a short walk away from Queen subway station or Osgoode subway station. This is one of the more popular events Doors Open has, so if you want to beat the lines its best to go early.
More information about Toronto City Hall can be found here.
A full map of all the doors open locations as well as more event details can be found on the official City of Toronto website.