Unique Neighbourhoods to Visit in Canada: The Distillery District, Toronto
Updated: May 25
As one of the older cities in Canada, Toronto is firmly connected to its past while evolving to accommodate the demands of a world-class city. As you walk along its’ streets, you will find evidence of the City’s evolution where older, established architecture coexists with newer and often bolder forms of contemporary design.
Among the noted locations where old and new comfortably coexist is the Distillery District. This is a distinct and historic atmosphere where old is surrounded by new. The experience of the area is like stepping back in time. The pedestrian-friendly, cobblestone streets wind between the buildings in a way that suggests the neighbourhood is far bigger, yet quaint and protected from the rest of the city.
The Distillery District was formally known as the Gooderham & Worts Distillery, made up of 47 Victorian Industrial buildings. A small group of developers had a vision for the derelict collection of buildings and pronounced it a national historic site. Rather then create a preservation site, they envisioned a neighbourhood that could be admired for its historic significance as well as be used and experienced by the public. The Distillery District now is regarded as one of Canada’s premier arts, culture and entertainment destinations. Home to creative people, artisans shops, galleries, studios, restaurants, theatres and cafes.
Architect’s from Toronto’s past were fortunate to have access to an abundance of local clay given the natural geography and prominent shale layer underlying much of the area. As a result, brick made for a relatively inexpensive exterior building material for this area and much of Toronto. Of course, the surrounding contemporary glass condominium buildings serve as a counterpoint to the texture and scale of the district making it feel even more like a perfect slice of history.