This Saturday, October 1st, is Doors Open Mississauga 2011, and Day 2 of the Canadian Culture Days. If you have even the slightest interest in anything having to do with the arts, heritage, your family, your city, real estate, entertainment , or, quite simply, being wowed, you owe it to yourself (and your family and friends) to seize this chance to tour the remarkable Small Arms Building, 1352 Lakeshore Road East, Mississauga (416) 661-6600 ext.5223 (Free parking, wheelchair accessible).
Built in 1941, this 144, 000 sq. ft. office and small arms inspection building was part of Small Arms Ltd, a World War 2 arms manufacturer. The company has an incredible wartime history. Tens of thousands of women came from across Canada to work there, and the dormitories and houses built for them revitalized the Lakeview area of Mississauga. The Arsenal Lands upon which it sits was home to the Long Branch Rifle Ranges, to Canada’s first aerodrome and a military flight training school.
So what does this have to do with you, your family, the arts, real estate, and everything else I listed?
A dedicated volunteer group, The Lake Legacy Foundation (with whom I've had the privilege to work with), has worked tirelessly to lay the ground work for Small Arms to repurpose it as a centre of arts and culture.
You may be wondering, what, exactly , is a centre of arts and culture, and what does it have to do with me?
Well, for starters, this space will offer much-needed affordable work and performance space for Mississauga's artist and cultural groups. Mississauga is just over 30 years old. Older buildings with minimal dollars per square foot rental are pretty well nonexistent, so independent artists must leave our city to live and work. This venue will offer studios of all kinds: from personal, affordable live work space for visual artists (painting, ceramics, sculpture & more) to practice space for theatre, dance and music. Theatres for performance and galleries that both show and sell, will introduce us to our artists. Small Arms has the potential to help Mississauga keep its creative people (especially the young ones), and to attract other cultural sorts to the city as well.
The building itself, now saved from demolition, will be a living museum with creative tips of the hat to its historic roots and its Rosie the Riveter inhabitants throughout.
The Lakeview community will have a long overdue cultural jewel in its crown.
All of Mississauga (and the GTA and beyond) will have an inspirational venue to visit , and I mean inspirational in every way! A cultural venue where you can shop, learn, teach, exhibit, view, entertain or be entertained, work and sell, and become involved. A place to hang out alone, or with family, or your peers. Time spent there may be contemplative or celebratory. High ceilings, big windows, at the edge of a great lake.
Don't miss this chance to see what could be.