Unnamed Road, Winnipeg, MB R3C 4X1, Canada
We’ll start our tour at perhaps the most important historical location in all of Manitoba: The Forks of The Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Used by First Nations’ groups as a traditional rest stop along seasonal migration routes as well as a trading hub, the area was settled as early as 4000 B.C.E. By the mid 1700’s, French fur traders moved in and changed the dynamic of the region forever. Today, The Forks is a National Historic Site of Canada, and still serves as a vibrant modern marketplace in downtown Winnipeg for folks to meet and converse with each other, much like early indigenous peoples. We will be ending our tour here as well, so when you get back you can park your car and go exploring in this lovely, picturesque area.
142 Main St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1A4, Canada
Winnipeg’s Union Station, designed by Warren and Wetmore, the architects responsible for Grand Central Terminal in New York City is a shrine to the transportation mode’s storied history in Western Canada. In addition to “The Countess of Dufferin”, the first steam locomotive on the Canadian Prairie, the Winnipeg Railway Museum offers a variety of vintage railcars, cabooses, and other artifacts from the building of the railway. Climb the once busy stairs inside Union Station to tracks 1 and 2, where now instead of active railcars there are displays of locomotives, portable buildings with modern train sets, and much much more! Another historic site with ties to Winnipeg’s long trading history, Upper Fort Garry Provincial Heritage Park sits on the footprint of what was once the Hudson Bay Company’s centre of fur trade within the Red River Colony. Gaining its “Upper” distinction after the original Fort Garry was destroyed in an 1826 flood and the desire to distinguish it from “Lower” Fort Garry, was in use until it was gradually demolished between 1881-88. While only the stone “Goverenor’s Gate” of the original Fort remains today, the site now serves as both a leisure park and a monument to the city's rich history. Download the UFG app, and come see the massive $3 million, 440 foot long steel sculpture that represents the Fort’s west wall, labeled “the largest piece of public art in Canada” The Hotel Fort Garry, an elegant example of European influence on Canadian architecture, opened on December 11th, 1913 to welcome visitors to the city’s “new castle of opulence”. Now home to a luxury spa and conference center as well as a hotel, The Hotel Fort Garry is quite possibly Winnipeg's poshest escape. And for the unique guest experience, rumour has it that Room 202 is haunted.
225 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 5R4, Canada
From beneath the Esplanade Riel to the foot of the Manitoba Legislative building runs one of the city’s most precious gems. Discover the beauty of Winnipeg on The Riverwalk as it curves along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Board the River Spirit for a guided boating tour, rent a canoe and cruise down the waterway at your own pace, or simply stroll down the Walk and enjoy the sights and sounds of Winnipeg’s bustling riverbank!
51 Navy Way, Winnipeg, MB R3C 4J8, Canada
Next on our stop is the epicenter of Manitoban governance. Completed in 1920 on the 50th anniversary of Manitoba’s incorporation into the Canadian Confederation, it is the home and meeting place of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba . Encased in Manitoba Tyndall limestone and topped with its famed Golden Boy statue, the building is a shining example of neoclassical, Beaux-Arts architecture. Today, it stands not only as a monument to Manitoba itself, but to the Masons and other craftsmen that constructed it. Somehow more impressive, though, is the interior of the building. Below the building’s dome, atop which the Golden Boys statue sits, is the Pool of the Black Star. An architectural and acoustic marvel, the building was designed as such that sounds from all around the building are captured and able to be heard in the circular room with an 8-pointed black star at its center.
78 Edmonton St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1P7, Canada
From a foundry partially destroyed by the bombs of the FIrst World War emerged a gilded golden statue of a boy. The war still raging, the Golden Boy was hastily rushed onto a ship carrying wheat. Yet, before the ship could leave, it was commandeered for troop transport. Two trips across the Mediterranean, and five trans-Atlantic navigations went by -- all with the Boy stowed inside, and the world around it at war. When the war finally ended the Boy was sent to Halifax, and then by train to Winnipeg. Despite being officially titled “Eternal Youth and the Spirit of Enterprise”, and actually being made of bronze, its characteristic glow made the name “Golden Boy” stick from the minute it was placed atop the Legislative Building. Now truly gilded in gold today, the best spot to enjoy a view of Winnipeg’s most recognizable symbol is from Memorial Provincial Park, just to the north of the Legislative Building. Originally planned to be the site of Winnipeg’s new city hall, WWII veterans from several Legion branches noted the presence of a WWI memorial on the site, and successfully petitioned for the site to be made a park that would simultaneously house the memorial, and recognize the sacrifices of the Canadian military in the Second World War. With histories so connected by the human spirit, these stops are a perfect combination if you’re looking for some reverent reflection.
Northbound Memorial at Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C, Canada
Strikingly simple in its modernist design, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, or WAG, contrasts starkly with the European-inspired Legislative Building. Still, though, as unique as WAG is, the geometric wedge that is its main building has, much like the Legislative Building, a Tyndall stone facade. Completed in March 2021 as an addition to the main building of WAG, Qaumajuq (how-ma-yourk) is the largest public collection of Inuit Art in the World. Designed to complement the existing structure, principal architect Miachel Maltzan was inspired by an expedition to Nunavut, Canada’s Northernmost Territory. There, Northern Canada’s geographical openness and Inuit communities lent the inspiration necessary for Quamajuq’s undulating stone and glass facade that hovers over its entrance, as well as the curved qualities throughout its interior.
450 Portage Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0E7, Canada
Almost synonymous with the country of Canada is its national pastime, and here at the Canada Life Center is where Winnipeg’s beloved Jets faceoff with fellow NHL franchises. After the original Winnipeg Jets franchise moved to Phoenix in 1996, the hockey-crazed fans of Winnipeg were starved of NHL hockey for 15 long years. In 2011, though, it was announced that the former Atlanta Thrashers franchise would relocate to Winnipeg. Season tickets sold out in 17 minutes.
300-B Portage Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3C 5S4, Canada
One of our attractions here in downtown Winnipeg isn’t so much a landmark itself, as it is one created by the city’s structure. The intersection at Portage Avenue and Main Street is infamous for its weather conditions, and is (somewhat) jokingly referred to as the coldest and windiest intersection in Canada. While this weather legend is unproven, the average January temperature in Winnipeg is -16.4 C, and dropped to -30 C or lower six times in January 2018. Partly to combat this blistering cold, Portage and Main was closed to pedestrians in the 70s, and commuters now pass through an underground concourse complete with climate control and shopping options. One of the skyscrapers that borders the Portage and Main intersection bears the name of perhaps Winnipeg's most influential family. The Richardson building is the headquarters of James Richardson & Sons, Limited. Once a one-man grain merchandising enterprise, the company became a grain-elevator megacorp, and eventually an international, multi-enterprise firm. The original headquarters was actually slated to be built in 1929, but the stock market crash had something to say about that. The 34-story rectangular tower before you now was completed in 1969, and features a bronze sculpture by Ukranian-Canadian artist Leo Mol in its Plaza.
210 Portage Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3C 3X2, Canada
Adjacent to The Forks is another athletic attraction Winnipeg has to offer: Shaw Park, home to the American Association of Professional Baseball-affiliated Goldeyes. Named after a native freshwater fish of the same name, the Goldeyes are Winnipeg’s premier baseball team.
130 Portage Ave E, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0A1, Canada
Completed in 2003, our next attraction, while one of the most recognizable landmarks in Winnipeg, is only open to pedestrians! A web of white cables straddle the bridge, and connect to a single central tower. At the base of this tower is a semicircular, white-roofed plaza, which once contained the only restaurant on a bridge in North America! Just across the Esplanade is the birthplace of its namesake, and a founder of Manitoba: Louis Riel.
Eastbound William Stephenson at Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg, MB R3C, Canada
Today a historical district of Winnipeg, St. Boniface was established in 1818 with the founding of a Roman Catholic Mission by French missionaries. An embodiment of francophile culture in Western Canada, the ward contains landmarks such as the St. Boniface Cathedral with the surviving facade of the 5th church, built in 1905 and destroyed by fire in 1968, facing Tache Avenue. N,ext door is Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum, the oldest building in Winnipeg and the former convent of the Grey Nuns, and just behind is the Université de Saint-Boniface.
Northbound Tache at De La Cathedrale, Winnipeg, MB R2H 0A2, Canada
From across the Red River, the Taché Promenade offers an amazing view of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as well as the rest of downtown Winnipeg. Completed in 2019, the park not only showcases the city’s urban and natural beauty, it includes a public art installation called “Phare Ouest (Far West)” by Winnipeg artist Marcel Gosselin as well. Stop by to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and take in the atmosphere that has drawn folks of all kinds here for centuries! Nestled close to the Red River is another park dedicated to Winnipeg’s history. Pierre Gaultier (pierre Gotee) de Varennes, Sieur de la Verendrye was one of the greatest Canadian explorers, and established Fort Rouge here in 1738. Eventually, that first outpost grew into the Winnipeg we know today, and the La Verendrye monument at the parks center was erected in 1938 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of La Verendrye’s arrival in the West. Stop in to pay your respects to one of the most famous Canadians!
131 Rue Despins, Winnipeg, MB R2H 0L8, Canada
Bienvenue! Welcome to Winnipeg’s French Quarter of Saint Boniface. Winnipeg’s French Quarter is home to the largest French-Canadian community outside of Québec. Enjoy some indulgent artisan chocolates at Chocolatier Constance Popp including a chocolate bar in the shape of Manitoba. Enjoy your chocolate guilt- free knowing all their chocolate is ethical and sustainably sourced. If French Press is more your style, hop on over to Cafe Postal for a great hole in the wall coffee shop. Want a new date spot? Spend a romantic evening at Promenade Cafe and Wine and enjoy authentic French cuisine with an amazing view of downtown Winnipeg and the Red River. You can get a little taste of France, right here in Winnipeg.
2-208 Provencher Blvd, Winnipeg, MB R2H 0G3, Canada
Finally, we come to what is, if not the most recognizable building in all of Winnipeg, certainly the most unique: The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Protruding from its wavy glass walled body is the Israel Asper Tower of Hope, a 100-meter tall glass spire from which attendees are provided views of Winnipeg. With a special, but non-exclusive reference to Canada, the Museum seeks to expand the public’s understanding of Human Rights through exhibits like a dress from the first integrated Prom, designs for a Nazi concentration camp, and a cast of a 750-year-old moccasin print left in Red River clay. So much to learn. And just like that, we’ve reached the end of the tour. Didn’t take too long, did it? Well my advice would be to park at the Forks Parkade just past the roundabout and take a walk around The Forks. There’s lots to do and lots to see, including one of my favorites - the Winnipeg sign! With the Canadian Museum for Human Rights as its backdrop, the Winnipeg sign is one of The Forks’ best selfie spots! Similar to signs like the ones in Amsterdam and Toronto, the sign lets you know where you are, loudly and proudly! There’s also a children’s museum, a skate park, shopping, and of course the Canadian Museum for Human Rights that we just talked about. You really should see all of it. It’s so very worth it. I hope you had as much fun exploring Winnipeg as I did showing you around! If you have any questions or just wanna chat, give Hunter a call 204.900.0900.
Southbound Israel Asper at William Stephenson, Winnipeg, MB R3C, Canada