Learn About Adaptive Reuse Architecture during Doors Open Oshawa

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Learn About Adaptive Reuse Architecture during Doors Open Oshawa

Students learn in school about the three Rs – reduce, reuse, and recycle – commonly associated with everyday items and routines, such as cutting down on our amount of waste. In fact, many of Teachers on Call’s students, elementary and high-school tutors are part of EcoSchools. Our team believes that learning never ends. For anyone who wants to expand on their environmental education, our online and in-person tutoring service recommends Doors Open events. This year’s theme is the preservation of cultural and heritage buildings through adaptive reuse. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience this architectural approach (also called building reuse) where historic sites have been converted into modern spaces. Taking place on Saturday May 4, 2024, Doors Open Oshawa has real-life projects to explore, including buildings that are normally closed to the public. Read on!

Teachers on Call’s online and in-person Oshawa tutors are looking forward to the upcoming Doors Open weekend. Located in Southern Ontario, approximately 60 kilometers east of downtown Toronto, and neighbouring Ajax, PickeringBowmanvilleBrooklin, and Whitby.  Oshawa has much to offer as an automotive, education and health sciences hub.  What you may not know is that Oshawa has many unique examples of adaptive reuse of historic buildings that have been salvaged and renovated for new purposes. On May 4th from 10am to 4pm, during Doors Open Oshawa, many of these sites will be available to explore. For example, former Genosha Hotel transformed into residential apartments, historic Windfields Farm now used as Oshawa’s newest fire station and 1940s Biltmore Theatre now a public hall for touring concerts and special events. To mark this year’s 21st community event, we are interviewing one of the head organizers, Laura Iantomasi, Supervisor of Events and Community Engagement at City of Oshawa.

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 launched this spring for 2024 season. There are so many upcoming events. For this blog, we are going to focus on the city of Oshawa, so check it out!

How to Plan for Doors Open Oshawa

In this blog, we’re featuring Oshawa, also known as, “the automative capital of Canada”, although there is a healthy rivalry for this title with Windsor. Realistically, it’s unlikely that you will be able to visit all 24 in-person locations in one day. Teachers on Call’s in-person and online tutors recommend visitors map out their journey in advance, especially if they’re parents with young children. The good news is the City of Oshawa is offering a free hop on/hop off bus shuttle from 10 am to 3:30pm to make transportation accessible and the opportunity to squeeze in more sites.

To help navigate this special opportunity, read our interview with lead organizer, Laura Iantomasi, Supervisor of Events and Community Engagement at City of Oshawa.

An Interview with City of Oshawa about Doors Open

For anyone participating for the first time, what do you want them to know about Doors Open Oshawa?

Doors Open Oshawa is a free, annual event providing an opportunity to explore Oshawa’s architecture and history, through visiting unique buildings, sites, and spaces. Visit Oshawa.ca/DoorsOpen to view the 24 sites available, including the address and a brief description. Sites are numbered for quick reference; however, visitors should feel free to visit locations in any order they like.

Many of these locations do not offer public visits or tours, so take this opportunity to explore the city! With 24 sites throughout the City, there’s something for everyone. Spend a day discovering local history first-hand and celebrating our community heritage. 

For returning guests, what is new on your line-up this year?

We’re happy to announce there are new and exciting sites to visit for this year’s Doors Open Oshawa. New locations added for our 2024 event include:

70 King

70 King St E, Oshawa, Ontario L1H 1B5

A 1925’s designated cultural heritage property (previously known as the ‘Genosha Hotel’). This space has hosted several future CIA directors, including J. Edgar Hoover, before they were secretly sent overseas. 70 King is also home to Canadian rock band Rush, who performed at this venue multiple times before the recent property renovations.

420 Wing

1000 Stevenson Road North, Oshawa, Ontario L1J 5P5

This site has been in operation since 1948 when returning Air Force Veterans formed a “Wing” as did many cities and towns across Canada. On this property, event patrons will find a Canadair Mark V Sabre Jet, painted in the colours of the 416 “City of Oshawa” SQN.

Bond|St Event Centre

44 Bond Street East, Oshawa, Ontario L1G 1B2

Recently renovated and opened in February of 2024, this building was originally constructed for the General Motors United Auto Workers Union Local 222. This venue provides a unique event space with multiple spaces from mainstage music venue, to lower level lounge, café and snack bar. Catch a live concert on the main stage at 2 pm.

Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA) headquarters

100 Whiting Avenue, Oshawa, Ontario L1H 3T3

This unique 1920’s building was originally the Cedar Dale Works making farm implements in the late 1800’s. From 1898 to 1977 the site was home to Robson Leather turning out 2000 hides a day for shoe and booth leather. Drop in for a visit and talk with CLOCA staff on-site.

City of Oshawa Fire Station 6

2339 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, Ontario L1H 7K4

Featuring “Creating Home: Building a Sense of Community and Belonging” exhibit in the Heritage Gallery. This site is Oshawa’s newest Fire Station, built in 2016, by architect Thomas Brown Architects Inc. Drop into the fire hall between 10 am and 4 pm, with guided tours every hour from 10 am to 3 pm. Built on the former Windfields Farm land (the birthplace of champion racehorse Northern Dancer) the building also reflects the area’s agricultural history and was designed to complement the historical legacy of Windfields Farm. Tour this unique space, explore a collection of Windfields Farm memorabilia and view fire safety information.

Durham College - Oshawa Campus

2000 Simcoe Street North, Oshawa, Ontario L1G 0C5

Durham College, which opened in 1967, with 14 staff, 205 students and 16 portable classrooms. Today the college boasts a vibrant campus culture and is a leader in teaching and learning. Pre-Registered tours available at 11 am, 11:30 am, 12 pm and 12:30 pm – pre-register on the Durham College website.

Does Doors Open Oshawa have a theme?

This year’s Doors Open theme is ADAPTIVE REUSE, showcasing heritage sites that have been repurposed to best serve their communities, while retaining their heritage attributes. Through the continued use and reuse of our historical structures, we realize their contribution to the sustainability and the economic and cultural energy of our urban and rural communities.

As part of the centennial celebrations and enhancing Doors Open, live entertainment will be located at McLaughlin Bandshell at Memorial Park (110 Simcoe St S, Oshawa, Ontario L1H 7M7), Bond|St Event Centre and the Oshawa Public Library - McLaughlin Branch (65 Bagot St, Oshawa, ON L1H 1N2). The City is proud to offer a hop on/hop off shuttle to various locations from 10 am to 3:30 pm.

Do you have any sites to recommend for students and families in particular?

Doors Open Oshawa offers a free family-friendly opportunity to explore buildings and sites that include historic properties, recently designated heritage sites, new builds combined with historic elements along with kid-approved locations. There truly is something for everyone.

This year’s tour offer opens doors to in most cases, otherwise private spaces, free for this one-day event. Students can tour post-secondary institutions including Durham College or Charles Hall – Ontario Tech University. Event patrons are welcome in all sites, and could consider exploring unique sites such as Colonel R.S. McLaughlin Armoury, Canadian Automotive Museum, The Biltmore Theatre or the Islamic Centre of Oshawa, to name a few. Truly, with a free shuttle to most of Doors Open Oshawa sites, there is something for everyone.

Beyond Oshawa, where do your Doors Open visitors come from?

Doors Open Ontario offers more than 16 provincial events, where there are faithful Doors Open Ontario visitors who seek out additional cities and towns to visit. Doors Open Ontario sees a combination of local, regional and provincial visitors. By offering a selection of new and returning sites, Doors Open Oshawa in it’s 21st year provides new areas to explore, additional guided or self-guided tours and opportunities for returning favourites to event patrons.

Are there volunteer opportunities still available? If yes, what are next steps to get involved?

The City of Oshawa has a strong network of dedicated volunteers that are utilized throughout the year in various capacities such as Doors Open, the City’s award-winning Peony Festival (June 8 & 9), Events in the Park (July – September), Kars on King (August 23), Bright & Merry Market (November 15) and Oshawa Celebrates (December 31) to name a few. While we encourage those interested in volunteering to reach out, the City’s Volunteer program offers more than just this one community event. Volunteers can apply online on the City of Oshawa website at: Oshawa.ca/Volunteers

What is your favourite tip to share about your event?

While there’s plenty to see and do throughout the 10 am to 4 pm timeframe, we recommend reviewing site locations, descriptions and activities on the City of Oshawa website ahead of time (it’s not required). There are indoor and outdoor concerts offered at varying times, hands on art-making opportunities, live bus tours, guided tours, available maps for self-guided walking tours and so much more. Plan out your day from downtown walkable locations to exploring the outdoor walking paths and trails at Oshawa Second Marsh and McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. There’s something for everyone of any age. Start and end at any of the 24 sites, visit and explore the great city of Oshawa and the history our community was built on. We look forward to celebrating the 21st Doors Open Oshawa event with you and yours.


Not to fret if you live more west. Hamilton is hosting their Doors Open Hamilton Region over the same weekend!

*Pictures provided by City of Oshawa, Events and Community Engagement.

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