Thursday 5 May 2011

Distilling the Spirit of Toronto

Eight months ago on my visit to Toronto, Canada, I had a Monday afternoon free and wandered down to the Distillery District.

This remarkable area was once the sprawling factory complex of Gooderham & Worts, and was reputedly the largest alcoholic distillery in the world at its 19th century zenith. Located next to railways, a river and the Great Lakes, it did a roaring trade during Prohibition in the 1920s in the right-next-door USA.

The distillery closed in 1990, later undergoing conversion into a cool urban district of arts venues and restaurants. Here's a look at how the towering industrial architecture gives the place an attractive rough-edged appearance:

It seemed more or less car-free, which was a nice surprise in a North American city. I saw a group go by on a tour taken via Segway, the curious one-person transporter which never looks quite right on either road or footpath. Plenty of room for them on a quiet Monday, of course. And here's a guy on a bike:

Here's where I had lunch, at the Mill Street Brewery pub where the microbrewery made all its beer from 2002 to 2006:

Wandering around after lunch, I found some interesting outlets and design elements. Here's an intriguing device within a chocolatier's:

And here are some funky mask-shaped chairs outside a bar:

Finally, a look at the enormous distillery-themed piece of street art in the centre of the complex. It's unnecessarily overdoing things - the industrial architecture all around it is the really impressive big-ticket item - but it is interesting to look at and walk beneath:


Disclosure time... on this trip I travelled courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.

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