Christmas Market in the Distillery District


Stephanie is a compliance professional by day, planning her next get away by night. Travel is her escape, however, snapping the next picture is her passion. You can find many of her shots at Photos by Stephanie, all in support of charities, both local and abroad. Admittedly, she enjoys tourist attractions, but that doesn't stop her from getting a taste of the local culture and cuisine when she goes somewhere new.

Somehow the two words - Christmas Market - invoke visions of Europe perhaps Switzerland or somewhere in Germany. Nestled into the mountains, with handmade wooden wares, jewelry, woolen garments, tasty treats, and something strong to drink. In Toronto, the term Christmas Market invokes a vision of all the same wares; but ours is found in the Distillery District, down by the lake.

The Distillery District

The Distillery District is a national historic site, and a Toronto landmark. Once the site of the Gooderham & Worts Distillery, it is now one of the “largest and best preserved collections of Victorian Industrial Architecture in North America”. The buildings themselves are beautiful brick & mortar, above which tower the downtown skyscrapers and condos.

This year, my daughters and I chose to head down to the market during the first snowstorm of the season. Given the weather, we took the Toronto Transit – which in such heavy snow, really is the better way. On the way, we were treated to the snowy sights of Parliament Street via the 65 Parliament bus.

A Winter Wonderland

Once you enter the market, you are in another world. Although cold and blustery outside, the market proved to be warm and inviting. Little wooden 'houses' lined the cobbled stone walkways, filled to bursting with woolen wares – brightly coloured hats, scarves, mittens - to keep you warm.

There were shops that displayed wares of wooden ornaments, handcrafted in Germany. Beeswax huts, where one could purchase authentic beeswax candles. And, currently en vogue, one could purchase handmade soy candles, poured into vintage tea cups & jars.

Of course, there was an Angel shop, filled with everything angelic. Most handmade, coming from different parts of Europe, and all waiting to find a home, or fill an empty spot on a special tree. The girls picked out small gifts for their teachers, little metal angels, which were delightful and economical.

The Distillery District boasts many indoor shops as well, open year round, which came in handy when we needed a break from the cold. In one vintage shop, we purchased an antique tree ornament, which is now hanging on one of our branches. I can only wonder whose tree it adorned before ours! If the shopping alone isn’t enough to entice you, perhaps the art galleries will – including a delightful Inuit art shop, filled with soapstone sculptures.

Don’t Forget the Food

There were lots of options to choose from. We stopped outside at the poutine shack, because how could you not. For the more adventurous, hot and cold alcoholic beverages were being served on patios with charming fire pits amongst inviting couches. If the weather frightened you off a bit, there were plenty of choices indoors to find tasty sweets, which of course we couldn't resist. How do you say no to a S'more bar?

Going Ho... Ho... Home

Before heading home, away from this quaint village of yesteryear, don't forget to pay a visit to Santa. He’ll be wanting to know all about that new treasure you’ve just added to your Christmas list.

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