In 1831, James Worts migrated from the U.K. to Upper Canada. When he was joined by William Gooderham a year later they formed a partnership and established a mining business.
James Wort committed suicide after his wife died in childbirth. William Gooderham continued the business, partnered with James Wort's eldest son, and established a whiskey distillery in 1837. That is how The Distillery Historic District, one of Canada's national historic sites, was born.
The Gooderham and Worts Distillery once stood on the shore of Lake Ontario and its windmill was one of the most prominent landmarks in the Town of York. Landfill has extended Toronto much further south than its original shoreline. The windmill is gone and but the millstone that used to turn it is still on site.
In 1990, after the distillery closed, the area become the second largest location outside Hollywood for TV and film production. All that changed in 2001 when the 40 heritage buildings were purchased by Cityscape Holdings and, in partnership with Dundee Realty Corporation, developed into one of Toronto's most fashionable districts with stylish eateries, boutiques, art galleries, cafes and bars. There is a chocolate factory and a micro-brewery on-site.
The Distillery District is a popular tourist area. It has a full calendar of its own events including:
- TD Jazz Festival at the Distillery (July)
- Distillery Art Market (July)
- Artisans at the Distillery (August)
- Loews' Toronto Christmas Market (December)
The Distillery District has hosted Cavalia, a breathtaking equestrian show. It participates in important Toronto events such as:
- Winterlicious and Summerlicious (Toronto dining establishments features special prix fixe menus)
- Doors Open Toronto
- Nuit Blanche
Its event venues are available for corporate events, weddings and galas.
Event venues in The Distillery District have retained their historical feel and added modern touches. An ambiance that your guests will not soon forget is created by cobblestone patios, 35-foot ceilings, wooden beams and rafters and exposed brick from the brickworks that supplied most Toronto buildings (now an event venue called Evergreen Brickworks). Three venues that are ideal for corporate events are:
The Boiler House
Raw brick and an open loft space provide the backdrop for The Boiler House's contemporary design and decor. This event venue can accommodate 450 for receptions and 200 for dining.
The Fermenting Cellar
Built in 1859, The Fermenting Cellar once stood on the shore of Lake Ontario. The capacity is 400 for dining and 600 for receptions.
Located in what was once the carpentry shop for the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. The bar and all tables were constructed from 150-year-old wood from the carpentry shop. Archeo can accommodate 150 guests for cocktails and 118 for dining. The private patio can host receptions for 50.
For memorable events at a historical site that played a pivotal role in the economic development of Toronto, event planners will be glad they discovered The Distillery District.
Photo Credits: Toronto Corporate Events, Executive Oasis International