Ten years ago the Distillery District in Toronto, Canada, was a derelict collection of brick Victorian industrial buildings that had at one time belonged to the Gooderham & Worts Distillery. Founded in 1832, it originally consisted of 47 buildings and Gooderham was once declared the largest maker of spirits in the world.
It ceased operations after 153 years of continuous operation and sat neglected until it was designated a National Historical Site and a group of developers took on the challenge of transforming it into a pedestrian-only village of theaters, boutiques, restaurants, and galleries featuring Canadian artists and artisans.
To learn more about its history you can take a walking or a Segway tour (for children ages 12 and up).
If you feel a sense of déjà vu while you visit, it is not because you were a distillery worker in a past life. Its early 20th century ambiance made it a popular film location in 1990s and the backdrop for films like X-Men, Chicago and a slew of other great B movies. As a landmark site, the developers were obligated to maintain its historical integrity so there is still the sense that you have traveled back in time, especially when you visit the event spaces and gin joints.
Distillery District Events
In addition to its regular theater and live entertainment venues, throughout the year the District plays host to several family friendly art and music festivals. During the holidays, the Toronto Christmas Market runs from November 29 to December 15 and celebrates the tradition and charm of a European holiday market with musicians, beer gardens, carolers and children’s choirs in addition to unique locally handcrafted gifts and trimmings.
Relax and Refresh
After an afternoon of weaving in and out of galleries and shops, we stopped for refreshments at Soma, a micro chocolate factory. They make all things chocolate; in the summer, the gelato lab is always creating new flavors. Although the weather was warm, the spicy Mayan hot chocolate, labeled the drink of the Gods, was a divine way to end our day.