A short walk from downtown Toronto, the Distillery District is one of the city's most unique—and overlooked—neighborhoods. Craft beer, Venezuelan dark chocolate, live jazz, street comedy and antique shops all line the cobblestone streets of this town, which comes alive at night thanks to the endless watering holes, award-winning restaurants and enthusiastic community. So how did this eclectic, electric neighborhood come to be?
47 buildings, one distillery
Once upon a time, the Gooderham and Worts Distillery was the largest distillery in the British Empire, producing millions of gallons of whiskey and other spirits for more than 150 years. Though the distillery sadly closed shop in 1990, its 47 (that's right, 47) distillery buildings were revamped and preserved to become the Distillery District it is today. With the largest (and most impressive) collection of Victorian Industrial buildings in all of North America, this neighborhood is Toronto's one and only heritage district.
It may not produce enough whiskey to hydrate the entire British Empire these days, but the buildings have been filled with more shops, restaurants, bars, galleries and theaters than you can possibly imagine. The end result? An area that is whimsically historic, yet totally modern and fresh.
Creativity, culture and crazy-delicious cuisine
The renovations done on the original Gooderham and Worts buildings are truly impressive, but the Distillery is way more than a static preservation of distilling days long gone. Now it's a cultural hot spot, popular predominantly with artists and young professionals. There is a "no franchise" rule intact to make sure that the area promotes the creative community and gives visitors and residents a truly authentic experience, and its pedestrian-only policy gives way to all kinds of festivals and fun events on the streets. Needless to say, it's a place you can't leave your Canada locum tenens assignment without visiting.