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Journal: Gooderhamer and Wortier

Gooderham and Worts Distillery (late February 2003): Toronto's ginormous Gooderham and Worts distillery contains 45 separate structures, the oldest of which dates back to 1859, and has sat abandoned and neglected since 1990. Recently, developers have begun work on the site, which they plan to refurbish into — guesses? anyone? — condos. The Cave Clan's Gilligan was in town and eager to visit some local abandoned breweries, so we decided to try our luck at the old Victorian industrial complex, though we knew that it was in the midst of renovations and actively patrolled by on-site security.
       When we arrived that night, however, we found that access wasn't really a problem. We strolled through an open and unwatched gate, and headed to the largest nearby building. We slid under a flimsy sheet of transparent plastic held in place by a wooden skid and emerged into a large, well-lit room. Eager to get away from the light and the windows, we slid aside a sheet of wood that was blocking our way up into the rest of the building. Hopping up into the room beyond, we could clearly hear the sound of a hammer hitting steel, so after a quickly whispered consultation we headed up an old wooden staircase nearby.
Gilligan examines some dusty pipes.
       As we came out onto the unlit second storey, it became necessary to turn on our flashlights — since we didn't have any fancy red filters or gels to dim our lights, we made do by smearing a packet of ketchup on the lenses of our flashlights. We felt far from safe as we crept around on the thin, dusty floorboards in the dim, ketchuppy light, particularly since the hammering noise sounded so nearby. Retreating from the hammering, we headed off to another, better-lit section of the same complex. Taking concrete and metal catwalks running two storeys above the ground to the far end of the complex, we stumbled upon stairs and ladders leading up to some large metal vats, which Gilligan eagerly climbed into and posed with.

Vats of yeast. Dust and a chair.
After visiting the yeast vats, we headed up towards the top of the building,
where we kicked up a great deal of dust.

A big bin.
A large empty bin, once used to hold grain.
       After trying and failing to take a suspended hallway into another building, we headed back to the area with the hammering, and quickly ascended the stairs to the fifth and final floor. From here we had a good view of the city, and of the various bits of bizarre Victorian-age machinery left around the building, and down into some huge empty grain bins. We felt very frustrated that we weren't able to take any flash photographs of anything near the various windows and skylights, and were also disappointed that we weren't able to find any way out onto the roof.

The roof.
We got out onto the icy roof, but headed back in after seeing security shining flashlights nearby.

       Heading down a few storeys, however, we did find a way out to a lower-level rooftop covered in ice and gravel, which provided several opportunities to get to other parts of the complex. There was also a large pipe here billowing steam into the frigid February air, and even as Gilligan idly mused "I wonder where all this steam is coming from," he did an odd bit of detective work by putting his hand directly in front of the steam. "Oh SHIT!" he cried out, grabbing his hand in pain. After making sure he was okay (and probably already dreaming about the "Biggest Mistake" Clannie he had coming to him), I headed toward the far edge of the roof. Gilligan warned me to look out, and pointed to show me that flashlight beams were scanning up and down the walls of the building across from us. We decided to head back inside before those beams found us.
An empty floor.
Most areas of the building were unlit, so only a few rooms were suitable for pictures.
       Venturing through a suspended hallway to a neighbouring building and heading up, we stared out through a window at the rest of the complex. Gilligan spotted a guard walking the perimeter of the grounds with a flashlight, as well as a pick-up truck slowly driving around the side of another part of the complex. It was obvious they were guards looking for trespassers, but were they looking for us? We figured they probably weren't, but decided to stick to the large, unlit buildings we were already in, just in case.
       We headed back to the ground floor, passing by some brightly lit construction areas and leaving the large gas blowers well alone. We then descended some stone steps into a tunnel set in the back corner of one of the rooms, which took us back to near where we'd first come in.
Hole in the wall.
There appeared to be something interesting on the other side of the hole in the wall.
       There was only one section of our complex that we hadn't accessed yet: the well-lit area from which the hammering noise was emanating. The only unlocked entrance to this area we could find was through a small circular hole about 10 feet up the wall. There was a mechanical lift platform near this hole, so we climbed up to take a peek. Standing up on the rails at the sides of the platform, we could see a large, brightly lit engineering room on the other side, but it looked like it would be tough to climb up through the hole. It was at this point that Gilligan informed me that he was actually licensed to operate mechanical platforms like the one we were on. I laughed nervously. "That would be awfully noisy, wouldn't it?" I asked. "Maybe," Gilligan replied, flicking the machine on and attempting to move it closer to the hole.

Gilligan operating the platform. Up into the hole.
Although Gilligan failed to move the platform any closer to the hole, we managed to climb through the hole to take a look at the room on the other side.

       Unfortunately, we couldn't get it any closer than it already was, but by now our resolve to go through the hole had strengthened. Gilligan stood up on the top rail, grabbed at the hole in the wall and pulled himself up and through, moving out of the way so I could scamper up behind him. We looked down upon a large, brightly lit mechanical room with an entire wall of windows. Immediately beside us was some sort of large boiler that was obviously the source of the loud hammering noise that had haunted us all night. There appeared to be no easy way down from our perch at the top of the room, though Gilligan did climb up a little further and find a ladder leading down into an apparently flooded basement. But the lights were too bright and our position was too precarious. Further investigations would have to be put off.
       We carefully hopped back down to the mechanical platform, making as little noise as possible, and started to head back the way we'd come in. There was only one problem: while we'd been inside, someone had closed and locked the gate behind us. "Do we look for another way out?" Gilligan asked. I told him I didn't want to risk running into anyone, so after looking around to make sure no one was watching, we scaled the fence, jumped down and took off.

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