The first Doors Open Day (La Journée Portes Ouvertes) took place in France in 1984. The idea soon spread to neighbouring countries, including the Netherlands, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland, Belgium and Scotland. In 1991, these events were united as European Heritage Days at the initiative of the Council of Europe. In 2003, all 48 signatory states of the European Cultural Convention participated in European Heritage Days.
In 2000, the City of Toronto launched the first Doors Open event in North America. In 2002, the Ontario Heritage Trust launched Doors Open Ontario, the first provincewide event of its kind in Canada. The Doors Open concept continues to spread across North America with events now being held in Newfoundland, Alberta, Massachusetts, Western New York State, New York City and Denver. (Visit these web links to Doors Open events in other countries.)
Every year, Doors Open Ontario attracts large crowds across Ontario. From April to October, residents and visitors are invited to discover first-hand Ontario’s hidden heritage treasures, some of which have never been open to the public.
Since the program was launched in 2002, over six million visits have been made to heritage sites participating in this exciting initiative. Doors Open Ontario, now considered a cultural phenomenon, will continue in 2016 with hundreds of communities participating across the province.
The 2016 Doors Open Ontario season marks the 15th anniversary of the program!