Experience Live Music and Historic Architecture at Doors Open Hamilton

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Experience Live Music and Historic Architecture at Doors Open Hamilton

You’ve likely heard of Alexander Hamilton (founding father of the United States) and star of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical. Yet, there is a Canadian Hamilton to learn about – George Hamilton – founder of Hamilton, Ontario. If you want to delve further and experience the unique historical buildings of this this city, you are in luck. On Saturday May 4 to Sunday May 5, 2024, from 10am to 4pm, Doors Open Hamilton Region is taking place (completely free of charge). The Teachers on Call in-person and online tutoring service are big fans of making history come to life for students. So, mark your calendars, and get ready to experience great culture, architecture, and music. Read on, to learn more!

Teachers on Call’s online and in-person Hamilton tutors are looking forward to the upcoming Doors Open weekend. Located in Southern Ontario between Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment, Hamilton has much to offer between picturesque nature trails and breathtaking waterfalls for admirers of the outdoors. There is also great culture in their museums, art galleries and historical buildings. Hamilton is close to neighbouring cities, Oakville and Burlington, and approximately 45 kilometres southwest of Toronto, making it a popular choice for young families to reside. Last spring, our in-person and online tutoring service featured, Teachers on Call Celebrates Doors Open Hamilton, for the first time. To mark this year’s event, we are interviewing one of the head organizers, Shannon Kyles, to learn what’s in store for 2024.

What is Doors Open Ontario and how does it work?

Have you heard about Doors Open Ontario? Between April to October, participating cities across the province host community events in partnership with the Ontario Heritage Trust. Doors Open Ontario is all about uncovering hidden historical gems and cultural treasures in our own backyards. And guess what? Public access to these fascinating experiences is totally free. You may know that Doors Open Ontario Launches in Guelph this Spring 2024. The following weekends, Doors Open Hamilton Region and Doors Open Oshawa take place.  For this blog, we are going to focus on the Hamilton, so check it out!


How to Plan for Doors Open Hamilton

In this blog, we’re featuring Hamilton, also known by the nickname, “The Hammer”, with no shortage of historical sites. In full transparency, it’s unlikely that you will be able to visit all 52 in-person locations in such a short period of time. We recommend visitors map out their journey in advance, especially if they’re parents with young children. Teachers on Call’s in-person and online tutoring service recommends aiming for five sites a day, but families with little ones might want to aim for a maximum of three locations, depending on the ages. The good news is Doors Open Hamilton Region takes place over Saturday and Sunday, so there is more time to explore the diverse sites.

To help navigate this special opportunity, read our interview with lead organizer, Shannon Kyles, from the Hamilton region branch of the  Architectural Conservancy of Ontario.

An Interview with Shannon Kyles from Doors Open Hamilton Region

What is the focus for this year’s Doors Open Hamilton Region?

This year we have an incredible line-up for our 23rd year. The Hamilton region includes neighbours that were amalgamated 25 years ago: Ancaster, Glanbrook, Dundas, Flamborough, Mount Hope, Stoney Creek, and Waterdown. Last year, we focused mainly on Dundas and downtown Hamilton, so this year we’re especially spotlighting Ancaster, Stoney Creek and Waterdown. While last year the theme was food, this year the focus is music.  Many of the churches are going to host concerts all day with first class musicians.

You are known for your walking tours, please tell us more about it.

There are six unique guided walking tours, including the following:

Walking tour of Ancaster – Meet at Ancaster BIA

Timing: Saturday May 4 from 10am – 4pm

Walking tour of Locke Street - meet outside Democracy (Vegan café), 202 Locke St S, Hamilton, ON L8P 4B4

Timing: Saturday May 4 and Sunday May 5: 90-minute walking tours from 12 - 1:30 pm each day; music from 1 - 4 pm both days

Walking tour of Downtown Hamilton with Bill King - “Hamilton: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” – meet at the corner of King and John Streets

Timing: Saturday only May 4 at 10 am and 2 pm

Walking tour of Stoney Creek - meet outside The Village Restaurant (family-owned and operated for over 40 years), 35 King St E, Stoney Creek, ON L8G 1J9

Timing: Saturday May 4 and Sunday May 5: one-hour walking tour at 2 pm; music from 1 - 4 pm both days

Walking tour of Waterdown - meet at the Mill St. & 5 American House (this restaurant has been in operation since 1824), 324 Dundas St E, Waterdown, ON L0R 2H0

For an overview on the village of Waterdown including Indigenous history, check out this video with Nathan Tidridge, History Teacher at Waterdown High School - 215 Parkside Dr, Waterdown, ON L8B 1B9

Timing: Saturday May 4 and Sunday May 5: one-hour walking tours at 11:30 am and 1:30 pm both days

Walking tour of Westdale - meet outside the Paisley Coffeehouse, 1020 King St W, Hamilton, ON L8S 1L4

Timing: Saturday May 4 and Sunday May 5: one-hour walking tour at 10am; music from 11 am - 2 pm both days

Check out this video about Westdale Village with Kimberly Tulloch and its lovely bakeries and restaurants, including the Bean Bar (1012 King St W, Hamilton, ON L8S 1L4), as well as and Bryan Prince Bookseller (1060 King St W, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 1L7):

For returning guests, what is different this year? Who are your new participants?

There are so many great options to highlight, especially for students who enjoy music and social sciences. In particular, we have the Stewart Memorial Choir singing spirituals passed down from the Underground Railroad at the Stewart Memorial Church (114 John St N, Hamilton, ON L8R 1H6) at 12:30pm on Saturday May 4th. This choir sings the songs of their late ancestors. We are having a concert of their descendants, it's unbelievable!

We also have this new site called the LIVElab at McMaster University (1280 Main St W, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1), where science and art meet with electronic measurement machines that measure the amount of emotion that is being admitted either by the musician or by the audience. They're doing research on how music impacts the brain to assist Parkinson's patients, improve music listening for the hard of hearing, and enhance creativity in performances. We’re fortunate that they're doing eight tours over the weekend.

Tour Schedule May 4 – May 5, 2024: 10:00am, 11:30am, 1:00pm, 2:30pm

Registration is required, limited seating reserve your spot here

Beyond Hamilton, where do Doors Open participants come from?

Many wonderful people love to come for the day from all over, especially Toronto, to enjoy our parks and historical building. People from the east love to visit the west (and vice versa), with visitors from as east as Kingston.  Last year, we had 12,000 visitors, and now we are aiming for 20,000 guests.

How do Hamiltonians in the community get involved or volunteer? Are you accepting students in volunteer roles?

Definitely, we are still looking for volunteers.  We love accepting students who are aspiring architects looking to learn, or simply to gain student volunteering hours for the high school graduation requirement.  Anyone interested in getting involved can get in touch with our organizing team, contact info here.

Given your background in architecture, do you have any personal favourites buildings that hold a special place in your heart?

The East Flamborough Township Hall (25 Mill Street North Waterdown, Ontario L0R 2H0) is great for people interested in restoration. There are many towns that would have torn this building down, yet they made it into one of the classiest legal and financial office locations I've ever seen (Brown Lawyers and Brown Financial Security respectively).

For students interested in a career in architecture, what is your advice?

I would say they need to learn how to see, take some drawing classes, and just go to town and walk around. Architecture is an art just as much as a science.

What is your favourite Doors Open tip?

While Doors Open is for one weekend, it can be used as a reference for the entire year. The website remains live and active beyond the actual event. For example, if you find that you have a wedding to attend in London, or a business trip in Waterloo region, you have a unique curated list of buildings to see from the outside at your leisure.

Not to worry if you live east of Hamilton, closer to Brooklin, Whitby or Bowmanville. Doors Open Oshawa is taking place the same weekend, check out our blog!

*Pictures provided by Doors Open Hamilton. 

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