Toronto Neighbourhood Guide


Distillery District

History of Distillery District

From tiny seeds an entire city neighbourhood has emerged. The history of the Distillery District began in 1832 when brothers-in-law James Worts and William Gooderham founded the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. In its heyday Gooderham and Worts was acclaimed as the largest distillery in the world. In 1859 rapid growth in the business led to the building of the present day distillery, which has survived intact as the largest and best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America. 

Despite The Distillery's early success, World War 1 together with Prohibition took a terrible toll on business. This ultimately led to the sale of the Gooderham and Worts distillery in 1923 to Harry C. Hatch who would eventually rename the distillery Hiram Walker - Gooderham and Worts Ltd. In 1990, after 153 years in business the Distillery ceased operations. However, it would quickly find a new life as the number one film location in Canada with more than 1700 films using this magnificent collection of buildings as the perfect backdrop for scenes in many hit films including: Cinderella Man, Chicago, The Recruit, and X-men. 

In 2001 Cityscape Holdings Inc., purchased The Distillery later partnering with Dundee Realty Corporation. Their incredible vision for this magnificent 13 acre site encompassing more than 40 historical buildings was to transform The Distillery into a destination place dedicated to arts, culture, and entertainment. In 2003, after an extensive restoration The Distillery opened for business and instantly became a Toronto landmark.

In 2008 a residential component was added to The Distillery for the first time in its history, with the building of the Pure Spirit Condos and Lofts condominium on Mill Street. Two more condominium towers have since been added: Clear Spirit and The Gooderham adding a new vibrancy and new life to this neighbourhood. The Distillery Historic District is an outstanding example of how history and architecture preservation can be achieved while at the same time incorporating new elements that together benefit the entire community.


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