Doors Open Waterloo Region

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Doors Open has been a staple event in our Region since 2003. On the third Saturday in September, Waterloo Region opens its doors to curious residents and visitors alike – attendees can tour noteworthy buildings, interesting places and heritage sites in Waterloo Region, many of which are not regularly open to the public.

Doors Open Waterloo Region creates meaningful qualitative experiences, delivered through storytelling, in celebration of our diverse community culture, heritage and architecture.

Digital Doors Open Waterloo Region 2021

Join our mailing list to receive updates and notifications about this year’s event. Mailing list members are eligible to win great, exclusive prizes throughout August and September.

 Episode 1: Waterloo Region Graveyard Driving Tour

Watch it now:   

Premiered: Sept. 4 at 10:00 am EST           

This scenic driving tour highlights four heritage cemeteries while winding though the three cities and four rural townships of Waterloo Region. Each stop tells a historical tale of mischief, mystery, mayhem or murder: the Bean Puzzle tombstone, a poisoning by chocolate of Meta D. Cherry, ghostly nights with the founder of Castle Kilbride, and a bodysnatching in Kitchener.

 Episode 2: Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower: A Commemorative Lookout           
Watch it now: 

Premiered: Sept. 4 at 10:00 am EST   

Nestled along the banks of the Grand River in Kitchener, the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower is an icon of Waterloo Region. It memorializes the arrival of the first Pennsylvania Dutch settlers to the area in the early 1800s. Its conception in 1923 was prompted by the rise of German-Canadian nationalism following a period of cultural sanctions imposed on the local community during the First World War.

 Episode 3: MEGHQ-FREEPORT: Kitchener’s Cold War Bunker        
Watch it now:  

Premiered: Sept. 11 at 10:00 am EST   

It’s nearly impossible to notice at first glance, but an underground bunker known as MEGHQ-FREEPORT sits along the Grand River in Kitchener’s Schneider Park. Owned by the Region of Waterloo, it was conceived and crafted to serve as a Cold War fallout shelter to protect key officials following a nuclear attack. Now, 55 years after its construction, this unique and crumbling piece of local history is sparking debate about its future: Should it be demolished? Or should the space be restored, preserved and reimagined?

 Episode 4: North House at rare Charitable Research Reserve          

Watch it now:

Premiered: Sept. 11 at 10:00 am EST

Rare Charitable Research Reserve works to discover the most inclusive practices and answers to environmental issues, stewarding the reserve’s diverse network of natural landscapes for ecological integrity and future generations. Its leadership in conservation, research, restoration and education is encompassed in North House, an aspirational 650 square foot solar-powered home and working model of green technology.

 Episode 5:  William Street Pumping Station

Watch it now:  

Premiered: Sept. 18 at 10:00 am EST

The William Street Pumping Station is an architectural landmark of Uptown Waterloo and a symbol of the Region’s innovation and industrious spirit. Built in 1899 as the site of the first groundwater wells in Waterloo, it provided access to a clean, reliable water supply and contributed greatly to the social welfare of the community.

 Episode 6: Gies Family Centre - Hospice Waterloo Region

Watch it now:

Premiered: Sept. 18 at 10:00 am EST

Since 1993, Hospice Waterloo Region has provided vital care for those living with advanced illness and support for their loved ones. In 2021, the organization realized a new chapter with the opening of The Gies Family Centre which includes the 10-bed Cook Family Residence providing 24-hour care. Located on 5 acres of land in north Waterloo, the state-of-the-art facility is inspired by the lands and history of the Region and the work within its walls is anchored in a holistic approach to care and honouring the life journeys of the community it serves.

 Episode 7: Levi Carroll & The Log Schoolhouse

Watch it now:

Premiered: Sept. 18 at 10:00 am EST    

Levi Carroll is best known as the eventual long-time resident of a log schoolhouse built in 1820 which was Waterloo’s first educational institution. It provides a backdrop for exploring more about Levi – an ex-slave from Maryland who despite the odds lived into his 90s and was described in his 1897 obituary as, “a citizen whom almost everyone knows.” But that familiarity has been lost to time. Author and social historian Joanna Rickert-Hall is working to resurrect Levi Carroll’s narrative and its ties to other lost local stories and important conversations.

 Episode 8: Waterloo’s Log Schoolhouse: A Historic Treasure               

Watch it now:

Premieres: Sept. 18 at 10:00 am EST
Waterloo’s first educational institution was a simple log schoolhouse, built in 1820. Once the Region outgrew the 16x20 structure, it served as a residence for the next 50 years. This important landmark now rests in Waterloo Park. Thanks to the efforts of many individuals and collectives over its 200-year history, it continues to serve the community. Among its many admirers is social historian Joanna Rickert-Hall who has written extensively about this historical gem and its relationship to other important local narratives.

 Episode 9: The Forest Hill ‘Home Of Enchantment’

Watch it now:

Premiered: Sept. 18 at 10:00 am EST                       

In the 1960s, the burgeoning neighbourhood of Forest Hill in Kitchener was touted by developers as ‘gracious living’ and its model custom home of distinction was known as the Home Of Enchantment. Six decades later, this mid-century modern beauty is celebrating a revival thanks to the ambitious vision of its second owners who have meticulously restored its original character and maximum potential while dressing it in unique, decadent and quirky interiors which make it truly one-of-a-kind.

Digital Doors Open Waterloo Region 2020

Digital Doors Open Waterloo Region 2020 was an entirely virtual experience. Our 2020 program delivered fascinating stories via video episodes; the entire collection of episodes can be viewed at our YouTube Playlist.

Home Edition - Digital Doors Open Waterloo Region

The Home Edition of Digital Doors Open Waterloo Region is a series of short vignettes taking viewers through the front doors of unique and interesting homes in Waterloo Region. These private residences may be compelling for many reasons, including:

• grandiosity
• architecture
• historical/cultural significance
• unique design

These are the homes which residents of Waterloo Region pass by every day and wonder ‘what’s it like inside?’

Interested in participating in the Home Edition of Digital Doors Open Waterloo Region?

Complete this form.

Connect with us

Follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook for sneak peeks leading up to the launch of each episode.

Join our mailing list to receive updates and notifications when episodes are released. Mailing list members are eligible to win great, exclusive prizes throughout August and September.

 Get involved


Volunteer opportunities will become available when the traditional Doors Open Waterloo Region format returns.

Volunteer opportunities are available for individuals to:

  • lead tours of the featured buildings
  • greet visitors.
  • count the total number of visitors
  • photograph the event
  • animate a site with music, theatre or children's activities

Free training and orientation, including information on the history of your assigned building, is provided. We require a four-hour commitment on the day of the event.

And if you are a member of a local arts, heritage or service organization, consider volunteering as a group. We will do our best to place your group at one location, or at locations close to each other.

Contact Doors Open coordinators for information on volunteering.

Be a photographer, blogger, social media or podcast journalist for Doors Open Waterloo Region!

Volunteer opportunities will become available when the traditional Doors Open Waterloo Region format returns.

Introduce people to your favourite Doors Open site, on or before Doors Open. Scope out any sites you would like to photograph/capture in a podcast/write about in your blog/tweet about. Pick which sites you would like to cover, and let us know. If you are free on the third Saturday of September, we would love it if you could also capture images/footage of visitors enjoying Doors Open sites!

Why blog/podcast/tweet/photograph for Doors Open?

  • advance access to normally-closed-to-the-public, 'secret' Doors Open sites
  • exclusive interviews with our Doors Open site owners/operators
  • link to Doors Open Ontario's province-wide website
  • meet other bloggers/podcast journalists/photographers in real time at our Doors Open networking event
  • connect with journalists working in traditional media in Waterloo Region
  • tell the world about the stories that make our 'secret' Doors Open sites interesting!
  • Your podcasts/photos/blog entries would be featured prominently on our Doors Open blog (with links from our Facebook page).
  • Following the event, some of your photos/podcast entries/blog entries would be featured on the Region of Waterloo's Doors Open blog and Facebook page.
  • Your photos/podcasts could be forwarded to the Ontario Heritage Trust, to be used in their province-wide publication (distributed in the Globe & Mail), or used on the Doors Open Ontario website.

If you are interested in being a volunteer photographer/blogger/podcast journalist with Doors Open Waterloo Region, please call Bridget Coady at 519-575-4500 ext.3112 or email us.  

Thank you for your interest in Doors Open Waterloo Region!

 Call for arts and heritage organizations! Get involved with Doors Open Waterloo Region!

Volunteer opportunities will become available when the traditional Doors Open Waterloo Region format returns.

Doors Open Waterloo Region, a free heritage and architecture tour, is looking for arts and heritage organizations to provide programming at various sites across Waterloo Region for Doors Open.

We are looking for music, drama performances, crafts for children, workshops/lectures, information displays, etc. that will enrich our visitors' experience during Doors Open.

Doors Open sites are located all across Waterloo Region (but a few of the sites are better suited to host live performances). Our event takes place on the third Saturday of September (most of our sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

As Doors Open is a free event, the performance must be presented gratis; however, you are free to sell tickets to upcoming shows, memberships, etc. before or after your performance.

If you are interested, please email or call 519-575-4500 ext.3112 by July 15, and we will match your organization with a Doors Open site.

 Dig deeper - Learn more


Useful links



About Doors open

Doors Open Waterloo Region is part of Doors Open Ontario, a province wide initiative of the Ontario Heritage Trust to celebrate community heritage and architecture.

Depending on the community, Doors Open events take place any time from April to October. Doors Open is free, and many participating properties either normally charge an entrance fee, or are not usually open to the public. In most cases, no tickets or advance registration is required for the event.

Contact Us

Doors Open Coordinators
150 Frederick Street, 8/F
Kitchener, ON N2G 4J3

T. 519-747-5139
TTY. 519-575-4608
email to Doors Open Coordinators
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