Two weeks ago I spent 4 days on a mini Canadian road trip to Moose Jaw, Regina, and Winnipeg. The second third and final stop on my trip was Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Winnipeg is the capital city and largest city of Manitoba, Canada. The city was named after the nearby Lake Winnipeg, and comes from the Cree words for muddy water. The region was a trading centre for the Indigenous people well before the French built a fort on the site in 1738. Selkirk settlers colonized the area in 1812. The City of Winnipeg was founded in 1873. Winnipeg is known as the “Gateway to the West” as it is a large transportation hub and has a very diverse economy. While I was here I ate some delicious food, and explored the city. It was full of a surprising amount of amazing historic architecture.
When I woke up on the Friday morning I was treated to -34°C weather. The roads were extremely icy, and acceleration and braking had to be performed delicately.
2643 Portage Avenue is a very small brutalist style building. This is one of the smallest brutalist style buildings that I’ve ever seen.
585 Mountain Avenue is another small brutalist style building. This is also one of the smallest brutalist style buildings that I’ve ever seen, and is very similar to 2643 Portage Avenue, which I showed above.
The Manitoba Teachers Society building is a brutalist style building that was opened in September 1967. An increased demand for space resulted in the decision to construct a new, larger facility. An extensive amount of bare concrete showing its exposed aggregate is seen throughout the building inside, and out. Unfortunately I wasn’t permitted entry into the building due to COVID-19. The building even features a 350-seat auditorium. A unique feature of the building is its waffle ceiling.
Fire Hall Number 11 located on Berry Street was built in 1912. It was designed by Alexander & William Melville. It was originally built as St. James No. 1 Station before the amalgamation of the various municipalities into modern-day Winnipeg. The building is built predominantly of clay brick. The building originally had arched doors, however they were changed to larger square overhead doors at a later time when equipment grew. The building originally had dirt floors, had no running water, or sewage hookup. This was added on later. The reason for the tall tower is because it was used for hang drying hoses. Another fun fact is that the south side of the building was also used as a police station and included 30 steel cells that could accommodate up to 60 prisoners. There’s quite a bit of information on this building if you’re interested, which you can read here.
1147 Notre Dame Avenue is the site of the former Christie’s Biscuits factory. Today it is used as a hub of support services for children living with disabilities, including therapy to prosthetics. It underwent a $24 million renovation in the mid 2010’s. The building was constructed between 1931 and 1932 for $1 million, and is made of brick and Tyndall stone. The brick for the building came all the way from my home province of Alberta. The building certainly has some Art Deco features including hanging Art Deco light fixtures, and entrance arches.
St. John Cantius Church was completed in 1918, and was designed by local Winnipeg architect George Northwood, however took seven years to build, being finished by J.A. Tremblay.
The Palace Theatre, located at 501 Selkirk Avenue, is a former theatre building designed by local Winnipeg architect Max Blankstein, and was constructed in 1912 by owner Jacob Miles. It was originally used for live Vaudeville performances, but was later converted into a movie theatre. In 1927, a balcony was added to increase the theatre’s capacity to 800 people. The theatre closed in 1964, and the stage, balcony and interior walls were removed. It was later used as a department store, auction house, furniture warehouse, and bargain store until it was sold in 1997 to a group hoping to use it as a live community theatre. By 2002 the building was abandoned and fell into disarray.
St. Giles Presbyterian Church, located at 239 Selkirk Avenue, was built in 1889 as a Presbyterian Church. It was later converted to a theatre in 1908, after an extensive Art Deco style facelift. M.Z. Blanksetin, born in Odessa, Russia, was in charge of the theatre facelift conversion. In 1934 the theatre suffered severe fire damage was reopened as a Bingo Hall, and continues to operate to this day. There is quite a bit more additional information about this building here if you’re interested.
Have you paid your taxes yet? The Winnipeg Tax Centre is an excellent example of brutalist architecture style. The building was built in 1979, and was designed by Number Ten Architectural Group. Most of the building was made by pre-cast concrete cladding with circular motifs repeated on all facades.
The Blessed Sacrament Parish was build in 1966, and is an excellent example of brutalist architecture. Sadly I couldn’t enter the building due to COVID-19, as it has been closed for quite some time. The building can house 450 people per congregation, and was designed by Étienne Gaboury.
The Royal Canadian Mint was founded in 1908. In 1960 the Minister of Finance decided that there was a need for a new facility, as the Ottawa facility had reached capacity. In 1963 and 1964 the government discussed the possibility of building a facility that would be functional within 2 years. The Winnipeg location was constructed between 1972 and 1976 for only $16 million. It’s an excellent example of Modernist (Brutalist) architecture style. The Winnipeg facility is responsible for producing the circulation currency of other nations. Since opening its doors in 1976, the Mint’s Winnipeg facility has produced coinage for over 130 countries. Along Royal Mint Drive is a flag of every country for whom the Royal Canadian Mint makes coins with. In 2015 there were 133 flags flying here, but that number varies, as agreements change.
Robson Hall is the law school of the University of Manitoba. This beautiful brutalist style building was built in 1969. It was designed by Ward Macdonald and Partners. This building is very distinct because it looks as if the low profile building is floating on stilts.
The Elizabeth Dafoe Library is University building that was built between 1951 and 1952. This brutalist style building was designed by Green Blankstein Russell.
The Buller Building was built in 1932. It is a beautiful four-storey brick and limestone building on the University of Manitoba campus that houses scientific teaching and research. It was designed by Arthur Alexander Stoughton and Gilbert Parfitt.
The John A. Russell Building is a two-storey brutalist style building that was built in 1959 to house the Faculty of Architecture. It was designed by Arthur James Donahue and Doug Gillmour. It was designated a historic building in February 2019.
The Administration Building is a three-storey brick and stone building on the University of Manitoba campus that was constructed between 1911 and 1913. The building was designed by local architects Samuel Hooper and Victor Horwood. The building originally housed offices, the post office, a reading room, classrooms, laboratories, a museum, and a library. The exterior of the building mainly consisted of Tyndall stone. The building is now used as the main administration building for the University of Manitoba. In 2019 the building was designated as a historic building.
The University of Manitoba Students Union building was constructed between 1966 and 1969. The five-storey building is another excellent example of brutalist style architecture. The design of the building had to maintain an unobstructed view from Chancellor Matheson Road to the Administration Building. This requirement to remain unobtrusive to the surrounding structures required some of the project below grade. The above grade facilities include dining space, offices and conference rooms, while the lounges, cafeteria, bookstore and open spaces for gathering were located below grade. This was also a central meeting points for all the climate controlled tunnels that connected the campus.
The Winnipeg Transit Fort Rouge Garage was built in 1969. The brutalist style 240000 square foot garage can accommodate up to 500 buses, and includes bays for washing, fueling, and daily maintenance checks.
The Neeginan Centre, was originally built as a fourth depot for the Canadian Pacific Railway between 1904 and 1905. It was their most opulent facility, and was the hub for many decades. In 1978 the newly-formed Via Rail took over passenger railway service and chose Union Station as its main passenger depot. This ended up being a death blow to the station, and by the late 1980’s the CPR’s office staff had all been relocated. The building remained vacant until 1992, when the Neeginan Centre moved in.
The Winnipeg Fire Fighter’s Museum was originally built as a fire hall in 1904, and remained as an active fire hall until 1990. It was designed by Alexander and William Melville, and was one of five fire halls built in 1904. The building design was used for 14 of Winnipeg’s fire stations. Again, I couldn’t go inside because of COVID-19.
62 MacDonald Avenue, also known as the UFO Condo’s, is a beautiful 40 unit condo complex that was designed by 5468796 Architecure and built in 2017.
The Winnipeg City Hall, also known as the Civic Centre, consists of two building separated by a courtyard. Both buildings were designed by architectural firm Green Blankstein Russell and Associates, and were constructed by G.A. Baert Construction in 1964. My favorite of the two buildings is the Winnipeg City Clerk’s Dept (Administration Building), which is a seven-storey high office complex that has a beautiful block on the top. These buildings both are a great representation of brutalist architecture style.
The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre was constructed in 1970 and is an excellent example of brutalist style architecture. The building was designed by Robert Kirby, and has a seating capacity of 1970. The theatre was originally founded in 1958, and moved into it’s current home on October 31, 1970. The theatre received its royal designation from Queen Elizabeth II in 2010, and is also now onsidered a National Historic Site.
The Princess Street historic buildings are quite stunning. They resemble something out of an old movie. Winnipeg has been dubbed the Chicago of the North, and I can certainly see why with the view on this street.
The Cube Stage was constructed in 2012 for $1.5 million. It consists of 20,000 aluminum links and has a built-in lighting system, green room, and two performance levels.
80 Lombard Avenue is the home for Scott-Bathgate, a Canadian-based confectionary comapny. It is known for it’s Nutty Club brand of candy and nut products. The company chose “Can-D-Man” as its mascot, which you can see below. They occupied the building from 1945 to 2007, when they moved to a building on Alexander and Galt Avenue. The building the originally occupied was built for the Union Shoe and Leather Company. It comprised of three separate sections that were built in 1896, 1898 and 1907.
The Canadian Grain Commission Building is a brutalist style building that was designed by Smith Carter Parkin, and built in 1973. It relies on extensive use of pre-case concrete, and has a mushroom like appearance with the top of the building casting a silhouette over the rest of the building.
265 Notre Dame Avenue, previously known as the Canadian General Electric Building, was originally designed by Northwood and Chivers, and constructed in 1930. The Canadian General Electric Company opened the beautiful Art Deco style five-storey building on February 1 1931. The building was equipped with a sprinkler system, which was quite rare at the time, making it “fire proof”. In 1953 Canadian General Electric relocated their office to a space in St. James, and the building then was occupied by Winnipeg and Central Gas Company.
The Ambassador Apartments (Breadalbane) are a wedge shaped five-storey building built in 1909 by Macquarrie and McLeod. The building was designed by local architect John Woodman. Originally, the building had 60 units (12 on each floor), however the building was later renovated in 1927 to include 70 units. The building was extensively renovated in the 1980s when it was vacant, and is now considered a historic site.
The Winnipeg Clinic is a medical doctors building that was opened in 1948. This beautiful Art Deco style building was built in 1948. Actually, the building originated as a two-storey building in 1942, later expanded slightly in 1946, and later expanded significantly to an Art Moderne, a style of Art Deco, skyscraper between 1959 and 1961. There’s a ton more info on this building here.
The Worker’s Compensation Building (formerly Monarch Life Building), is located at 333 Broadway Street. This brutalist (modernist) style building was built between 1960 and 1961, and was designed by Smith Carter Searle Associates. The building, originally constructed for Monarch Life Insurance, was one of the largest post-war era building constructed. The east and west facades are windowless. In 1999 the building became the head office for the Worker’s Compensation Board. In 2011 the building was in fairly deserate need of repair, and the existing granite stone was restored, instead of replacing it with a more modern material. 4044 granite stone panels were carefully removed, repaired, and replace in their original location, following asbestos removal and the installation of a new building envelope.
The Fort Garry Hotel opened in December 2011, welcoming Grand Trunk Pacific Railway executives. It was dubbed as the new castle of opulence. In 1971 a fire roared through the hotel’s seventh floor, which left extensive damage to the hotel. Over 50 fire fighters were required to extinguish the building. The hotel was purchased in 1988 by Raymond Malenfant from Quebec. The hotel was closed for over a year and re-opened a year later. The hotel exchanged ownership again in 2009, and was rebranded as the Fort Garry Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre.
Union Station is the inter-city railway station for Winnipeg. It also previously contained the Winnipeg Railway Museum until COVID-19 shut it down. They’re currently looking for a new home. The station was constructed between 1908 and 1911 as a joint venture between the Canadian Northern Railway, National Transcontinental, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, and the Dominion government. The station was an essential hub for decades. In the 1960’s train services started to decline, and today only two trains are serviced by the station; Via Rail’s Toronto to Vancouver service, and the Winnipeg to Churchill train. Today most of the terminal is used as office space for non-railway tenants, however its still a beautiful station inside, and out. In 2011 Via Rail undertook a $3 million renovation to the station to repair the roof, trainshed, and improve energy efficiency of the building. Gas efficiency improved by 82%, and electrical efficiency improved by 25%! Prior the the renovation the roof had no insulation, but now has R25 insulation.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights was established in 2008. The building took only a year to complete and was finished by the end of 2009. It is located in The Forks area, and was established through the enactment of Bill C-42. From an architecture standpoint the building has 7 floors, including a 100 metre tall glass spire that overlooks Downtown Winnipeg. From an exhibition standpoint there are 10 core gallies that showcase; What are human rights?, Indigenous perspectives, Canadian journeys, Protecting rights in Canada, Examining the Holocaust and other genocides, Turning points for humanity, Breaking the silence, Actions count, Rights today, and Inspiring change. Visiting this centre was truly heartwarming, and I advise that you spent 3-4 hours here to get the full experience.
The Forks National Historic Site was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1974, however dates back much further to roughly 6000 years ago when aboriginal groups congregated in the area. Seasonal migrates routes first occured in the area, until fur traders arrived between 1734 and 1760. Between 1738 and 1880 Europeans arrived, and while the area remained a fur trading destination until 1880, grain production also became an area of focus. From 1880 to 1920 immigration became an aread of focus, and settlement and railway development was prevalent. Today The Forks consist of a skateboard park, restaurants, shops, park, art, etc.
The Esplanade Riel Footbridge is a modern side-spar cable-stayed bridge that spans the Red River. It was designed by Guy Prefontaine and Etienne Gaboury, and was built in 2004. The bridge is the only bridge with a restaurant in the middle in North America.
Paroisse du Precieux Sang, also known as the Church of the Previous Blood, is a unique looking catholic church was that built in 1968. The tipi-like church was designed by Manitoban architect Etienne-Joseph Gaboury. The church’s structure is made of a glazed-brick base, and the roof is made of wood and reaches a height of 85 feet. The church has a capacity of 525 seats, which circle the altar.
Restaurant – Nathan Detroit’s Sandwich Pad. Their sandwiches are Thicc!!! I had a delicious Montreal smoked meat sandwich and chicken noodle soup.
Restaurant – Gaijin Izakaya. I had a delicious bowl of very spicy miso ramen here. I highly recommend this place.
While I was in Winnipeg I was unfortunately exposed to a bunch of the protests that were occurring, and saw this person pulling a 5th wheel trailer with his tractor.
Be sure to check back soon for my next blog post. I have booked a trip to Portugal for March 9th, however it looks like Portugal has changed their rules since I booked my flight, so I may not be able to get into the country. Either way I will be going somewhere. Stay tuned!
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