Walking the pedestrian-only cobblestone streets past the best preserved Victorian industrial architecture in North America, you’ll feel as if you’ve stumbled into another century. The 44 buildings of this 13-acre (5-ha) site were, until the mid-1900s, part of Gooderham and Worts, once the world’s largest distillery. The distillery evolved from a grist mill founded here in 1832 by Englishman James Wort and his brother-in-law William Gooderham. The 150-year-old district has been infused with new life and is a vibrant community of cafés, restaurants, galleries, art studios, performance venues, and specialty shops.

Filming at the Distillery

When the Gooderham and Worts Distillery ceased operations in 1990, the entire site, with its evocative atmosphere, began a new life as the largest film set outside Hollywood. With hundreds of film shoots here in the past decade, including Chicago, X-Men, and The Hurricane, along with television series such as La Femme Nikkita and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, this is Canada’s busiest filming location.

Plan of Distillery District

Gooderham & Worts sign

Brick Street Bakery offers excellent 100-percent-organic breads, meat pies, sandwiches, and desserts for takeaway or to enjoy on its picnic tables.

Stop at the Visitor Centre, in The Stables (

Trinity St at Tank House Lane
), for a map and events information.

Join a guided tour ($15), a Segway tour ($39, $69), or rent a self-guided audio tour, available at the Visitor Centre, to get the most out of your visit. Email [email protected] or phone for details.

The district hosts many events, such as jazz and dance festivals (May & Aug) and outdoor art exhibits.

Top contemporary Canadian artwork is featured in many of the galleries in the Pure Spirits Building and the Stone Distillery

Visit the farmers’ market held every Sunday during July and August on the Distillery District’s boardwalk

Top 10 Sights
  1. Cannery

    Vibrant theater, opera, and dance companies have set up their headquarters in this building where industrial-grade alcohol was once canned. Perigee restaurant on the second floor serves up an excellent tasting menu from its open kitchen.

  2. Pure Spirits Building

    Fronted with enormous windows to let in natural light – designed to diminish the fire hazard of producing alcohol under gas lighting – this 1873 building is the perfect setting for the several art and photography galleries within.

  3. Paint Shop

    While many of the Distillery buildings still smell faintly of the grain and alcohol once stored within, this 1879 building renews its scent of malt and hops daily, as the Mill Street Brewery. Traditional handcrafted beers include an organic lager and a robust coffee porter. While sipping samples at the bar, check out the display of vintage distilling equipment.

  4. Boiler House Complex

    In the 1860s, the boiler house heated the entire distillery. Other buildings in the complex housed a carpentry shop, a blacksmith, and a canteen. They have now been converted into two restaurants, including 1832 Pizza and Pasta Bar, with patio seating in summer, and Brick Street Bakery.

  5. Cooperage

    Wooden barrels for aging whisky were manufactured here; stenciled instructions to workers are still on the walls. Today, the Sandra Ainsley Gallery, exhibits glass art, including lavish sculpture by American Dale Chihuly.

  6. Case Goods Warehouse

    The majority of arts organizations and artists in the Distillery complex have their offices, workshops, and studios in this building where cartons of liquor were once stored. Many artisans display their unique works, including embroidery, jewelry, and handwoven clothing, in the boutiques here.

  7. Pump House

    The pumps in this redbrick building led from the underground water reservoir, in case of fire; others were used for alcohol flow. It’s now home to the delightful Balzac’s café. Beans are roasted Mondays and Fridays.

  8. Stone Distillery

    This massive limestone structure is the complex’s oldest. Its exterior retains features, such as a winch, from the days when the shoreline – and ships – came right up to the building. Inside are excellent art galleries.

  9. Molasses Storage

    Upscale contemporary furniture and home accessory shops, among others, occupy the complex where a huge tank used to store molasses for rum once stood.

  10. Denaturing Room

    Machines used by the distillery for alcohol production are dotted throughout the building, as are craft boutiques and specialty food shops.

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