Why I Love Toronto Reason #258
The Distillery Historic District
This is by far one of the most historical sites in all of Toronto. I know I have said on occasion that some places make you feel as though you are stepping into a whole other world, but when you walk through The Distillery Historic District - well you actually are. You are walking through a Victorian area that is one of the biggest destinations and must see spots in the city for tourists. I even act all touristy when I’m there! Mind you my first time there was last year when we took Dasha’s cousin Jane to the district.
The Distillery Historic District is a national historic site with 30+ Victorian buildings. It all started in 1832 when James Worts (an experienced miller) and his brother in law William Gooderham (who invested into Wort’s milling) ended up becoming partners. Sadly this partnership came to abrupt end when Worts threw himself into the company well after his wife died during childbirth. It has even been reported that James still haunts some of the buildings in the district and people have reported hearing banging noises and doors opening and closing by themselves. But I digress.
Afterwards Gooderham continued on and in 1837 added a distillery and produced his first whisky. In the 1850’s the company was at its best and the area added more and more facilities including flourmills, a wharf, distillery, storehouses, an ice house, a cooper shop and a dairy. In 1859 a new Distillery opened on Mill Street with the main building costing around $200,000 (in the 1800’s!). In 1881 Gooderham and Worts Jr. both passed away and Gooderham’s son George inherited the company, but sadly his reign of the distillery would have some major obstacles. The first was the World War saw the distillery become a manufacturing plant for acetone and the prohibition would be the last nail in coffin. In 1923 the company was bought. It wasn’t until 1990 (153 years later) that the district ceased operations.
Today The Distillery Historic District is a place to see theatre, art as well as a place to dine, live and shop. Most importantly it is a place to be in awe. Filled with modern art pieces and shops The Distillery Historic District is a perfect balance between the present and the past. It has modern day art like IT (which is inspired by H.G. Wells War of the Worlds) as well as many other modern art pieces. While you are there why not check out some of the shops like Bergo Designs (which is one of my favorites because it sells the weirdest things like Cat Lady Action Figures and Bacon Mints), A Taste of Quebec and Blackbird Vintage (which has some amazing vintage pieces and my favorite a matchbox bed for mice!). Why not eat/drink at Balzac’s (which I would recommend for its interior), Greg’s Ice Cream (like the one on Bloor Street), Pure Spirits Oyster House (great food) or Mill Street Brewers (try the sampler! I highly recommend it!)? There is so much for you to do here.
Also we know from my post Movies Shot In Toronto that Cinderella Man, X-Men and Chicago were all shot here. Plus remember the Gooderham Building/Flatiron building? Remember how it was built so Mr. Gooderham could see all of his businesses? Well The Distillery Historic District was once seen from the building, however I highly doubt you can see it from there anymore.
So for all you historical lovers who just want to have a chill day in the city, I suggest taking a walk through The Distillery Historic District. It truly is an amazing experience, from walking on the brick roads, seeing the old infused with the new and just feeling like you have stepped into another universe.
That is Why I Love Toronto.