Victorian (and Modern) Afternoons at the Distillery

I have visited Toronto’s Distillery District twice in the past two weeks. When you step through its main gates on Trinity Street, you feel as if you have stepped back in time.

Image

Imageb

It holds obvious charm for photographers and steampunk types 🙂 , but its appeal reaches far and wide.

Image

Image

It “represents the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America” and was designated a National Historic Site in 1998.

Image

Image

The Gooderham and Worts Distillery began operations in 1837. By 1871, ” the…Distillery’s annual whiskey and spirits production total[ed] a whopping 2.1 million gallons – close to half of the total spirits production in all of Ontario”.

Image

“Production continue[d] to grow and its booming export business ship[ped] millions of gallons to clients in Montreal, Saint John, Halifax and New York as well as Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and other ports in South America. At one point, it [was] the largest distillery in the world”.

Image

The complex continued to thrive for the rest of the 1800s and into the 1900s.  However, everything changed in 1914 when World War One began. “In order to support the war effort, the distillery convert[ed] its operations to manufacturing acetone. Then in 1920, just when things are getting back to normal, Canada’s short lived prohibition era br[ought] production of alcohol beverages to a standstill.”

Image

Image

Prohibition ended in 1927 and the Gooderham and Worts Distillery continued operations with new owners. Production continued until 1990, when the Distillery closed operations for good.

Image

However, “the Distillery [found] a second life as the number one film location in Canada, and the second largest film location outside of Hollywood. Over the years, more than 1700 films use[d] the site.”

Image

Image

In 2001, the land was purchased by Cityscape Holdings Inc. “They undert[ook] an incredibly ambitious project – to restore The Distillery and its more than 40 buildings and transform it into a pedestrians-only village entirely dedicated to arts, culture and entertainment”.

In 2003, the Distillery Historic District opened and “quickly bec[ame] a vital part of the city and one of Canada’s top tourist attractions.”

Image

Even on a snowy day like today, a visit is worthwhile.

Image

Image

Image

Today’s distillery District contains many unique and outstanding shops, many which feature handmade and/or artisan items. There are also a good number of restaurants and cafes. But the inclusion of art, theatre, and entertainment into the area are (in my opinion) what makes the District extra special. The Young Centre for the Performing Arts on Tank House Lane is the home of Soulpepper Theatre Company – one of the best in the city – and also the training ground and showplace for George Brown Theatre School’s acting students.

There are also galleries, artists’ studios, and shops to purchase the art made on site.

Additionally, the District is also host to numerous community events such as the Christmas Market (see my previous post about this at https://hotaruchan20.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/toronto-christmas-market/) and the upcoming “Leslieville Flea” market this coming Sunday (March 16th).

This is Trinity Street – the “Main Street” of the Distillery Historic District – as it looks today:

Image

Quotes and information taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distillery_District and from http://www3.thedistillerydistrict.com/

Stay tuned!

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Victorian (and Modern) Afternoons at the Distillery

  1. I enjoyed your walk thru of the Distillery District. I used to frequent this little community years ago. It was such a breath of fresh to see creativity come to life. I have not been in years, but wonder if they have done much to incorporate the ever changing city of Toronto? Would you say that it focuses on social aspects such as the homeless or the LGBT community at all? Are there any services or resources in the Distillery District that speak to many preceding social issues that surround it’s historic walls? What is your opinion?

    • One could argue that the presence of art, theatre, and artists in the District is important to everyone. Art and theatre can act as a sort of mirror by which we can understand ourselves better and bring awareness to social trends and issues.

  2. Hello, Im Robert Weir.

    Im a creative film maker studying at Manchester Metropolitan university. I currently working on a project about English whisky and I would like permission to use one of your photos within my project. Like I said, I’m a student so this is a non-profit project but I will be submitting my final piece into film festivals. I would like to use the Gooderham and Wortz distillery picture and they will be used when one of the contributors is taking about England’s whisky past (as this is a hard topic to film). I will of course give appropriate credits within the film.

    I hope to hear from you soon, thanks.
    Robert.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s