Doors Open is a learning experience for the whole family

St. George's Anglican Church in Grafton

St. George's Anglican Church in Grafton

By Cecilia Nasmith

Places you can't get into just any old time – more than 25 of them – will open their doors June 1 and 2 for the Doors Open Northumberland event.

Free admission will be offered in a family-friendly event that provide an opportunity to learn more about the county's unique heritage, architecture, and innovation through interactive experiences and tours.

There's something for everyone, from remarkable architectural achievements and innovative renovations to an interactive solar experience at Dortwood Observatory and the tranquil natural beauty at Schoolhouse Gardens.

Explore the stories such heritage buildings such as Barnum House in Grafton, Proctor House Museum in Brighton and Victoria Retirement Living in Cobourg.

Saturday visitors are invited to take a moment out to watch the provincial town criers' competition which takes place both in Cobourg (9 to 11 a.m. at the Esplanade Park) and at the historic Grafton Village Inn (a former stagecoach stop located at 10830 County Rd. 2 in Grafton, starting at 2 p.m.). And while in Grafton, feel free to skip across the street to enjoy the annual Art Salad artisans fair (free admission 10 a.m. to 5 p.m both day at Anja Hertle's studio, 10821 County Rd. 2).

Sunday visitors can make a stop at 16 Walton St. in Port Hope between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to enjoy a free horse-drawn wagon ride around the historic downtown district.

“Doors Open Northumberland is an opportunity for people to access our cultural spaces for free and learn about their history and their importance to our community,” County Warden John Logel said in the press release.

“This event encourages us to appreciate the heritage, beauty and unique experiences offered in our community that help shape the character of Northumberland.”

Four big clusters of participating locations can be found in Port Hope, Cobourg, Grafton and Brighton, as well as others scattered throughout the county, and the default opening time is Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. - though there are exceptions.

And just to add to the fun, a number of special events are being held in the vicinity of some of the sites.

Port Hope

First Baptist Church at 57 John St. (open Saturday from 10 a.m. To 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., though the invitation is out for everyone to attend the 11 a.m. Sunday service)

The Little Station at 15 Elias St. (believed to be the first station built for the Grand Trunk Railway in Port Hope)

Port Hope Archives at 17 Mill St. N. (formerly the East Durham land registry office)

Port Hope Town Hall at 56 Queen St. (open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a neoclassic-inspired building that was once the hub of the town's political and social activity – if you are a Saturday visitor and notice the excitement in nearby Memorial Park, that's the annual Highway of Heroes motorcycle rally)


Legacy Vintage at 540 Division St. (open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., housing a menagerie of reclaimed architectural artifacts of various eras in a former Canadian Pacific Railway freight shed)

Golden Rail Pub at 111 Hibernia St. (boasting an historic mural of Cobourg which artist Allan Bender will be on hand to discuss)

Sifton-Cook Heritage Centre at 141 Orr St. (open Saturday from 10 a.m. To 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m., believed to be a former army-barracks building from the early 19th century and now a museum exhibiting furniture with significant local connections)

Victoria Retirement Living at 100 University Ave. E. (open Saturday only, a Gothic Revival building constructed as a college that was later an asylum, a convalescent home for soldiers returning from World War I and a hospital)


Barnum House at 10568 County Rd. 2 (a magnificent neoclassical-inspired home built by Eliakim Barnum in 1819)

The Canning Factory at 130 Canning Factory Road (a once-derelict 1904 canning factory transformed into a modern showroom with historic charm)

St. George's Anglican Church at 10792 County Rd. 2 (a Gothic-style church built in 1909 after the original 1844 structure was destroyed by fire – if you are a Saturday visitor, check out the trunk sale in the parking lot and the silent auction in the church's Canon Nind Hall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday hours are noon to 4 p.m. to accommodate the St. George's Cemetery Decoration Day)

Wesleyan Methodist Meeting Hall at 118 Aird St. (a church hall built in 1851 that was faithfully restored in 2008)


Brighton Public Library at 35 Alice St. (renovated less than a year ago)

Proctor House Museum at 96 Young St. (the home of a wealthy merchant of the 1860s on grounds adjoining a beautiful conservation area)

Trinity-St. Andrew's United Church at 56 Prince Edward St. (open Saturday only, a church that began as a Methodist church in 1848 and joined the United Church of Canada in 1925)


Dartwood Observatory at 3218 Burnham St. N., north of Cobourg (a chance to see the sun in all its glory using solar telescopes and binoculars for safe viewing)

Ontario Agri-Food Venture Centre at 216 Purdy Rd., Colborne (open Saturday only, a state-of-the-art facility with a commecial kitchen and development lab)

The Mill at Piper Creek at 1742 Percy St., Castleton (open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the former Purdy Mill now offering high tea, live music, art and some of the mill's original equipment)

Hilton Hall Heritage Centre at 50 Chatten Rd., north of Brighton (an 1860s heritage site showcasing displays from local historians and the Brighton Digital Archives)

Honey For You at 331 Old Wooler Rd., Codrington (learn about beekeepers and browse honey-based health and beauty products)

Roseneath Carousel at 9109 County Rd. 45, Roseneath (more than 110 years old, with 40 basswood horses, two boats and music from a restored 1934 band organ)

Ah! Arts and Heritage Centre at 35 Church St., Warkworth (open Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., where metal sculptor Blandford Gates introduces his feature exhibit Cats)

Schoolhouse Gardens at 404 Concession Rd. 3 W., Warkworth (open Sunday only, a four-acre spread of floral and herb gardens surrounding a charmingly converted 1847 schoolhouse)

Grand Maple Event Centre at 51 Albert St. E., Hastings (open Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., a fully accessible event centre in a former church)

Campbellford-Seymour Heritage Centre at 113 Front St. N., Campbellford (with hundreds of local artifacts on display)

Church-Key Brewing Company at 1678 County Rd. 36, east of Campbellford (a unique craft brewery in a former Methodist church built in 1878)

A complete listing of participating sites and a confirmation of hours is available at Site brochures with maps are also available at local municipal offices.

Doors Open Northumberland takes place every two years as part of Doors Open Ontario. The two-day event is hosted by a committee of volunteers from all seven Northumberland County municipalities, with support from Northumberland County Archives.