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Writing with Light

Toronto’s Historic Distillery District

The Distillery District was once home to The Gooderham and Worts Distillery dating back to 183os. In its time The Gooderham & Worts Distillery played an important part in the growth and wealth of the city.

James Worts emigrated to Canada from England in 1831 and established a grist mill (a mill for grinding grain). He was soon followed by his brother-in-law, William Gooderham who was a successful merchant in his native England. William decided to invest in James’ mill business and thus the Gooderham & Worts partnership was born. In 1837, spurred on by the increase in grain production at Upper Canada farms, William decided to add a distillery at the mill and that year their first whiskey was produced. The distillery prospered over the years and the business grew to included a cooper shop, storehouses, a dairy, flour mills and a wharf.

World War 1 had an almost ruinous effect on the distillery and just as things were starting to get back to normal Canada’s short-lived prohibition in 1920 brought alcohol production to a halt.

Throughout the 20th century the distillery would have new owners and continue to thrive producing rye whiskey and then rum. After 153 years of continuous production the distillery closed in 1990. During the 90’s the distillery found new life as the number 1 filming location in Canada and the second largest outside of Hollywood. In total 1700 films were shot here among the gorgeous Victorian architecture. The 2002 musical, Chicago, was filmed here and one of the buildings stood in for  Cook County Prison.

In 2001 the Distillery was purchased and an ambitious restoration project ensued.  The Distillery Historic District opened its doors in May 2003 and is today one of the most popular areas in Toronto.

Click on the images to view a higher resolution version or to Purchase a Print.

Distillery District, Toronto, Gooderham & Worts, black and white, monochrome,

Distillery District; Toronto; downtown; store; bicycle; night photography; vintage

Distillery District, Toronto, downtown, historic, night photography, long exposure

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25 responses

  1. Very interesting story that I didn’t know.
    fantastic pictures 🙂

    Like

    November 5, 2014 at 1:03 pm

  2. Love the bike in the warm light 🙂

    Like

    November 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm

  3. That second photo – wow!! It’s perfect and it really caught my eye.

    Like

    November 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm

  4. Interesting story and I, too, love that 2nd image!

    Like

    November 5, 2014 at 2:03 pm

  5. Very interesting and wonderful that these places are preserved. The B&W is terrific and the warmth and clarity of the color images is masterful. The starburst lights are a bonus!

    Like

    November 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm

  6. I’m thirsty for your photos ! 😉

    Like

    November 5, 2014 at 5:21 pm

  7. I love the one with the open door. and the bike. It has such beautiful color coming from the inside.

    Like

    November 5, 2014 at 7:35 pm

  8. The Bicycle wins for me, a pleasure as always Edith

    Like

    November 5, 2014 at 7:47 pm

  9. Love the vintage feel on this street, nice capture….

    Like

    November 6, 2014 at 5:35 am

  10. A photographer’s delight Edith. I love the last image particularly!

    Like

    November 6, 2014 at 6:22 am

  11. LB

    Thank you for including the history! History adds so much to the photos, in my opinion anyway. lovely!!

    Like

    November 6, 2014 at 7:34 am

  12. We visited Toronto and didn’t see any of this…sigh. Thanks for the history….loved it♥

    Like

    November 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm

  13. Pingback: 2014 A Year in Review | Edith Levy Photography

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