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Doors Open Ottawa

Explore Ottawa’s culture, history, and architecture for FREE June 4 to 11, 2021!

Doors Open Ottawa

During the first full weekend in June, the City of Ottawa is proud to present Doors Open Ottawa, a free annual architectural event that celebrates our community’s built heritage.

Ottawa is built on un-ceded Algonquin Anishinabe territory. The City of Ottawa honours the peoples and land of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation.

The City of Ottawa honours all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and their valuable past and present contributions to this land.

As the Ottawa community continues to work together to stay safe during these unprecedented times, we’re excited to announce that this year’s celebration is going virtual! That’s right…Doors Open Ottawa is back, and you’re invited to enjoy Ottawa’s beautiful architectural landscape from the comfort of your own home. Discover the secrets and stories that lie within over 70 of Ottawa’s most interesting buildings through still photography, in-depth descriptions, 3D and virtual tours, and more.

Favourites like the Supreme Court of Canada, the Canada Council Art Bank, and Chaudière Falls / Portage Power are back, with each building offering a unique and informative way to share what goes on behind the scenes! For visitors who have been with us from the start, new additions like Cascades Recovery+, Arts Court, and West Block are guaranteed to be just what you’re looking for in a new building experience.

Whether this is your first year participating in Doors Open Ottawa, or you’ve been with us from the beginning, please take a moment to listen to this year’s special welcome message from His Worship, Mayor Jim Watson and Iona Green, Co-Chair of the Doors Open Ottawa Advisory Council.


This year, join us from June 4 to 11 to pay homage to Ottawa’s history, culture, and stunning architecture! It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s the perfect way to discover how Canada’s Capital has become the beautiful city it is today. Don't forget to share your #VirtualDOOttawa experience on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

For disability-related accommodations required to participate fully in this event, please contact us at doorsopen@ottawa.ca or call 3-1-1.

Follow us on Facebook!

For media inquiries, please contact medias@ottawa.ca.

Please note that the following building requires registration in order to participate in the online building tour. For more information about how to register, please visit:
Supreme Court of Canada

Doors Open Ottawa 2021 - Virtual Edition: Event Sites

Thank you for visiting the virtual edition of Doors Open Ottawa 2021 from June 4 to June 11. In order to remain COVIDwise, this year's event was offered in a virtual format.

If you missed this year’s event on Ottawa.ca, there is still an opportunity to experience a number of this year’s building participants by visiting the Doors Open Ontario website. In addition to the listings available on the Ottawa page of the provincial website, you can also experience a number of other Ontario Doors Open events taking place this year.

We would like to take this moment to thank and acknowledge this year’s building participants. The time and effort they have put forth to ensure that this year’s event is a success has not gone unnoticed. The ingenuity and dedication towards creating virtual experiences for everyone to enjoy is a testament to their community pride. 

We hope that you enjoyed your time exploring some of Ottawa's most beautiful and interesting spaces as much as we have, and we encourage you to complete the Doors Open Ottawa survey before time runs out.

Please continue to stay safe, stay healthy, and follow public health recommendations so that we may see each other in person for Doors Open Ottawa 2022.

Kid-friendly buildings to explore!!

Doors Open is fun for people of all ages—big or small.

A family holding a Doors Open Ottawa printed guide visits a building.

A family visits the National Research Council Canada (NRC) - Uplands Wind Tunnel Facilities, 2016

Doors Open Ottawa is an event that people of all ages and interests can enjoy. However, we thought we'd share some of our top picks for family-friendly 'visits' during this year's virtual event:

  • Arts Court (NEW)
  • Billings Estate National Historic Site
  • Canada Council Art Bank
  • Canadian Museum of Nature (NEW)
  • Canmet Bells Corners Research Complex
  • Cascades Recovery+ (NEW)
  • Chaudière Falls / Portage Power
  • CSS Building Inc.
  • Cumberland Heritage Village Museum
  • Dickinson House Museum
  • Fairfields Heritage House
  • Goulbourn Museum
  • Heritage Building and Ottawa City Hall
  • National Arts Centre
  • National Gallery of Canada
  • OC Transpo Simulator Facility
  • Osgoode Museum
  • Ottawa Art Gallery
  • Ottawa Fire Services Communications Centre (NEW)
  • Ottawa Paramedic Service Headquarters
  • Parliament of Canada: Centre Block (NEW)
  • Ready for Rail 360-Degree Tour
  • Rideau Hall
  • Scouts Canada National Museum
  • Supreme Court of Canada
  • The University of Ottawa Skills and Simulation Centre
  • Vanier Museopark
  • Watson's Mill
  • West Block

Building Representatives

The application period for Doors Open Ottawa 2021 - Virtual Edition is now closed.

For information and frequently asked question about the event, including building participation and criteria, please visit the Building owners and managers - FAQ section.

For all other enquiries, you may contact the event coordinator at doorsopen@ottawa.ca.

FAQ - Building owners and managers

Why should I participate in Doors Open Ottawa? What's in it for me and my organization?

  • Doors Open Ottawa participants will be associated with a well-publicized, high profile event that celebrates Ottawa's unique urban and rural architectural heritage.
  • Doors Open Ottawa is the largest architectural and heritage event in the city.
  • Doors Open Ottawa creates community pride. The event allows residents and tourists to discover our city by exploring a wide range of buildings.
  • Participation in Doors Open Ottawa is an excellent way to reach out to the public and raise awareness of your unique building.
  • Displaying our heritage helps the community cherish Ottawa's neighbourhoods, communities and history.

What criteria must be met in order for a building applicant to be considered a suitable candidate by the Doors Open Ottawa Advisory Council?

The Doors Open Ottawa Advisory Council is the committee responsible for determining whether a building is eligible to participate in the event based on specific criteria designed to value its historical, cultural, functional, and/or architectural significance.

If you think your building would be a suitable candidate for Doors Open Ottawa, please review the criteria outlined. Please note that while it’s not necessary to meet every criterion, buildings that largely meet the criteria listed below will have a stronger chance of being selected.

Preference will be given to buildings that meet the following criteria:

  • Buildings that are not normally open to the public, or have areas that are not usually open to the public.
  • Buildings that are open to the public but have some significant historical, functional, cultural, and/or architectural features that will be showcased during the event.
  • Buildings that are celebrating significant milestones and/or anniversaries.
  • Buildings that have been recognized with an award for their heritage, urban design, and/or architecture.
  • Buildings that have significant interior features.
  • Buildings that are an example of a successful adaptive reuse.
  • Buildings that feature excellence in contemporary design and/or innovative green/sustainable/LEED elements.
  • Buildings that represent cultural diversity.

How will my building be identified to the public as one of the Doors Open Ottawa sites?

To identify your building as a Doors Open Ottawa site, information that you provide including a building description, photos, 3D tours, virtual tours, and/or more will be included in Doors Open Ottawa promotional materials, social media sites, press materials and the Doors Open Ottawa Web site. You site may also appear on the Doors Open Ontario website operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust.

Who is responsible for any costs associated with new or existing content that is provided to the City of Ottawa?

Doors Open Ottawa is not responsible for any costs incurred by those who wish to create new virtual content for the event. If your building chooses to create new content, such as a 3D or virtual tour, the costs associated with doing so will be paid for solely by the building participant. However, we think it’s important to note, that if you’re thinking about creating something new, it can always be used for your own promotional purposes after the event is over. It’s a win-win!

**Disclaimer: Please note that all virtual content will be reviewed by the City of Ottawa. If the City deems any content unfit for publication (i.e. foul language, nudity, promotion of tobacco, alcohol, or drugs, etc.), we have the sole right to exclude the content from the event.

Does my building have to offer bilingual content?

We understand that not all buildings are created equally. While we strongly encourage all of our buildings to provide bilingual content on their websites, 3D tours, and virtual tours, we know that it’s not always possible. However, if you plan on creating new virtual content for this year’s event, perhaps it’s the perfect time to include both official languages in your new promotional material.

Can I charge admission to visit my building online?

No. Virtual admission must be free during the event. The focus of Doors Open Ottawa is to celebrate heritage and architecture, by making participating buildings open to all.

Some buildings are already open to the public. Can they still participate?

Buildings that fit the Doors Open Ottawa profile and that are normally open to the public (e.g., historic and/or architecturally important embassies, government buildings, theatres, churches, museums, etc.) will be included if admission is free. We encourage buildings that are normally open to the public to offer special activities or events, such as exhibits, talks, musical recitals, or behind-the-scenes tours as a way to showcase the building further.

Who is funding Doors Open Ottawa?

Doors Open Ottawa is funded by partnerships between the City of Ottawa, corporate sponsors, and individual donations. If you own a business or are part of an organization that would like to sponsor Doors Open Ottawa, please contact:

Amy Kudrinko, Coordinator
Doors Open Ottawa, City of Ottawa
Tel: 613-580-9674, Email: doorsopen@ottawa.ca

Sponsors, partners, and donations

Since its inception, Doors Open Ottawa has welcomed both sponsorships and partnerships with local and national corporations, businesses, and organizations. By generously donating time, money, and resources to Doors Open Ottawa for nearly 20 years, we have been able to continue operating as a free event, and we look forward to doing so for many more years to come.

If you are a business or organization that wishes to sponsor or collaborate with Doors Open Ottawa 2022, we invite you to contact us today to discuss a wide range of opportunities.

As a trusted sponsor and partner, we will work with you to ensure that your brand is presented in a way that is beneficial to your business!

2021 Partner

Ontario Heritage Trust logo

Advisory Council

The Doors Open Ottawa Advisory Council works with the City of Ottawa to maintain the vision of this two-day celebration of Ottawa's architectural excellence and built heritage.

Mayor Jim Watson
Honourary Chair, Doors Open Ottawa

Iona Green
Co-Chair, Doors Open Ottawa and
Co-Owner/Operator, La Vida Local Food & Wine Tours

Laura Peters
Co-Chair, Doors Open Ottawa
City of Ottawa, Portfolio Mgr, Museums and Heritage Programs

Carolyn Quinn
Heritage Ottawa, Vice-President of Communications

David Jeanes
Heritage Ottawa, Member of Board of Directors

Miriam Fry
Media Consultant

Linda Russell
Founding member, Doors Open Ottawa

Jonas Langille
Heritage Specialist, Canadian Heritage

Laura Paquet
Freelance Journalist and Web Author of Ottawa Road Trips

Amy Kudrinko 
Event Coordinator, Doors Open Ottawa

Volunteers

Due to COVID-19 modified operations, Doors Open Ottawa is not currently accepting volunteers. If you have any questions about the volunteer program or would like to be notified when volunteering resumes, please contact doorsopen@ottawa.ca.

Suggest a building for 2022

Which building would you like to see participate in Doors Open Ottawa 2022? To recommend a building, please e-mail doorsopen@ottawa.ca. Provide as much information as possible to assist us in our research. 

Video Transcript : Doors Open Ottawa 2021 Welcome Message

Hello everyone.

I’m Jim Watson, and I want to welcome you to the 2021 virtual edition of the ever-popular event, Doors Open Ottawa.

I always look forward to hosting residents and visitors alike for Doors Open Ottawa – it’s one of my favourite events of the year, as we showcase and celebrate our city’s wonderful built heritage.

We’ve been hosting Doors Open Ottawa since 2002, and unfortunately, we had to cancel last year’s event due to COVID-19; and this was the first time Doors Open Ottawa didn’t take place since its inception, almost 20 years ago.

The pandemic has made the last year very difficult, of course, for all of us.

But I’m so pleased that Doors Open Ottawa is back – virtual-style – this year!

We appreciate everyone remaining COVIDwise and participating in this program remotely.

This weekend, visitors can enjoy a variety of online building tours – using YouTube videos, 3D photographic tours, still photography, live Zoom tours, and more.

More than 70 buildings of historical, cultural and functional significance are participating in this year’s virtual event, and I want to thank all of our participating buildings, and their owners, for making this a memorable year.

The City of Ottawa is proud, of course, to participate again this year. You’ll be able to get a sneak peek into City buildings including Arts Court, the Cumberland Village Heritage Museum, the OC Transpo Simulator Facility, and you can even take a tour of the Heritage Building and my office, right here behind me!

This year also features some returning favourites, such as the Supreme Court of Canada and the Chaudière Falls, as well as new buildings, including the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre and the Parliament of Canada – Centre Block and West Block.

I appreciate everyone who has made this weekend’s virtual Doors Open Ottawa event possible – thank you for helping to foster our community pride.

I wish all of you a wonderful 2021 virtual edition of Doors Open Ottawa, and to be sure to share this year's event with family and friends, not just in Ottawa, but around the world. It's a great way to get a sneak peek of the nation's capital. Thank you very much.

Hello – I’m Iona Green, Co-Chair of the Doors Open Ottawa Advisory Council.

Anthony Bourdain once said that “travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown”. I think we can all identify with that sentiment these days – only it’s been minus the travel and mostly less than gorgeous.

This year’s Doors Open Ottawa event is meant to rekindle that exhilarating feeling of discovery by swinging open the virtual doors of close to 70 buildings that will capture your imagination and allow us to travel together into a most welcoming unknown.

This has been a year unlike any other. We never imagined that by this first weekend of June 2021 we wouldn’t be out beating a path from building to building during the annual Doors Open Ottawa trek, but the challenges of this pandemic have thrown up roadblocks to all kinds of shared experiences.

We miss our friends, our families, our neighbours, our cherished activities. We miss being in a crowd of strangers enjoying a bite to eat, going to a concert, an art exhibit, a football or hockey game….We miss feeling the heartbeat of our city.

To lift our collective spirits, we’re delighted to offer a shared experience of another kind – for residents and visitors alike – where we will introduce you to a wide range of Ottawa buildings, most of which are not normally open to the public. We hope you’ll go on a tour of the places you’ve been missing, the places you’ve never seen, and the places you’ve only ever dreamed of. The doors are open, and the experiences behind them await.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and have a gorgeous Doors Open Ottawa weekend!