Come and explore the Ontario Heritage Trust’s popular Doors Open Ontario program and learn more about the province’s spectacular heritage sites!
Doors Open Ontario is a provincewide heritage tourism program that gives the public free access to explore fascinating heritage properties all across Ontario. It showcases the buildings, natural spaces, infrastructure and cultural landscapes that shape and define our communities. Hosting Doors Open Ontario in your community celebrates its identity, generates volunteerism, builds interest in Ontario’s heritage and drives cultural tourism and economic development opportunities. Participating sites must offer free admission to the public and can include museums, places of worship, public, cultural or institutional buildings, private businesses, trails and natural areas – and more. In 2023, the provincewide theme will be Food – exploring Ontario’s historical traditions of food production as well as the spaces that shape and define our culinary traditions today.
Doors Open Ontario began in 2002 as a means of connecting people to place by facilitating public access to compelling built and natural heritage sites that normally restrict regular access to the public, and to ensure that Ontario’s diverse heritage would be free to access by individuals and families of all socioeconomic backgrounds without barrier of cost. Since that time, its tangible impacts have been substantial: 8.6 million visits have been made to thousands of unique buildings and spaces, 15,000+ volunteer hours are generated annually, and participants spend more than $11 million during their travels in a typical year as they learned about heritage conservation, local history and had fun.
It is a core principle of Doors Open Ontario to create meaningful shared experiences for all Ontarians to enjoy and appreciate their heritage with as few barriers as possible to their participation. The range of communities and sites that take part stretches across the province and offers something for everyone. The Trust works with communities to design the program and its promotional strategy to reach as many prospective visitors as possible, allowing each to choose their own adventure via the Doors Open Ontario website. The website is the central promotional resource for the program and receives an average of about 250,000 visits annually.
Starting in 2020, the Doors Open Ontario program has also included digital experiences to engage visitors. These experiences – such as videos, virtual tours or online activities – share stories and perspectives of sites that enrich the in-person aspect and that may not be possible any other way. In 2022, we worked with our community partners to bring back in-person events, making Doors Open Ontario now a unique hybrid experience – with hundreds of digital sites always available to discover year-round, and hundreds more in-person sites available to explore at events each year.