Winnipeg is the capital city of the Manitoba province, and is home to some of the largest arts festivals in the world. With four professional sports teams and a reputation as the dining capital of Canada, Winnipeg invites you to sample its treasures.
By the numbers
Elevation: 239 meters / 784 feet
Time Zone: GMT -6 (GMT -5 Daylight Saving Time); Central Standard Time (CST)
Average Annual Precipitation: 53 centimeters / 21 inches
Average Annual Snowfall: 110 centimeters / 43 inches
Average January Temperature: -16°C / 3°F<
Average July Temperature: 20°C / 68°F
Did you know?
The name ‘Winnipeg’ comes from the Cree Indian words ‘Win’ (muddy) and ‘nipee’ (water) and is named after the lake located about 64 kilometers (40 miles) north of the city.
In the mid 1600s, Winnipeg was one of the major North American fur trading centers of the Hudson Bay Company.
Winnipeg sits at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. It is the capital city of Manitoba.
Located at the cusp of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, Winnipeg has transformed into a thriving beacon of multiculturalism in Manitoba, from its humble beginnings as a fur trading post. A vital transportation hub equipped with a robust economy, Winnipeg is also a major cultural city along the windswept expanses of the Canadian Prairies. Its vibrant neighbourhoods are testament to its wide cultural and artistic berth, exhibiting a wealth of avenues for recreation, sightseeing and entertainment.
The famous intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street at the head of the Exchange District was the original site of commercial development in the city. It is still a main trade area, with the major banks holding offices in the city’s numerous skyscrapers. Urban renewal is rampant in this city, with many of the historical buildings preserved; most are within walking distance of the downtown attractions and hotels. On Downtown’s arterial Main Street, a sea of prime landmarks and entertainment centres jostle for space, from the City Hall and the beaux-arts splendour of Union Station, to the Manitoba Centennial Centre and the Winnipeg Railway Museum.
The Exchange District
A National Historic Site, the Exchange District is the epicenter of commerce and economy in the city – the site where commodity exchanges flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The area still houses the the original grain exchange and Old Market Square. While the market has since moved to The Forks Market, the Exchange is still a gathering and learning place. As the cornerstone of Winnipeg’s prosperous economy, this district is also home to an arsenal of heritage, turn-of-the-century buildings and landmarks that contribute to a wondrous architectural legacy. A medley of old-time granaries, financial establishments and sky-rise structures greets anyone who walks into this historic district, as do landmarks that belong to the city’s theatrical heritage – the Centennial Concert Hall and Artspace.
Now a stunning riverside sprawl, The Forks was the erstwhile transportation intersection for indigenous Aboriginals, before the Europeans arrived. A vibrant home for arts, history and culture, this neighbourhood is one of the most definitive gathering places for both locals and tourists looking for a good time in the city. This place has everything. Sports fans will appreciate the close proximity of Shaw Park, where Winnipeg’s Goldeyes play pro-ball. Pasta lovers will find the Old Spaghetti Factory enjoyable. More artistic travellers will find that the Manitoba Theatre for Young People provides excellent entertainment, and the Manitoba Children’s Museum and Explore Manitoba Centre are great stops for the family. Also found at The Forks is the Assiniboine River Walk, a paved walk along the scenic banks of this historic river. The Paddlewheel River Rouge Tours depart from here, as well as at the Paddlewheel docks, just a jaunt away at the base of the Provencher Bridge.
Old Saint Boniface
Spanning the Red River going east on Provencher takes the traveler into Old St. B, as it is known locally. This is the largest French-speaking community in western Canada. Just beyond the bridge is St. Boniface Basilica and the adjoining stone archway. These make a very pretty sight, especially from across the river. A short distance further up Provencher visitors will find the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobaine, a hall dedicated to the promotion of French entertainment arts.
Moving further from the downtown area, one can visit Transcona, an older area at the eastern limits of town known for its railroad history. This area became part of the city in the early 1970’s, and planners there promptly set up the Transcona Historical Museum. A colossal steam locomotive, proudly exhibited at the Kiwanis Park, is the marker of the Grand Trunk Railway line that has been operating from the city since the 19th Century. Here you will find the Club Regent Casino, and numerous bars and clubs. About twenty minutes out of town, visitors can enjoy such exciting outdoor amusements as Fun Mountain Waterslide Park, Grand Prix Amusements and Tinkertown Family Fun Park. TC, as Transcona is locally known, also has the longest auto sales strip in the city, where car shoppers can find anything from a Porsche to a RV.
Just north of the Airport are several attractions including the Western Canada Aviation Museum. McPhillips Street Station Casino is a great destination for the gambler who is a railway buff. Nearby is the Prairie Dog Central Living Museum; this historic locomotive takes tours west of the city with stops at Grosse Isle, where tourists are regaled with local hospitality. McPhillips is the highway one would take north to the wilderness adventure, Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, and farther north to the beaches of Manitoba’s vast inland lakes.
St. James/Assiniboia and Unicity
These areas cut a swath along Portage Avenue from just beyond downtown all the way out of the city. Along the way, travellers will find the Polo Park, shopping behemoth and Manitoba’s largest shopping center housing nearly 200 stores. This vast shopping complex is even bigger than downtown’s Portage Place. The Winnipeg International Airport is nearby, as is Air Force Heritage Park & Museum. Across from Polo Park is the historic bridge of Saint James across the river that leads to the Assiniboine Park Zoo. At the western limit of town are the areas known as Unicity and Charleswood.
Moving south from Confusion Corner, the confluence of Osborne and Donald Streets, Pembina Highway and Corydon Avenue, is an area called Little Italy. Little Italy, like Osborne Village, is filled with al fresco cafes, ice cream parlours, galleries and specialty shops. Pembina Highway moves south through Fort Rouge, Fort Garry, Fort Richmond, and finally St. Norbert, at the southern limit of town. Just south of here visitors can view the Provincial Heritage Park and the Red River Floodway, where gates divert floodwater into a sluiceway flowing around Winnipeg. Going farther south will get you to Victory Lanes Speedway, and the Morris Stampede.
St. Vital and St. Boniface do not have a lot in the way of attractions, but one can find some spacious recreational parks along the Red River and some well-appointed shopping malls, such as St. Vital Centre. These areas are on fast-moving highways with easy access out of town on the east side. A couple of these routes take you past the Royal Canadian Mint (at Fermor and Lagimodiere), where all of Canada’s coins are made.
Heading out Main Street, visitors can see the Holy Trinity Ukranian-Orthodox Cathedral, a beautiful historic church that is of interest to those of theological, historical or architectural bent. Kildonan Park is a great picnic area and rest stop, with outdoor pools and plenty of park area along the Red. This park houses Rainbow Stage, which hosts all manner of theatrical troupes. Main Street can be taken north to the lakes, and a quick jaunt east on the Perimeter Highway will connect you with the highway to Bird’s Hill Provincial Park and Campground, where the internationally acclaimed Winnipeg Folk Festival is held every year.
Dining and drinking
The people of Winnipeg, due to the immense cold the city can experience, have developed a restaurant and bar culture that is beyond what a center of this size might otherwise. People simply have had to learn to live life indoors for much of the year. For this reason, summers in the city are treated as a precious commodity. Unaccustomed to natural light, squinting Winnipeggers emerge from hibernation each spring to enjoy the excellent patio scene in a dry and mild climate that is the envy of anyone living in more humid locales to the south.
Because of its diminutive size, clearly defined ethnic enclaves are few in number in Winnipeg. However, three main regions that specialize in particular national fare exist. Any trip to the city would be wasted without a stop in Little Italy, or the Corydon Village. Dozens of restaurants and bars grace the five-blocks that make up this sub-community. For an authentic experience, Da Mamma Mia Ristorante is a good place to stop, with its elegant dining and the elderly Italian chef clientele and staff alike call Mamma. One of the hottest summer places in this area, Saffron’s Restaurant, boasts the most popular patio in the city and offers Canadianized Italian food, a good cocktail list and cheap beer in a relaxed atmosphere. Known for its Italian treasures, other culinary experiences are possible in Little Italy.
The French Quarter
The French Quarter is another area that will appeal to those yearning for a European experience on this side of the Atlantic. Quebec may be the dominant French region in North America, but this cultural experience can also be attained in Winnipeg. The cream of the crop is the wonderful Promenade Cafe and Wine, which offers excellent comfort meals. However, a stop on a city culinary tour should include the lower priced cafe in the Franco-Manitoban Cultural Center, which offers classical French fare along with traditional Canadian francophone dishes.
Although not one of the bigger minority groups in the city, the Chinese community has been steadily increasing in size since the beginning of the last century. Located largely in the historic Exchange District, this group has traditionally prospered in small market and restaurant enterprises. Kum Koon Garden is an excellent choice when dining on Asian fare in this area. Spend a jolly night at the King’s Head Pub which is also nearby.
The Osborne Village is another region that offers cuisine from other corners of the earth. This neighbourhood embodies the multicultural Canadian spirit offering fare from every continent. Latin America is delightfully represented in the spicy Tex-Mex food of Carlos and Murphy’s Restaurant and Bar. Bistro Bohemia Restaurant, rated as a top five restaurant in the city, offers Czech cuisine, giving Central Europe a presence. Massawa, with its unique Eritrean and Ethiopian experience, produces the taste of an African safari for adventurous diners. Asian favorites in the area include the diverse offerings of Japan, in the Meiji Japanese Restaurant; Thailand found in the Bangkok Thai Restaurant; and Northern China with the exotic Spicy Noodle House. Surprisingly, there is still enough real estate for North American favorites. River City Brewing Company prepares excellent steaks and monster burgers for those with a hearty appetite. This space is also a microbrewery with a brew master who produces some of the best ale in the city. The swinging set will be right at home sipping one of the over fifty martinis shaken or stirred at G Martini Bar. A favorite local watering hole, Toad in the Hole Restaurant and Pub, deserves mention for its English pub feel and vast array of beer.
Winnipeg’s downtown core is a huge swath of territory that stretches from the southern Legislative Building to the northern Exchange District. There are no concentrations of dining and drinking establishments, but there is a multiplicity of gems to be found. The East India Company Pub & Eatery is a good choice for splendid Indian meals. Other reliable restaurants in central Winnipeg include Earls Kitchen + Bar and The Old Spaghetti Factory.
For a more dressed down event, The Elephant and Castle is a great space for the British Isles experience with its excellent imported ales and hearty fish and chips.
Beyond the busy Portage and Main corridor, lies the Exchange District. The Fyxx Espresso Bar creates amazing sandwiches for a quick lunch and strong coffee for those who wish to sit, relax and discuss world issues in an unhurried manner. Deer + Almond is a good place in the area for delectable small plates and cocktails. No trip to the city would be complete without a trip to The Forks, the historic central meeting place for Indigenous peoples, settlers and modern Winnipeggers. For tasty barbecue, Carnaval Brazilian BBQ is a good choice.
Winnipeg is a place that offers the complete range of dining and drink, from intimate settings to raucous nightclubs. It has ethnic enclaves of world cuisine, multicultural regions where anything and everything can be sampled and a diverse downtown core with a vibrant and diverse mix offering a plethora of experiences for travellers of all stripes.
Winnipeg has more than even the hardiest entertainment buff can possibly take in. Not only is this a very arts oriented town, but also it hosts some of the grandest festivals in Canada—in some cases the biggest in the world. Winnipeg hosts an active sports following and leisure activities abound. There’s a multitude of bars, clubs, theatres, museums, and galleries, as well as a full-service Convention Centre that hosts everything from concerts to car shows. Finding amusement In Winnipeg can be as easy as wandering around The Forks or as difficult as trying to pick a play to see.
Theatre and Arts
The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, the nation’s historic regional theatre, showcases riveting productions at the John Hirsch Mainstage and the Tom Hendry Warehouse. The Prairie Theatre Exchange, located on the third floor of the popular Portage Place mall, showcases local talent and has a drama school. Other theatres in the Exchange District include the Walker Theatre and Pantages Playhouse Theatre. The Gas Station Theatre in Osborne Village, a walk through which is entertainment in itself, features amateurs taking to stage. The Manitoba Theatre for Young People is in The Forks, where there is a Select-A-Seat office that brokers for most of the production companies in town. The Main stage at The Forks Market is host to concerts, featuring local and imported talent. Twenty minutes north of downtown, at Kildonan Park, visitors will find the lovely outdoor venue, the Rainbow Stage, which offers Broadway style shows all summer, and takes their troupe to Pantages in winter.
Movie theatres downtown are distributed almost as tightly as the production houses. In the outlying regions they are found in most major malls. Those folks into art films will find their needs met at Cinematheque in the Exchange, where you can watch independent films for a small fee. Not far from the University of Winnipeg, the Dramatic Arts Centre is a gem hosting a plethora of live theatre productions, musicals, and film screenings.
Museums and Galleries
A person strolling through the core of Winnipeg couldn’t walk four blocks without encountering a museum or gallery of some form or another. Downtown houses the majors, with the Museum of Man and Nature/Planetarium/Concert Hall complex located just north of Portage and Main, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery a short trip up Portage at Memorial Boulevard. Near The Forks, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights dominates the neighbourhood skyline with its striking architecture and piques interest with its evocative exhibits. Nearby, the Manitoba’s Children Museum is a great way to explore and learn scientific and technical principles, a prized family-friendly gem for those traveling with young ones. Osborne Village and Little Italy have an amazing number of galleries clustered together. Winnipeg’s modern spirit feeds largely on a wealth of contemporary art that several of the city’s spaces display. From modern takes on Aboriginal art at the Urban Shaman gallery, to the hip Graffiti Gallery that promotes youth artists, there is a lot to keep an arts lover occupied in the city. Both the core and outlying regions in the city house smaller museums, such as the Transcona Historical Museum, which celebrates the neighbourhood’s railroad past. Some must-see attractions outside of town include Lower Fort Garry near Selkirk, the only intact stone fort construct in North America, and the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Steinbach, a mock-up of a nineteenth-century Mennonite village.
Live music can be found almost anywhere, and in almost any genre. Concerts are held in arenas, squares, parks, stadiums, and even at the Assiniboia Downs Horse Racing Track. Many nightclubs feature live music as well as celebrated DJs. Those with a love for classical music will be enthralled by performances by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra at the Centennial Concert Hall.
Amusements and Games
Winnipeg has some exciting amusement parks that are great for the whole family. Although some climbing and paintball clubs exist within town, most of the parks are just outside. The Fun Mountain Waterslide Park, Grand Prix Amusements and Tinkertown Family Fun Park are all located just east of the city, while A Maze in Corn is a few miles past the South Perimeter Highway. The Prairie Dog Central Living Museum takes train tours out the west side; and if you go as far as Portage la Prairie, an hour west of Winnipeg, you will find the Strawberry Festival in the height of summer. Games could include anything from our pro teams to golf. This city has some excellent pro golf courses, most notable of which are once again located just outside town. John Blumberg Golf Course and the Rossmere Golf & Country Club are two of the city’s finest golfing grounds.
When a city has as avid a sports following as Winnipeg does, it is hard to miss local baseball and hockey teams in action. The Winnipeg Jets, the city’s celebrated ice hockey team plays at the Bell MTS Place, while those interested in football can watch the Winnipeg Blue Bombers live at the Investors Group Field during game season. Those inclined toward equestrian sports can cheer their favorite thoroughbred at the Assiniboia Downs Racetrack up on Portage Avenue.
Festivals & Cultural Events
Mentioning a few and not all seems unfair, but Winnipeg has some biggies that should be pointed out. The Winnipeg Folk Festival, held in the spacious Bird’s Hill Park & Campground, is a weekend of music, crafts and outdoor fun for the whole family. Folklorama, a week-long celebration of ethnic diversity, is the largest of its kind in the world. The Winnipeg International Writer’s Festival is still a fledgling event, but is rivalling similar events in Toronto and Vancouver. The Fringe Theatre Festival, is a rapidly growing event that attracts people from various parts of the nation.
Visitors to this city will find a wealth of touring options in two main modes—by land or by water. Greyhound Canada and Grey Goose Bus Lines both offer charters and are located in the same building downtown. Handi-Transit is available locally (986 5722), so those with disabilities can see all they wish to see. Packages are available from major tour companies like Canada Tours and Leisure Tours; as well as more affordable tours, or tours to more obscure locations, through smaller outfits. For the especially adventurous, Winnipeg is a main departure point for tours to the far north—Hudson’s Bay and Nunavut (Wayne’s), for example. Theme tours and camps are also available; Bob’s Wild West Adventures and International Wildlife Adventures are two good examples.
The Forks Market is an excellent place to start. The confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers is a historical landmark and the birthplace of this city. Its location in the center of town makes it a convenient starting point for both planned and unplanned itineraries. Get on a boat and see the sights riverwise, or just wander about and take in the rich history of the area. The Historic Port is a picturesque little harbour that has seen traffic for hundreds of years. The Assiniboine River Walk, when not flooded, provides walkers with a paved path along this River, where visitors can take their time to enjoy the sights; bike trails and tours are also available here. Aside from this more pastoral aspect, The Forks is a thriving market and meeting place. The Explore Manitoba Centre offers an overview of local history and culture; the Manitoba Children’s Museum promotes education through activities; and Johnston Terminal, a converted distribution warehouse, has numerous boutiques for the souvenir minded. Hungry? There is an astounding array of edibles on offer. Not only are there several major restaurants on site, but also the market has produce this writer has never even seen before; and it hosts a food court where cuisine from nearly every ethnic background can be enjoyed.
Within a half-hour walk of The Forks are numerous attractions considered a must-see for visitors to Winnipeg. Go south on Main St to Broadway, and then west, and you’ll encounter the Manitoba Legislative Building. There are beautifully groomed grounds and fountains that make this a great picnic spot, or you can take the in-house tour and see the cupola from the inside. Perched atop this historical building is the Winnipeg standard, the Golden Boy statue.
Walking north on Main, from the Forks, visitors will find the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature/Planetarium/Concert Hall complex. The museum showcases natural and local history and houses a full-size replica of the Nonsuch, the historical sailing vessel used by Hudson’s Bay fur traders.
Now go west on Portage Ave to Memorial Blvd to find the Winnipeg Art Gallery. This space has no permanent exhibitions; so regular visitors to the city can expect to find something different nearly every time they come back. Incidentally, while touring around downtown visitors will encounter numerous galleries and shops with an amazing variety of artworks and trinkets. This is especially true for the Exchange District, Osborne Village and Little Italy.
Assiniboine Park Zoo
Visitors coming into the city by air will find some excellent attractions near the Airport. The Western Canada Aviation Museum is one of the world’s leading historical aircraft restoration facilities. It has a kid’s activity center and a flight simulator, making it a great stop for aircraft buffs both young and old. About five miles south of the Airport is Assiniboine Park Zoo. There is much to see here, so taking one of the Park’s tours is advisable. Aside from the picnic grounds and sports fields, the zoo has a Discovery Centre, Petting Zoo, and mini-train ride for the kids, a Botanical House and Conservatory for botany enthusiasts, and the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden for art lovers.
Winnipeg has much to offer in the peripheral areas, as well. The Red River Floodway and Corn Maze, both at the southern limit of town, are good examples. The locks at Lockport, about 15 minutes north of the city, are another. The Floodway and Lockport don’t give tours but are public spaces of great interest to those who love engineering marvels. Good fishing at these spots, too.
Custom tours can be developed through most of Winnipeg’s tour companies, as well as through the government tourism offices. Travel Manitoba, located in the Explore Manitoba Centre in The Forks Market, is a favorite first stop for many travellers here.
Boat excursions are widely available here, too. Paddlewheel River Rouge Tours offers scheduled cruises as well as custom charters, and also operates a fleet of double-decker buses with a wide range of tours available. Splash Dash Water Services operates out of The Forks; they offer regular water transit departing every 15 minutes, a many tours, as well as custom charters and boat rentals. Everything from peddle-boats to outboards can be rented. Serious boaters will find a variety of rental services 20 minutes north of the city in Selkirk. This town, the home of the historical Lower Fort Garry, is the base for most of the areas fly-in services. Prospective boaters will need to be aware of Manitoba’s new boating regulations; call the Visitor Info line for details.
Winnipeg is a city with many appellations, bestowed by various cultural sectors. The name Winnipeg, which stems from the aboriginal word ‘win’, meaning muddy, and ‘nipee’, meaning waters, was first used on the masthead of Manitoba’s first newspaper, The Nor’wester, in 1866. Prior to this time, the Nor’wester called the community Red River Settlement, Assiniboia.
As a prairie city gaining its origin mainly because of water travel, the city is known to some as the River City, as in The River City Brewing Company. The internationally acclaimed Forks Market is located at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. It is here that Miles Macdonnell and 36 Scottish and Irish labourers founded the first Red River settlement.
Beginning in 1776, when there was nobody around except for a few natives and fur traders, there were five floods before The Great Flood of 1826. This flood caused the evacuation of all the town’s settlers, which by this time still tallied less than 1000. There were then six more floods before the Great Flood of 1950. This flood caused an estimated $115,000,000 in damage. Winnipeggers had now had enough and resolved to build the Red River Floodway, an architectural wonder that diverts floodwater around the metropolitan area at the expense of the surrounding villages and farms. This structure was completed in 1962, ensuring that the city would never again have to be evacuated.
But floods were not the only strife early settlers had to suffer before a permanent settlement became viable. Before 1821, the North West Company, its employees and Metis allies practiced a form of protectionism that would land them all in jail today. They killed the competition, which included settlers the company viewed as a threat to the fur trade. They felt, quite correctly, that rising population in the area would quickly deplete the area of its resources in fur bearing animals. On June 19, 1816, in what became known as the Seven Oaks Massacre, 70 mounted, armed North West Company employees and Metis, attacked the settlement at Selkirk, gruesomely murdering, disemboweling and scalping 21 of the settlers there. They then smashed in the skulls and left the bodies on the plains to be scavenged by wolves. That is the way it was done during the earliest struggles between the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company. In 1821, the rival companies agreed to ‘bury the hatchet’, merging their interests and bringing an uneasy peace to the area. However, this did not guarantee the settlement’s success, and until agriculture became sustainable in the late 1840s, the people relied mainly on the buffalo hunt for sustenance. The fur trade remained strong until about 1875, when expanding commerce and trade, effective flood control and agricultural practices became attractive enough to induce a short period of brisk colonial growth. A population of 215 in 1871 grew to 3700 in 1874.
Yet, in 1870, Winnipeg was still less significant than the Red River colonies. These consisted of Scottish, Irish and French settlements located in feudal arrangement all along the Red River. There were three distinct colonies: at the Forks, at Point Douglas (now the somewhat famous corner of Portage and Main Street), and at Selkirk (now located about 15 miles north of Winnipeg). There was still the odd skirmish between colonists trying to secure their livelihoods; but The Red River Rebellion (in which Louis Riel secured the rights of Metis and consequently martyred himself) of the 1860s resulted in Manitoba entering Confederation in 1870. From the mid-1870s on, the area settled into a slow but steady growth.
The Manitoba Act was signed in 1870; Fort Osborne Barracks were founded in 1872, much increasing local trade; 1872 also saw the inauguration of the Winnipeg Free Press, still in business today. The town grew as a trade centre to meet the demands for goods the colonists needed. The first fortunes made here were made by real estate speculators, who correctly predicted a boom, purchased huge tracts of land and parcelled them out to the immigrating colonists. In January of 1872, the first issue of the Manitoba Trade Review is published, and calls for the town’s incorporation. On November 8, 1873, The Forks and the Red River Colony merged into an incorporated Winnipeg. The Act of Incorporation followed Ontario’s lead; consequently, the remaking of Manitoba in Ontario’s image began in Winnipeg. By late 1874, a civic government was well established, and the city’s motto became ‘Commerce, Prudence, Industry’. Considering the counterproductive endeavours of early settlers here, the term prudence is a terrible irony.
In 1907, Winnipeg’s Stock Exchange was chartered, and by 1913 manufacturing concerns achieved sales over $50M. In May of 1919, more than 35,000 union employees and unorganized labourers (almost a fifth of the city’s population) went on strike in response to poor trade conditions and a recessed economy, paralyzing Winnipeg commerce. Riots and bloodshed ensued, and before it was over the union leaders were jailed. The following year the Manitoba Legislative Building was erected and topped with a standard symbol of Winnipeg—the Golden Boy.
Travel on the rivers was vital to commerce in the early development of the city. Before this time, however, aboriginal hunting parties, early traders and explorers used these rivers. The ‘forks’ also became a meeting place and area devoted to ritual practices. This rich history is represented in the current Forks development and factors largely in continued development. These rivers continued to be vital until the development of the Red River Cart, a sturdy two-wheeled wagon that could withstand the brutal overland routes used in westward expansion. In addition, the coming of the railroad in 1881, removed the necessity of river commerce. Today, the Red and Assiniboine are used almost entirely for pleasure travel and recreation. The Splash Dash Water Bus is an exception, which makes it possible to get quickly from one river attraction to the next.
It was for these reasons that this city became known as the Gateway to the West; it remains a major distribution centre to this day. Connected to this is the notion that Winnipeg is the ‘proving grounds’ of Canadian commerce. It is said by many industrialists and entrepreneurs that, ‘if it works in Winnipeg it will work anywhere’.
Finally, the ‘Peg is known as the ‘dining capital of Canada’. It is widely rumoured that this city has more restaurants per capita than any other Canadian city. While it is hard to find verification of this rumour, a trip downtown, especially down Corydon Avenue, seems to bear out this assertion with relative ease. The Yellow Pages here have over 25 pages of entries for restaurants—not bad for a city with little more than 600,000 people.
Getting there and getting around
Greyhound Bus Line (+1 800 661 8747/ http://www.greyhound.ca), Grey Goose Bus (+1 800 392 1340), and Beaver Bus Line (+1 204 989 7007) each service Winnipeg.
Winnipeg is serviced by VIA Rail Canada (+1 888 842 7245 /http://www.viarail.ca).
Winnipeg is serviced by Winnipeg Transit (+1 204 986 5700/ http://www.winnipegtransit.com), which operates between 86 routes in the city. It also offers free service to Downtown Winnipeg via Portage Avenue and Memorial Boulevard.
Licensed and metered taxis are available in Winnipeg. There is a small waiting time charge applied for each 13.18 seconds of wait.
Driving is one of the best ways to get by in the city, although auto-theft is not uncommon, and anti-theft devices are highly advised.
Walking may not be the best way to get around this large city, although few areas such as downtown offer walkway systems.