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Toronto: what to see in the Old York district

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In Toronto there are places where traces of the history can be found within the walls of ancient buildings now brought back to life thanks to art. The district of Old York, which extends east of Younge Street to the Don River and Queen Street to the long lake, hides nineteenth-century buildings inside that recall the splendor of the British Empire such as St Lawrence Market and the Distillery District.

ST LAWRENCE MARKET

Named the best food market in the world by National Geographic in April 2012, St Lawrence Market is the most important public market in Toronto and has been one of the main meeting places of the district for over two centuries.
He was born in 1803 at the behest of the governor of Upper Canada, Peter Hunter, who established a weekly market day and designated the area in which it was to be built. The original market was known as Market Square and people gathered there on Saturday at the corner of King Street and New Street, (today Jarvis St). The market square was the center of social life in the city where auctions were held and public punishments were conducted. The first market building, a temporary shelter measuring 7.3 meters long and 11 meters long, was built in 1814, while the first permanent structure was built in 1820. In 1823 the first public well was created and in 1831 the wooden building it was demolished and replaced by a quadrangular brick building with arched entrances to the sides.

The covered market offices also hosted the city council until 1845, then following the great fire in Toronto that burnt part of the building in 1849 the St. Lawrence Hall was built. The current south building of St.Lawrence Market was built in 1845 as a Toronto City Hall, was rebuilt in 1850 and 1904 and renovated in 1972. Today it houses over 50 food counters, fishmongers, butchers to bakers, where you can taste also bagels and excellent sandwiches. On the upper floor, in what were once the halls that used to house the city council, today there is the “Market Gallery” where art and photography exhibitions are organized. On the opposite side of Front Street is the North Market which hosts a farmer’s market on Saturdays and the antique market on Sundays. The St. Lawrence Hall is just a few steps away. 

DISTILLERY DISTRICT

Listed among the historical sites of Canada in 1988, the Distillery District centers on the buildings that in 1932 housed the Gooderham and Worts distillery, the largest of the British Empire. The Victorian industrial warehouses have now been converted into art galleries, ateliers, design shops, breweries and restaurants, making the 5-hectare complex a special place.

The Gooderham and Worts distillery was founded in 1832 and at the end of 1860 was the largest distillery in the world. After supplying over 2 million US gallons (7,600,000 L) of whiskey, mainly for export to the world market, the company was purchased in the following years by rival Hiram Walker Co., another major Canadian distiller.
Its decline began at the end of the twentieth century, in 1990 the distillery ceased production and the site remained empty until it began its redevelopment.
Since 1990, the district has been used as a location for over 800 film and television productions. In 2001, however, it was purchased by Cityscape Holdings Inc., which transformed the district into a pedestrian area reopened to the public in 2003.

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Dining

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Shopping

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GOODERHAM BUILDING

The Gooderham Building, also known as the Flatiron Building, is a historic building at 49 Wellington Street East, not far from St. Lawrence Market.
It is located at the eastern end of the city’s financial district, east of Yonge Street, in the St. Lawrence district between Front Street and Wellington Street. Completed in 1892, the red brick building was a prime example of what was later called “iron building”.
Icon of Toronto along with the CN Tower the Gooderham Building was designed by architect David Roberts on behalf of George Gooderham, son of the founder of the Gooderham and Worts distillery, William Gooderham. It was the office of the distillery until 1952 and was sold by the Gooderham family in 1957. It has undergone numerous changes of ownership and is now managed by The Commercial Realty Group.

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