The Distillery District is a nationonal historic site and entertainment center located east of Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It contains numerous cafés, restaurants, and shops housed within heritage buildings of the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery. The 13 acres district comprises more than 40 heritage buildings and 10 streets, and is the largest collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America.
The district was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1988. The site was once The Gooderham and Worts Distillery, and represents the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America. In its time, The Gooderham and Worts Distillery played an important role in the growth and wealth of both the city and nation. In addition to various involvements in real estate and banking, the company at one time contributed more to Federal coffers than any other enterprise in the country.
In 2001, the site was purchased by Cityscape Holdings Inc., which transformed the district into a pedestrian-orientated area with unique streetscapes that feature spatial qualities and façade (building face) characteristics that allow people to identify with. In addition the integration of arts, culture and entertainment helps to create a vibrant and welcoming neighbourhood.
In 2003, the district was reopened to the public to great acclaim. The new owners refused to lease any of the retail and restaurant space to chains or franchises, and accordingly, the majority of the buildings are occupied with unique boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, jewellery stores, cafés, and coffeehouses, including a well-known microbrewery, the Mill Street Brewery. The upper floors of a number of buildings have been leased to artists as studio spaces and to office tenants with a “creative focus”.
A new theatre, the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, has opened on the site and serves as the home of the Soulpepper Theatre Company and the drama productions of nearby George Brown College.
Today the Distillery District continues to undergo rapid change. The area has been brought into the modern era through its commitment to sustainable development and mixed-use utilization, all while maintaining its unique historic built form, and looks forward to additional integration of modern growth through the further building of new condominiums. Condo developments are located at the south-east corner of the neighbourhood, bordering on Cherry Street and Tank House Lane.
In addition to this, the PanAm Games Athletes’ Village will soon be joining the local area. Current plans place it just north-east of the Distillery proper at the intersection of Cherry and Mill Streets. This along with the rest of the West Don Lands redevelopment to the east will undoubtedly bring an influx of visitors and from many locations as well as new residents to the neighbourhood