Town opens doors on weekend
GRAVENHURST - On the June 23 weekend, opportunity won’t need to knock.
The annual Doors Open event will be held that weekend throughout Gravenhurst and across Muskoka. Eleven sites, both the historical and those spots the public rarely gets to see, will be open to the public in Gravenhurst on June 24, with six others running a little further abroad the day prior, June 23.
Henry Smith, who helped organize the even locally as chair of the municipal heritage committee, also has a very special event planned to cap off the Doors Open weekend, with the official heritage plaque designation of the Gravenhurst Train Station taking place at 4 p.m. that day.
“It’s going to be a party,” he said. “We’re asking everyone to gather at the station and celebrate with us.”
The station is also one of the 11 local sites on the Doors Open tour and people will be able to tour the building June 24 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., when the celebration begins. Also opening at 10 a.m. that morning for the tour will be the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre.
All other Gravenhurst locations on the tour will begin at noon and run until 4, and one of those is the Heritage Boatworks, opened in the early 1900s. Smith said it is joining Doors Open for the first time since Gravenhurst starting hosting them about five years ago.
Also joining for the first time this year is the town hall office building, where people can see in the inner workings of the municipality, the Gravenhurst Curling Club, first established in 1901, the Southwood Church and the former thriving community of Barkway.
The “four corners of Barkway” have several sites available to view, including the cemeteries, Holy Manger Anglican Church, Barkway United Church, the Rebman Barn, the former Ryde School and a guided tour (starting at 3:30 p.m. at the four corners) to Lewisham.
Back in Gravenhurst proper, the Terence Haight Carnegie Centre, opera house and Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre will be open from noon until 4 p.m., while the area’s oldest church, Knox Church will also be open at noon, following a Sunday service at 10 a.m.
Smith said the RMS Segwun, “the birthday girl” which is celebrating 125 years of plying Lake Muskoka, will also be docked and open for free tours that Sunday.
“It’s really blossomed this year,” Smith said of Doors Open. “People are now asking to be a part of it and it’s really caught on as a popular event, bringing a lot of people into town.”
On the Saturday, people can head toward Bala for a series of Open Doors tours there. Running from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. June 23, the Bala Bed and Breakfast, Bala Museum and Fairyland will be open to view. Meanwhile, there will be a Bala Falls walking tour, meeting at Cenotaph Park.
In Port Carling, Duke’s and the Hall family log cabin at Muskoka Lakes Museum will also be available to tour.
Booklets with highlights about and directions to the host locations are available now at the town hall, the chamber of commerce office and Muskoka Boat & Heritage Museum.
A booth will be set up on June 24 at Heritage Square, where members of the heritage committee will be available to help direct people to Doors Open locations.
People can also get more information about the event at www.doorsopenontario.ca.