Exploring Toronto’s Distillery Historic District

Toronto was once home to the world’s largest distillery, the Gooderham and Worts Distillery, founded in 1832. Though the stills have long since been stilled, the five-hectare (13-acre) site east of downtown has been redeveloped into The Distillery Historic District (55 Mill St., 416/364-1177), where the Victorian-era brick industrial buildings now house galleries, shops, cafés, and theaters, as well as high-end condominiums. The Distillery Historic District is bounded by Parliament, Mill, and Cherry Streets. From downtown, take the no. 504 King streetcar to Parliament Street, then walk two blocks south. You can also follow a walking path along the Esplanade between the St. Lawrence Market and the Distillery District, bordering David Crombie Park.

Toronto's Distillery Historic District is a 13-acre site with Victorian-era brick industrial buildings.

Toronto’s Distillery Historic District is a 13-acre site with Victorian-era brick industrial buildings. Photo © Jason Baker, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Galleries and Artist Studios

The Artscape Building (15 Case Goods Lane, noon-5pm Wed.-Sun.) houses more than 60 artist studios, many of which are open for browsing, and you may be able to watch the artists at work.

The Corkin Gallery (7 Tank House Lane, 416/979-1980, 10am- 6pm Tues.-Sat., noon-5pm Sun.) has one of the coolest art spaces in the Distillery District, displaying contemporary works amid the brick columns, steel girders, and soaring ceilings of the building’s original structure.

While you may think about multicultural Toronto only in terms of its various ethnic populations, you can learn about a different sort of community at the Deaf Culture Centre (34 Distillery Lane, 416/203-0343, 11am-6pm Tues.-Sat., noon-5pm Sun., free). The center has a small museum about the deaf community and about technological innovations and communications tools for the deaf. It also offers resources for deaf individuals and their families and friends.


Toronto’s first sake brewery, the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company (51 Gristmill Lane, 416/365-7253, 11am-7pm Mon.-Sat., noon-6pm Sun.) has a retail store and tasting bar.

Outside a brick warehouse building, an arrow shaped neon sign will Mill St Brewery logo.

Free brewery tours are offered daily at the Mill St. Brewery. Photo © Maria Casacalenda, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

The Mill Street Brewery (21 Tank House Lane, 416/681-0338, store 11am-8pm Mon.-Thurs., 11am-10pm Fri.-Sat., 11am-6pm Sun., brewpub 11am-11pm Mon.-Tues., 11am-midnight Wed., 11am-1pm Thurs., 11am-2am Fri., 10:30am- 2am Sat., 10:30am-10pm Sun.) produces more than a dozen varieties of beer in this Distillery District microbrewery. You can take a tour of the brewery (4pm Mon.-Fri., 3pm and 5pm Sat.-Sun., $10), which includes tastings; check in 15 minutes before the tour time.

Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Ontario.

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