Doors Open to Beach landmarks

Several local venues will be taking part in the 14th annual Doors Open on the weekend of May 25 and 26. The annual city-wide event gives the public an opportunity to visit over 150 architecturally or historically significant buildings that are normally off-limits,  opened only on a limited basis, or charge admission. In the East End, seven locales will be welcoming guests over the two days.

On Saturday, the 100 year old Fox Theatre, the longest running cinema in Canada, will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Guided tours, including an opportunity to see inside the projection room, will be offered every half-hour. The Fox is located at 2236 Queen St. E. at Beech Avenue.

Also open on Saturday is Scarborough Arts at 1859 Kingston Rd., where a 1920s-era home now houses the Bluffs Gallery. The gallery features paintings, drawings, photography, textiles and jewelry, and for Doors Open, a special exhibit commemorating Scarborough Arts’ 35th anniversary will be on display. The building will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit

Fool’s Paradise, the home of Scarborough artist Doris McCarthy, will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. McCarthy bought her home and property, at 1 Meadowcliffe Dr. on the Scarborough Bluffs, in 1939, but her mother, feeling the purchase was too extravagant, referred to it as “that fool’s paradise of yours.” From then on McCarthy referred to her home as Fool’s Paradise, and lived there until her death in 2010. Tours will be held by staff from Ontario Heritage Trust, to whom the property was donated in 1998. More information is available at

Another famous Beach home, Kew Cottage – or the Gardener’s Cottage – will be open both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The home, located on Lee Avenue in Kew Gardens, was built in 1902 by Beach pioneer Kew Williams. It later became home to the park’s head gardeners in charge of Kew Gardens’ abundant flower beds. Local historian Gene Domagala will lead a tour of the area starting and ending at the Cottage, while inside artwork by the Beach Guild of Fine Arts will be on display.

The Beach’s homage to Art Deco architecture, the RC Harris Water Treatment Plant, will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The plant, commissioned in 1929 by Toronto’s first Public Works Commissioner, Roland Caldwell Harris, is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act for its architectural and historical significance. Tours are self-guided but plant staff will be available to answer questions. The plant is located at 2701 Queen St. E. at the foot of Victoria Park Avenue.

Toronto Fire Station 227, 1904 Queen St. E. at Woodbine Avenue, houses the iconic clock tower landmark at the western edge of the Beach neighbourhood. Construction of the station took place from 1905 to 1906 and it features a Dutch/Flemish Renaissance architectural style. Stop by Saturday and Sunday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., see what happens inside an active fire station, and chat with the firefighters about fire safety.

On Sunday, the Beach Hebrew Institute, 109 Kenilworth Ave., will open its doors between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The edifice, originally built as a Baptist church in 1895, is now one of the city’s oldest functioning synagogues. It was designated a historic building in 1982. Visitors will be able to look around the building, hear a  concert from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. celebrating Jewish Music Week, and take in a photography exhibit. For more information visit

Cameras are welcome at most locations. Visit the website at for more information.

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