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Touring Town: East & West Exchange District BIZ Walking Tours

Roshanie and Laura with tour guide Maddi
Article by Roshanie & Laura (The Minions), on behalf of Heritage Winnipeg Corp.
To follow up on this or any other articles on the blog, contact Heritage Winnipeg's Executive Director.

WHO: Exchange BIZ Tour Guide Maddi & Summer Students Laura McKay and Roshanie Balkaran

WHAT: East & West Exchange District BIZ Walking Tours

WHEN: Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 (we recommend doing the tour in the morning, before it gets hot)

WHERE: Met outside the Exchange District BIZ office beside Smoke's Poutinerie at 133 Albert Street

HOW MUCH: $8 for adults, $6 for youth/students/seniors, Free for kids 10 and under 

CONTACT THEM: 204-942-6716 for more details

As we are both slightly geographically challenged, this tour allowed us to familiarize ourselves with, and learn more about, the Exchange District.

Did you know that the Exchange District is a National Historic Site? Or that it was named after the Grain Exchange?

Interesting facts: 
  • Winnipeg used to be known as the 'Gateway to the West' and the 'Chicago of the North'.
  • The Exchange District exists because the expansion and success of Winnipeg ended by the 1920's due to the opening of the Panama Canal in 1913, as well as men leaving for WWI.
  • The canal caused Winnipeg to be built out, rather than up, so many of the older buildings were preserved by fluke. 
  • The big explosion at the turn of the 20th Century meant lots of very wealthy people who would hire some of the best architects, for example from Chicago, hence the 'Chicago-style'

West End Tour  

Old Site of the Bijou Theatre

Old Site of the Bijou Theatre
The meeting and finishing spot for both tours.


Old Market Square 

Old Market Square
The first executions took place behind
what is now the Cube Theatre.

The Peasant Cookery  

The Peasant Cookery
(283 Bannatyne Avenue)
A Turkish bathtub used to be located 
in the basement of this building.

King Street Parking Lot

  King Street Parking Lot
used to be the first Ford dealership
in Western Canada. 

Stovel Block

Stovel Block
(245 McDermot Avenue)
Red brick was more expensive so this building's
owners painted it red to make it stand out.


Newspaper Row 

Newspaper Row
(Journalists, not printers)
McDermot Avenue


 East End Tour 

The Crocus Building

The Crocus Building (211 Bannatyne Avenue)
used to be James Ashdown's hardware store.
It was re-bricked in the 70s.


Ashdown Hardware Store 
Ashdown Hardware Warehouse
(167 Bannatyne Avenue)
The first building in the district to
be converted into condos. This is one of the greatest examples of the Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture in North America.

Parc Stephen Juba Park

Parc Stephen Juba Park (Waterfront Drive) is named after the longest running immigrant mayor of Winnipeg. 20 years to be exact! (Roshanie's favourite!)

James Street Pumping Station 
The James Street Pumping Station
 (109 James Street)
Provided water to 70 hydrants downtown.
At the time, the cost was $1,000,000.
The materials, machines and operators were
all brought from England.

Hell's Alley - Parallel to Market and James Avenues 

Hell's Alley
(Lane parallel to Market and James Avenue)
Where the 'special police'
(made up of retired veterans)
trapped 200 people.
(Laura's favourite!)

Exterior of Pantages Playhouse

 Exterior of the Pantages Playhouse
circa 1914
Pantages Playhouse/Theatre Interior

Pantages Playhouse/Theatre Interior
(180 Market Avenue East)
This is the stage where they
screened acts, particularly Vaudeville.

This tour is a great opportunity to get to know your neighbourhood and its history! Tour guide Maddi was friendly and enthusiastic, as well as very knowledgeable. As well, tour guides are equipped with tablets containing archival photos, giving perspective to the tour. We highly recommend you try it!

Links to Check Out:

Exchange District BIZ Website
Doors Open Winnipeg - Exchange District BIZ Tours

Already taken the tour? Tell us about your favourite piece of history in the comments!

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