Looking behind closed doors

Content courtesy Doors Open. Photos by Matt Smith.

Doors Open Waterloo Region, a heritage architecture tour featuring the region’s special and pseudo-secret locations, is held on Saturday, Sept. 20. The CCE went behind closed doors to preview four must-see spaces.

AirBoss Rubber Compounding is the largest custom rubber mixing facility in North America. It stretches over one million square feet and has 250 employees. Come and see this busy manufacturing plant at work. AirBoss rubber compounds go into a wide variety of end-products, including car tires, conveyor belt components for mining, forklift tires, automotive parts, o‡ff-road tire retreading, and more. The enormous, historic factory was designed by one of North America’s leading 20th century industrial architects, and this year marks the 100th anniversary of its opening.


Pick up a trowel to try your own hand at bricklaying in the workshop of this carefully designed facility and see student works in progress. Home to the Conestoga Ontario Masonry Training Centre, the building is equipped to provide innovative, hands-on learning opportunities at apprenticeship levels in brick and stone masonry. The entire building is of load-bearing masonry construction: brick, glass block, manufactured stone, concrete block. Classical building principles and mathematical ratios, such as the “golden section,” were integrated into the floor plan and overall design.


These are Doors Open Waterloo Region favourites; in fact, the oldest Waterloo County buildings in existence have participated in Doors Open every year since the first event (2003). Both were saved from an uncertain fate by community action. The heritage exteriors are designated and the interiors are excellent examples of adaptive reuse. The massive, granite Gaol houses Provincial Off‡ences courtrooms. The stately Victorian Governor’s House is used for court o›ffices and public meetings. The Waterloo County Gaol Garden, in former Exercise Yard 1, is a peaceful retreat while waiting to tour the buildings.


An adaptive reuse of the former W.E. Woelfle shoe factory (1912- 1960s), this heritage industrial building in Kitchener’s former factory district is home to the Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region. The centre is a local not-for-profit charity that helps people with disabilities achieve independence, and the building has been renovated to very high accessibility standards. Many original architectural features have been retained, including beams, posts and floors. Other original building components, such as the large windows, have been repurposed as interior walls and doors.


A real child of the nineties, Tegan’s interests are rooted in anime, lame kids movies/shows, and graphic novels. Looking through old photos also confirms her fashion sense included many a neon colour or floral print (read: still does). She aspires to have her own wall to wall, ceiling to floor library; where she can hunker down in a comfy chair by a fire, close off the world, and read a few good books.