Our Doors Open Ontario series seems to be pretty popular with local history and culture buffs! In this Doors Open feature, we look at the many offerings of Simcoe, including Windlee Farms Maple Syrup in our cover picture. Doors Open Simcoe County will be taking place Saturday and Sunday, August 26 and 27, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring friends and loved ones to get a glimpse behind the scenes of many normally closed-door locations — for free!
Simcoe County stretches from the shores of Lake Simcoe in the east to Georgian Bay in the west a little less than an hour north of Toronto. It’s close enough to the big city to enjoy many of their amenities, and far enough away to enjoy some small-town charm with picturesque downtown cores with some amazing historical attractions. Well worth the trip, even if you can’t make it to the Doors Open event!
What is Doors Open Ontario and how does it work?
During select weekends between April to October, participating cities across Ontario are opening many heritage locations and other fun, cultural sites to the public, all in partnership with Ontario Heritage Trust. Often, these locations do not normally open their doors to the public – or let you see behind the scenes.
There are all sorts of interesting historical and cultural places to visit and learn about during the Doors Open events, and the best part is: they’re free to attend. In this blog, we’re featuring Doors Open Simcoe County with a variety of exciting online and in-person sites to discover!
How to Plan for Doors Open Simcoe County
As with Doors Open Kingston and all the other Doors Open Ontario locations, we urge parents and visitors to pre-plan their route, as there’s often too much to see in one day. Use the list of Doors Open Simcoe County locations to decide which sites you’d love to visit the most in advance!
A target of five buildings per day is about the most anyone will be able to plan for. Families with smaller children may need to set a lower target. Fortunately, since the event runs for the whole weekend, scheduling an overnight visit is an option available! There are also some sites that are available to visit digitally.
A List of In-Person Sites for Doors Open Simcoe County
Doors Open Simcoe features 18 in-person sites and 7 digital sites for 2023.
All Saints' Anglican Church - 32 Elgin Street, Collingwood, Ontario, L9Y 4V2
This attraction is open Saturday only. Built in 1858, this church is now the oldest surviving in Collingwood. It was built to replace its predecessor, which had been destroyed by a fire.
Anten Mills Community Centre - 3985 Horseshoe Valley Road West, Springwater, Ontario, L0L 1Y2
The Anten Mills Community Centre, built in 1875, was actually formerly the Anten Mills School. It could only hold about 90 students when it was built. It continues to be used by the community as the Community Center, officially designated in 2021.
Banting Homestead Heritage Park - 5116 Sir Frederick Banting Road, Alliston, Ontario, L9R 1V2
This location is the birthplace and family homestead of Nobel laureate, Sir Frederic Banting, one of the discoverers of insulin, which changed the way we fight diabetes forever. The site is 107 acres, featuring a legacy trail, picnic locations, and the historical farmhouse and drive shed.
Discovery Harbour - 93 Jury Drive, Penetanguishene, Ontario, L9M 1G1
For naval battle enthusiasts, in 1793, John Graves Simcoe scouted Penetanguishene as a strategic site for a naval base. After the War of 1812 began, an active naval dockyard was built by the Royal Engineers of the British Military.
Duntroon Cyder House - 3079 County Road 124, Duntroon, Ontario, L0M 1H0
Duntroon Cyder House is an organic farm, apple orchard, and cidery! Their products are produced authentically with local hand-picked apples, and they offer tastings, tours, and lots of outdoor activities and live events to give a great adventure for all ages.
The Gibson Centre - 63 Tupper Street West, Alliston, Ontario, L9R 1E4
Originally a farm implement factory built in 1889, today The Gibson Centre plays host to many local groups of artists who use it as a performance hall, gallery space, artisan gift shop and café. You can also find the Rotary Club of Alliston there.
La Clé d’la Baie - 63 Main Street, Penetaguishene, Ontario, L9M 2G3
A great stop for families with French Immersion or Francophones! La Clé d’la Baie served as l’École de la resistance during a time when French-language education was not welcome in Ontario. Today it serves both as a museum paying tribute to that struggle and houses the only completely French radio station in Canada.
Museum on the Boyne - 250 Fletcher Crescent, Alliston, Ontario, L9R 1M1
Museum on the Boyne is a museum dedicated to South Simcoe’s history as it grew from an early settlement to what it is today. It has collections of household, agricultural, industrial, and archival artefacts, including a log cabin and heritage barn!
Nancy Island Historic Site - 119 Mosley Street, Wasaga Beach, Ontario, L9Z 2X1
Nancy Island is a historic site that houses the remains and artifacts from the HMS Nancy. The ship, a schooner built in 1789 and originally used for fur trading, battled three American schooners during the War of 1812 and served for several years as a vital supply ship for the Provincial Marine.
Orillia Museum of Art & History (The Sir Sam Steele Memorial Building) - 30 Peter Street South Orillia, Ontario, L3V 5A9
Located down in the heart of Orillia's Peter Street Arts District, the Orillia Museum of Art & History serves as a hub of culture and heritage for local artists and historians.
Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre - 1296 Concession Road 10, Ramara, Ontario, L0K 1B0
Nature lovers will love the Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre! They offer educational workshops, hikes, and wildlife observation areas. Even after Doors Open, you may want to visit to snowshoe into a wetland, or count butterflies and dragonflies, mushrooms, and frogs.
Simcoe County Museum - 1151 Highway 26, Minesing, Ontario L9X 0Z7
This local history museum is home to preserved heritage buildings as well as 5 indoor galleries. Not to worry if you can’t experience this site in-person, as you can view a tour of their heritage buildings through Digital Doors Open. The online experience also includes kids’ activities with downloadable colouring pages and traditional recipes.
The South Simcoe Theatre - 1 Hamilton Street, Cookstown, Ontario, L0L 1L0
This building has a history as a temperance hall, Presbyterian church, and community centre before being occupied as a theatre since 1983. Located in Cookstown’s historical Old Town Hall, the theatre celebrates it’s 40th anniversary milestone this year.
St. Paul's Presbyterian Church - 95 Jephson Street, Victoria Harbour, Ontario, L0K 2A0
This church was built over a hundred years ago by lumber baron John Waldie in 1905 and given to the Presbyterians in 1906. It will only be open to the Doors Open event on Saturday.
The Tremont House - 80 Simcoe St, Collingwood, Ontario, L9Y 1H8
The Tremont was built as a three-floor, 24-room hotel in 1889. While no longer serving today as a luxury hotel, it is one of the last remaining 19th-century hotel buildings in Collingwood. It’s now part of the arts district, home to artist studios, a café, four residences, as well as a French Bistro called Poppy’s (try to swing by for brunch!).
Trinity United Church - 140 Maple Street, Collingwood, Ontario, L9Y 2P8
Originally a Methodist church built in 1863, Trinity became a United church in 1925 when the United Church of Canada was formed. Like the other churches in the Doors Open Simcoe list, it is only open to the public for the Doors Open event on Saturday.
Utopia Hall - 8396 6 Line, Utopia, Ontario, L0M 1T0
Built to serve as a community hub in 1956, The Utopia Hall in Essa Township hosts dinners, concerts, fundraisers, and more!
Windlee Farms Maple Syrup - 10 Baseline Rd N, Tiny, Ontario, L4R 0E3
If our cover photo caught your eye, it's from Windlee Farms! As Teachers on Call is a family-owned and operated tutoring service, we love that they are a working farm, family-owned and operated, making maple syrup for over 30 years! The farm comprises over 150 acres, 20 of which are dedicated to sugar maple bush. You can learn how maple syrup is collected from over 600 taps and then handcrafted on a wood-fired evaporator, and then leave with a sweet treat for breakfast the next day!
These are just the in-person sites you can visit during Doors Open Simcoe. Be sure to check their site for a list of the digital sites you can visit online, too. Be sure to keep checking the Teachers on Call blog for coverage of upcoming Doors Open events taking place during September 2023 in Brampton, Belleville, Kingston, London, Peterborough, Waterloo Region, Quinte West, St. Marys, and Woodstock!
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