Distillery Historic District

Being completely honest, before my first trip to Ontario, I was not excited to see Toronto. I’d seen a big city before and I had never heard of any real cultural or historic significance to the area. Then I stumbled upon the Distillery Historic District, located around the Parliament Buildings, stretching from Mill Street to Cherry Street. I immediately fell in love with the rustic area that felt like a piece of old world Europe dropped into a metropolis of Canada. But even more than that, it didn’t feel like a constructed tourist destination with its atmosphere of pure authenticity.

In 1832, the Gooderham and Worts Distillery opened, still thriving today, that building is the centre of the Distillery Historic District. However, it was not until 2003 that the area was declared a designated national heritage site and became a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. It is the largest, preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America. Needless to say, you won’t find any sky scrapers and business suits here.

What you will find is one of Canada’s trendiest and most artistic neighbourhoods. The European styled buildings have created a fresh area for artists to escape the chaotic city without trudging into the wilderness. The streets are lined with art galleries and small shops. You’ll be sure to find something that suits your taste as the variety as the diversity of art is astounding for only 13 acres of Toronto. Beware though, if you are an art connoisseur looking to purchase some pieces, bring cash as many of the shops are so small they do not accept credit cards or cheques.

Being an art lover on a budget, I avoided buying anything and, instead, took in some of the other mediums the district had to offer: mainly the cuisine. The variety of places to eat ranged from large restaurants to small coffee shops. The many small cafes littering the streets made for a perfect light lunch on a warm afternoon, while admiring the picturesque Victorian architecture. I really did find myself falling into a European day dream. The larger restaurants are also great. Many have large patios and provide live music at night. Most is local talent, another quality I found that made the District so genuine.

To preserve the nature and authenticity of the District, there are no franchises permitted in the area. So you won’t find a Starbucks or McDonalds. The entire area comes across as entirely genuine. I found it absolutely ideal for a relaxing day of soaking up culture and beauty. Now I make frequent visits to Toronto to visit friends and have made the Distillery Historic District an obligatory part of each trip.

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