Published on May 23rd, 2017 | from CAMH
Why you should visit CAMH during Doors Open Toronto
CAMH is proud to participate in Doors Open Toronto once again on Saturday, May 27, marking the third year in a row we’ve been selected to take part in the Toronto-wide initiative offering free access to 150 significant buildings across the city. This year, for the first time ever, access to the tunnels beneath CAMH are being offered by our partner Workman Arts.
As Canada’s largest mental health and addictions hospital, CAMH leads the way in driving social change, challenging prejudice while championing equity and inclusion. By adopting and adapting innovative models of treatment and care, we are enhancing the lives of people with the most serious and complex illnesses. Through world-class research, we will ensure that the effects of mental illness on future generations will be reduced.
But why should you visit CAMH during Doors Open? Here are a few reasons:
To those who have never been to CAMH, our Queen Street site is a curious tour through the history of architecture in Ontario. From the historic walls built by patients in the mid-1800s tosurround what was then known as the ‘Provincial Lunatic Asylum’, to the clinical units built during the era of 1970s brutalist architecture, to the new, modern, green buildings that now adorn our site, CAMH is a hospital that has undergone extensive physical changes over the years.
Vestiges of the old buildings can be found integrated with newer developments, all inter-connected through a series of underground tunnels, some of which will be accessible during Doors Open. But we’re not done changing, and we’re on the cusp of breaking ground for the next Phase of redevelopment.
Mental Health History
The treatment of the mentally ill has evolved since the early days of the Provincial Asylum and Queen Street Mental Health Centre, precursors to what is currently CAMH. Through guided tours led by our knowledgeable First Impressions Team, you’ll learn about the history of mental health in Canada, from the early care models of institutionalized asylum, to modern approaches that emphasize recovery and community-based mental health supports.
Art and culture
Workman Arts, a partner organization focused on providing training and exhibition opportunities for emerging and established artists with lived experience of mental illness and addictions, will be on site with an interactive exhibit called Tunnel Vision. Located in a portion of the service tunnels beneath CAMH, this self-guided underground exhibit will showcase the talent and artistry of Workman Arts members through captivating imagery and engaging video productions.
Other Instragrammable works of art can also be seen around CAMH, including the iconic “You’ve Changed” mural created by Toronto artist Jesse Harris, and the recently installed “I’ve Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day” illuminated art installation by Vancouver artist Catherine Chan, which was featured in Toronto’s Nuit Blanche festival in 2015. The side streets to the north of CAMH are also known as the Ossington Laneway, and feature a plethora of beautiful, unique graffiti works by local artists.
Food & Shopping
If you’re planning to check out multiple stops during Doors Open Toronto, you’ll probably want to stop and rest for a bit, or at least grab a coffee to keep you going. Although our own Out of This World Café (a full service cafe and catering social enterprise staffed by people with lived experience) will not be open during Doors Open, there is a large and diverse selection of great restaurants, pastry stores and coffee shops located within a few blocks of CAMH along Queen Street West and Ossington Avenue. Looking to do a bit of shopping? Queen Street and the area called “West Queen West” is also home to many popular retailers, from smaller boutique shops to large franchises.
If you need some time with nature, CAMH also features parks and lush green spaces. Right on the grounds, you’ll find Shaw Park and Garfinkel Park. You’re free to wander around, check out the historic wall, and take advantage of a self-guided tour of the history of the wall. If you are lucky, you might even spot the illustrious white squirrel on our grounds, or get a glimpse of the Cooper’s Hawks that make their nest on the premises. Two blocks east is Trinity Bellwoods Park, a popular destination for Toronto residents looking to play tennis, ride their bikes, or just hang out.
Other Doors Open sites
We’d be remiss not to mention the other Doors Open sites nearby. Sites like the Gladstone Hotel, the Great Hall, Gallery 1313, ZoomerPlex, and the historic Fort York are only a few minutes walk from CAMH. Check out this handy map for more Doors Open sites.
Paid parking is available on-site at CAMH, and there is plenty of street parking around the area. Please note that the CAMH parking garage will be closed for maintenance during Doors Open Toronto.