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The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat. Photo provided by Christopher Moise.

Celebrating 20 Years: The Return of Doors Open Ottawa

By Matthew Guida on June 1, 2022

Founded in 2002, Doors Open Ottawa was inspired by a similar event that originally took place in Toronto during the city’s new millennium celebration. A group of young Ottawans were so impressed by their experience at the Toronto event that they recommended to the Ottawa city council that the city should create its own.

And so, every year for the past two decades, Doors Open Ottawa has given tens of thousands of people the chance to visit and explore dozens of Ottawa’s most iconic buildings and landmarks, both old and new.

Exterior façade of Earnscliffe National Historic Site – Photo credit: British High Commission in Ottawa

However, this isn’t just another year for Doors Open Ottawa. During the first weekend of June, this event will proudly celebrate its 20-year anniversary. Furthermore, this year also marks the first time that participants will be allowed to visit buildings since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

“That was the first year, since 2002, that a Doors Open Ottawa event didn’t take place,” says Amy Kudrinko, a cultural center programmer for the City of Ottawa who has served as the coordinator for Doors Open Ottawa since 2013. Despite the huge setback, the people at Doors Open Ottawa sought out an alternative to on-site visits.

“As we moved into 2021, we pivoted. We didn’t want to see another year go by without offering Doors Open Ottawa. So, we moved into an all-virtual format,” says Kudrinko. “And now two years later, we’re able to offer the hybrid, which is both in-person and virtual programming.”

Jack Doyle Athletics and Recreation Centre: Two-story climbing and bouldering wall – Photo credit: Roy Grogan

A hybrid experience isn’t the only new addition that people can look forward to this year. Doors Open Ottawa 2022 also features a collaboration with the Ottawa Regional Society of Architects (ORSA). According to Christopher Moise, an architect and chair of ORSA, this event marks the society’s first active collaboration with Doors Open Ottawa, in nearly eight years.

“As a society, we are actively looking for opportunities to engage our membership and to get more involved in our community. And this event, was clearly something that I felt important enough to get involved with,” says Moise. “We’d like the society to be looked at as a collection of experts in the architectural fields, and a resource for the community in the city, if there are any architectural matters that need to be or want to be discussed.”

Visit the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat (virtual tours only) at this year’s Doors Open Ottawa. Photo provided by Christopher Moise.

After consulting with one another, both Kudrinko and Moise decided that a scavenger hunt was a great way for people to enjoy this year’s event.

“The scavenger hunt was an idea that came up that seemed to make a lot of sense. It fit what we were hoping to do, which was to make the doors open event not just about visiting buildings and looking around, but maybe getting a little additional information and hearing a little bit more about the architectural elements,” says Moise.

According to Kudrinko, this event will give visitors the chance to go beyond just relying on the events website page for information on these buildings and encourages them to “dig a little bit deeper” and learn as much as they can about them.

As of May 30, Doors Open Ottawa has released its 2022 building list (available only until June 10, 2022), allowing participants to choose from a variety of buildings to visit. Their options range from religious buildings, embassies, galleries and theatres, historical institutions, community centres, as well as museums.

Thanks to the event’s hybrid model, people have the freedom to either visit a building in-person, where they can interact with people on-site, or enjoy a virtual tour where they can gather information and explore Ottawa’s architectural wonders from the comfort of their own home.

Ambico Ltd. – A staff member operates machinery at AMBICO – Photo credit: AMBICO Ltd.

So, whether you want to visit something with a more modern atmosphere like Ambico Ltd. — known for creating state of the art doors for places like museums, prison facilities, as well as banks — or want to explore a historical landmark like the Billings Estate National Historic Site — regarded as the oldest wooden home in Ottawa — Doors Open Ottawa is guaranteed to provide people with a look into some of the best architecture and heritage sites that Ottawa has to offer.


Doors Open Ottawa will be taking place between June 4-5. Please note that some locations are only available for virtual tours and pre-registration may be required, and on-site visitors may be required to follow health protocols like masking. For more information on Doors Open Ottawa and the scavenger hunt, be sure to visit the event’s webpage.