Rogers TV 20 hosted nine new episodes of Digital Doors Open, an online series based on the Waterloo Region. Although Doors Open WR started as an in-person event, it has transferred over to the digital realm since the start of the pandemic.
Doors Open Ontario is funded by the Ontario Heritage Trust. The trust secures program funding from government grants in addition to private donors and sponsors. Communities are given province-wide promotions, community resource materials and colourful bilingual Doors Open Ontario property identification materials.
“One of the first sites that we featured in our digital episodes in 2020 was Parkview crematorium, which is one of the last municipally owned crematoriums in the province, and it’s in and owned by the city of Waterloo. And that’s a great example of a building that people wouldn’t even be able to access during a Doors Open event because you couldn’t put 500 people through and it’s obviously a building that people are fascinated by and just couldn’t possibly access,” Kelly Spencer, coordinator for the Doors Open program in the Waterloo Region, said.
Curious residents and newcomers can learn about the most noteworthy buildings, places of interest and heritage sites around the region which are not usually open to the public. This project is meant to deliver meaningful experiences to its patrons so that they learn about the diverse community culture and heritage of the Waterloo Region.
“I started Beauty and Ruin on Instagram in 2017. There wasn’t any direct interaction until they got a hold of me this spring, they had some interest in doing digital Doors Open video on my Instagram page,” Michael Johnston, Cambridge-based photographer for Doors Open, said.
The first Doors Open Day took place in France in 1984. In 2000, the City of Toronto launched the first Doors Open event in North America. Since 2003, the Doors Open project has been a staple in the Waterloo Region. On the third Saturday in September, Waterloo Region joins many others around the province as it opens its doors to residents and visitors alike.
“I think the digital program has given us the opportunity to talk to a new audience and to tell it in a way that will stick around, you know, that we can continue to use and reuse over time so it’s has a bit of a permanence to it,” Spencer said.
The Home Edition of Digital Doors Open Waterloo Region is a series of short videos that take viewers through the doors of some of the most unique homes in the Waterloo region. The private residences are grandiose and filled with beautiful architecture and historical significance.
Johnston, a longtime fan of the Doors Open program, spends most of his free time photographing historical homes around the region. He was extremely excited when Doors Open reached out to him about a collaboration.
“They allowed me to sort of develop the storyline but, you know, to sort of focus on what I thought was interesting about my page and it could have gone in any number of directions, but I just I sort of developed something radically about different areas of focus.I had pulled some stories and talked about groupings of buildings,” Johnston said.
On his Instagram account, @beautyandruin, Johnston showcases over 1,000 images of heritage homes and structures. His goal is to appreciate the past and bring it into the present. Episode three of the series focuses on Johnston’s creative process. He shares a selection of his favourite images and the stories behind the structures.
“Obviously, the architecture and the actual structure and heritage of the building was a big part of the program as well. So, I think in the program’s infancy it was it was really about architecture and heritage, but if you look at all the different programs across municipalities, there are a lot of just really neat, creative buildings that they feature, the program here in Waterloo Region,” Spencer said.
The Doors Open program is open to any community or region if they meet the set criteria listed on the program’s website. Since COVID-19, the program has adopted a hybrid model of in-person and online events. For more information, visit www.engagewr.ca.