Corktown Commons and Distillery District

Visit historical Toronto in West Don Lands.

Modernizing the waterfront and the city

Tire out your dog by playing in Corktown Commons and walking the trails of this 18-acre park. Then visit the trendy Distillery Historic District with your calm dog.

Painted box in Corktown Commons, Toronto.

Suggested route

Our walk was only about 3 km, but there is a lot to see.

Map showing the suggested route for a 3 km walk in Corktown Commons and the Distillery District in Toronto.

Parking

We parked on Front Street near Bayview Ave. All the parking in this area is controlled by Green P. We paid the maximum, which was $9 for 3 hours.

Garden of Future Follies

It wasn't clear to me what this sculpture represented, so I looked it up. Garden of Future Follies is a rearrangement of fragments of existing monuments, sculptures, and architecture from across the city of Toronto by the artistic duo Hadley+Maxwell. if you know Toronto really well, it would be fun to connect these pieces to the originals.

Garden of Follies art sculpture on Front Street between Corktown Commons and the Distillery District, Toronto.

Corktown Commons

Corktown was settled in the early 1800s by Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine. The area now known as Corktown Commons was a pig slaughterhouse and is part of the reason why old Toronto was known as "Hogtown." Read more in the blog, "Corktown Commons," by Hiking the GTA.

Poster showing the highlights of Corktown Commons including playgrounds and marsh.


Now the area is seen as the gold-standard for community greenspaces with a playground, skateboard park, off-leash park for dogs, and a marsh that is part of a flood protection plan that attracts turtles, ducks, and marsh birds.

Birdwatching

I was happy to see a red-wing blackbird next to the marsh. It's one of my favourite birds, and I haven't seen one in Toronto for a while.

Red-winged black bird that is typical in swampy areas.

Dog watching

Lucy made many friends of all sizes in our short visit. The condos in Corktown are dog-friendly, and there are regular gatherings in the morning and evening.

Small dogs in Corktown Commons.

We also learned about attempts to make the area even more dog-friendly than it already is. The off-leash area is likely to be extended, and some of the local eateries allow dogs onto the patios. Some of the breweries allow dogs as well. We need more of this forward-thinking.

Beverages on the patio

The Aviary Brewpub has a huge patio that, in warm weather, allow dogs to sit with their families. We went back another day and had lunch and confirmed with staff that dogs are allowed on the patios.



Walk to Distillery District

Walk west along Front Street to Cherry Street. You can't miss Front Street with the vast Water Guardians sculpture.

Water Guardians by Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins with James Khamsi.

Historic buildings

Turn left on Cherry Street, and you'll signs for the Gooderham and Worts Distillery on the landmark buildings.

Historic distillery buildings that make up the Distillery District Toronto.

The 19th-century buildings from the former whiskey distiller have become a pedestrian-only are for shopping, theatre, galleries, outdoor sculptures, music, cafes, and restaurants.

Art installations

Not all, but many of the giant sculptures are replaced regularly. This means that every time you visit, you'll encounter something new. For instance, we saw the orange robots in February, but they were gone in March. 

Orange robots in the Distillery District, Toronto.

The heart seems to be one of the most popular installations. If you don't want to have a thousand strangers in your photo, go early in the morning, or on a cold day.

Heart, love sculpture with black dog in Distillery District.

Dog-Friendly Shops 

Signs are placed outside of the shops to say whether they allow dogs or not. Rule of thumb: if they serve food, no dogs allowed.

Shop in distillery district that allows dogs inside.

Dog in front of a dog-friendly shop.

Patios

We visited when it was cold and not very busy, so we didn't see any open patios. We did find a place to sit to enjoy a coffee in the sun.

Black dog sitting at a patio sharing a coffee and muffin.

In my opinion, Toronto could use more outdoor places to share with our dogs. Europe is an excellent place for heated patios that you can enjoy in the winter. 

Finishing your walk

When you've completed your visit to the Distillery District, head back to your car via Mill Street. You'll see a few more outdoor relics and artwork.

Old truck at the distillery district.

Alternate starting point

If you are tight on money and don't want to pay for parking, you can park for free at Cherry Beach and walk 2 km to Corktown Commons and the Distillery District. See my Cherry Beach blog entry for details on that destination.



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