Season’s greetings from Distillery District, Toronto

It’s 12 days ‘til Christmas, so what better way to start the countdown than a stroll through the Distillery District’s annual Winter Village?

The Distillery Historic District east of downtown Toronto is a commercial and residential district housed within heritage buildings of the former Gooderham & Worts Distillery.

Founded in 1832, Gooderham & Worts once produced over 2 million gallons of whisky for export on the world market. Its location adjacent to the Canadian National Railway mainline and mouth of the original route of the Don River outlet into Lake Ontario created a hard edge separating the district from neighboring communities, while facilitating a transport connection to the rest of Canada.

The surrounding area became increasingly de-industrialized through the late 20th century, and with winding down of distillery operations, the district became largely derelict. When the distillery formally closed in 1990, the area was redeveloped into a commercial district. During this phase of reinvestment, it became and remains the site of several film projects — you can in fact catch views of it in notable Hollywood features such as X-Men, Cinderella Man, and Chicago.

In 2001, the site was purchased by Cityscape Holdings Inc., which transformed it into a pedestrian-oriented area, and the Distillery Historic District was opened in 2003. The owners have enacted a strict philosophy of not leasing any of the retail and restaurant space to chains or franchises, so the majority of the preserved buildings are occupied with independent boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. The Young Centre for the Performing Arts and affiliated Soulpepper Theatre Company can be found here, as well as the George Brown Theatre School.

For locals and tourists alike, the most popular attraction in the Distillery District is its annual Winter Village and Christmas Market. The market has been a tradition since 2010, featuring Santa’s house, gift vendors, and a beer garden. Of course, this is cancelled for 2020 but the lighted displays are still up for outdoor enjoyment. I recommend visiting on a weekday to avoid the crowds, which were still plentiful during peak weekend hours.

Happy holidays!

34 responses to “Season’s greetings from Distillery District, Toronto”

  1. Loving the lights! Glad to see that the Distillery District is still keeping the holiday spirit. Enjoy a fun (and safe) holiday season!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Same to you, Rebecca. Happy holidays!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Happy holidays Hank.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I really like this set of photos of one of the best places to walk in Toronto.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed. The Distillery District is a nice place for a walk particularly when the crowds are absent.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Looks lovely. I love the idea of not leasing to chains or franchises.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is one of the best parts about this area. Lots of nice little galleries and unique shops.

      Like

  4. Looks like a great part of town!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is. Thanks for reading and happy holidays Andy!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been to the Christmas Market in the Distillery District a few times over the years. It used to be a well kept secret, but over the past five years or so it’s gotten extremely busy, so much so that you now have to reserve a ticket in advance on weekends.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It sure is crowded during the Christmas Market. I’ve usually avoided it during weekends and was a bit surprised at how packed it was even with the market cancelled. I suppose everyone else had the same thought as I did to visit as an outdoor activity!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. A great place to poke around during the day with trendy shops. I remember a sake factory/shop, always a treat! Haven’t been there for the holidays – nice atmosphere!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t think I’ve ever spotted the sake shop but there are definitely some cool trinkets to check out here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That was quite a few years ago, it may be gone now.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Once this pandemic is over, I’m heading there to meet all the people I’ve been working with for drinks. I love the policy of no chains to let small businesses flourish. Wish more places did that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a great place to stop for drinks. Hope you have the chance to visit soon!

      Like

  8. These old historic places are fun! We applaud their focus on leasing only to independent businesses and organizations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are fun for sure! Thanks for reading.

      Like

  9. I love how festive all these places are! A wonderful thing to see and do as an annual tradition – the Winter Village and Christmas market.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love Christmas markets. This one probably doesn’t compare to the ones in Europe but it’s close enough for something nearby!

      Like

  10. This is so lovely! We’ve been trying to visit Toronto for year now and even if it isn’t the holidays by the time we are able to, this looks like our type of district!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope you can drop by next year!

      Like

  11. I’ve heard a lot about this place It’s nice that only independents occupy the spaces.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s a great spot promoting unique small businesses. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  12. Looks like a beautiful area and the tree and lights are gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The lights are the nicest part at this time of year. One of the best displays in the city.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. That looks so nice! I love that they have a commitment to keeping chains out. Hopefully next year it’ll be back on your to-do list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always nice to keep some areas free of Starbucks or Rexall Pharmacy 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  14. […] for a quiet Christmas at home. We’ve decorated the tree, checked out winter village in the Distillery District, and Mr. Chuckles has a chicken dinner in the works for the big day — recipe to […]

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  15. Interesting history! That’s too bad about the shops and things this year but I am glad they kept the lights and the festivities going! Happy holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. […] the city; it remains a national historic site dating back to 1867, with a look reminiscent of the Distillery District in Toronto. Today, it is mostly home to boutique shops and galleries, and is a nice place to stroll […]

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  17. […] With its cobblestone streets and boutique shops and galleries, it has a similar feel as the Distillery District in […]

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