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Niagara Falls
Saturday, December 2, 2023
NOTL opens its doors as Doors Open returns Oct. 21
Grace United Church is one of several historical sites in Niagara-on-the-Lake open to the public for Doors Open on Oct. 21. FILE

Barbara Worthy
Special to Niagara Now/The Lake Report

The welcome mat is being laid down once again at many Niagara heritage sites and businesses  when Ontario’s province-wide Doors Open initiative returns on Saturday, Oct. 21. 

Doors Open Ontario is a province-wide heritage tourism initiative led by the Ontario Heritage Trust. Each year, communities across Ontario open local sites of interest for free public tours. The program was launched in 2002 to create access, awareness and excitement about the province’s heritage and to provide unique opportunities to explore and enjoy some of the most interesting places in Ontario cities, towns and villages.

Twelve local Niagara sites are participating on Saturday October 21. Most sites will be open from 10am to 4pm, with free admission, welcoming guides, and the chance to perhaps learn something new about our living and built history.  From art and architecture, to bikes, breweries and military barracks. 

This year’s participants are:

  • Butler’s Barrack National Historic Site, joining Doors Open Niagara-on-the-Lake for the first time, and featuring tours of the Men’s Barracks,  one of the few surviving 19th century military structures. Plus, the NOTL Museum’s Tiny Museum will be in attendance featuring a family-friendly WWI  exhibit on Life Under Canvas.
  • Clare’s Harley-Davidson of Niagara with its reclaimed and re-purposed architecture, and the fully restored, much-loved Diana Sweets restaurant. 
  • The Exchange Brewery, housed in Niagara’s original 1880 telephone exchange building, with its flagship brews, tasting room and bottle shop.
  • Grace United Church, designed by William Thomas, and celebrating its 200th anniversary this year.
  • The Niagara Apothecary where you can step through the doors to see how pharmacists practised their profession over 100 years ago.
  • Niagara’s 1847 Courthouse,  with its history of saints and sinners while serving as the official county seat of Niagara District until 1862.
  • Niagara Lodge No.2, rarely open to the public, and the oldest Masonic lodge in Ontario.
  • Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre, overlooking the Niagara River, and offering a variety of arts programs, exhibitions and events, for all ages.
  • Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, steeped in history, where visitors can always enjoy their award-winning wines and world-class farm-to-table cuisine.
  • Queenston’s RiverBrink Art Museum, beautifully located and where visitors can participate in a fundraising event, Bowls for Hope, with all proceeds going to the Alzheimer Society of Niagara.
  • St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, originally built in 1795, burned during the War of 1812, destroyed by a cyclone in 1855, and now inviting visitors to take a pew and enjoy its beauty. 

The NOTL Museum is coordinating Doors Open Niagara-on-the-Lake and is also one of the participating sites.  Visitors to the NOTL Museum can learn about the history of Niagara-on-the-Lake through its vast collection, community programs, education outreach, and exhibitions. The current exhibit ‘Bound and Determined’ examines Niagara’s Black History. On Saturday October 21, local chef Pam Mundy will share heritage cooking tips, recipes, and baking samples at the museum, including a background on the history of baking powder and its essential use for military baking.  Visitors will be able to enjoy Queen Victoria sponge cakes, 1770s  war cakes, Pam’s classic shortbread, and cookies with rose water icing.

Visitors are encouraged to check opening and closing hours prior to visiting.

More details can be found at: www.doorsopenontario.on.ca/ and click on Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Doors Open Niagara-on-the-Lake is a rain or shine event – whatever the weather the doors will be wide open, and you can even keep your shoes on.

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