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Showing posts from July, 2016

Winnipeg's Exchange District: A National Historic Site

This Sunday saw Winnipeg Fringe Festival wrap-up. It was another successful year of celebrating the arts in Winnipeg. Much of the programming for the Fringe Fest is took place in The Exchange District. Between the theatres and other venues, Old Market Square and The Cube Stage, the Exchange District bustled with tourists, and Winnipeggers from all demographics enjoying the historic area of our downtown.

We are lucky to have the Exchange District, and it is a vital piece of our city’s architectural and cultural identity. It spans 20 city blocks to the east and west of Main Street, and is home to approximately 130 significant heritage buildings. Yet if history had gone differently, we might not have an Exchange District as we know it.

The Exchange District was designated as a National Historic Site on September 27, 1997 by the Federal government. It is the most historically intact commercial district of its kind in North America. The Exchange illustrates Winnipeg’s key role as the cen…

Past Meets Present: Shards of Our Heritage

Over several decades the City of Winnipeg, Heritage Winnipeg, and the Winnipeg Foundation saved shards (pieces of building facades) from numerous historic buildings that were unfortunately demolished. The intention behind saving the shards was that they would one day return to the hands of the people in our city.

Heritage Winnipeg recently accepted ownership for the remaining inventory of shards from the city, on top of the collection we already had. Since acquiring the city's remaining shards, we have been working hard to make sure these amazing remnants of history do not just sit away from public eye for the rest of their days, or end up in the landfill. We want to make sure they become treasured pieces of history. To make this desire become a reality, we partnered with Shelmerdine Garden Centre, who graciously offered their space to house the shards, and began selling them. The shards have been selling well, and generating media interest.

Shelmerdine Garden Centre has shards f…

Spanning History: Historic Bridges of Winnipeg

Every heritage conservation project has its own challenges, but historically significant bridges tend to be even more difficult to conserve than buildings. A building can often be redeveloped for a new use while preserving its historical character defining elements, but it is often much harder to adaptively reuse a bridge for a number of reasons.

If a bridge was only built to accommodate one lane of traffic in each direction, it is not possible to make it accommodate more traffic without major construction, basically rebuilding the entire bridge. If a bridge was not originally made to carry pedestrians, trying to make space for pedestrian traffic over a bridge is often unrealistic and would not meet modern safety requirements.

Many bridges are built strictly for functionality and are not particularly pleasing to the eye. There often is not the same community sentiment toward a bridge that there may be toward a building that has a beautiful design and significant social history. People…