In three weeks the doors to several of Ottawa’s least publicly accessible buildings will be thrown wide open in celebration of the city and its 14th annual Doors Open Ottawa event. I feel that one of the strong points of the nation’s capital is its openness, at least in terms of museums, stores, and other buildings. You can meander around a variety of random places without ever showing identification. Until last October Parliament was certainly one of those more open locations but understandably security precautions now require access to the buildings and by extension, the grounds, to be monitored more closely. Still hundreds, maybe thousands of people still flock to the grounds of the Hill during the summer especially on Wednesdays when free yoga classes are offered on Parliament’s front lawn during lunchtime.
The unique part about Doors Open Ottawa is that it allows tourists and Ottawa residents alike to tour locations that they are usually restricted from visiting. In the past places such as the Canadian Conservation Institute, the Central Post Office (on Sparks), and Earnscliffe, the British High Commissioner’s Official Residence have opened their doors for one weekend in June in order to connect more with the local community. By compiling a list of over 120 buildings that highlight specific cultural, political, or historical aspects of Canada on both a national and international level this annual event has cultivated its own sort of cult following. There are people who live for the two days a year when they can experience the lives of ambassadors, police officers, and even college or university students.
The highlights of this year’s lineup of Doors Open Ottawa locations include the U.S. Embassy, the Canada Blood Services Processing Plant (spots for these tours must be booked in advance – more information can be found at http://bit.ly/1cM63Q2) and the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to Canada (which will only be open on Saturday, June 6th). So, whether you’re simply looking for something to occupy you over the weekend or you’re new to the city make sure you take in a Doors Open Ottawa event this year; you will not be disappointed.