Set amidst the backdrop of the largest and best preserved Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America The Distillery Historic District is one of Toronto’s hottest new neighbourhoods. This unique pedestrian only neighbourhood charms you from the moment you step foot on one of the over 600,000 historic red brick pavers purchased from Cleveland to complete the Distillery’s pedestrian walkways. No matter how many times you visit The Distillery it’s hard not to be in awe of the beautifully restored iconic brick buildings that define this neighbourhood.
The Distillery Historic District is a neighbourhood where you can live, work and play. Right from the start the identity of this neighbourhood has been focused on arts, culture, and entertainment. The many artisans, theatres, restaurants, galleries, cafes and boutique retailers that call this area home all share a passion for their neighbourhood. The Distillery Historic District is a neighbourhood that is clearly proud of its history and has drawn inspiration from its past to help make this one of Toronto’s most vibrant places to live, work and play.
From tiny seeds an entire city neighbourhood has emerged. The history of the Distillery District began in 1832 when brothers-in-law James Worts and William Gooderham founded the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. In its heyday Gooderham and Worts was acclaimed as the largest distillery in the world. In 1859 rapid growth in the business led to the building of the present day distillery, which has survived intact as the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America.
Despite The Distillery’s early success, World War 1 together with Prohibition took a terrible toll on business. This ultimately led to the sale of the Gooderham and Worts distillery in 1923 to Harry C. Hatch who would eventually rename the distillery Hiram Walker – Gooderham and Worts Ltd. In 1990, after 153 years in business the Distillery ceased operations.
However, it would quickly find a new life as the number one film location in Canada with more than 1700 films using this magnificent collection of buildings as the perfect backdrop for scenes in many hit films including: Cinderella Man, Chicago, The Recruit, and X-men.
In 2001 Cityscape Holdings Inc., purchased The Distillery later partnering with Dundee Realty Corporation. Their incredible vision for this magnificent 13 acre site encompassing more than 40 historical buildings was to transform The Distillery into a destination place dedicated to arts, culture, and entertainment. In 2003, after an extensive restoration The Distillery opened for business and instantly became a Toronto landmark.
In 2008 a residential component was added to The Distillery for the first time in its history, with the building of the Pure Spirit Condos and Lofts condominium on Mill Street. Two more condominium towers have since been added: Clear Spirit and The Gooderham adding a new vibrancy and new life to this neighbourhood. The Distillery Historic District is an outstanding example of how history and architecture preservation can be achieved while at the same time incorporating new elements that together benefit the entire community.
here are 6 residential condominiums that provide the backdrop to this neighbourhood. The three most recent: Pure Spirits, Clear Spirit and Gooderham pay tribute to the history of the neighbourhood in name only. However, in style these steel and glass condominiums towers are ultra contemporary. All three buildings were designed by award winning architect Peter Clewes and feature interior designs by Ava Janikowski.
Condominium units in the neighbourhood range in size from approximately 500 square feet to 1500 square feet. The Gooderham condo has some larger units around 2,000 square feet. Contemporary suite layouts feature 9′ foot ceilings, large windows and wrap-around balconies. Amenities in these condominiums include indoor state-of-the-art fitness facilities, sauna and media room as well as outdoor terraces with swimming pool, hot tub, bbq and lounge area.
There are approximately 25 retail stores and boutiques in this neighbourhood, most with an artistic flair, ranging from clothing to curio and artisan to furniture shops. There are also 22 art galleries at The Distillery and a building dedicated to artist’s studios open to the public to visit and purchase the latest unique made in Toronto creations.
If you need a break from all the shopping delights The Distillery can soothe whatever ails you with a specialty coffee shop, chocolate maker, brew pub, wine bar and oyster house, just some of the savoury treats that await you. Foodies will also love the convenience of being able to walk to the St. Lawrence Market where you can find a smorgasbord of fresh meats and produce.
Stroll The Distillery pathways and discover Sculpture Park a random placement of 10 sculptures from a variety of artists that serve as pedestrian markers. After a good walk relax at one of the dozen outdoor patios where the European style cafes mesh seamlessly into the old word streetscape. Music and arts festivals and a local Farmers’ market add to the street ambiance. If you prefer staying indoors there are 17 performing arts companies that stage live theatre productions at various theatre venues within the neighbourhood.
A new 18 acre landscaped waterfront park will soon be open in the adjacent West Don Lands with a network of trails providing a myriad of recreational opportunities.
Bus service on Parliament and Front Street East are at your doorstep and the King and Queen Street streetcars are nearby. In the near future a direct link to downtown will be available by the Cherry Street LRT line which will loop at Cherry Street at The Distillery and then travel along King Street and into downtown. The Lakeshore LRT will also connect The Distillery to Union Station.
For motorists Lakeshore Boulevard, the Gardiner Expressway, the DVP and Bayview Extension are all easily accessed from this neighbourhood.