Pertinent to any wander list, the city well known for its unique winter experience lies at the geographic center of Canada and North America. Winnipeg was incorporated as a city in 1893 with 1869 people and is now considered to be the cultural and economic center of Manitoba. With more than 100 languages, colorful festivals, flourishing art scenes, character neighborhoods, green spaces, and access to outdoor activities, it is certainly a land of diversity. 

But as Frank Sinatra intones:

Look down- look down that lonesome road
Before you travel on”
(Frank Sinatra, Lonesome Road)

Here is the scribbled itinerary with the fifteen filtered places that one can visit when in Winnipeg. 

1. Canadian Museum for Human Rights

With a global dialogue and notion that respect and understanding of human rights can make a huge difference within the world, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights becomes the first museum dedicated to human rights. The realization of a dream of late philanthropist Israel Asper, the museum was built by the community to shape an iconic site where human rights education and discussions could take place. 

The building’s architecture becomes a vital part of the visitor’s experience, as elements symbolize human rights. Designed by Architect Antione Predock, the structure with its multiple moods signifies the value of multiple narratives, weaving a tapestry of shadow and sunshine with glass, rock, and steel. 

Once inside, the visitors progress upwards from darkness to light that reflects hopes for human rights education. Consequently, there are embedded several layers of the notion within the phenomenology of space.

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Canadian Museum for Human Rights ©Alex Fradkin
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Canadian Museum for Human Rights ©Alex Fradkin
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Canadian Museum for Human Rights ©Alex Fradkin

2. Winnipeg Art Gallery

Established in 1912 within two rented rooms of the city’s federal building at the corner of the Main and Water Streets to the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world, the place has considerably evolved. Under Dr. Eckhardt’s stewardship, the gallery launched an ambitious exhibition acquiring significant Canadian and International art, including the Goth collection from the late Gothic and early Renaissance period. 

With this, the gallery also boasts holdings of decorative art with a collection of 4000 objects. Designed by Gustavo da Roza, the Winnipeg Art Gallery at 300 Memorial Boulevard is regarded as one of the finest late-modernist buildings in the country.

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Winnipeg Art Gallery ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation 
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Winnipeg Art Gallery ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation 
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Winnipeg Art Gallery ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation 

3. Circles of Life Thunderbird House

Located at 715 Main Street, the Thunderbird House is used as a cultural facility. It was constructed in 2000 by Architect Douglas J. Cardinal as the spiritual anchor to the Neeginan project and was opened on the vernal equinox in March 2000. Known for its distinctive exposed timber and designed roof, even a great copper eagle sheltering the building with its outspread wings is an addition to the Main Street. 

The building features four entrances which are aligned to four cardinal points and representing the four races of humankind. It conducts cultural programs for the First Nation community, providing various activities counseling, healing workshops, and celebrations. 

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Circles of Life Thunderbird House ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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Circles of Life Thunderbird House ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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Circles of Life Thunderbird House ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

4. Esplanade Riel 

A pedestrian bridge is also better known as the “people path”, the Esplanade Riel is located north of the junction of the historic Red and Assiniboine Rivers, and acts as a linkage between downtown Winnipeg and St. Boniface. Constructed in 2003 and named in the honor of Louis Riel (Founder of the province of Manitoba) is designed by Colin Douglas Stewart of Wardrop Engineering and the Architect Étienne Gaboury. 

In the form of a cable-stayed structure, the bridge stands with a transversely inclined pylon 57 meters above the river below One of the salient features is that it has one of the few in the world restaurant (Salisbury House), that gives visitors an admirable view. 

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Esplanade Riel ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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Esplanade Riel ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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Esplanade Riel ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

5. Wesley Hall, The University of Winnipeg

The castle-like structure built to house the classrooms, dormitories, and offices, Wesley Hall is the first building of what is now known as The University of Winnipeg. It becomes the oldest educational facility in the city affiliated with Methodist Church and the University of Manitoba. It acts as a remaining exemplar of Richardsonian Romanesque Architecture, designed by Architect George Brown Jr. and Samuel Frank Peters in 1895. 

The design features rusticated stone facade with round tapped arches above the windows. There were made certain modest additions to the facility as the demand of time, but throughout the evolution, the Wesley Hall was sustained in terms of location, scale, and design as a landmark and historic symbol of its campus.

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Wesley Hall ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, Terry Stapleton
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Wesley Hall ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, Terry Stapleton
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Wesley Hall ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, Terry Stapleton

6. The Legislative Building 

The current Legislative building becomes the third built structure, designed by English Architects Frank W. Simon and Henry Boddington III in 1912, who won the project over 63 other entries and built over seven years. Visible from various vantage points, the building’s solid and massive character is a disciplined expression of Greek Revival graced by historical ornamentation. 

The exterior of the building is adorned with multiple works of art, representing wisdom, justice, and courage. The fact that the building was constructed with about ten million bricks from Manitoba shale and clay hidden by several kinds of stones, makes it a superseding example of Beaux-Arts classical architecture.

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The Legislative Building ©gov.ba.ca
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The Legislative Building ©gov.ba.ca
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The Legislative Building ©gov.ba.ca

7. Exchange District

Collection of 20- blocks, Winnipeg’s Exchange National District is home to some finest and oldest heritage buildings. Built from the 1800s to the outbreak of World War I, it comprises skyscrapers, warehouses, banks, and theatres in Canada, all executed in Beaux Art or Chicago style Architecture. 

The place is currently used as home to Winnipeg’s hippest fashion and lifestyle stores, with some fascinating galleries, restaurants, and coffee houses. With the century turn, it now integrates features of bold architecture to their side. The Cube in the middle of leaf Old Square is a standalone performance stage utilized during events such as Winnipeg Jazz Festival. 

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The Exchange District ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, Creative Commons
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The Exchange District ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, Creative Commons
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The Exchange District ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation, Creative Commons

8. Riel House National Historic Site 

The structure stands as a symbol of the early Métis culture, a reflection of the life and struggle of Louis Riel (Founder of the province of Manitoba) to protect the social, cultural, and political status of his fellow Métis. It was built in 1880-1881 on the site of an earlier home of Riel’s mother, since then the house is occupied by his family. 

Declared as a historic site in 1968, the place has been acquired by Parks Canada and acts as a collection of fascinating and complex stories of Louis Riel and his legacy.

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Riel House National Historic Site ©pc.gc.ca
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Riel House National Historic Site ©pc.gc.ca
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Riel House National Historic Site ©pc.gc.ca

9. Royal Cathedral Mint 

A gleaming park-like setting, a triangular upthrust, facing eastward serves a forceful greeting to those who are entering the city from the East. The facility has its history-rich value, where Canadian coins were struck in Britain for many years until the demand of greater supply and Canadian nationhood, which resulted in a high momentum towards the creation of a national unit. As they say- “Every single Canadian coin is produced  (t)here. – literally billions each year”, (Royal Cathedral Mint). 

The design of the building was done by Architect Étienne Gaboury. Its shine and angles cut facades echo the fabrication that happens inside. One can visit the Winnipeg boutique at 520 Lagimodière Blvd. to enrich their coin collection.  

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Royal Cathedral Mint ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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Royal Cathedral Mint ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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Royal Cathedral Mint ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

10. The Manitoba Museum 

The province’s largest non-profit center for heritage and science education, the Manitoba Museum is located close to the City Hall. Earlier, known as the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, it is a historical museum in Winnipeg. It focuses on representing human and natural heritage, culture, and environment. Constructed sometime between 1968-1979, the museum embraces a clean-lined, modernist approach. 

From exhibiting earliest settlers to the current life, it also includes Planetarium and Science galleries, which can make one travel through time and explore people, events, and entities that shaped the province of Manitoba. 

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The Manitoba Museum ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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The Manitoba Museum ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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The Manitoba Museum ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

11. The Fork Market Food Hall 

For 6000 years, the place has been one of the most beloved and important social places for the people of Winnipeg. It acts as the living room for the city, which invites people to gather. The place offers its visitors a diverse range of shopping destinations, offering a variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment centers. 

The design celebrates the significant history of the Fork Market, the interior design incorporates a unique blend of raw steel, blacksmith work, and reclaimed natural wood detailing. The former rail yard evolved to be the main meeting space of the larger development.

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The Fork Market Food Hall ©Modlar
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The Fork Market Food Hall ©Modlar
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The Fork Market Food Hall ©Modlar

12. Saint Boniface Cathedral 

One of the most important sites, that reflects various time periods not only through Manitoban culture but its past events. Known as the heart of Franco-Manitoban culture, the Cathedral plays a crucial role in defining the history of the Métis people and the evolution of the province. 

Five Cathedrals have stood in the same location. The first one was built in the form of a small chapel, dedicated to Saint Boniface the English missionary monk and apostle, who spread the Catholic faith among the Germanic tribes in the 8th century by Father Joseph-Norbert Provencher, in 1818. The current structure was built in 1972 and incorporates facades and walls of a former basilica, which was ravaged in a fire, but an exclusive example of French Romanesque architecture in Manitoba. 

Architect Étienne Gaboury made a conscious decision to keep this history alive while designing the current Cathedral. 

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Saint Boniface Cathedral ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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Saint Boniface Cathedral ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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Saint Boniface Cathedral ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

13. Paroisse du Précieux Sang 

Precieux Sang was called Gaboury’s most identifiable work, and “an outstanding example of Canadian regionalism” by Architectural Review in November 1956. The elements in the building display a regional influence in its design, the subtle tipi shape is considered to be a cultural reference from the primary Métis parish. 

The building turns into a combination of functionalism and faith, as the plan was developed concerning the ceremonies that take place and the choice of material and other design elements demonstrate the amount of concern invested to the climate sensitivity. The structure stands in the southwestern corner of an open, flat site surrounded by the residential neighborhood of St. Boniface.

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Paroisse du Précieux sang ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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Paroisse du Précieux sang ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
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Paroisse du Précieux sang ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

14. Welcome Place 

On a quiet residential street in an inner-city neighborhood, the Welcome Place offers shelter and transitional services to Manitoba’s new refugees. Interestingly, designed to address the fragile psychological and emotional state of residents the building feels like a solid, protective volume with offices on the lower floors and residential spaces on the upper floors. 

The residential spaces are sheltered behind the heavy walls with porthole windows that provide outdoor views to the inhabitants. The building encourages interconnections among its various residents through common public spaces. 

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Welcome Place ©James Brilliant 
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Welcome Place ©James Brilliant 
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Welcome Place ©James Brilliant 

15. Manitoba Hydro Place 

Manitoba Hydro Place is the most energy-efficient office tower in North America and is the only tower with LEED Platinum certification. The 18-storey structure rises above the 3-storey podium. 

Designed by Toronto-based- Kuwabara Payne Mckenna Blumberg Architects with Smith Carter & Associates, the building’s overall form, with both interiors and exteriors was based on Hydro’s aspiration for the state-of-the-art, and to be energy efficient, within the criteria of LEED framework. In the plan view, it appears as a triangular edifice with two east and west blocks, separated by central service care. 

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Manitoba Hydro Place ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation 
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Manitoba Hydro Place ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation 
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Manitoba Hydro Place ©Winnipeg Architecture Foundation 
Author

An Architecture and Design student, Aastha spends most her time studying fascinating architectural spaces. Every building tells a story, she says. When she's not reading about them, she's asking existential questions on pretty much everything. Life, Time and evenTruth. You name it.

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