Hydro Substation

Hydro has found a new location for its substation. They have abandoned and moved on from last years plan that would have seen a block of significant heritage building on McDermot Ave. gutted. Hydro has now decided to build on an old William Ave. surface parking lot that they rented to the Health Sciences Centre prior to the completion of the Tecumseh Parkade.

For the Winnipeg Free Press article click here



Heritage Canada's Top 10 Endangered Places List

The Heritage Canada Foundation posted their 2010 Top Ten Endangered Places List.  They have recognized the immense pressure of development that faces the Exchange District National Historic Site and its periphery.  Heritage Winnipeg along with Heritage Canada are very concerned for decisions that have been made regarding the historic and architectural content of the District. Heritage Winnipeg continues to advocate for a more transparent process to allow stakeholders an opportunity to be involved in the decision making process, and in addition to change committee structures that have not benefited the national historic site.


For Heritage Canada Foundation's Endangered Places List of 2010 click here.



Parks Canada contributes $425,000 to Union Bank conversion

Through the Parks Canada National Historic Sites Cost-Sharing Program, the Government of Canada has invested an additional $425,000 towards Red River College’s continued restoration of the Former Union Bank Building. Mr. Rod Bruinooge, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South stated that the conservation work done on the building will contribute to the historic sense of place of the Exchange District.

The historic skyscraper banking hall located at Main Street and William Avenue is being converted into Red River’s culinary school, a restaurant and more than 100 student residences.

The money will be used to help restore many of the historic doors and windows of the bottom three floors as well as assist in the renovation costs of the front foyer and banking hall. Conservation work will also be done on the historic Annex.

The building is slated to reopen in 2011 for the first time since the last bank moved out in 1992.

The cost-sharing program is also contributing $32,000 to the Gault Building to preserve the roof fence. The President of Artspace Inc., Cecilia Araneda, stated that the restoration will allow its character to grace the Winnipeg Skyline for generations.

Sources: (2010, July 29). Government of Canada invests in heritage infrastructure in the Exchange District National Historic Site.

For more information on the restoration and conversion of the Union Bank Tower click on one of the three Winnipeg Free Press articles below.

Staff Writer (2010, July 29). red river college gets $425,000. Winnipeg Free Press.

Belamy, B. (2010, June 14). downtown's status symbol. Winnipeg Free Press.

Kives, B. (2009, October 16). heritage reborn. Winnipeg Free Press.



Exchange District Guided Walking Tours

May-September Weather Permitting
Tuesday– Sunday 11 am and 2 pm
Approximately 1.5 hours in duration

Just north of Canada’s renowned corner of Portage and Main lies the spirit of the city– the Exchange District!

Spectacular and beautiful, it is over 30 blocks of turn-of-the-century terra cotta and cut stone architecture unparalleled in North America! Explore incredible facades, spectacular interior spaces and unique detailing. This richness illustrates Winnipeg’s transformation between 1878 and 1913 from a modest pioneer settlement into the thriving metropolis that opened the West. The Exchange District now serves as a popular backdrop for today’s movie industry and is home to specialty retailers, restaurants, night-clubs, art galleries, wholesalers and Winnipeg’s theatre district. Discover one of North America’s most rare neighbourhoods!

Tours begin at the Exchange District Info Centre in Old Market Square (King Street and Bannatyne Avenue).

Adult (18-64 yrs) $5.00 Group tours also available
Senior (65+ yrs) $4.00 Adult group $45.00
Youth (10-17 yrs) $3.00 Senior group $35.00
Family $10.00 Youth/Children’s group $25.00
(Maximum of 12 participants per group)

To book your group tour, or for more information call 942-6716.



The Exchange District



The Exchange District encompasses some 20-city blocks in downtown Winnipeg, just north of Canada's most famous corner--Portage and Main. The Exchange District derives its name from the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, the centre of the grain industry in Canada, and the many other exchanges which developed in Winnipeg during the period from 1881-1918.

At the turn of the century, Winnipeg was one of the fastest growing cities in North America and was known as the Chicago of the North. Some of Chicago's architects came north to practice in Winnipeg and many local architects were strongly influenced by the Chicago style. What remains of their work today is The Exchange District -- one of the most historically intact turn-of-the-century commercial districts on the continent.

Winnipeg became the third largest city in the Dominion of Canada by 1911 with 24 rail lines converging on it and over 200 wholesale businesses. The Great War from 1914-1918 slowed its growth, however, and with the opening of the Panama Canal in 1913, there was a new route for shipping goods from Eastern Canada and Europe to the West Coast and from the Far East to the larger markets on the East Coast. Most of Winnipeg's development thereafter occurred on Portage Avenue and streets to the south. Winnipeg's slow growth meant that few of The Exchange District's Chicago-style buildings would be demolished.

The Exchange District today flourishes as Winnipeg's commercial and cultural nucleus. This thriving and unique neighbourhood is home to an array of speciality retailers, restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries, wholesalers, and Winnipeg's theatre district. Its cobblestone streets and friendly pedestrian environment also contribute to The Exchange District's popularity as a period backdrop for today's movie industry.

The Exchange District is comprised of approximately 640 businesses, 205 not-for-profit organizations, and 140 residences (and growing).

The Exchange District is home to a variety of festivals and special events including: the Winnipeg Fringe Festival; the Jazz Winnipeg Festival; Music For Lunch concert series; etc, many of which occur in Old Market Square.

The Exchange District is home to Winnipeg's theatre district with the Centennial Concert Hall which hosts the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature.

The Exchange District boasts 62 of downtown Winnipeg's 86 heritage structures. These 62 structures represent approximately 2/3 of heritage building square footage and about 6% of downtown Winnipeg's total floor space area.

The following are excerpts from the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Agenda Paper titled: The Exchange District, Winnipeg, Manitoba, written by Dana Johnson, Historical Services Branch.

"The Exchange District illustrates in a particularly vivid fashion the opening of the Canadian West
at the turn-of-the-century, and especially the key role which Winnipeg played in the development of the early western economy. The Exchange District ...(contains) approximately 149 buildings, 117 of which predate 1914. One these 117 historic structures, 48 were erected before 1900 and therefore document the early development of the City of Winnipeg. A further 69 structures were constructed between 1900 and 1914, the years of Winnipeg's spectacular ascension to the status of metropolitan centre for western Canada. ... Three of (the buildings) - the Union Trust, the Confederation Life and the Bank of Hamilton buildings - have been declared of national architectural and historical significance, while the phenomenon of the construction of 12 skyscrapers in Winnipeg during the boomtime years...."



Exchange District Becomes National Historic Site

On September 27, 1997, the original core of the city of Winnipeg, the Exchange District, was declared a National Historic Site by the federal Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Right Honourable Sheila Copps.

The Historic Sites and Monuments board recommended that Winnipeg's Exchange District be designated an historic district of national significance because it illustrates the city's key role as a centre of grain and wholesale trade, finance and manufacturing in two historically important periods in western development- between 1880 and 1900 when Winnipeg became the gateway to Canada's West, and between 1900 and 1913, when the city's growth made it the region's metropolis.

A twenty-city block area composed approximately 150 heritage buildings, the Exchange District has joined the ranks of a handful of other urban areas which have also received this distinction. There are almost 80 municipally designated buildings in the Exchange District with a further 52 on the inventory, any of which may fit the criteria for municipal designation.

This remarkable group of commercial buildings vividly illustrates Winnipeg's transformation between 1878 and 1913 from a modest pioneer settlement to western Canada's largest metropolitan centre. The district's banks, warehouses, and early skyscrapers recall the city's dominance in the fields of finance, manufacturing, wholesale distribution and the international grain trade. Designed by a number of well-known architects, these buildings reflect an approach to architecture that was innovative, functional and stylish. The First World War and the Great Depression contributed to the end of Winnipeg's spectacular boom era, leaving the district virtually intact. Through the efforts of dedicated citizens since the 1970s, the Exchange District has been preserved as a distinctive legacy from a formative period in Canada's economic development.

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