Portals to history

Doors swinging Open again as annual event soldiers on despite pandemic


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The doors are opening again for Doors Open Winnipeg.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/09/2021 (444 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The doors are opening again for Doors Open Winnipeg.

The annual weekend of tours of some of Winnipeg’s oldest and most notorious buildings will once again welcome visitors Saturday and Sunday to about 35 indoor and outdoor spots around the city.

Heritage Winnipeg, the organization behind the event, has soldiered on with the Doors Open concept during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the first Doors Open took place in 2004, it had always become part of the May event calendar, but the pandemic forced it to switch to September in 2020 and for this year as well. 

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Dalnavet Museum, a historic Victorian mansion and home of former Manitoba premier Hugh John MacDonald.

While similar Doors Open events in other Canadian cities have switched to offering virtual tours, Winnipeg’s locations, including annual favourites such as the Vaughan Street Jail, Grant’s Old Mill Museum and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, will be open to visitors.

“We are adamant that Doors Open needs to be a physical experience,” says Cindy Tugwell, Heritage Winnipeg’s executive director. “Winnipeggers told us they wanted us to keep doing a physical event. I checked out Doors Open Toronto’s virtual tours and I just can’t see anybody getting anything out of it. You’re just sitting at your computer.” 

Visitors will be required to wear masks and provide proof of being fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Admission is free, but before anyone can visit a Doors Open venue, they’ll also need to pre-register for a tour at wfp.to/H8I.

“That’s to keep everybody socially distanced and the proper capacity allows us to do that,” she says. “We know how well it went last year and it was very successful.”


Ten different outdoor events and tours are also available to check out, including popular walking tours of the Exchange District and its history; the area’s many ghost signs, and a downtown tour hosted by Matthew Komus, author of Haunted Winnipeg, who will share eerie histories of the Vaughan Street Jail, the Manitoba legislature and the Dalnavert Museum. 

New walking tours are part of Doors Open for 2021, including one focusing on the history of Fraser’s Grove Park, which sits on the eastern shore of the Red River in Rossmere, and a tour of the Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park in St. Norbert, which combines a visit to the monastery’s ruins with the parkland that surrounds them.

West End BIZ has also created an audio download for visitors to take an hour-long self-guided tour of nine of the neighbourhood’s murals. It can be downloaded at doorsopenwinnipeg.ca and the tour can be taken at any time.

History and music mix on Saturday afternoon at the Millennium Centre, a splendid small concert venue created from the granite and marble interior of the 111-year-old Canadian Bank of Commerce building at 389 Main St. The Manitoba Underground Opera company perform twice at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Up to 100 people are allowed to register for each show, which begin with a half-hour tour of the building prior to the 45-minute performance.




ALEX LUPUL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES A 1966 Harley Davidson with sidecar at the Winnipeg Police Museum.
TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Inside Grant’s Old Mill on Sturgeon Creek.
Alan Small

Alan Small

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.


Updated on Friday, September 10, 2021 3:05 PM CDT: Adds missing text.

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