For us, it was the first Doors Open event of the year. I mapped out the places I wanted to take Charlene and made an itinerary.  

Our first stop was the Ontario Regiment Museum.  I have been wanting to go here for years and we finally made it on the Saturday that Doors Open was being held.  When offered to have a tour guide, we always say yes. It is the best way to learn about a location, and it becomes more engaging than reading notes on a wall. We learned of the terrible cost of war on human lives and how (and why) more Canadian soldiers died in the First World War compared to the Second.  

The biggest attraction at the Ontario Regiment Museum is the tanks. I have always wanted to know how crowded it is in one, and several of them were opened up to show me just that. I appreciated seeing this because it has plagued me since I first learned about tanks.

We would then find parking at a central location and start walking to some of the other locations. Churches are a priority for us. These places of religious beauty draw us in time and time again, and whenever we see an open door to a church, we will try to have a peek. But there was one place we were about to visit that we had never been to before- a mosque.

We walked down the street and went in the wrong direction, having difficulty finding the entrance. The orientation of this building did not match the others on the block. The reason for this is that all mosques face in the direction of Mecca. This meant that the main entrance did not face the street but the other direction where the parking lot was “in the back.”

We entered and were greeted kindly. The Imam gave us a private tour of Oshawa’s Islamic Centre, which was a great honour. He explained the cultural aspects of some of the practices of Islam and guided us through the mosque with pride and joy. Being who I am, I am full of questions. After all, that is what Doors Open is all about. 

I received a nervous laugh when I stated that I am Christian and asked his opinion on that.  It is sad that we now live in a world where different views and beliefs automatically mean that we must be confrontational.  Fortunately, the Imam and I are above that and had a fantastic discussion of Jesus, the Torah, the Bible, and everything else that came to mind when we politely asked what some of the beliefs and practices meant. It was a great discussion, and even his wife came in to help explain the differences and similarities between Christianity and Islam.  

We could have talked all day, and I had the sense that they would have appreciated this as well. I ended our talk because I noticed more and more people arriving, and others should learn about this culture and belief system. I thanked the Imam and appreciated our frank and candid discussion about a topic that can anger many people. Charlene and I left there knowing this was one of the best places we had ever visited. I have always approached Doors Open as an invitation to learn about anything and everything with as much passion as possible. We learned a lot from this one visit—visits like these end prejudice and a narrow worldview. 

We would visit an art gallery we had seen during our first exploration of Oshawa years ago. Across the street was a church with beautiful stained glass, and we finally got inside the Canadian Automotive Museum. I would also try to pass a fitness test for the Canadian Armed Forces (I failed miserably and was bested by a teenage girl). Finally, we entered a candy store and had a drink that I found impressive—yum! And we would complete our tour of Oshawa with a tour of a cemetery.

All the while, I thought about what the Imam had said and, more importantly, that we had talked respectfully and honestly. Thank you, Doors Open, for this excellent opportunity to learn about our communities.


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