Central Winnipeg, MB, Canada

Winnipeg is the capital city of Manitoba and a precious jewel in Canada’s crown. You will be amazed at all of the delightful places you will find to explore and enjoy at the “Gateway to the West.” This first travel guide focuses on the historic, cultural and government hubs plus downtown.

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Winnipeg Skyline along Red River, Canada - Encircle Photos

1 Winnipeg Skyline along Red River, Canada

Welcome to Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, Canada. Come explore the history that dates back 6,000 years. The city has grown into the country’s seventh largest. You will find lush parks, converging rivers, professional sports, cultural venues, polar bears, stunning architecture, beautiful murals, a vibrant economy and 750,000 people who are proud of the “Gateway to the West.”

Avenue de la Cathedral & Tache Ave, Winnipeg, MB R2H 0H7, Canada
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Esplanade Riel and Blue Flags in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

2 Esplanade Riel and Blue Flags in Winnipeg, Canada

The Esplanade Riel cable-stayed bridge has become a Winnipeg landmark since opening in 2003. It was named after Louis Riel, the founder of Manitoba. The pedestrian-only, white bridge spans 646 feet over the Red River to connect downtown with the French community of Saint Boniface. In the foreground are some of the 2,015 blue flags from the Cool Gardens 2015 project. Each flag had an imprint of a person’s face and a quick description of what “cool” means to them. It was located in the Citizen Garden at The Forks Park.

50 Provencher Blvd, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
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Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

3 Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Canada

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is Winnipeg’s newest grand structure. The cornerstone was laid in 2010 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. The opening ceremony was conducted in September, 2014. The mission of this government-owned museum is to help visitors explore and better understand human rights in Canada and across the world. The 330 foot Tower of Hope has an observation platform. The height provides great views of the city and the river valley.

85 Israel Asper Way, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0L5, Canada
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Manitoba Theatre for Young People at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

4 Manitoba Theatre for Young People at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada

Since 1999, the Manitoba Theatre for Young People has been housed at The Forks in the Canwest Performing Arts Centre. Its professional actors perform several productions a year on this venue’s main stage. They also tour throughout Manitoba. The company provides free acting lessons for Aboriginal children.

2 Forks Market Rd, Winnipeg, MB R3C 4X1, Canada
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The Forks Market Tower in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

5 The Forks Market Tower in Winnipeg, Canada

A highlight of the 14 acre public park named The Forks is this six-story glass tower. Take an elevator or climb to the top to enjoy panoramic views. You will see the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, the shoreline of Saint Boniface and the skyline of downtown Winnipeg.

1 Forks Market Rd, Winnipeg, MB R3C 4L8, Canada
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The Forks Market Courtyard in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

6 The Forks Market Courtyard in Winnipeg, Canada

The Forks Market is filled with delightful shopping boutiques, specialty food stalls and restaurants. Discover galleries selling the works from about 300 local artists. Also inside is the Travel Manitoba Visitor Information Centre. Their staff can help plan your itinerary while visiting Winnipeg. The canopy over this courtyard connects two former horse stalls. They were used by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and the Great Northern Railway in the early 1900s.

1 Forks Market Rd, Winnipeg, MB R3C 4L8, Canada
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The Forks Market Plaza in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

7 The Forks Market Plaza in Winnipeg, Canada

The Forks Market Plaza is a great place to meet with family or friends on a park bench or under a canopy. It offers a wonderful view of the historic port along the Red River. In the winter, this area becomes the Plaza Skating Rink. But it is modest in size compared to the rink created on the two rivers out front in 2008. It was named by Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest: it stretched for over five miles.

1 Forks Market Rd, Winnipeg, MB R3C 4L8, Canada
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Variety Heritage Adventure Park at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

8 Variety Heritage Adventure Park at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada

When you take your kids to most historic sites, their reaction often ranges from tolerance to a tantrum. But not at the Variety Heritage Adventure Park. This collaboration between Parks Canada and the Variety Children’s Charity of Manitoba present the area’s railroad history as a colorful and fun playground. It also includes a stage and a water park for those hot summer days.

75 Forks Market Rd, Winnipeg, MB R3C 4Y3, Canada
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Oodena Celebration Circle at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

9 Oodena Celebration Circle at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada

Over 6,000 years ago, Aboriginal groups lived along the rivers in Winnipeg. This area was later occupied by several Indigenous peoples including the Nakoda, Cree, Anishinaabe and Dakota. To honor this heritage, a site was developed at The Forks in 1993 called Oodena Celebration Circle. In Ojibwa this means the “heart of the city.” The park is shaped like a 200 foot bowl where archeologists found numerous artifacts dating back 3,000 years. Surrounding a large fire pit are eight steel structures called armatures. Their sights align to heavenly constellations.

Oodena, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0A2, Canada
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Manitoba Children’s Museum at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

10 Manitoba Children’s Museum at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada

The Manitoba Children’s Museum has twelve exhibition galleries with creative names like Splash Lab, Time Squared and Lasagna Lookout. It was founded by Linda Isitt in 1986. Since 1994, the museum has been housed at The Forks in the former train repair facility of the Northern Pacific and Manitoba Railway Company. The rail building was constructed in 1889.

45 Forks Market Rd, Winnipeg, MB R3C 4T6, Canada
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Two Rivers Confluence at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

11 Two Rivers Confluence at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada

The Assiniboine River in the foreground flows through Western Canada for 660 miles before becoming a tributary to the Red River in the background. The Rivière Rouge is unique because it starts along the Minnesota-North Dakota border and moves north for 540 miles until it empties into Lake Winnipeg. The confluence of the two rivers occurs here at The Forks. Assiniboine Riverwalk is a great place for a stroll or to play hide-and-seek. In the distance is Saint Boniface Cathedral.

River Walk, Winnipeg, MB R3C, Canada
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Railway Lift Bridge at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

12 Railway Lift Bridge at The Forks in Winnipeg, Canada

This old wooden railway lift bridge was designed by Joseph Strauss. He was the same engineer responsible for the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The bascule bridge was built in 1914 for the Canadian Northern Railway. The huge concrete counterweight was used to raise and lower the wooden deck to accommodate ships sailing along the Assiniboine River.

Railway Lift Bridge, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0A2, Canada
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Union Station in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

13 Union Station in Winnipeg, Canada

The Warren and Wetmore architect firm who designed the iconic Grand Central Terminal in New York City simultaneously supervised the construction of the Beaux Arts style Union Station in Winnipeg. It officially opened in 1912 and became a National Historic Site of Canada in 1976. This prominent landmark along Main Street spans 350 feet at the terminus of Broadway.

123 Main St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1A3, Canada
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Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

14 Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg, Canada

The Fort Garry Hotel was the luxury hotel in Winnipeg when the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway opened it on Broadway in 1913 just one year after the nearby Union Station was finished. The hotel was the property of choice for rail travelers. It is named after Upper Fort Garry, a Hudson Bay Company trading post that was located next door from 1822 until it was demolished in 1884. The four-star, Château style building has 246 rooms. But you may not want to check into number 202. People say it is haunted.

222 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 0R3, Canada
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Law Courts Building in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

15 Law Courts Building in Winnipeg, Canada

It seems whenever you drive along Broadway, a major downtown street, the Winnipeg Law Courts building is glowing in the sun. The stunning Beaux Arts design features a prominent copper dome, a dentil cornice and four Ionic columns. Finished in 1916, it was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 2009. Two other courthouses have been built nearby in the government precinct. However, they are no architectural match to Palais de Justice de Winnipeg.

411 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1T9, Canada
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Jón Sigurðsson Statue in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

16 Jón Sigurðsson Statue in Winnipeg, Canada

During most of the 19th and first half of the 20th century, Iceland struggled to gain the right of self-governance. One of the leaders of the Icelandic Independence Movement (1841 through 1873) against the Kingdom of Denmark was Jón Sigurðsson. This led to their first constitution in 1874. They would not become the Republic of Iceland until 1944. This bronze statue by sculptor Einar Jonsson was created in 1921. The tribute stands on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative Building.

450 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1S4, Canada
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Legislative Building in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

17 Legislative Building in Winnipeg, Canada

Manitoba became a self-governed province in 1869. The Legislative Assembly was formed the following year. Today, it consists of 57 members primarily from two parties: Conservatives and the Democratic Party. The party leader is the premier. This Legislative Building opened in 1920 as part of the province’s 50th anniversary. It remains the seat for Manitoba’s government. The elegant façade was constructed with Tyndall stone. Below the copper dome are four allegory statues representing agriculture, art, industry and science.

450 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1S4, Canada
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Government House in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

18 Government House in Winnipeg, Canada

The head of state in Canada is Queen Elizabeth II. She is represented in Manitoba by the lieutenant governor. The Government House is located on the 30 acre grounds of the Legislative Building. It is owned by Her Majesty in Right of Manitoba and is the Queen’s residence when she and other royalty visit Winnipeg. The Government House is also the home for the lieutenant governor and used for government receptions and events. This Victorian building was constructed with timber framing in 1883.

10 Kennedy St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1S4, Canada
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Queen Elizabeth II Statue in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

19 Queen Elizabeth II Statue in Winnipeg, Canada

The Queen of Canada is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She has also reigned in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and several other countries since 1952. In 2010, she dedicated the Queen Elizabeth II Gardens adjacent to the Government House. Part of the ceremony was the unveiling of this statue. The bronze sculpture was created by Leo Mol, a famous and prolific Winnipeg sculptor, after the Queen’s address to the Legislative Assembly in 1970. For the 2010 event, it was moved here from its previous location at the Manitoba Centennial Centre.

10 Kennedy St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1S4, Canada
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Manitobear Statue in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

20 Manitobear Statue in Winnipeg, Canada

In 2005, the CancerCare Manitoba Foundations created an artistic way to celebrate their 75th anniversary, raise funds and decorate the landscape of downtown Winnipeg. The program was called “Bears on Broadway.” 62 of these 8,000 pound, seven foot concrete polar bears were decorated by local artists and sponsored by businesses. This one, which is on the Legislative Building grounds, is called Manitobear. It was painted by Karen and Maureen Johnson and funded by Drs. Babette Cohen and Keith Levin.

450 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1S4, Canada
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Millennium Public Library in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

21 Millennium Public Library in Winnipeg, Canada

Winnipeg’s public library system was founded in 1905. The institution has grown into 20 branches with an annual circulation of over 5.5 million. This handsome glass facility was called the Centennial Library when it opened downtown in 1977. In 2005, it was beautified and expanded during an extensive renovation. Now this main branch, which has nearly 190,000 square feet, is called the Millennium Public Library. In the foreground is the Millennium Library Park. It was opened in 2012.

251 Donald Street, Winnipeg, MB R3C 3P5, Canada
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St. Regis Hotel Mural in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

22 St. Regis Hotel Mural in Winnipeg, Canada

One look at this three-dimensional mural on Smith Avenue called “St. Regis Hotel est. 1911” and it is easy to see why this 5,600 square foot painting was named the Mural of the Year in 2003. It is the work of Charles Johnston. Charlie has won the award four times. He is one of the most prolific and talented muralists in Winnipeg.

285 Smith St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1K9, Canada
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Inglis Building in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

23 Inglis Building in Winnipeg, Canada

This building at 291 Garry Street started as a boxy brick structure in 1908. In 1914, the R. J. Inglis Company conducted an extensive renovation. Several tenants have come and gone. Yet, the façade is still a gorgeous white terra cotta with an ornately carved frieze and lion heads. It is easy to miss when walking by the non-descript storefront windows. So, make sure to look up and appreciate the architectural beauty.

291 Garry St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1H3, Canada
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Downtown Skyscrapers in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

24 Downtown Skyscrapers in Winnipeg, Canada

Several of Winnipeg’s skyscrapers are clustered downtown. 201 Portage (1990) on the left is the tallest at 420 feet and 33 floors. Next to it is the 220 Portage Avenue (1966), also called the Royal Bank Building. In the middle is the second tallest: the Richardson Building (1969) at 407 feet. Although it looks huge in this photo, the one with the Artis logo is actually in third place with a height of 384. It’s called the 360 Main (1979). On the right is the MTS Place Main (1984), rated eighth at 315 feet.

302 Fort St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1E5, Canada
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Electric Railway Chambers Building in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

25 Electric Railway Chambers Building in Winnipeg, Canada

The blocks near the intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street are the central business district of Winnipeg called the Exchange District. But until the late 1800s, this area was a muddy path leading toward the trading post on the rivers. In the early 20th century, there was a commercial construction boom. The buildings included early skyscrapers with a Sullivanesque Chicago Style design. An elegant example is the Electric Railway Chambers Building. The Chambres de Notre Dame was built at 213 Notre Dame Avenue in 1913. The highly decorative terra cotta façade still glistens in the sun.

213 Notre Dame Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3B 1N3, Canada
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Drink Pepsi-Cola Billboard in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

26 Drink Pepsi-Cola Billboard in Winnipeg, Canada

I tried to learn about this vintage Pepsi-Cola advertisement by Fosh Signs but without luck. Based on the soft drink company’s stylized logo, I suspect it was painted on the St. Charles Hotel’s outer wall during the early 1950s, about the same time the hotel was reaching its social peak. Built in 1913, the hotel’s elegant rooms were once favored by actors at the Orpheum Theatre such as the Marx Brothers and Milton Berle. But after the 1950s, the hotel began to decline. It was closed in 2008. In 2012, the city declared it a derelict building. The St. Charles Hotel may soon be demolished and with it would go another Historic Site of Manitoba and this marvelous old sign.

235 Notre Dame Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3B, Canada
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201 Portage Building in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

27 201 Portage Building in Winnipeg, Canada

At a height of 420 feet, the 201 Portage Building is the tallest skyscraper in the downtown Exchange District. Behind the blue glass façade are over a half million square feet of office space on 33 floors. Ironically, before construction started in 1988, the Childs Building had to be demolished. Its twelve floors qualified as the city’s tallest building when it opened in 1909.

201 Portage Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3B, Canada
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360 Main Building in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

28 360 Main Building in Winnipeg, Canada

The third largest skyscraper in Winnipeg has had several names since opening in 1979. It has been called the Commodity Exchange, Trizec and Artis. The official name is the same as the address in the Exchange District: 360 Main. It is connected to the Winnipeg Square underground retail complex. Above ground the tower has 30 floors and stands 384 feet. Surprising, 360 Main has 100,000 more square feet of class A office space than its tallest neighbor the 201 Portage Building.

360 Main St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 3Z3, Canada
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Federal Building in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

29 Federal Building in Winnipeg, Canada

The Federal Building was constructed at the height of the Great Depression under Canada’s Public Works Construction Act of 1934. At the roofline of the horizontal seventh floor are carved wheat shafts. Architect George Northwood then accented his Art Deco design with an 11 story tower. The government structure was finished in 1935 using local Tyndall stone and unemployed construction workers. It has become a landmark along Main Street in downtown Winnipeg.

269 Main St, Winnipeg, MB R3C 1B2, Canada
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Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

30 Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg, Canada

The Centennial Concert Hall opened in 1968 as the venue for the Manitoba Opera, Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. The latter is extremely active and performs about 75 concerts a year. The hall has also hosted a who’s who of popular musicians and vocalists. Salle de Concerts is part of the Manitoba Centennial Centre. This includes several facilities dedicated to the arts and cultural experiences.

555 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB R3B 1C3, Canada
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Manitoba Museum and Planetarium in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

31 Manitoba Museum and Planetarium in Winnipeg, Canada

The Manitoba Museum was called the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature when it was founded in 1965. That name best describes its mission: to trace the province’s history dating back 450 million years to the present. The Manitoba Planetarium in the foreground was built in 1968. Manitoba’s largest museum in the background was opened two years later during a ceremony conducted by Queen Elizabeth II. Both facilities are part of the Manitoba Centennial Centre in the heart of downtown.

190 Rupert Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3B 0N2, Canada
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Mandarin Building in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

32 Mandarin Building in Winnipeg, Canada

When this three-story building was constructed in 1883 at the intersection of King Street and James Avenue, it served as the Winnipeg Police Court and city jail. About 100 years later, during an extensive redevelopment of Chinatown, it was remodeled and reopened in 1987 as the Mandarin Building.

233 James Ave, Winnipeg, MB R3B 3L1, Canada
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Chinese Cultural & Community Centre in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

33 Chinese Cultural & Community Centre in Winnipeg, Canada

The five-story Dynasty Building houses offices, shops and the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural & Community Centre. Outside you can enjoy a peaceful Chinese garden in the shadow of the Chinatown Arch. Inside are numerous exhibits including a reproduced terracotta warrior from the Qin Dynasty. But more important is their mission. Since 1987, they have served the Chinese community while bridging the knowledge and appreciation among the Chinese and other cultures within Winnipeg.

180 King St, Winnipeg, MB R3B 3G8, Canada
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Thomas Scott Memorial Orange Hall in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

34 Thomas Scott Memorial Orange Hall in Winnipeg, Canada

Scott Memorial Hall was named in honor of Thomas Scott He was an Irish Protestant immigrant who was killed by a firing squad at Upper Fort Garry in 1870 during the Red River Rebellion. His death was ordered by Louis Riel who is credited with founding Manitoba two months later. But in 1885, Riel was tried by a jury of Protestants, found guilty of treason and hung. This lodge was built in 1902 as an Orange Hall, a Protestant fraternal organization from Northern Ireland and Scotland. Today, the first level houses an antique store.

216 Princess St, Winnipeg, MB R3B 1L4, Canada
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Historic Exchange District in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

35 Historic Exchange District in Winnipeg, Canada

The core of downtown Winnipeg is referred to as the Exchange District because from 1881 until 1918 it was Canada’s epicenter for trading grain and other commodities. On the left is Bawlf Block. When Nicolas Bawlf opened it in 1882, its earliest tenants included the Winnipeg Grain and Produce Exchange and the Board of Trade. The red building on the right was the city’s second Exchange Building from 1898 until 1908.

146 Princess St, Winnipeg, MB R3B 1K9, Canada
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Civic Awards Mural in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

36 Civic Awards Mural in Winnipeg, Canada

This policeman on horseback in front of Winnipeg’s old city hall (1886-1962) is part of very long mural called “Civic Awards.” It was painted near the entrance of the Public Safety Building on Princess Street in 2010 by Helena Jaworski. The artwork honors the city’s police and paramedic services. The painting was sponsored by Take Pride Winnipeg. They are a non-profit organization who has helped to create hundreds of murals throughout Winnipeg.

151 Princess St, Winnipeg, MB R3B 1L1, Canada
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Saint Boniface Landmarks in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

37 Saint Boniface Landmarks in Winnipeg, Canada

Two of the prominent landmarks in the Saint Boniface community are the dome on the Université de Saint-Boniface main building and the Saint Boniface Cathedral. They dominate the east bank of the Red River across from downtown. Saint Boniface is often called the Old French Quarter because it has historically been the residence for Franco-Manitobans. This is the name given to French Canadians and others who speak French in the province. About 150,000 French-speaking people live in Winnipeg.

180 Avenue de la Cathédrale, Winnipeg, MB R2H 0H7, Canada
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Backside View of Saint Boniface Cathedral in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

38 Backside View of Saint Boniface Cathedral in Winnipeg, Canada

This backside view of Saint Boniface Cathedral shows part of its architectural history. The first church was founded here in 1818 followed by a new cathedral in 1832. It was destroyed by fire in 1860 and rebuilt in two years. 45 years later. The cathedral was replaced with a much larger structure with an ornate, imposing façade. When fire struck again in 1906, all that was left were the stone walls. It was not until 1972 that another, much smaller church was built within the former shell. Notice the protruding section on the left. That is the 1906 façade.

180 Avenue de la Cathédrale,Winnipeg, MB R2H 0H7, Canada
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Université de Saint-Boniface Dome in Winnipeg, Canada - Encircle Photos

39 Université de Saint-Boniface Dome in Winnipeg, Canada

This magnificent silver dome crowns the main campus building of the Université de Saint-Boniface. This French university was the first educational institution in Western Canada when it was founded in 1818 by Father Norbert Provencher. One of its graduates, Louis Riel, established the Manitoba province. Ironically, a law was passed in 1890 blocking French schools. However, the Catholic Franco-Manitobans continued to operate as a private university.

200 Avenue de la Cathedrale, Winnipeg, MB R2H 0H7, Canada
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