Doors Open Ontario

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Doors Open Ontario presenting sponsor
Doors Open Ontario presenting sponsor

Hamilton

Event information

Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Explore some traditional Doors Open Hamilton sites without having to leave home. The following sites offer tours, videos and activities that will engage people of all ages.

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Info from the City of Hamilton

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario Hamilton Branch is happy to invite participants to enjoy Doors Open Hamilton's virtual tours in 2021 as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of Doors Open Ontario!

Note: Some sites are open for self-guided walking tours. Please follow the advice of local health authorities when visiting in person.

ACO Hamilton logo

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Contact info

Telephone: 905-627-5999
Email: shannonrkyles@gmail.com
Website: https://acontario.ca/branch.php?b_id=7

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Auchmar Manor House Doors Open Hamilton

Auchmar Manor House

Auchmar was originally home to the honourable Isaac Buchanan (a local businessman and politician). Throughout the years, Auchmar has also been home to the Young family (local entrepreneurs), the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Hungarian Sisters of Social Service. During Digital Doors Open, discover the history of the house and listen to a short lecture on the past, present and future of the property. View a photo tour of Auchmar below. And explore virtual tours and stories of the house and its past inhabitants on their Instagram page. Check their Instagram page daily for new photos and stories!

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Virtual tour
  • Video
  • Site is protected by the Ontario Heritage Trust

Contact info

88 Fennell Avenue West (at West 5th Street)
Hamilton, Ontario
www.friendsofauchmar.ca

Architecture

Year built: 1852-54
Architectural style: Gothic revival
Building type: Historical landmark, Historical house
Landscape: Park

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Wednesday March 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Balfour House (Chedoke Estate) Doors Open Hamilton

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Balfour House (Chedoke Estate)

The Balfour House, also known as the Chedoke Estate, sits on the edge of the Hamilton Mountain escarpment near the Garth Street access. The site was once an Iroquois settlement. The house was built by William Scott Burn, a Scottish immigrant and prosperous grain merchant. A succession of prominent Hamiltonians – including Charles John Brydges of the Great Western Railway and real estate developer William D. Flatt – owned it before the Balfour family. It was occupied by the Southam/Balfour family from 1909 to 2013. The mansion is now owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust and managed by the City of Hamilton. Coming soon: As part of Digital Doors Open, learn more about this property through the video below.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Site is protected by the Ontario Heritage Trust

Contact info

1 Balfour Drive
Hamilton, Ontario

Architecture

Year built: 1836-38
Building type: Historical house
Landscape: Garden

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Battlefield House Museum & Park National Historic Site Doors Open Hamilton

Battlefield House Museum & Park National Historic Site

Battlefield House Museum & Park was the19th-century homestead of the Gage Family. The Gages worked the land with their 10 children and became a strong voice in the hamlet of Stoney Creek. During the War of 1812, the family retreated to their cellar as the Battle of Stoney Creek raged outside. A 30.5-metre (100-foot) monument exists on the grounds built in the early 20th century at the pinnacle of nationalistic and imperial sentiment. The monument shows an affinity for architecture steeped in British tradition. It is made entirely of Canadian materials and is an exceptional example of Tudor Gothic revival, favoured for romantic associations with the past. Nestled under the scenic Niagara Escarpment, this historical site encompasses 13 hectares (32 acres) of parkland divided by Battlefield Creek. Recent restoration features include the 1926 Dunington-Grubb-designed landscape. As part of Digital Doors Open, watch the video below and learn about handmade toys that children played with in the early 1800s.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • National Historic Site (Canada)
  • Site has blue and gold provincial plaque
  • Site is protected by the Ontario Heritage Trust

Contact info

77 King Street West
Stoney Creek, Ontario
Telephone: 905-662-8458
www.hamilton.ca/battlefield

Architecture

Year built: 1796
Architectural style: Georgian, Gothic revival
Building type: Attraction, Historical landmark, Historical house, Museum
Landscape: Park

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Cotton Factory, The Doors Open Hamilton

Cotton Factory, The

The Cotton Factory is a creative arts centre in the heart of lower Hamilton. This former cotton mill, built in 1900, is a prime example of adaptive reuse. The former site of the Imperial Cotton Co. it has since been transformed into a creative industries complex – with space for workshops, studios for artists, and office space for creative professionals. Film and television productions, photographers and special events are also drawn to the building by its unique aesthetic and historical charm. As part of Digital Doors Open, learn more about this site through the video below.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video

Contact info

270 Sherman Avenue North
Hamilton, Ontario
Telephone: 905-547-8256
Email: laura@cottonfactory.ca
www.cottonfactory.ca

Architecture

Year built: 1900
Architect: E.B. Patterson
Architectural style: Gothic revival
Building type: Commercial, Green building

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Dundurn National Historic Site - Dundurn Castle Doors Open Hamilton

Dundurn National Historic Site - Dundurn Castle

This Italianate-style villa was built in 1834 for Sir Allan MacNab, one of Canada's first premiers. Digital Doors Open lets you experience what life upstairs and downstairs was like at this grand country estate through this extensive online guided tour (Flash required) – including the grounds and gardens. Learn about the castle in the video below. And get some baking and gardening tips from costumed staff.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Virtual tour
  • Video
  • Kid-friendly
  • National Historic Site (Canada)
  • Site has blue and gold provincial plaque
  • Site is protected by the Ontario Heritage Trust

Contact info

610 York Blvd.
Hamilton, Ontario
Email: dundurn@hamilton.ca
www.hamilton.ca/dundurn

Architecture

Year built: 1835
Architect: Robert Wetherell
Architectural style: Italianate
Building type: Historical landmark, Historical house, Museum
Landscape: Park

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Wednesday March 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Erland Lee (Museum) Home Doors Open Hamilton

Erland Lee (Museum) Home

The Erland Lee (Museum) Home is a National Historic Site of Canada owned and operated by the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario (FWIO). The original building was an 1808 log cabin where John and Mary (Moore) Lee raised their 11 children and grew fruit and grain and raised livestock. Abram Lee expanded his childhood home in 1860 and 1873, completing it in the carpenter Gothic revival architectural style. In February 1897, the first Women’s Institute was founded in the Lee family’s dining room. The constitution was penned by Janet (Chisholm) Lee. The home was purchased from the Lee family by the FWIO in 1972 and stands today to celebrate the Women’s Institute, the Lee family and the history of Stoney Creek. Coming soon: Explore this house through a video tour as part of Digital Doors Open.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Kid-friendly
  • National Historic Site (Canada)
  • Site has blue and gold provincial plaque

Contact info

552 Ridge Road
Stoney Creek, Ontario
Telephone: 905-662-2691
Email: erlandleemuseum@fwio.on.ca
https://fwio.on.ca/erland

Architecture

Year built: 1808; 1860 (addition); 1873 renovations and carriage house addition
Architect: John Lee (1808); Abram Lee (1860 and 1873)
Architectural style: Gothic revival
Building type: Attraction, Historical landmark, Historical house, Museum
Landscape: Garden

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Griffin House National Historic Site Doors Open Hamilton

Griffin House National Historic Site

Griffin House is a modest one-and-a-half-storey wood-frame residence that was built in the Georgian style with clapboard siding and six-over-six sash windows. Constructed by Englishmen in 1827, it was purchased by Enerals Griffin and his wife Priscilla in 1834 – both born as slaves in Virginia, but who escaped to Canada. On this site, with their 20 hectares (50 acres) of land, the Griffin family lived as part of the Ancaster community for 150 years. Today, Griffin House stands as a testament to the determination of African-American men and women who escaped slavery and found peace in Ontario. For Digital Doors Open, watch the video below to learn more about this fascinating property.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • National Historic Site (Canada)
  • Site has blue and gold provincial plaque
  • Site is protected by the Ontario Heritage Trust

Contact info

733 Mineral Springs Road
Ancaster, Ontario
Telephone: 905-648-8144
www.hamilton.ca/griffin

Architecture

Year built: 1827
Architectural style: Georgian
Building type: Museum
Landscape: Conservation area

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology National Historic Site Doors Open Hamilton

Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology National Historic Site

The Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology is located in Hamilton’s first public waterworks, which was completed in 1859. The complex is the only intact mid-19th-century waterworks surviving in North America with its major buildings preserved – the pumphouse, boilerhouse, chimney and woodshed. The pumphouse contains two 70-ton beam engines (built in Dundas) – the oldest in Canada in their original location. One of these engines is still in operation powered by an electric motor. The grand scale and detail of the complex reflect a civic pride characteristic of mid-19th century Hamilton. The pumphouse and boilerhouse were built in the Italianate style of rusticated limestone with classical details and round arched and bull’s-eye windows. The 46-metre (150-foot) chimney was constructed with a brick shaft on a stone pedestal. The Hamilton Waterworks is a living museum that interprets through its buildings and exhibitions the history of 19th-century Victorian waterworks and steam engine technology. It became a National Historic Site in 1977. During Digital Doors Open, witness the social and mechanical life of Canada’s early industrial revolution. explore the site through this informative virtual tour.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Virtual tour
  • Video
  • National Historic Site (Canada)

Contact info

900 Woodward Avenue
Hamilton, Ontario
Email: steammuseum@hamilton.ca
www.hamilton.ca/steammuseum

Architecture

Year built: 1859
Architect: Thomas Coltrin Keefer
Architectural style: Italianate
Building type: Historical landmark, Museum

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Lister Building, The Doors Open Hamilton

Lister Building, The
The current building replaced the 1850s four-storey stone commercial block erected for Joseph Lister, which was destroyed by fire in 1923. It features a two-level, L-shaped interior shopping arcade and distinctive Renaissance-revival terracotta and brick six-storey façade, recently restored. Architect-led tours at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Presentation on the restoration at Tourism Hamilton inside.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open

Contact info

28-44 James Street North
Hamilton, Ontario
Telephone: 905-546-2666
www.tourismhamilton.ca

Architecture

Year built: 1924; renovated 2008-11
Architect: Bernard Prack; restoration architect Julian Smith

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

MacNab Street Presbyterian Church Doors Open Hamilton

MacNab Street Presbyterian Church
The MacNab Street Presbyterian Church was established as a congregation in 1854 during a cholera epidemic. The current building’s construction began in 1856 with funding provided in large measure by two families – Dr. Calvin McQuesten (of Whitehern) and the Honourable Isaac Buchanan (of Auchmar Estate). Scottish stonemasons constructed the main building, using stone quarried from the Hamilton “Mountain.” During the next 25 years, two additional buildings were added to the site: a manse and a school building. After the First World War, an addition was made and then, in 1935, the interior was completely renovated and a nine-window stained-glass installation by the Scottish artists William Wilson and James Ballantyne was commissioned. The Journal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (1935) praised “the simplicity and good proportion of its exterior design,” and noted it to be “one of the first permanent ecclesiastical buildings in Hamilton.” Part of the MacNab-Charles Heritage Conservation District. As part of Digital Doors Open, check out the video below, as well as the church’s YouTube playlist, which includes music, messages of worship and children and youth messages.

Tell us your story about this site

Contact info

116 MacNab Street South
Hamilton, Ontario
Telephone: 905-529-6896
Email: macnabsec@cogeco.ca
https://macnabpresbyterian.ca

Architecture

Year built: 1856; 1935
Architect: William Thomas (1857); Albert Hills (1930s); Stewart McPhie and William Somerville (1935 addition)
Architectural style: Gothic revival
Building type: Place of worship
Landscape: Garden

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

People Under the Staircase (The Staircase Theatre) Doors Open Hamilton

People Under the Staircase (The Staircase Theatre)

The Staircase Theatre is an independent arts incubator under new management as People Under the Staircase. As Hamilton's premier alternative event space, it features live performance, music, video, games and theatre. The building is an adaptive reuse of a former power substation. Formerly known as the Dundurn Station, this 1914 beaux-arts-style building was decommissioned by Hamilton Hydro in 1996. The new venue was named after the cast iron spiral staircase on the interior. The classical detailing and fine craftsmanship of the former station reflects Hamilton’s importance as the Electric City of Canada in the early 20th century. To learn more about Hamilton's innovative electrical infrastructure and its early substations, check out the Power of Design exhibit. And, for Digital Doors Open, check out the video below to learn more.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Kid-friendly

Contact info

27 Dundurn Street North
Hamilton, Ontario
Telephone: 905-529-3000
Email: info@staircasehamilton.com
https://peopleunderthestaircase.com

Architecture

Year built: 1914; renovated 1996
Architect: Unknown
Architectural style: Beaux arts
Building type: Theatre

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Playhouse Cinema, The Doors Open Hamilton

Playhouse Cinema, The

The Playhouse Cinema is Hamilton's oldest existing cinema. Built in 1914 for the Sherman Avenue Theatre Company as a 700-seat vaudeville-era and motion picture theatre, this distinctive beaux-arts building was designed by Stewart & Witton. An important community space in Hamilton's north end, it served as a voting station during the 1946 Steel Workers Union strike that changed labour laws across Canada, and, in the 1960s, it showed Italian films and Hollywood films dubbed into Italian. Attendance declined in the 1980s and the theatre closed in 1990. In 2018, after years of neglect, The Playhouse Cinema reopened as an independent art-house cinema. Original architectural features – including the lavish interiors – have been beautifully restored, and a new neon sign recreates the long-lost original. Coming soon: For Digital Doors Open, watch the video below to learn more about this unique site.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video

Contact info

177 Sherman Avenue North
Hamilton, Ontario
Telephone: 905-545-8888
www.playhousecinema.ca

Architecture

Year built: 1914
Architect: Steward & Witton
Architectural style: Beaux arts
Building type: Theatre

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Superior Court of Justice Family Court (former Hamilton Public Library) Doors Open Hamilton

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Superior Court of Justice Family Court (former Hamilton Public Library)

The former Carnegie Hamilton Public Library (1913-80), which now houses the Supreme Court of Justice Family Court, was constructed with a grant of $100,000 from American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and officially opened on May 5, 1913 by the Lieutenant Governor (and fellow-Hamiltonian) Sir John Morison Gibson. This library, which offered visitors open shelving for the first time, was moved after six decades of service to its current location on York Street next to the Jackson Square complex. Designed by local architect A.W. Peene in the neoclassical style, its outstanding architectural features include two-storey pilasters, massive corner piers, the entablature with dentillated cornice and a prominent staired entranceway. A central two-storey atrium with marble balustrade, double staircase and skylight unifies the interior and provides a spacious and elegant entrance lobby. In 1987, it was designated by the City of Hamilton as a significant heritage landmark and one of the finest surviving Carnegie libraries in Canada. For Digital Doors Open, learn more about the history of building through the video below.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video

Contact info

55 Main Street West
Hamilton, Ontario
Telephone: 519-822-7961
https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/family/court-services

Architecture

Year built: 1913
Architect: A.W. Peene
Architectural style: Beaux arts
Building type: Courthouse, Library

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

The Westdale Doors Open Hamilton

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The Westdale

The art deco-style Westdale Theatre was built in 1935 as the first cinema in Hamilton equipped to show “talkies” – motion pictures with sound. It is the architectural centrepiece of North Oval in Westdale Village, Hamilton's first garden-city suburb, and one of the earliest examples in Canada. The distinctive oval-shaped commercial core is surrounded by curved streets with arts and crafts- and modern-style houses. In 2016, this local landmark was destined to be sold to developers, but a group of arts and culture-minded Hamiltonians decided to save it and revitalize it as a cinematic, artistic and community arts hub. After extensive renovations, The Westdale was reborn as a stunningly refurbished art deco single-screen state-of-the-art multidisciplinary arts presentation space. You can still see the original marquee letters mounted inside. As part of Digital Doors Open, check out their extensive selection of YouTube videos to learn more.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video

Contact info

1014 King Street West
Hamilton, Ontario
Telephone: 905-577-0074
www.thewestdale.ca

Architecture

Year built: 1935
Architect: Unknown
Architectural style: Art deco
Building type: Theatre

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Westfield Heritage Village Doors Open Hamilton

Westfield Heritage Village

Westfield Heritage Village, a living history museum, consists of over 35 restored historical buildings dating from the early 1800s. Various building types are positioned as a small village within a natural conservation area of over 202 hectares (500 acres). The village was started by two high school teachers – D. Glenn Kilmer and Golden L. MacDonell – who purchased the original 12-hectare (30-acre) site to create an outdoor museum preserving 19th-century rural life. They purchased their first building, the Jerseyville Train Station, outbidding a local farmer who wanted it for his farm as an outbuilding. Six more buildings were added before it was officially opened in 1964. Some 30 buildings later, the village is a thriving cultural centre that features educational programs and events year-round. Take a virtual tour of this spectacular site in the video below.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Kid-friendly
  • Site is protected by the Ontario Heritage Trust

Contact info

1049 Kirkwall Road (Regional Road 552)
Rockton, Ontario
Telephone: 519-621-8851
Email: westfield@conservationhamilton.ca
https://westfieldheritage.ca

Architecture

Year built: Various
Architect: Various
Building type: Attraction, Museum
Landscape: Conservation area

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

William Pring House (The Hamilton Guesthouse) Doors Open Whitehern Historic House and Garden

William Pring House (The Hamilton Guesthouse)

This impressive three-storey Georgian limestone mansion was built in 1855 for William Pring, Hamilton’s Customs’ Surveyor when the city was a significant import-export hub for Upper Canada. Pring’s family lived here until 1871 when it was bought by Duncan MacNabb for a 30-year period before it was purchased in 1908 by William B. Hopkins, a physician whose family owned and occupied the house until 1940. After this, the house changed hands many times until 2012 when it was bought and converted to The Hamilton Guesthouse, Hamilton’s first and only backpackers’ hostel, which it remains to this day. In 1991, the William Pring House was designated by the City of Hamilton as a rare example of pre-Confederation stone architecture in the city. Coming soon: Learn more about the William Pring House through the video below.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open

Contact info

158 Mary Street (at Cannon Street East)
Hamilton, Ontario
Telephone: 289-440-8035
Email: info@hamiltonguesthouse.ca
http://hamiltonguesthouse.ca

Architecture

Year built: 1855
Architectural style: Georgian
Building type: Historical landmark, Historical house

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre (Custom House) Doors Open Hamilton

Workers Arts and Heritage Centre (Custom House)

The Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, located in the Hamilton Custom House, is one of the oldest remaining federal public buildings in Canada. The Customs House is an exceptional example of mid-Victorian Italianate and Renaissance revival architectural style, reflecting the significance of Hamilton as a major railway and Great Lakes port. It ceased functioning as a Customs House by 1915 and, until the end of the century, was reused as a school, residential apartments, a YWCA branch, a shelter, a textile factory, a macaroni factory and a martial arts academy. In 1995, it was purchased by the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre as an interpretive venue for workers’ culture and history. It was designated a national historic site in 1990. Today, the centre is more than a museum. Its goal is to create an activist cultural and educational experience that showcases the contributions of working people - not only in Canada but worldwide – through its programs, exhibits and events. As part of Digital Doors Open, take an interactive “walking tour” and learn about Hamilton’s 19th-century industrial revolution by visiting some of the city’s first factories and workshops.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Collections and resources
  • Kid-friendly
  • National Historic Site (Canada)

Contact info

51 Stuart Street
Hamilton, Ontario
Telephone: 905-522-3003
https://wahc-museum.ca

Architecture

Year built: 1858-60; 1995-96 (restoration)
Architect: F.J. Rastrick and F.P. Rubridge
Architectural style: Italianate, Renaissance revival
Building type: Historical landmark, Museum

Dates/hours open

Friday January 1 – Friday December 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Hamilton