The Distillery District is home to Toronto’s most original and diverse arts and entertainment complex, sited in the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery, an appealing industrial “village” on Mill Street. This rambling network of over forty brick buildings once constituted the largest distillery in the British Empire. In operation until 1990 the distillery was founded in 1832, when ships could sail into its own jetty, though landfill subsequently marooned it in the lee of the railway lines and the tail end of the Gardiner Expressway.
Since its demise, the distillery has been sympathetically redeveloped by a small group of entrepreneurs, who chose to integrate many of the original features into the revamp – including its quirky walkways and bottle runways – and, with refreshing integrity, to exclude all multinational chains. One of the architectural highlights is the Pure Spirits building, which features French doors and a fancy wrought-iron balcony. Among much else, the complex holds art galleries and artists’ studios, hand-made jewellery stores, designers, a chocolatier, bakeries, shops, a microbrewery and a couple of performance venues.