Who would have thought a 19th Century Distillery could be the impetus for a fun and romantic destination? In Toronto, Ontario, that is exactly the case.
During its prime, Tononto's Gooderham and Worts Distillery was integral to the economic wealth and growth of the city, growing into one of Canada's largest distilleries. In 1871, it was producing a whopping 2.1 million gallons of whiskey and spirits.
After 153 years of continuous production, the Gooderham & Worts Distillery ceased operation in the 1990s. As one of the best-preserved Victorian architecture in North America, it enjoyed a second life as a film location and throughout the 90s there were over 1,700 films shot on the site including Chicago and X-men.
The Distillery during the day — Photo courtesy of Photo Courtesy of Tourism TorontoIn 2001, the property was sold and restored to its former glory. In 2003, The Distillery Historic District re-opened with the 40 buildings rebuilt into a pedestrians-only village entirely dedicated to arts, culture and entertainment.
It’s been a resounding success. Walking along the pedestrian’s way, it’s easy to sense the rich history and romance of the past. In the summer, the Wine and Spirits Festival, City Roots Music Festival and Luminato light up the cobblestone streets. In September, the Distillery Artfest is alive and happening. At Christmas there are special events and music to celebrate the season.
Toronto’s own Millstone Brewery is housed here (the most proper use of the district), offering samples and selling their delicious ale year-round. Pure Spirits Oyster House and Grill specializes in seafood in a beautiful Edwardian surroundings. Oysters from both coasts are on the menu. The old carpentry shop has been transformed in Archeo Restaurant serving pizza and pasta served on tables made from 150-year old wood. Soma Chocolates (the best chocolatier in town) is also located here. Their signature cup of chilli-infused hot chocolate shouldn’t be missed. The kitchen is behind glass so visitors can watch the chocolates being made. There’s even a distillery on site – except for sake. The Ontario Spring Water Sake Company features a tasting bar where you can find your favourite flavour of rice wine.
The Distillery at night — Photo courtesy of Photo Courtesy of Tourism TorontoShopping at the Distillery will introduce you to local artisans who are creating some of the most unique jewelry, clothing, cosmetics and home accessories found in the city. These one-of-a-kind items make the perfect souvenirs. You’ll also find some of Canada’s preeminent art galleries, art dealers, artists and artisans here, all within a short walk from each other.
Heritage Toronto offers a historic walk through the Distillery if you would like to learn more about this special location.