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This imposing structure has been around since Toronto was formed. Originally a 70 foot windmill was built by James Worts and William Gooderham in 1832 built overlooking Lake Ontario and it was a very prosperous venture indeed but a tragedy would cut short James Worts' business success.

It is rumoured that in 1834, despondent over the death of his beloved wife during childbirth, Worts ended his life by drowning in a well on the property of the mill. There is no doubt that his death did take place but the 'probable' suicide is (according to staff) not very clear (it might have been accidental or...?) but knowing the history of his love for his family and the circumstances of the drowning, it's a safe bet that this was a sad and unfortunate suicide.

The business grew and grew under the original partner and James' eldest son until the complex as seen in the picture below was one of the most prominent in the city.

Interesting side note about the structure, our director's great grandfather, Richard Hines, who was the City of Toronto's first (and only, we believe) Street Gas Lamp Lighter right up until the installation of electric lights was also a house painter and general tradesman who painted the G&W sign still visible on the building. What's more interesting is that Richard Hines was illiterate and merely copied the letters like a picture off some notes he was given.
During the recent Doors Open tours, some of the staff told Sue St Clair (Darroch) that there have been ghostly happenings throughout the history of the site following James' death. Literally from his sudden tragic end even to present day.

Recently, reports of doors opening and closing without the assistance of human hands, strange banging sounds, lights going on and off as well as other poltergeist activity have been witnessed by the staff doing renovations and the many of the folks working with the film crews who shoot movies on the location.

The staff has always assumed it is James making his presence felt in his building and apparently, he continues to do so even to this day.

AUGUST 7th, 2005: An update to our report - sent in and kindly permitted to be reprinted here by the witness:


"I was working on a TV series that was filming in the fermentation cellar. I spent the day with the cast in the building across from and not attached to the cellar (to the North of the cellar- but on the back of the offices that you enter on Mill St.) It had recently been an art gallery.

The space is empty and very long and narrow running east to west. On the far western wall there is a boarded up exit. There is also 1 exit on both the north and south walls on the east end but no others.

At the end of a 16 hour work day, myself and 2 others were clearing out the last of our things. I was talking to my co-workers, me facing north and them south when to my left (west) I saw a man (as if he'd just come through that exit door but the door did not open) walk to the first south facing widow and just look out it. When I did my double take - he was gone. I had stopped talking in mid-sentence, and I knew immediately that I had seen an spirit.

He appeared to be in his 40's, had on workman's clothes, I remember the boots.

Do you have a story to tell about the distillery? Perhaps you've run into Mr. Worts or something else? Perhaps another story in Toronto that needs to be told? Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and tell us about it. Your anonymity is assured.

Please Note: Although we are happy to have a link to (and from) the Distillery District, we are not officially related to this site. Please, click here if you wish more "non-ghostly" information on the site. We thank the site's management for their link and for keeping this wonderful part of Toronto around for all of us to enjoy.

Update October 2010 Boiler House Restaurant Distillery District

We received the following account of ghostly happenings in 2010, but the actual events described happened a few years back.

"Hey, I noticed you have some articles on the Distillery District and I thought I'd let you know of a couple of things I've seen there.

I worked at the Boiler House (restaurant) for three years.  I was part of the team that really opened the restaurants there, beginning the first fall they were open.  The Boiler House is divided into two parts, main level and upstairs mezzanine.  On the south wall of the restaurant is a decorative wine rack/shelving system that extends to the ceiling (I'd say 30-40 feet).  One evening, before dinner rush, I was upstairs in the mezzanine with my co-workers, polishing the silverware and glassware for the evening's dinner rush.  Most of the time when we do this we're laughing and joking around.  It started off that way until one of my co-workers completely froze up.  The colour dropped from her face and she started trembling.  I asked her, 'What's wrong?  Are you okay?'  And she looked me dead in the eye and pointed towards the wine rack/shelf and said, 'Do you not see that?'.  I looked over, didn't notice anything unusual, and said, 'No, what do you see?  What is it?'  She responded with, 'There is a man, hanging by his neck above the bar.'  She packed up all of her things and left.  Haven't seen her since.

Another time, during a full dinner rush, another peculiar thing happened.  That shelf/wine rack I was talking about has decorative promotional wine bottles on the top shelves.  They''re glass, like regular wine bottles, they're just bigger.  Let's say they're 3 feet tall.  Anyways, during dinner rush, one of the customers from upstairs shouted 'WATCH OUT!'.  I was on the ground floor at the time and looked over and saw the bottle mid-flight off the shelf.  I've never seen anything like it.  The bottle flew away from the shelf, perpendicular to it about 4 feet and then dropped, straight down, rigid in angle, and landed flat on the bar.  Didn't break, didn't wobble.  Just landed."

Our thanks go out to the witness for sharing these experiences at his former place of employment with us. Have you encountered something similar in the Distillery District? Do you feel you may have further information to add to this report? If so please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Your privacy will be protected, and confidentiality is assured.