Fun Things to See & Do at Doors Open Ontario

Marion October 3, 2018
Howard Iron Works

Doors Open Ontario is an annual event that takes place across multiple locations throughout the year that allows visitors to visit buildings, natural spaces, infrastructure and cultural locales that often are not otherwise open to the public.

If you want to take your kids out for the day to explore and learn, here are a few spots to see in the GTA. Bonus: All locations offer FREE admission!

These are just a short drive from Toronto in Markham, Ajax, Halton Region (Milton, Burlington & Oakville), and Oshawa. Markham events take place soon (on September 22), while Ajax, Oshawa and Halton Region are opening their doors on September 29 & 30.

Markham: September 22, 10am – 4pm

105 Gibson

Address: 105 Gibson Drive, Markham

Phone: 905-946-8787

Website: 105gibson.com

Open only from 12 pm – 4 pm

Let your kids give back by bringing a non-perishable item to 105 Gibson to donate to the Markham Foodbank. Then tour this Christian faith-based community centre that offers many services to the local community. There will be concerts and workshops from 12-4pm. Workshops include Indoor Farming, Calligraphy, and Dance. There will also be hot dogs available ($).

Why it’s fun: Learn how to dance: workshops include square dancing, brain beat dancing, and praise dance!

St. Maurice and St. Verena Coptic Orthodox Church

Address: 3300 Highway 7, Markham

Phone: 416-800-8888

Website: smsv.ca

This church was built in 2015/16 and is now a place of worship and community. There will be guided tours showcasing the unique architecture, as well as a church fair, BBQ, yard sale and crafts and bake sale.

Why it’s fun: Bouncy Castle. Need I say more?

 

Markham Fire Station 97

Address: 209 Main Street North, Markham

Phone: 905-477-0117

Fire stations are always fun for kids, and this one even has a 60-foot tall replica of a hose drying tower, which was common in 19th-century fire halls. There will be safety demonstrations and children’s activities.

Why it’s fun: Fire trucks. Firefighters. Fire hoses.

 

Aaniin Community Centre & Library

Address: 5665 14th Avenue, Markham

Phone: 905-475-4851

Website: markham.ca

Aaniin is the Ojibwe word for “welcome.” This community centre is the newest one in Markham and has a library, climbing wall, aquatic centre, gym, teaching kitchen and more. There will be guided tours, and the walking/running track will be open to the public. Families can try out giant games, a 3D printer, and digital embroidery.

Why it’s fun: Come for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) and Story Time from 11 – 11:30 am.

 

Ajax: September 29, 10am – 4pm

Ajax Fire Headquarters

Address: 900 Salem Road North, Ajax

Phone: 905-683-4481

Website: ajax.ca

Tour this 28,000-square-foot eco-friendly fire station that has a green-roof system with native plants. You’ll learn about fire departments past and present. There will be displays of the town’s antique pumper trunk as well as the fire safety house. There will be plenty of activities for the kids to do and firefighters will be onsite (unless they’re called out to an emergency) to answer any questions. If you get hungry, head next door to the Ajax Operations and Environmental Services Centre for a BBQ ($).

Why it’s fun: See what an old fire truck used to look like!

 

Ajax Downs

Address: 50 Alexander’s Crossing, Ajax

Phone: 905-686-8001

Website: ajaxdowns.com

You might be surprised to see that I’ve listed a casino and racetrack on this list of kid-friendly sites, but Ajax Downs offers a fun tour for families that barely touches on the gambling aspect of this facility. Visitors will get to see areas that aren’t normally open to the public. (Sadly, the horses won’t be onsite during this event.)

Why it’s fun: See the behind-the-scenes stables where the racehorses are kept.

 

Pickering Village Walking Tour

Address: Village Community Centre, 22 Sherwood Road West, Ajax

Enjoy a pleasant walk through Pickering Village. The village really established itself around 1810 when Quakers arrived from New England. You’ll get to see some of the original buildings in the area, including the “Dairy House” and the “Doctor’s House,” and you’ll hear some fascinating tales of what life was like back then. The tour begins at the Village Community Centre.

Why it’s fun: You can end the tour with a sweet treat at the Pickering Village Ice Cream Shoppe ($).

 

Oshawa: September 29, 10 am – 4 pm

ACE Climatic Tunnel

Address: 2000 Simcoe St. North (enter off Conlin Rd. and park in Founders Lot 2), Oshawa

Phone: 905-721-8668 x5741

Website: ace.uoit.ca

The ACE Climactic Tunnel is a research and testing lab at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The climatic wind tunnel located in this facility can generate wind speeds of 300 kilometres per hour with temperatures ranging from -40 to +60°C. Visitors will get to watch a shaker table in action as it tests things like cars and how well they’d handle bumps, as well as a special soundproof room, among other lab experiments.

Why it’s fun: Get blown away by a wind tunnel!

 

Canadian Automotive Museum

Address: 99 Simcoe Street South, Oshawa

Phone: 905-576-1222

Website: canadianautomotivemuseum.com

Originally a 1920s car dealership, this museum shows visitors everything they ever wanted to know about automobiles. There are vehicles on display that date back to 1902. During Doors Open, families can enjoy doing free crafts together.

Why it’s fun: See Lightning McQueen!

 

Fire Hall 6

Address: 2339 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa

Phone: 905-436-3311

Website: oshawa.ca

Oshawa’s newest fire hall welcomes the public for its debut at Doors Open. Come celebrate Oshawa Fire Services’ 150-year anniversary.

Why it’s fun: Meet some firefighters and see some fire trucks up close!

 

Halton Region: September 29 & 30, 10 am – 4 pm

Royal Canadian Sea Cadets Corps Iron Duke

Address: 451 Elizabeth St., Burlington

Phone: 905-719-7564

Website: burlingtonseacadets.com

Open ONLY Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 am – 4 pm

The Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Iron Duke make their home in this 1858 building that was originally a Methodist Church that later became the local headquarters for the Canadian Legion. The Sea Cadets is open to youth who want to learn about seamanship and youth leadership. During Doors Open, kids young and old can learn how to tie knots and take your photo on a boat.

Why it’s fun: Pretend you’re a sailor and practice tossing a heaving line!

 

Archeological Services Inc. (ASI)

Address: 2321 Fairview St., Unit 200, Burlington

Phone: 416-966-1069

Website: asiheritage.ca

Open ONLY Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 am -4 pm

ASI is the largest archaeological and heritage consultancy in Canada. A team of archaeologists and heritage specialists will be onsite to teach visitors about Ontario’s past. There will be archeological activities for the kids, and the archaeology lab will be open.

Why it’s fun: Learn to dig like a real archeologist!

 

Halton County Radial Railway Museum

Address: 13629 Guelph Line, Milton

Phone: 519-856-9802

Website: hcry.org

Open ONLY Sunday, Sept. 30, 10 am – 4 pm

Visit the historical railway station and see old streetcars, radial cars and work cars in the display barns. The oldest railcar dates back to the late 1800s. Of course, you’ll have to stop off at the ice cream shop and the gift shop!

Why it’s fun: Take a ride on a vintage streetcar on two kilometers of track!

 

Mattamy National Cycling Centre

Address: 2015 Pan Am Blvd., Milton

Phone: 905-875-5398

Website: mattamynationalcyclingcentre.ca

Open ONLY Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 am – 4 pm

This cycling track is home to the Canadian cycling team. It is the second facility of its kind in North America. Tours will be offered on Saturday. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Doors Open coincides with the Canadian National Track (Cycling) Championships so you’ll get to catch bikers in action!

Why it’s fun: Watch some exciting cycling races by some of Canada’s top athletes.

 

Howard Iron Works

Address: 800 Westgate Rd., Oakville

Phone: 905-821-0000 x231

Website: howardironworks.org

Open ONLY Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 am – 4 pm

This is the first time Howard Iron Works will be open to the public. This museum shows visitors the history of printing. Visitors will get to see beautiful and rare hundred-year-old machinery, tools and implements. There will even be Victorian Era treats onsite.

Why it’s fun: Watch live demos of old-fashioned methods of printing and bookbinding!

 

Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre

Address: 2302 Bridge Rd., Oakville

Phone: 905-815-5979

Website: oakville.ca

Open ONLY Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 am – 4 pm

This recreation, arts and cultural facility is located in a renovated, repurposed high school. The centre has an aquatics centre, fitness centre, two gyms, a rock climbing wall, centres for youth and older adults, dance studios, fine arts studios, a recording studio, a rehearsal hall, a black box theatre, galleries, and museum spaces. There will be snacks and beverages available while you enjoy live music, art activities, dance and more.

Why it’s fun: Free live family entertainment!

 

Anitra Schooner

Address: 56 Water Street (Oakville Club), Oakville

Phone: 905-845-0231

This wooden schooner is known as the Queen of Lake Ontario. It was built in 1926 and during Doors Open, visitors can go onboard and see how it was built.

Why it’s fun: Getting to go aboard an almost 100-year-old sailboat!

 

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