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The Millennium Centre at 389 Main Street - Where It All Began

Article by Roshanie Balkaran and Laura McKay (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.

Archival Photo - The Millennium Centre/Former Bank of Commerce
Archival Photo - The Millennium Centre/Former Bank of Commerce

Brief Building History 

View of the front of the building with it's new name "The Millennium Centre" over the doorwayThe former Bank of Commerce, now known as the Millennium Centre, located at 389 Main Street is one of the most beautiful banks built on Banker's Row, as well as one of the most magnificent bank buildings in North America. It's the second building built on this site, as the first one was dismantled stone by stone and rebuilt in Regina, where it still stands today.

  • 1911 - The Millennium Centre was built by Darling & Pearson of Toronto, one of the most prestigious architectural firms in Canada, and was assisted by Charles H. Wheeler of Winnipeg 
  • 1911-1969 - The building was owned and occupied by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
  • 1969 - CIBC announced intentions of moving to the newly built Richardson Centre; plans were made to demolish the building to make space for a parking lot
  • 1978 - Heritage Winnipeg was formed as a result of the public outcry against the demolition
  • 1979 - The building was designated as a protected Heritage Building by the City of Winnipeg 
  • 1991 - Owners MarWest Management Canada Ltd. restored the ceiling in the main banking hall
  •  1999-2000 - A group of volunteers joined together to create the Winnipeg Millennium Council which worked to restore, preserve and revitalize the building, most importantly to re-open it to the public
  • 2000 - MarWest Group of Companies generously donated the building to a non-profit organization known as the 389 Main Street Heritage Corporation
  • 2004 - Building was officially opened and renamed The Millennium Centre; it was opened for private events run by Storm Catering.

Creation of Heritage Winnipeg

Pamphlet used as part of the effort to save 389 Main
Citizens worked hard to bring attention to heritage issues as a result of the possible demolition of the building to make a parking lot. Out of the need to save this building and others, Heritage Winnipeg was formed by the City of Winnipeg, the Province, and Heritage Canada. Our organization has been dealing with the protection and preservation of important local buildings ever since.
Flyer used to help save 389 Main, including signable tear-off portion at the bottom
In 1995 Mary Liz Bayer congratulated local business man Bill Loewen on the preservation work he supported in Saint Norbert, and expressed that downtown Winnipeg needed that kind of support.

In 1998, Mr. Loewen was asked by Mayor Susan Thompson to lead the Millennium Council of Winnipeg which would encourage citizens and organizations to embark on projects to mark the arrival of the new millennium. He saw this as an opportunity to do something for downtown and had a vision of using the building to create a super community centre.

After interest from a Calgary nightclub owner he finally got the support of the City. MarWest Group of Companies then generously donated the building and Mr. Loewen donated monies to cover the costs of adaptation to community use.

Current Building Use

Doors Open Winnipeg
Doors Open Winnipeg is an annual event held in the last week of May each year. The Millennium Centre has been featured every year of this event and in 2014 hosted an exhibit by the Costume Museum of Canada.  
Doors Open Winnipeg
Storm Catering
Storm Catering is currently the sole occupant of the Millennium Centre and has exclusive catering in the building. Through Storm Catering, the Millennium Centre is a venue for private events such as weddings and other celebrations, as well as other private functions.

Event Rentals
The Millennium Centre is available for use as a venue for everything from meetings to sound recordings and film shoots; for more information, please contact Heritage Winnipeg at
Schedule of Musicians for Music at the Millennium 
Music at the Millennium 
Music at the Millennium is an initiative graciously sponsored by Telpay that provides free concerts in the summer months from noon to 1:00pm every Tuesday. Music is provided by musicians from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, including a variety of instruments such as harp, violin, piano, oboe, and voice. For a complete schedule, click on the image at left or check out these links:



Roshanie's Project

Heritage Winnipeg Staff at the Millennium Centre
As an intern with The Winnipeg Foundation's Youth In Philanthropy-Summer Internship Program, every Wednesday there is a site visit for each organization that is involved. This past Wednesday, July 30th was our turn, hosted at the Millennium Centre. I talked about my tasks working in the office, gave a brief history of the building, as well as a history of the advocacy for the building.

I am also working on re-designing the Millennium Centre website which includes:
  • Visiting the Planning, Property and Development Department, Urban Design Division to find and scan files on the Millennium Centre such as engineering reports, articles, feasibility reports etc.
  • Visiting the City's Archive's to find files, reports, and most importantly, photos 
  • Searching for all digital files to create a folder designated purely to the Millennium Centre
  • Using programs such as InDesign and Microsoft Word to create designs and patterns before actually creating the website
  • Finding usable, non-copyright photos to use for the website and folder 

Future Plans 

The Millennium Centre album on Flickr
Click this photo to see our album of Millennium Centre photos on Flickr!

The long-term vision for the Millennium Centre is a transformation into the new home for Heritage Winnipeg, as well as a Heritage and Arts Centre. As an information hub in the downtown, the building would provide a venue for workshops and presentations, as well as a space for artistic and cultural expression. There are six floors in the building, and the board is currently working on the restoration of the Tapestry Room and the redevelopment of the upper floors.


Current Millennium Centre Website (historical section under construction)
City of Winnipeg Historical Reports for 389 Main (long & short versions available)
Like the Millennium Centre on Facebook!

What do you think the Millennium Centre should be used for in the future? 
Let us know in the comments below! 

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