Behind Closed Doors

I was downtown recently and since I was in the neighbourhood, I decided to pop into Old City Hall.  I wrote about this 1899 heritage building back in February 2016, but I hadn’t gone inside and considered that a serious omission.

Rumours about redevelopment of this building have been swirling for a while, and one of the stories has it being reincarnated as a shopping mall … because, you know … we apparently don’t have enough of them now.

Photo taken in 2016

In spite of being called Old City Hall, it is actually a provincial court house and I wondered whether I would even be allowed to go inside and just walk around.

I had my doubts, but I decided to give it a try.  Obviously who would resist a blogger with a mission?

Old City Hall - May

My optimism was short-lived.

As soon as I walked in the front doors, I was greeted by a security guard and a screening system similar to airport security – complete with an x-ray machine and metal detector.

Old City Hall - May-3

The security guard was a very friendly guy … but no.  I could not take any photos.  I could walk around and look at the building all I wanted.  But no.  No camera.  No photos.

Well, hell.

Then I had the brilliant idea of returning to Old City Hall this weekend for the Open Doors Toronto event.  This is a special weekend once a year when buildings of interest around the city open their doors to the public for free and provide tours.

Surely they would allow photos to be taken during this event when the courts were not in session.

Well, hell.  The answer was still no.

Old City Hall - May-2

Just for the record, the inside of the building was stunning.  It broke my heart not to be able to take even one little photo of the massive stained glass window lighting up the centre lobby.

The tiniest peak inside can be glimpsed through the window of the door above.

However, as a consolation prize, I managed to take photos of every single door in the main entrance before entering the building … and surprisingly, there were many.  No expense was spared in putting doors on this place!

Old City Hall - May-5

I even got a rare selfie.

Old City Hall - May-4
It took me a long time to figure it out, but the letters on these doors actually spell *Push*

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.



  1. I still liked the doors you were able to capture. Perhaps you should have served notice to the security guard that you were the only door blogger to be invited in to the company at the old Wriggley Gum Factory to see and photograph the inside of that company and have it posted for the world to see 😉


  2. The Security desk is new – I’ve been there for Doors Open in the past and for other events and we just walked in – it’s a new world I guess…..
    But on a lighter note – weddings do take place there so you often see small wedding parties taking photos on the front steps and on Remembrance Day there is always a parade and speeches and lots of wreaths placed at The Cenotaph.


  3. We live in such a funny world when taking pictures becomes taboo. Jeez, governments can be so particular…or is that another form of red tape. I had no problems taking pictures at the Library of Congress with all of their restored 19th century art throughout. Well, that was 10 years ago. I wonder if they’d let me do it today…hmmm.


  4. Perserverance! You tried, and you got an unintentional selfie, too.
    Not sure I understand the no photos / security thing … but what do I know!


  5. I had to look a very long time to make out push on those final doors. I’m always so disappointed when I am forbidden from taking photos. Sigh. I do love how you managed to get all of the doors and it sounds like you very much enjoyed the open doors event. We will take solace in that. 😊


    • hmmm – I’m just going by what I read on the website yesterday that photography wasn’t allowed.
      Did you have to go through security when you attended the Open Doors event?


      • I don’t actually remember but I don’t think so.! It was in 2014 so details are fuzzy. Looking at my camera roll I only have 3 shots, though. Maybe there was a policy and I forewent it? Or perhaps there wasn’t and I just wasn’t too inclined for photos. Sorry, this is not turning out to be a helpful answer, lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Stunning building; and the doors are definitely photo-worthy, even with the signage plastered all over them.
    But what a bummer they wouldn’t let you take photos. Perhaps they’re worried about people planning a break-out of dangerous prisoners using photos to find vantage points and hiding places. But I’m guessing that if you’re planning something like that, you probably wouldn’t be phased by the “no photography” message anyway.


  7. Sorry! – Before I came to your last reply here, I came to the same conclusion, as you did,: maybe for security reasons! But be glad you don’t live in Europe – there was only one museum (and I have been to a lot of them) where you are allowed to take pics (the Chagall museum in France) – in art musea it has to do with the light rays of the flash that seem to be detrimental to art.


  8. That place is one of my favorite older buildings in TO. I’m disappointed but not surprised to see they were inflexible on the photo policy even during their Open Doors day 😦
    Mind you, the doors you did capture are just wonderful – nicely done 🙂


  9. Lovely door. I had no idea they did not allow photos, at all. Was there a reason give for this rule? I could understand during regular hours as it is an active court house, but at Door Open too?


    • I don’t get it either … especially since Osgoode Hall is allowing photos for the Open Doors event and is even providing court robes for photo taking in the court room.
      I’m hoping I can to Osgoode Hall – I really want to see the Grand Library. I hear it’s pretty amazing.


        • OOOOOOO!!! That was next on my list after the Don Jail. I’ve heard that the Library is AMAZING.
          Unfortunately, I had other commitments and could only squeeze in the one visit to the Don.

          Next year Osgoode Hall is 1st on my list!!


  10. Hahaha your selfie is a little bit transparent. Maybe you are part fairy or elf? Your door pictures were beautiful. I can imagine how disappointed you were. Surely they SELL pictures of the building. That would be in their best interest to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. So the building is a courthouse?…that’s why no photos…the doors are very cool as is the impressive outside facade…love that you tried to get some photos…tried and kept trying. 🙂


    • It is a courthouse, so I guess I understand why they wouldn’t like photos to be taken when the court is in session.
      … but when it’s not? That’s the part I don’t understand, especially when there is another courthouse just down the street and it DOES allow photography during the Open Doors event. Go figure.


  12. Might be privacy and security. I was in the beautiful old post office in Pasadena, California earlier this year and took a few photos with my phone before a woman behind on the of grills told me photos weren’t allowed. Crikey! All that magnificence and no photos. I’m sure that was a security issue, but I find it hard to believe anyone’s going to attack the post office…although, some postal workers are enough to make anyone go, well, postal. Glad you captured these wonderful doors and NO, NO, NO to the mall!!!



  13. Those doors are impressive. The metal scroll-work juxtaposed against the wood grain is perfect. Pity you got stopped before you could get some inside photos, but at least you tried.


  14. Well Hell. That’s a rough go, but in all sincerity, those are FABULOUS doors. The lot of them, with their depth and metal accents and splendid frames. They are second only to your determination 🙂


  15. I like reflection selfies. I’ve never understood the ban against taking photos, particularly during an open house event. Unfortunately, it probably only affects considerate people like yourself. I’m sure others just snapped away with their phone. Oh well, you managed to snag quite a few nice doors in the entrance.


  16. Gee, I can only imagine what the inside must be like if the exterior is already so regal!
    It’s a little strange that the door would say “push” when it also tells us not to enter (exit only). Maybe that’s why they didn’t care too much how legible it was 😉


    • I had assumed it related mostly to privacy rather than security … which is why I was surprised that no photos would be allowed even when the courts aren’t in session.
      What’s interesting is that Osgoode Hall also has court rooms and photography will be allowed during the Open Doors event. In fact, it’s encouraged. They are providing court robes for people to put on to have their photos taken.

      … and thank you, but the selfie was unintentional. Usually I’m pretty good at avoiding the whole reflection thing, but I was a bit rattled trying to grab these photos discreetly.

      Liked by 1 person

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