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Unlocking the mysteries of Toronto: Doors Open at U of T

Your chance to explore heritage properties, modern architecture

Named in honour of Victoria College graduates and siblings Blake C. Goldring and Judy G. Goldring, the new Goldring Student Centre doubles the space of the former Wymilwood student union building to 40,000 square feet (photo by Horst Herget)

For anyone who’s ever wondered what secrets lie behind the walls of that mysterious building they pass on their way to work or school, the weekend of May 24th and 25th may hold some answers.

A city-wide weekend festival, Doors Open Toronto, offers free access to more than 155 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings across Toronto. Recognized as one of Toronto’s most culturally significant events, the festival has attracted more than two million residents and tourists over the last 11 years.

In addition to opening up six of its buildings to the public, the University of Toronto is sponsoring a range of free walking tours aligned with this year’s theme: Secrets and spirits…exploring the mysteries behind the door.

“We are delighted to participate in Doors Open Toronto,” said President Meric Gertler. “Within the ‘city of neighbourhoods’ U of T is itself a community of neighbourhoods. Visitors to our campuses will see fascinating buildings, old and new, and get a sense of how the city and the university have grown together throughout our history.”

Vice-President University Operations Scott Mabury said the University’s land and buildings form an essential part of the student experience. “With over 57 buildings either listed or designated as being of historic significance, the University is committed to the preservation of our historical buildings and sites,” said Mabury. “This event provides the students, the community and visitors to our city a reminder and a connection to where we have been and where we are headed in the future.”

Among the walking tours, the Mysteries of the University of Toronto tour will lead you on a 60-minute exploration of the grounds of U of T’s St. George Campus, where the traditional architecture and tree-lined paths lend themselves to sharing some of Toronto's spookier stories.

If you don’t care much for being spooked, but have an appreciation for unique architecture and history, you won’t want to miss these U of T buildings opening their doors for the weekend:

  • University of Toronto Victoria University - Goldring Student Centre is a rare treat for fans of notable architect and former U of T dean of architecture, Eric Arthur, one of the first to teach the Modern movement in Canada.
  • University of Toronto, Scarborough - Andrews Building is considered one of the two iconic works of 20th century Canadian architecture. Designed by Australian-born John Andrews, who would later design the CN Tower, it was featured on the cover of Time magazine for its bold vision.
  • University of Toronto, Scarborough - Miller Lash House opened in 1913 as the summer retreat for Toronto lawyer and industrialist Miller Lash and his family. Nestled into the Rouge Valley, the house is a hidden retreat surrounded by hundreds of acres of natural beauty. 
  • University of Toronto,  Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Hart House is a stunning Gothic Revival building in the centre of the University of Toronto’s St. George campus. Renovated in 2010, it is a modern, open and accessible space, featuring regular contemporary and conceptual programming.
  • University of Toronto: Lassonde Mining Building is one of the original buildings of U of T's Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. The building was designated as a Heritage Property for its importance as a major work of Edwardian Classicism. 
  • University of Toronto: Munk School of Global Affairs was originally constructed in 1909 and served as a meteorological observation centre. A 24-hour weather service operated from the observatory tower was instrumental during the Second World War in training pilots to identify weather patterns. 
See a photo gallery of the U of T buildings welcoming visitors this weekend.
Visit www.toronto.ca/doorsopen for a full list of participating sites.