Sunday, June 24, 2018


The Dominican University College participated again in Doors Open this year, and I stopped in. The building dates to 1899, when it was first opened as a convent and a house of study. It houses a parish, Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and the members of the Dominican priory serve today as faculty for a small university offering bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in the fields of theology and philosophy. This is the church sanctuary. A priest had come in to prepare for a mass a little while later.

The altar had some very impressive carving, done on site in a woodshop on the grounds.

This painting is of St. Dominic himself, and resides in one of the corridors.

One of the students took me about on a tour. The student body is small- over a hundred in total, but that's to be expected with two programs. This room is a cafeteria for the students, and beforehand was used for meals by the priory. Before the Vatican II reforms, priests would eat in silence.

Another room beyond that is today a lounge used by the priory. The student explained that the priests unwind here in what's a comfortable space- reading, perhaps playing cards (no money involved, obviously) between classes or in the evenings. This formidable chair was a gift from a Speaker of the House of Commons during Laurier's time, the very chair he used during his tenure in the job. 

The church sanctuary itself is not as long as it originally was. It was shortened at one point, and the college library was inserted inside. Some of the stained glass of the extended sanctuary remains in place within the library, and so if you're working at a desk, you might have these right beside you.

The library stocks items pertaining to the disciplines taught, but also related fields like history and literature. It has quite a collection, some of it dating back centuries, such as these items that were in a display case, going back to the 1500s.

I came out to the workshop area, where I had a chance to chat with the man who had carved the sanctuary altar, among other things. The walls were covered with various tools, things that my dad would appreciate- he would have made a good carpenter himself, but seems to have lacked the patience to have gone through apprenticeship. 

The building design is wrapped around an inner courtyard, planted with trees, One spot as I took my leave allowed the visitor to step out onto a balcony and have a look around.

Saturday, June 23, 2018


Picking up where I left off yesterday, this is the stained glass window hanging over the east end of Knox Presbyterian, above the altar. Its theme is the early life of Christ, and its glass contains religious symbols tied to the New Testament. Scottish artist William Wilson designed this window, which was installed in 1955.

The stained glass window on the west end of the church looms over the balcony area. It was installed in 1968, and again designed by Wilson. He dictated its design to aides- at this point in his life he had lost his vision. It takes as its theme the Book of Revelations- the Holy Trinity can be seen on it, as well as the Four Horsemen at the right.

Here we have the view from the balcony down onto the sanctuary below.  The church is named for John Knox, as is so often the case with Presbyterian churches, as he founded the church as a Protestant reformer in Scotland.

There is a small sitting area off the balcony near the staircases to descend down to ground level.

And I finish with a last view of the sanctuary.

Friday, June 22, 2018


Knox Presbyterian Church was first established in 1845 at another location in the city. Its current church location dates to the beginning of the 1930s. The church combines aspects of English Gothic and Norman styles of architecture, and neighbours City Hall on Elgin Street.

During my Doors Open visit, I chatted with one of the congregation members, who oversees the gardens outside around the church and its adjoining hall. This pear tree was gifted by the city last year for the 150th anniversary of the country.

Inside, the sanctuary is unadorned but beautiful, with columns and two sets of stained glass windows at either end, done by the same artist years apart.

Plaques note the service of congregation members in two world wars.

The carvings on this font caught my eye.

As did the pulpit. I will have more from inside the church tomorrow.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Flora Hall

Flora Hall was a newcomer to Doors Open this year, and for good reason, as it only opened last fall. This building started out its life in the 1920s as an electrical appliance repair workshop, this at a time when you sent such items for repairs instead of buying something new. It later became an auto shop, and for years stood empty and unused. A new use for it was found as a group organized to restore it and make use of it as a brew pub. It takes its name from the street it is on- Flora Street in Centretown, just off Bank Street. 

The interior preserves the industrial feel of the building's earlier use but adds in a lot of customized woodwork and other details, transforming it into a welcoming pub.

While I was in, the brewery side of things was filled with visitors. One of the staff members was giving a talk about the operations inside.

The pub is spread out over two floors, with a bar on each. This staircase leads to the upper floor.

I was chatting with one of the staffers about the process of opening this place up- I had seen the project's progress while occasionally passing by. He mentioned the siding on this staircase, commonly referred to as banker's mesh, and noted that every joint you see here is an individual weld. Imagine how long that takes.

Here we have views from above.

This is the upper bar area. Aside from being a craft brewery, Flora Hall also has a menu if you're coming in for a bite to eat.

This view looks down the stairs from above.

And I finish with the other bar on the ground level, a U shape that fits the space well.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Toller House

The Embassy of Croatia regularly participates in Doors Open. Set in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood on a quiet street, it occupies Toller House, an 1875 Gothic Revival home that has seen many uses, and is named after one of its earlier owners.

It's working space most of the time for the diplomatic mission, with large photographs of the country on the walls, and a welcoming sensibility to the place. There was a table set out with a multitude of tourism information on the country, and embassy staffers answering questions.

This is a rather unusual humidifier, dating back to the 1880s for the house when it was owned by a judge, Telesphore Fournier. It's still operable, with water starting on the top tray and dripping down to those below.

On one of the walls hangs this set of painted tiles.

One more view of the house, taken upon my departure.