Doors Open Amherstburg kicks off Sept. 17

By Joel Charron

Amherstburg is getting ready to open its doors.

Beginning Sept 17, Amherstburg’s heritage site will open its doors and welcome visitors across Essex County and the province as part of Doors Open Ontario.

Every year, Doors Open Ontario attracts large crowds across Ontario. From April to October, residents and visitors are invited to discover first-hand Ontario’s hidden heritage treasures, some of which have never been open to the public.

Doors Open Ontario is a community-based celebration that builds pride in

The Commissariat is just one of 10 sites to visit during Doors Open Amherstburg on Sept 17.

Ontario’s heritage for residents and visitors alike. The Ontario Heritage Trust works with community partners throughout the province to produce this innovative program.

Since the program was launched in 2002, nearly four million visits have been made to heritage sites participating in this exciting initiative. Doors Open Ontario, now considered a cultural phenomenon, will continue in 2011 with hundreds of communities participating across the province.

In order to have a site part of Doors Open Ontario they must follow certain guidelines.

“Everything is suppose to be free and it has to give people access to something that normally wouldn’t be open,” said Doors Open Amherstburg committee member Bert Cozens.

Cozens said the idea for this year’s Door Open Ontario was to link in to the War of 1812 bicentennial.

‘We kind of wanted to be the opening event,” said Cozens. “That’s why we had it in 2011 as opposed to next year when we would just be another thing in a very busy year.”

However, Cozens said there is not much here that was here in 1812, the committee thought it would be best to link it to personalities that were around during that era.

There are roughly 10 sites in Amherstburg visitors will be able to wander through. Those sites are: the Buchanan Residence (47 Laird Ave,) Christ Church (317 Ramsay St.,) Commissariat (Navy Yard Park,) Fort Malden National Historic Site, Gordon House (268 Dalhousie St.) North American Black Historic Museum (277 King St.,) Park House Museum (214 Dalhousie St.,) Pensioners Cottages (Navy Yard Park,) Thistle Masonic Lodge (68 Murray St.) and Wyandotte Cemetery (County Road 20 at County Road 10.)

Cozens said the committee tried to get the Belleview House as a site for the program, however were unable to convince the owners to allow people onto the site because of the building’s deteriorating condition.

“It’s really would have been our crown jewel,” said Cozens.

Cozens mentioned there are not very many sites in Southwestern Ontario.

Cozens said there was a nervous few weeks when learning that Fort Malden would not be on the site list because they would not waive their entrance fee for the event.

“To not have Fort Malden a part of Door sOpen Ontario would be very wrong,” said Cozens, who then made a call to Essex MP Jeff Watson.

Within a few weeks Watson’s office contacted Cozens and told him that Fort Malden would comply by waiving the fee for Doors Open.

“We owe a big thank you to Jeff Watson,” said Cozens.

The 2011 Doors Open Amherstburg committee consists of Valerie Buckie, Bonnie Deslippe, Robert Honor, Jennifer MacLeod, Peggy Cozens and Bert Cozens.

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