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Several county sites showcased on heritage tour this weekend

South Simcoe Theatre in Cookstown among the highlights for popular Open Doors event on Saturday and Sunday
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South Simcoe Theatre in Cookstown is shown in a file photo. | Rosaleen Egan for BradfordToday

You'll be welcome to step inside some local heritage buildings this weekend, because Doors Open Ontario is returning to Simcoe County.

South Simcoe Theatre in Cookstown is among the highlights. 

Others on the list include All Saints’ Anglican Church, The Tremont House and Trinity United Church, all in Collingwood, which will be opening their doors for this year’s iteration of the event, which runs Aug. 26 and 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nancy Island Historic Site in Wasaga Beach will also be participating, as well as Duntroon Cyder House in Duntroon.

Doors Open Ontario is a province-wide heritage tourism program that gives the public free access to explore heritage properties. In 2023, the theme is Food – exploring Ontario’s historical traditions of food production as well as the spaces that shape and define culinary traditions today.

Brittany Black, experience development co-ordinator with Tourism Simcoe County, says this is the 10th year the County of Simcoe has participated in the festivities.

“We put a call out to all of our tourism operators to see who was willing to participate,” she said, noting more than 18 sites across Simcoe County answered the call. “Usually we just reach out to historic and cultural attractions, but this year we added in the food and beverage component.”

All Saints’ Anglican Church at 32 Elgin St. is the oldest surviving church in Collingwood. After a fire destroyed the original, a new building was constructed in 1858 (the present church), with transepts, the sanctuary and bell tower added in 1876, and the parish hall and vestry in 1911. Over the years, the church has been enhanced by stained-glass windows and a distinctive altar.

The Tremont House at 80 Simcoe St. was built as a 24-room hotel. It is one of the last remaining 19th-century hotel buildings in the Collingwood Heritage District. The proximity of the hotel to the railway station and port made it a popular destination for travellers. Now a home to the arts, the Tremont remains an important link to Collingwood's railway and shipbuilding era.

Trinity United Church at 140 Maple St. was constructed in 1863 as a Methodist church and became a United church in 1925 when the United Church of Canada was formed. Major additions were made in the 1920s and again in the 1950s. The church has a beautiful sanctuary with stained-glass windows, a graceful curving balcony and a large pipe organ with three manuals and 44 stops.

“There’s so much historic significance behind some of these buildings that people just don’t know,” said Black. “It gives people the opportunity to not only go in and see the exhibits and galleries, but to get a tour from somebody who knows the significance of the building and the history behind it.”

“There are really cool aspects of some of these buildings,” she said.

Some of the sites will include guided tour options, with others offering self-guided tours.

There will be 18 sites across Simcoe County open to the public this year which also include:

  • Anten Mills Community Centre in Springwater
  • Banting Homestead Heritage Park, The Gibson Centre and Museum on the Boyne in Alliston
  • Discovery Harbour and La Clé d’la Baie in Penetanguishene
  • St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Victoria Harbour
  • Windlee Farms Maple Syrup in Tiny Township
  • South Simcoe Theatre in Cookstown
  • Orillia Museum of Art & History
  • Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre in Ramara Township
  • Utopia Hall in Utopia

Starting in 2020, the Doors Open Ontario program started including digital experiences to engage visitors. Digital-only Doors Open options in Simcoe County this year include the Coldwater Canadiana Heritage Museum, the Penetanguishene Centennial Museum and Archives, the Simcoe County Museum and the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre.

For more information on Doors Open Ontario including information on all the Simcoe County sites being featured this year, click here.


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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 15 years of experience to her role as reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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