Ever wanted to peek inside the Supreme Court of Canada, the Britannia Yacht Club or stroll through Earnscliffe, the historic Sussex Drive residence that serves as home to the British High Commissioner?
How about a behind-the-scenes look at the national training centre of the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, or an underground visit to the Diefenbunker, the former bomb shelter and military headquarters in Carp that is now operated as a fascinating Cold War Museum?
You can visit those buildings and more than 100 others as part of the 2017 edition of Doors Open Ottawa, presented by the City of Ottawa June 3 and 4, and admission is free.
Doors Open is an annual event that happens in cities across Canada and the U.S., and Ottawa’s event happens to be the second largest in North America. It’s a wonderful opportunity to visit buildings that are notable for their history, their striking architecture, their collection of artifacts or simply because of the interesting activities that take place there.
While the buildings taking part in the event include churches, temples, schools, universities and museums, some of the buildings in Doors Open are only occasionally open to the general public, so this event is a rare chance to visit them.
In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, more than 150 notable Ottawa buildings will be part of this year’s event.
Buildings in the Ottawa region from Carp in the west to Cumberland in the east will take part, and organizers expect as many as 80,000 people to visit over the two days.
To make it easier to see as many buildings as possible, the event includes a shuttle bus that is within walking distance of more than 50 of the participating buildings.
But in the downtown Ottawa core alone, you can walk to many different buildings that are within walking distance of one another and are part of the event.
The buildings that are participating this year include Laurier House, the stately brick home in Sandy Hill that was once the residence of Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier; several Ottawa fire stations and museums; and many embassies, some of them located in historic buildings, including the beautiful red-brick home that houses the Embassy of Hungary, on Waverly Street in Centre town.
Also part of the event this year is the Wellington Building (entrance at 197 Sparks Street). This stunning Beaux Arts building dates from 1927 and was once the headquarters of Metropolitan Life Insurance. The building completed a massive multi-year renovation and restoration in 2016 that included the cleaning of a stunning ceiling mosaic inside the main entrance, created when the building first opened.
Many of the buildings will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day, but some buildings are open only on one of the two days and some of the visiting hours vary.
You can find the complete list of the participating buildings and the hours that each will be open for Doors Open, on the city of Ottawa’s website. Check the hours for each building if there are some that specifically interest you, to be sure it will be open when you want to visit. Some also require visitors to go through security screening.
The city site also has a map and a guide with details about the participating buildings. It’s a great chance to see some of the beautiful buildings that make up the Ottawa region, and a reminder of why this city is such a vibrant and rewarding place to call home.
Though I work as a realtor with buyers and sellers across our region, I have long specialized in the city’s established neighbourhoods, and have sold and helped customers purchase properties in many of the areas that are part of Open Doors, including Centre town, Sandy Hill, Rockcliffe, Ottawa South, the Glebe and New Edinburgh.
These neighbourhoods are known for their historic and architecturally distinctive homes and buildings.
If you’re interested in selling or buying in the Ottawa area, I’d love to chat with you about the current market. You can reach me through my website, at www.nancybenson.com, where you can also see my current listings, or give me a call at 613-747-4747.