When I was doing my MA I worked at the Distillery District in the archive of a small photographic collection. I got to know the area quite well. I would frequent Balzac’s for my tea fix (back when they served Mariage Frères tea) and Brick Street Bakery for various nosh needs (they make amazing baked goods and their sandwiches are so tasty). So I was excited to head down to check out the area.
Shopping (or window shopping in my case)
Blackbird Vintage is a treasure trove of interesting items, I especially like their take on vintage and adore their selection of cards and candles.
Distill Gallery is a smartly curated shop that carries “well crafted design” in various forms, from clothing, books, and the home. I was smitten by a selection of plant hangers (I’ll return to this topic in the near future).
Bergo Designs is a feast for those interested in great design in home products. Looking for those stylish Scandinavian salt and pepper grinders you ALWAYS see on Instagram, look no further. They have expanded since my last time visiting and now include children’s toys and games.
SOMA Chocolates is a place I always visit when I am at the Distillery. I love the look of the shop and the people who work there are so nice and helpful. But what keeps me coming back . . . their amazing products. I like to buy their chocolates for special gifts and I love that some of the bars are imprinted with maps of Toronto. How great is that?
Soma prepares their chocolate on site and there are windows that allow you to see the machines they use. I treated myself to my favourite “Old School” chocolate made up the old fashioned way with two ingredients – “partially ground Papua New Guinea cacao nibs and whole crystals of organic cane sugar.”
The Sports Gallery is a great shop for those sports fans out there. I am not really what one would call a sports fan, but I used to work in their archive so I have a soft spot for this place. Plus, who doesn’t love vintage prints of sports? I know I do.
When I was a grad student, one of the major regular draws to the Distillery was for the various art galleries. That seems to have changed, with galleries moving to other areas of the city. I was pleased that Corkin Gallery was still there. When I was an undergraduate this commercial gallery was located on John Street and was called the Jane Corkin Gallery. I would religiously go to see her exhibitions, getting my first real taste for Canadian photography. Her current exhibition, on Barbara Astman, did not disappoint with a variety of Astman’s work from different periods in her career.
Eats and Treats
After taking in some Canadian content, I was a bit peckish so I headed over to Brick Street Bakery for a nosh. While I stuck to a cheaper (but oh so yummy) option of a sausage roll warmed up to perfection (and at a reasonable price point of $3.40 tax included), they have great homemade sandwiches that are so big you can either share them, or have a small dinner.
While, I stuck to my tried and true, getting a bite to eat at the Brick Street Bakery and a lemonade at Balzac’s, there are heaps of restaurants I would love to try, including:
El Catrin (the patio was hopping when I walked by)
The area comprising the Distillery District is quite big and goes from Parliament Street on the west, Mill Street on the north, and Cherry Street on the east (the train tracks make up the southern edge). They have various festivals during the summer and a great Christmas Market come winter.