One-tank Trips: London, Woodstock, St. Thomas open some doors

Tourists line up to board the Port Stanley Terminal Rail train

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Have you ever wondered what goes on behind usually closed doors?

Satisfy your curiosity as the popular Ontario-wide program called Doors Open enters its final phase for the year.

“The endless adventure of Doors Open Ontario continues this fall over seven weekends and 24 events,” said Edward Dodd of the sponsoring Ontario Heritage Trust.

It’s a taste of “road-trip inspiration,” checking out the great outdoors and discovering the amazing architecture of the province, he said.

This free program “lets you look behind the scenes of buildings, gardens and other historic places across Ontario.”

Here are a few interesting examples:

An historic fish-and-chip shop in Woodstock; the Hamilton Road tree trunk bus tour in London; Port Stanley Terminal Rail rides; Fairbanks Oil Fields, Lambton; and the Ancient Mariners canoe and Cambridge rowing clubs.

There were 12 events between April and June and the balance of the program features 22 communities with the touring events on weekends from Sept. 8 to Oct. 20.

  • Doors Open Oxford-Woodstock, Oct. 5, has some mouth-watering sites among its 12 offerings.

These include Mel’s Fish and Chips serving up meals since 1921, the year the large fryers — still in use — were bought from England. Also, check out art deco paintings on the walls.

Getting thirsty? The Upper Thames Brewing Co.’s second location is housed in an old pump house that originally was the Epileptic Hospital that opened in 1905.

  • London’s event, Sept. 14 and 15, has 39 sites to visit, with a theme of “Untold Stories of the Forest City.”

These tales are told through re-enactments, interactive programs and pop-up theatre.

Sites include the Hamilton Road tree trunk bus tour visiting 28 tree trunk sculptures on public streets.

There’s also the Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, Canada’s first infantry regiment, and Banting House.

  • St. Thomas, Oct. 5, features 12 sites including the Port Stanley Terminal Rail tourist railway that will give rides to the Elgin County Museum.

Organizers say “visit some creepy spaces, learn some local lore and even hear a ghost story or two,” in St. Thomas.

  • Lambton County, Sept. 29, with 10 sites including the Fairbanks Oil Fields.

That’s where oil is still pumped using authentic 1860’s equipment and is the site of Canada’s first gusher in 1862.

There’s also Victoria Hall, circa 1889, that housed municipal offices, the police station, firehall and opera house and which was restored after an 1989 fire; and the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery.

  • Waterloo Region, Sept. 21, with 43 sites including the Ancient Mariners canoe and Cambridge rowing clubs as part of the water-themed event.

Visit the large boat house full of racing sculls and canoes with demonstrations and bring a “people-powered watercraft and lifejackets” to use the public boat launch and get onto the Grand River.

Other remaining Doors Open events are Markham, Sept. 7; Kawartha Lakes, Sept. 8; Mississauga-Streetsville, Quinte West and Smiths Falls, Sept. 14; Highlands East, Sept. 14, 15; Belleville, Carleton Place, Grimsby and Simcoe County, Sept. 21; Brampton, Burlington, Oshawa and St. Marys, Sept. 28; Halton Region, Sept. 28, 29; Lincoln, Oct. 5; and Dutton-Dunwich, Oct. 20.

Most events are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For details: doorsopenontario.on

Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com

For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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