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CityPASS Home  »  City Traveler Blog  »  Hip & Historic: Toronto Canada’s Distillery District Has Something For Everyone

Hip & Historic: Toronto Canada’s Distillery District Has Something For Everyone

Just east of downtown and a mere six minutes from Toronto’s celebrated CN Tower you’ll find another stunner: Toronto’s incredibly cool Distillery Historic District.

The Distillery is where haute, hip and historic converge into one of most coveted arts, culture and entertainment destinations in all of Canada.

This pedestrian-only village is a both a step backward and forward in time. That’s because there really is no other place else in North America where Victorian Industrial Architecture is paired so perfectly with the latest in one-of-a-kind boutiques galleries, studios, restaurants, cafes, theatres and, yes, a place to find a drink.

It is a Distillery District, after all.

Photo credit: Mark Watmaough.

Originally, this was the waterfront-friendly home to the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. In the late 60’s—the 1860’s to be exact—it was the largest distillery in the British Empire, providing over 2 million gallons of whisky a year. For over a century and a half, it would continue to make the good stuff, until it all came to an end in the 1990’s, leaving this expansive 13-acre plot of land pretty much abandoned and frozen in time. It was in large part due to its old-school look and massive size that this district— comprised of nearly a dozen streets and umpteen historic buildings—made its way onto the big screen as the Canada’s number one film location during the 1990’s. Over 1,500 films were shot here, including such fan favorites as Chicago and X-Men. Then, in 2001, a group of local visionaries purchased this parcel with the hopes of maintaining the charm and integrity of a historic district, while at the same time developing a new destination that would charm both visitors and locals alike.

The Stonehouse Distillery at Toronto's Distillery District. Photo credit: Benson Kua.

As the Toronto Star says: “To enter The Distillery is to step back into an era of horse-drawn carts, windmills and sailing ships.” With a big nod to the past and a foot firmly in the future, here you will also find world-class art venues, including the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, the George Brown College and the Soulpepper Theatre Company. You will also find stylish shoe boutiques and vintage shops such as John Fluevog and Blackbird Vintage, as well as the latest in home electronic devices at Sound Designs. During the summer, a Farmers Market takes up residence on Trinity Square every Sunday through October. In fact, there seems to be something happening here everyday, so it’s definitely worth checking out the district’s Events Calendar to find out exactly what is going on.

Photo credit: mroach.

No trip to Toronto is complete without a visit to The Distillery. Whether you have just a couple of hours to spend here or can play here all day, this is one highly entertaining district!

Photo credit: Stephen Weppler.

 

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