Winnipeg has seen its fair share of ups and downs over the past few centuries. A major trading centre pre-European conquest, fur traders saw its location at the convergence of two rivers to be particularly useful. By the early 20th century, agriculture and its major railway lines made it one of the wealthiest cities in Canada. While not quite as opulent as it once was, the city has lots to offer.
What to do
Winnipeg's history makes it chock full of unique stories. The city's centre has hundreds of buildings from over 100 years ago as well as some of Canada's tallest buildings when they were built. It also has some amazing public spaces, a fantastic legislative building, and cultural events all year long. Winnipeg may not have the same clout as other Canadian cities, but it is slowly rising up the ranks!
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
In 2003, the starting of what would become Canada's newest national museum was unveiled in Winnipeg by Isreal Asper and his supporters. The world's only museum dedicated to the evolution, celebration, and future of human rights stands tall at the spot that Winnipeg was founded. Architecturally, the building was created thanks to a worldwide competition that drew entries from 63 firms in 21 countries. Entering today, you walk through hundreds of years of human history and the effects that human rights had on the social and economic culture of the time. Few other museums exist that dive so deep into such a wide variety of human rights issues over such as huge span of time. The museum is next door to the Forks so it is easy to visit along with some of the other major sites in Winnipeg.
Just south of Downtown, the exchange district is the new emerging heart of the city. Set within blocks of historical buildings, the largest collection in North America, dozens of art galleries, restaurants, and cobblestone alleys await their next visitor. The area is perfect for an afternoon stroll or some people watching from the patio of a locals cafe.
Winnipeg didn't just happen to spring up just where it is located. The first settlements date back thousands of years, as the Red River (which joins the Mississippi River all the way to the Gulf of Mexico) and the Assiniboine River converge. This meeting point became a trading post for many of the different groups of people that lived along the rivers. Eventually, when European traders looking for fur came from the east, a city was formed. Now dozens of historic buildings house restaurants, boutique stores, museums, and open spaces dedicated to preserving what was once the lifeblood of the thriving town.
While many other cities have parks or even forests within the city, few have the vast space and breadth of activities as Fort Whyte. Through 7 KM of trails, explore boardwalks leading you over local marshes teeming with frogs, insects, and fish, birch tree stands that stretch as far as the eye can see or maybe get up close and personal with bison. Even if the trails are not your thing, Fort Whyte still has lots more to offer. The interpretive centre and reception centre are both amazing spaces that are dedicated to exploring the local flora and fauna. What was once a cement factory has been converted into a top waterfowl research centre, bison grazing territory, and an excellent spot to explore thanks to the dedication of hundreds of volunteers and the amazingness of Mother Nature!
Royal Canadian Mint
Coins date back thousands of years and were instrumental in fundamental changes to human society. Finally, people could move from a purely bartering society into a monetary system. For the past 50 years, every single coin that has been minted for Canadian use has been forged at the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg. Every unique and special coin has come from within its walls.
The Mint has produced 55 billion coins for over 75 countries!
Covid Conscious Activities
With Covid-19 being such a huge factor in daily life, it is important to take steps towards a safer holiday like trying to limit your daily contact with others. Keep up to date with the latest local advisories and information.
A visit to Winnipeg can be done easily while being aware of the worldwide pandemic. Open spaces like The Forks and the Exchange District offer unique views into the city's past, while parks like Fort Whyte or the Assiniboine Park allow you to get back in touch with nature. Winnipeg has some amazing history with buildings to match, so taking an audio-guided tour at your own pace is a great option.
Where to Stay
Winnipeg is a massive city with hotels in most areas however, as a tourist, your likely best spot to stay is around the east side of Exchange District. This lively area has some amazing boutique hotels, cute cafes, and lots of local shopping. It's also not too far from The Forks and the Human Rights Museum. For a bit of historic flair, try the Hotel Fort Garry whose opulence came thanks to its location beside the train station.
How to get there and around
Winnipeg is smack dab in the middle of Canada with few large cities around. The closest other main cities are about 8 hours drive away and are Thunder Bay, Ontario, Regina, Saskatchewan, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. This means that unless you happen to be in one of those other cities, you will be coming to Winnipeg on either a cross-country roadtrip, or by landing in the Winnipeg Airport.
Thanks to its middle of nowhere location, Winnipeg has few day trips but numerous overnight trips.
Centre Point of Canada
Canada is the second-largest country by landmass only behind Russia. Just 20 minutes east of Winnipeg is the East-West Centre point of Canada. While it may just be a sign to take a picture in front of, it's hard to believe that it is further in both directions than it is from Istanbul to London!
To the North and East of the city, is some of the best cottage country in Canada. Kenora sits on the north shore of Lake of the Woods and is a fisherpersons delight. Well-established hotels like the Clarion Lakeside Inn, or rustic fishing lodges like Crow Rock Lodge await their next visitors. To the north, Gimli Vicotria Beach, and Winnipeg Beach bring in thousands of summer residents centred around the shores of Lake Winnipeg. There are more than enough spots within a few hours of Winnipeg that are worth a few days of outdoor adventure!