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 2022

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: River Monsters of Waterloo Region      

Watch now:

Premieres online: Sept. 3 at 10:00 am EST

Tales of two Nessie-like creatures surfaced in Waterloo Region 100 years apart. Sightings of the infamous ‘Nithy’ of the Nith River were reported in newspapers throughout Ontario in the 1950s. The lesser-known Doon Monster of the Grand River bubbled up a century before. Both of these river monsters generated a groundswell of interest that united and divided neighbours in a wave of debate about con vs. phenomenon.

Episode 2: Death As Life’s Work in Waterloo Region       

Watch now:

Premieres online: Sept. 3 at 10:00 am EST  

Author and historian Marion Roes has been surrounded by death her entire life. Her family founded Dreisinger Funeral Home in Elmira in 1904. Roes has written a 500-page book titled ‘Death As Life’s Work’ which lovingly and painstakingly documents an illustrated history of more than 120 undertakers and funeral businesses throughout Waterloo Region from 1850 through 2020.

Episode 3: Beauty & Ruin In Waterloo Region

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On his Instagram account @beautyandruin, Cambridge photographer (and history buff) Michael Johnston showcases more than 1,000 images of heritage homes and stunning structures that illustrate the fascinating past, present and future of Waterloo Region. In this episode, Johnston shares a selection of his favourite images and the stories behind the structures.

 Episode 4: Top 10 - Grace Schmidt Local History Room        

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If you attended high school in Waterloo Region, you might be mortified to learn that your highschool yearbook (and that hairdo) may be preserved as a historical resource in the Grace Schmidt Room at the Kitchener Public Library. Local yearbooks are one of 10 favourite items we explore with Manager Karen Ball-Pyatt from the Grace Schmidt Room’s vast collection which has been documenting the area's history and families since it opened in 1984.

 Episode 5: Crow Shield Lodge

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Premieres online: Sept. 17 at 10:00 am EST

This episode features a conversation with Clarence Cachagee, the visionary behind Crow Shield Lodge — a place for reconciliation, Indigenous land-based teaching and healing. Filmed at the Lodge’s peaceful and remote location near New Hamburg, Cachagee shares his vision for a thriving community which is founded on unity, equality, and understanding.

 Episode 6: Willowcreek Typewriters

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Premieres online: Sept. 17 at 10:00 am EST

Typewriters are enjoying a big revival and Waterloo resident Currie Russell is swept up in the nostalgia revolution. What began as a pandemic passion project has evolved into a thriving side-hustle for the Waterloo collector. Russell is one of a handful of people in Ontario currently equipped to buy, sell and repair these majestic machines. 

 Episode 7: Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery

Watch now:

Premieres online: Sept. 17 at 10:00 am EST     

Go behind the scenes at the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery in Waterloo. Step into the vault containing 1,000 contemporary works by Canadian artists in ceramics, glass, and copper enameling. Curator Peter Flannery selects six pieces from the Permanent Collection to explore in detail, providing illuminating commentary about the works’ materials, style, aesthetics and allure.

 Episode 8: Historic Blair Sheave Tower             

Watch now:

Premieres online: Sept. 17 at 10:00 am EST     

Sheave Tower is Ontario’s last remaining wooden water-powered hydro generator tower — a 19th century marvel of ingenuity still standing proudly today. This Blair landmark is neatly tucked away under a canopy of Carolinian forest and set within the boundaries of a provincially significant wetland. The 31-foot tower has been restored to its original bold oxblood colour.  Built in 1876, it was a remarkable feat of engineering which harnessed waterpower, via pulley and cable, for the nearby gristmill. It was one of the world’s smallest hydro generating projects. 

 Episode 9: Galt Arena Gardens

Watch now:

Premieres online: Sept. 17 at 10:00 am EST

Galt Arena Gardens is the oldest continuously operating arena in the world. Originally built in 1921 and refurbished in 1997, it is an imposing structure, representative of the epic achievements within its storied walls. It has been ‘home ice’ to some of the hockey greats. A celebration of its 100th anniversary in June 2022 brought generations together to revel in its heritage as a landmark at the heart of a community.

Digital Doors Open Waterloo Region 2020 & 2021

Digital Doors Open Waterloo Region 2020 and 2021 was an entirely virtual experience. Our 2020 and 2021 programs 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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