Ever wonder why Parliament Street is nowhere near the Old or New Parliament buildings, or why Toronto is often referred to as Hogtown? Well you’re going to have to take the tour to find out.
Anyone who has ever sat through a baseball game or been to a family reunion is already well-aware that beer tends to makes things better. Our beloved beverage possesses an almost magical quality which renders the bland, tolerable and the uncomfortable, much more bearable.
Now I’ve always been fascinated by Toronto’s local history, but I can certainly understand why some may find chronicles of times gone by in a city nicknamed “Toronto the Good” a little less than riveting.
Beer Makes History Better: Toronto beer history tours
Enter Jason Kucherawy, local tour guide extraordinaire and co-founder of TourGuys.ca. Jason is dedicated to providing visitors and locals alike with unique city sightseeing experiences across TO, and exudes a passion for Toronto history that may only be equalled by his love of locally-crafted beer.
Jason works tirelessly to educate the masses about the heroes, villains, and quirky goings-on that have shaped the very fabric of today’s metropolis. Hate to burst your bubble, but you’d be mistaken to think that this is just another, dry, flat, walking tour of ‘Muddy York. The Beer Makes History Better Tour overflows with sudsy sarcasm and bubbles with fun, all the while adding to your cache of quiz question answers and impress-your-friends fun facts.
The Beer Makes History Better tour is offered by Tourguys.ca as part of Urban Adventures (www.urbanadventures.com), a sightseeing series that offers first-hand, off the beaten path tours in over 100 cities around the world. Urban Adventures is a joint-venture between Australia-based small group adventure travel providers Intrepid Travel (www.intrepidtravel.com) and World Hotel Link (www.whl.travel). Aside from exploring beer and history in Toronto, travellers are offered experiences like a cycle tour of Soweto, South Africa or enjoying a home cooked meal with a local family in Delhi, India.
The love affair between Toronto’s history and booze is of course the unifying thread that holds the entire experience together, and one needn’t look far to corroborate the connection. If you remember back to your Canadian grade school history books, you’ll recall that even the famous Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 centered around at a pub, involved a couple hundred (probably) drunk guys and lasted all of 20 minutes.
The three hour tour naturally begins in front of the Hockey Hall of Fame and meanders briskly downs Front St. to beer bar C’est What. It is here that you can sample a wide selection of Ontario’s prize Pilsners and sumptuous Stouts, while Jason regales you with stories from days of yore (whenever that was). Aside from its historic location, C’est What is “a Toronto pub” exclaims Jason. “It is truly unique in a city full of faux Irish and English pubs.”
Next we stumble over towards the St. Lawrence Market. As everybody’s gotta eat, life in Georgian and Victorian Toronto naturally centered around the marketplace on the city’s waterfront, and today it’s still a top spot for foodies. Jason guides visitors around the bustling market and provides recommendations on where to pick up unique Canadian cuisine like back bacon on a bun and butter tarts. While still in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood we take in beautiful St. James Anglican Cathedral, while Jason brings us up to speed on the bitter rivalry and shootout between John Rideout and Samuel Jarvis – the Team Jacob vs Edward grudge match amongst local lasses in 1817.
Next we stagger eastward toward the beautiful Distillery District. The former Gooderham and Worts Distillery was at one time was the largest working whisky distillery in the World. Today the cobbled streets and red-brick Victorian industry architecture are alive with art and commerce, and will transport you back in time. It’s no wonder that movies like Chicago, Cinderella Man, and my personal favourite, the 1995 Chris Farley-David Spade buddy comedy Tommy Boy have all been filmed on location here.
But enough history, lest we forget about beer. We top things off with a sampling of fine lagers and ales at the always-enjoyable Mills St. Brewery. The unique range of tastes and colours providing the generous, frothy head on top of a tall, cool, thirst-quenching evening. So whether you’re a lifelong Torontonian or a visitor looking to sample some suds and see the city that stood before all the glass and concrete, beer really does make history better in old town Toronto.
Tours run Tuesday to Saturday from 3pm to approximately 6pm. Tickets are $37.00 that includes a sampling at the Mill Street Brewery.