Program criteria, roles and responsibilities

Doors Open Ontario is a heritage and cultural tourism program coordinated in partnership between the Ontario Heritage Trust and a network of provincewide community organizing partners. Designed to create free access to, and awareness and excitement about, Ontario’s heritage sites, hosting Doors Open Ontario in your community provides residents and visitors alike with a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy the sometimes hidden and always interesting places and spaces in Ontario cities, towns and villages. These events celebrate your community’s identity, generate volunteerism, build interest in Ontario’s heritage and drive cultural tourism and economic development opportunities.

In-person events should be held on a single day or over an entire weekend from April to October each year. Participating sites must offer free admission to the public and can include museums, places of worship, public, cultural or institutional buildings, private businesses, commercial and industrial buildings, trails and natural areas — and more. In 2024, the provincewide theme will be adaptive reuse, showcasing heritage sites that have been repurposed to best serve their communities, while retaining their heritage attributes. Through the continued use and reuse of our historical structures, we realize their contribution to the sustainability and the economic and cultural energy of our urban and rural communities.

The following criteria must be met for a community to register for an in-person event in the Doors Open Ontario program:

What is the role of the community organizer?

Each community must form a Doors Open organizing committee. Specific people should be charged with the tasks of identifying properties, developing interpretive/educational programming, marketing/promotion, event management and volunteer recruitment. The committee must designate one lead contact — the community organizer — to represent them to the Ontario Heritage Trust.

The community organizer is responsible for:

  • selecting participating sites for the local event
  • determining local volunteer needs and soliciting volunteers to staff sites on the day(s) of the event (the Trust also collects volunteer interest forms throughout the year and forwards them along to community organizers)
  • any specific local promotion of the event over and above the media support that the Trust provides (see section below on the Trust’s role), such as local print brochures, small local ad buys, etc.
  • verifying that each participating site holds adequate liability insurance coverage to participate in a public event as well as meets health and safety minimum standards
  • tracking visitation at sites on the day(s) of the event

The organizing committee assumes responsibility for all community event-related expenses — although costs may be shared between partners and sites. Expenses might be incurred for items such as brochures and maps listing all sites, interpretive materials, local launch events, volunteer/staffing, cleaning, local marketing and promotion, and the rental of portable washrooms or access barriers. The organizing committee may solicit local sponsors for the local event and such arrangements do not conflict with any provincewide sponsorship for the program.


What is the role of the Ontario Heritage Trust?

The Ontario Heritage Trust co-ordinates the provincewide program as well as the main advertising campaign for all Doors Open Ontario events. It works with corporate sponsors, heritage and tourism groups, the media (print, digital, television and radio) and other funding organizations to provide participating Doors Open Ontario communities with the following:

  • overall program co-ordination and administration
  • event planning support to community organizers
  • access to the Doors Open Ontario website, which is the most important tool to promote your event and the provincewide program (our website receives hundreds of thousands of annual web visits)
  • provincewide promotion, media relations and branding via paid media campaigns to drive visitation to the Doors Open Ontario website
  • French translation of community event information for the Doors Open Ontario website and any other provincial marketing materials
  • community resource materials, including tip sheets on topics such as recruiting and managing volunteers, securing sponsorship and funding, developing a promotion and publicity plan, and managing health, safety and security issues — as well as templates for property interpretation materials, media releases, visitor surveys and site organizer’s evaluation forms
  • colourful bilingual Doors Open Ontario property identification signs for each participating site — at no additional cost to organizers


Important dates

  • January 31, 2024 — early-bird registration deadline (NEW): fee is $1,000 plus HST for in-person events
  • March 31, 2024 — registration for 2023 closes. Fee is $1,500 plus HST between January 31 and this date
  • March 31, 2024 — primary event image, event information and first three sites due to be submitted via user portal on Doors Open Ontario website
  • 30 days before your event — all site information due
  • 30 days following your event — event evaluation form due