Toronto’s Distillery Historic District is an ultra-cool, pedestrian-only arts and entertainment precinct just a short walk from downtown Toronto. Formerly home to red brick Victorian buildings that had seen better days, the European-inspired area now buzzes with life and atmosphere thanks to an incredible transformation by a team of creative and visionary developers.
The Gooderham & Worts whiskey distillery, which dates back to 1832, operated on this site until shutting up shop here relatively recently – in 1990. During the 1990s, the area became Canada’s primary film location, with more than 1,700 films making use of the site. Then, in 2003, after a meticulous refurbishment, the space reopened as the Distillery Historic District. Today, the 47 buildings that comprised the historic former distillery house hip art galleries, theatre and performance spaces, artists’ studios, trendy restaurants and cafes, and a wealth of quirky and chic boutiques and shops. Indeed, keen shopaholics will find more than 80 retail outlets here.
Today, with its fusion of old-world industrial charm and cutting-edge modern design, this unique 5-hectare district is one of Toronto’s best attractions and should be on the itinerary for anyone who likes architecture, food, shopping, design, the arts and a bit of culture. In summer and early autumn, the Distillery Sunday Market sets up shop every week from noon till 5pm, offering a range of artisanal goodies. Also in the warmer months, the district plays host to foodie events and plenty of live music. There’s simply no better place in the city to escape the cars and busy streets and wander into a world that aims to unite all the good things in life.
On your way to the Distillery Historic District, whet your shopping appetite with a stop at also-historic St Lawrence Market on Front Street in Old Town. This public market has been bustling for more than 200 years and today features 120 vendors, merchants and artisans.