This past Sunday, I toured places in Ottawa I wouldn’t otherwise visit — thanks to Doors Open Ottawa. The event included free and open access to 89 different buildings and landmarks in the city. Ottawa’s staggering geographic footprint (2,800 square kilometres!) meant that I had to choose five locations. These ended up being the Jami Omar Mosque, the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, the Gloucester Historical Society offices and archives, St. James Anglican Church in Leitrim and the First Church of Christ Scientist in Centretown.
The hospitality and welcome at every location was most striking. Volunteers in the different churches and organizations were genuinely proud of their community and were happy to share information with visitors. The Jami Omar Mosque even shared a selection of food and St. James Anglican served homemade date squares baked by a parishioner — along with the recipe to the sweet treat. Doors Open Ottawa is a good reminder that there’s more to the city than just the most frequented federal landmarks. It’s also a reminder of the importance and value of volunteerism.