One of the things I love about my job as a realtor is the opportunity to discover and re-discover neighbourhoods. Many times I spend so much time in a specific area of Toronto that I feel as if I am a part of it. Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods. Each one is unique and many are slowly being revitalized by the increasing demand for real estate. As home values increase, new condo developments are built, neighbourhoods that were once thought of as undesirable are now reborn. The revitalization can be often recognized by new restaurants, shops and cafes popping up in the neighbourhood. If you’re a foodie, you know that the best restaurants can be often found in the up-and-coming neighbourhoods.
In the past I wrote about neighbourhoods such as Corktown, Regent Park and Cityplace which at the time were not exactly what one would consider the most obvious choices when looking for a new home but have flourished as neighbourhoods over the last few years. This year I am going to continue writing about Toronto neighbourhoods and my discoveries of restaurants, shops and local businesses that make each one unique. Today I’m starting with the historic Distillery District. For many living in Toronto, The Distillery District is nothing new. You know it’s one of those neighbourhoods that is often used as background in films or wedding photos. You may have been there to attend a wedding or visited the Christmas Market but the neighbourhood has much more to offer through out the year and with its close proximity to downtown and St. Lawrence Market, it’s also a great place to live.
The history of Distillery District began in 1832 when brothers-in-law James Worts and William Gooderham founded the Gooderham and Worts Distillery. The distillery was a success and considered the largest in the world. Unfortunately World War I and the Prohibition took a toll on the business and ultimately led to the sale of the Gooderham and Warts distillery in 1923 to Harry C. Hatch who renamed the distillery Hiram Walker – Gooderham and Warts Ltd. The Distillery closed in 1990 but it remains the largest and the best preserved collection of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America. In 2001, the 13 acre site was purchased by Cityscape Holdings Inc. and Dundee Realty Corporation and transformed into a destination for arts, culture and entertainment.
Who Lives Here?
The residential component was added in 2008 with plans for six condominium developments. Condos are the only option in the Distillery District and when compared to downtown Toronto, there aren’t that many available. Although with the new developments in the neighbouring West Don Lands, this offers an opportunity for those who don’t want to wait for the right unit in one of the Distillery condos to pop up. This neighbourhood is well suited for professionals working downtown but prefer to be a few blocks removed from its hustle and bustle. Around here, on any given day you’ll spot couples sipping coffee in one of the cafes or patios, friends shopping for shoes at Heel Boy or for accessories at Hoi Bo, and photographers and bloggers using the cobblestone and art installations as a background to their stories.
Where To Eat?
If you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind, The Distillery offers a good variety of cafes, pubs and restaurants, whether you’re just in the mood for a latte and a scone on a patio, looking for a fun spots for tacos and margaritas with your girlfriends or an intimate spot for special celebrations. One of my favourites for a casual meet up is Mill Street Brewery. In the summer the patio at the Mill Street Beer Hall is packed with tourists and micro-brew enthusiasts, but if you’re lucky to find a seat, it’s a fun spot to enjoy a bevy and people watch.
Brunch is my favourite meal and if you’re like me, you’ll appreciate well executed eggs benedict or perfectly made french toast. Cluny delivers on both counts. This relaxed modern Parisian bistro and boulangarie not only offers indulgent french cuisine, but its stunning interior alone is total eye-candy. Here are just a few photos of the restaurant, but I will post a proper review for you soon.
Things To Do
There is always something going on in The Distillery. As many of you may know, during Christmas The Distillery hosts the annual Christmas Market. If you’re looking for a fun place to watch the Super Bowl this weekend, head over to Mill St. Brewery Beer Hall to watch the game and eat great food. Also, on now until March 19th you can visit the Toronto Light Fest. The event transforms the Distillery District into a huge open-air gallery, lighting up the streets with works from Canadian and international light artists. I was in the area on the afternoon the event opened and it was quite magical to see, especially when it started to snow.
I love walking through the cobblestone streets of The Distillery District and often stop by if I’m in the area, even if it’s to grab a coffee and take a walk. It’s such a special part of the city. If you’re visiting by car, parking is available on the south end of The District, just east of Parliament Street. The area is also easily accessible by transit. If you’re thinking of moving and plan to buy or rent a property in a new neighbourhood, I would highly recommend visiting The Distillery District.
If you’re interested in properties in The Distillery District feel free to send me a note.