If you are on the lookout for free things to do this summer, check out Doors Open Toronto 2016, an annual event that opens up Toronto’s architectural treasures to the public for free. Going into its seventeenth year, this year’s event will have 130 buildings opening to the public from May 28 to the 29.Doors Open Toronto is an opportunity to discover Toronto’s hidden gems, learn some facts that can be used as conversation starters, and visit locations that are not typically open to the public. Since it is a challenge and a half to to visit all 130 buildings, I compiled a list of top picks that are 15 minutes or less walking distance from the University of Toronto, St. George campus.
Bata Shoe MuseumFirst off is the Bata Shoe Museum on Bloor Street, which is quite close to Robarts. You may be questioning the fascination with shoes, but I have discovered by going to the Bata Shoe Museum that they are not just fashion statements — they become time capsules, preserving ways of life and culture from the past. Location: 327 Bloor Street WestAdmittance: Saturday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm; Sunday 12:00 pm – 4:30 pmMunk School of Global AffairsNext is U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs, located just down the street from the Bata Shoe Museum. Take advantage of the free tours that are running three times a day during Doors Open Toronto. Having walked into this building accidentally the other day, I was charmed by the contrast between its classically-designed exterior and its modern interior. Location: 315 Bloor Street WestAdmittance: Saturday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm; Sunday 10:00 am – 4:30 pmWomen’s Art Association of CanadaFurther north is the Women’s Art Association of Canada, where you can discover the Dignam and Upjohn galleries. For art students, visiting the association is an opportunity to learn more about the scholarship programs. After getting your daily scoop of creativity, enjoy a cup of coffee in the garden and then continue down to the other end of campus.Location: 23 Prince Arthur AvenueAdmittance: Saturday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm; Sunday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pmLegislative Assembly of OntarioLater, journey to Queen’s Park and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Get a look inside the Legislative Chamber, while reading up on some history. Many students pass this building on the way to class every day, and this is an opportunity to see inside.Location: 111 Wellesley Street WestAdmittance: Saturday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm; Sunday 10:00 am – 4:30 pmMaRS Discovery DistrictIt is hard to miss MaRS discovery district, which is at once housed in both a vintage hospital building a contemporary glass giant. As a home of both major medical innovation and technological advancement, it is worth checking out the live presentations of projects that MaRS offers. Location: 101 College StreetAdmittance: Saturday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm; Sunday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pmIf you have additional time on your hands, a MetroPass, and curiosity to learn more about Toronto, you could also visit: the Aga Khan Museum, Design Exchange, Toronto City Hall, Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, or the Toronto Botanical Gardens. Check out the complete list to find your new favourite.