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Journal: Doors Open 2002

Doors Open Toronto (25-26 May 2002): I eagerly anticipated this year's Doors Open Toronto, the city's annual festival of urban exploration for the masses, hoping that it would present all sorts of fantastic exploration opportunities. In the end I was disappointed, as I suppose I knew I would be, but I did manage to see a few interesting spots.
       After a very late and poorly planned start on Saturday, Liz and I first explored Massey Hall, which was wide open in terms of unlocked doors but patrolled by quite a few people who were eager to help us get to what they thought to be the real highlight of their exhibition — some black and white pictures of dead people near their snackbar. When we happened to wander through an open door (like the name of the event, almost) to peek at some staircases, some employees quickly rushed over and told us we weren't allowed to be there. Things didn't get any better after that, so we left.
       On Sunday morning we met up with some members of Urban Exploration Canada who were in town for the event, and we all hopped aboard the ferry to check out the Toronto Island Airport. There were some nice vehicles and things to poke around in there, but unfortunately there really wasn't anything to explore. The island airport isn't anything more romantic than a few trailers and a big parking lot.
       After quick looks at Union Station and the Royal York, at both of which we concluded we'd already seen everything on offer, we headed to the Canada Life Building (that is, the building with the big light thermometer on top of it), where we were shown a video featuring a segment where the camera follows a maintenance worker up through the building and onto the rooftop to change a lightbulb. Hoping to emulate him, Liz and I took the elevator up to the observation room and saw the staircase one would need to take to get to the roof, but it was guarded by a friendly guy who didn't mind holding the door open for a picture but who wouldn't let anyone through.
       Next up we visited the churches of St. Matthias and St. Anne, where we finally had a bit of luck in finding secret areas. As Liz used the washroom in the basement, I checked a few doors and found one that opened into some very promising darkness, but quickly shut it when the pastor wandered by, making it clear that I was just standing around waiting for my girlfriend. When said girlfriend arrived, I quickly whispered to her to go through the door and look around and that I'd join her when I could. I then continued to wait outside the women's washroom until the area was clear, and then went through the door to join Liz.
       The vast, unlit area on the other side was a thing of beauty — it was somewhere between a crawlspace and a subbasement, and stretched the entire length and width of the enormous, ancient church. Most of the floor consisted of plain sand, although there were a few stone paths set in various places, and several small stone rooms that looked to us like like they'd once been used as stables (I've never heard of underground stables, but that's certainly what these looked like). There were many pipes, ducts and grates to avoid, and at one point I accidentally shon my flashlight up before quickly realizing the the beam was projecting up into the main hall of the church! Luckily, no one seemed to notice that, and Liz and I were able to leave unmolested; we explored some other underground rooms in another part of the church, and Liz managed to sneak up some off-limits stairs briefly before they kicked everyone out at the end of the day.

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