Downtown: The Centre Of Our History

Downtown is the heart of our city. A junction where people from all walks of life, nationality, and creed — visit and belong. People feel a sense of connection to our downtown, with its abundance of architectural gems, stirring vistas, historic meeting points and inviting places to dine. Downtown is the only neighbourhood in the city that belongs to all of Winnipeg’s citizens. It is the birthplace of our city, where trade and commerce began. It is a physical archive of our history, roots, and of our culture. From the outside looking in, our downtown is what distinguishes our city from the rest of the world.

Our downtown has a wide mixture of heritage buildings with valuable historical significance. Many of the buildings have been refurbished to keep their original architecture intact and are used for residential, commercial and entertainment purposes.

National Historical Sites

The Exchange District

The Exchange District was the centre of grain and wholesale trade, finance and manufacturing in the historical time periods from 1880 to 1900 when Winnipeg became the gateway to western Canada and between 1900 and 1913 when its growth made it the biggest metropolitan centre of the region. The 20-block area is home to 150 heritage buildings, which have been preserved and redeveloped into various businesses, offices and residential units. Over 50 are municipally designated ‘heritage’ and protected. $8 million is being spent on streetscaping in the Exchange District. The Exchange District is often regarded as the arts and cultural hub of Winnipeg, boasting many theatres, unique boutiques and retailers, art galleries and nightclubs.

The Forks

The Forks is a 54-acre site located downtown at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. For 6,000 years The Forks has been a meeting place for early Aboriginal peoples, European fur traders, Scottish settlers, Métis buffalo hunters, riverboat workers, railway pioneers and tens of thousands of immigrants. Today the location is Winnipeg`s number one tourist destination and is dedicated to preserving and presenting The Forks rich history. The site includes a complete market with food retailers and restaurants, interpretive exhibits, a native prairie garden, an outdoor riverside amphitheatre for events and performances, and walking tours/trails.

Businesses with History

There are a number of businesses that have been in operation in downtown Winnipeg for more than 20 years!

Business Operating Since
WinnipegArtGallery 1912
Hotel Fort Garry 1913
The Bay Downtown (HBC) 1926
Royal Winnipeg Ballet 1939
Mitchell Fabrics 1946
Hy’s Steakhouse 1958
VJ’s Drive Inn 1958
Prairie Theatre Exchange 1960
Holiday Coiffures Hair Salon 1975
Oscar’s Deli 1982
Colliers Pratt McGarry 1984