With pandemic restrictions eased, one Southwestern Ontario town is opening up several cultural and heritage sites this weekend.
The quaint, historic town of St. Marys, northeast of London, is inviting the public to explore up to 12 of its 19th- and early 20th-century landscapes, buildings and streets for free Saturday during Doors Open.
"It's one of our first big in-person events as a community, so we're really excited about that," said Amy Cubberley, the town's cultural services supervisor.
"We've found in past years that it's a really good mix of locals taking an opportunity to check out some of the buildings in their community that they might not normally have an opportunity to get into . . . and day-trippers as well."
Participants can explore the inside of nine different sites, including churches, municipal offices and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and three outdoor locations, including the Grand Trunk Trestle, St. Marys Cemetery and the Heritage Conservation District.
The town of more than 7,000 is filled with limestone architecture, Cubberley said, adding some of the oldest limestone buildings on the tour date back to the 1850s.
Participants are asked to wear masks and follow safety protocols, including capacity limits, passive COVID-19 screening and social distancing. No registration or proof of vaccination is required.
Led by the Ontario Heritage Trust, the Doors Open Ontario program works with more than 40 centres across the province to educate the public about local history.
St. Marys is the second community to hold an in-person event this year, the group says. The first was Kingston in September. Others, such as London, offered virtual programming again this year.
“Doors Open is a wonderful vehicle to get people back out there and provide free heritage experiences that can inspire them and connect them to a sense of community," said David Leonard of the Ontario Heritage Trust.
"We're so excited to do that. And the Doors Open event at St. Marys this weekend is a great example of that work.
What: Doors Open St. Marys. Visit www.doorsopenontario.on.ca/en/st-marys to learn more.
When: Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Participants can access up to 12 cultural heritage sites. A guide is available on the free Driftscape App. Hard copies will also be provided on Saturday at the information tent at town hall.
Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press