It's that time of year again! Time to have Winnipeg's heritage buildings and historic tours open their doors to the public for free and celebrate our city's shared heritage. This is a landmark year for Heritage Winnipeg's Doors Open Winnipeg event, since it's the 15th anniversary of the event. Even more exciting, it's the 40th anniversary of Heritage Winnipeg, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to the conservation of Winnipeg's built history.
If you haven't heard of Doors Open Winnipeg before, here's a quick run-down of the event:
WHAT: Operated since 2004 by Heritage Winnipeg, Doors Open Winnipeg is a heritage celebration focused on getting people out to discover the amazing heritage buildings and historic tours we have in Winnipeg, all for FREE - with thanks to our over 500 volunteers! Both building and walking tours are available, plus (new for this year!) we have a cycling tour by Bike Winnipeg! Go out and see some amazing heritage buildings, learn about Winnipeg heritage, culture and history, then go online and vote for your favourite site or tour!
WHEN: Saturday, May 26th and Sunday, May 27th. Buildings and tours usually are open between 11 - 5 pm, but check the Doors Open website for specific times for each location and tour!
WHERE: At various locations around Winnipeg. There are so many great heritage buildings in our city, and discover how they contribute to our urban landscape! See the home of Hugh John MacDonald, son of our first prime minister, at Dalnavert House; or take a stroll through the Costume Museum's display! Last year 91 different buildings were included in Doors Open Winnipeg - this year there are 93 buildings and events. Go to http://www.doorsopenwinnipeg.ca/featuredbuildings/ for a full list of all the participants in the Doors Open event.
NEW THIS YEAR: Here's a quick run-down of new buildings and tours included in this years' Doors Open Winnipeg:
17 Wing Military Community Chapel
Home of the Canadian Air Forces in Winnipeg, 17 Wing Base supports over 100 units covering Central Canada from Saskatchewan to Ontario and to the High Arctic. The chapel, originally built in 1956 and the only remaining building of six, contains beautiful stained-glass windows and a storied history.
For more 17 Wing history, check out this site.
Archbishop's Residence - St. Boniface Archdiocese
This pre-Confederation building (1864) was built for none other than Archbishop Tache, who gave his name to Tache Ave and the RM of Tache, Manitoba. The Archbishop's residence now houses a number of retired priests and meeting rooms as well as the current Archbishop of St. Boniface.
Canada's first farm-to-bar chocolate maker is participating in Doors Open Winnipeg for the first time! Located on Corydon Ave in the heart of Little Italy, this lovely little store grows beans on a Cameroonian farm and then ships them to Manitoba to do all the processing locally. Take a tour of this amazing journey from bean to chocolate at Aschenti Cocoa!
C2 Centre for Craft
This centre, which houses the Manitoba Craft Museum and Library as well as the Manitoba Craft Council, is offering (for Doors Open Winnipeg only!) hourly behind-the-scenes tours of museum storage, craft demonstrators, and hands-on activities for all ages. On exhibit currently at the museum are Pixels: Exploring Geometric Motifs in Craft, and Our Manitoba: Provincial Symbolism in Craft.
Clifton Studios Co-op
Clifton Studios, located in a historic Minto Neighbourood warehouse, is having its bi-annual open studio and spring sale during Doors Open Winnipeg! Artists specializing in painting, jewelry, textiles and ceramics will be there demonstrating their craft and selling finished pieces.
*Please note that there are no ATM services on-site and not all artists will have digital payment options available.
Fleet Galleries has been located on Albert St. for 35 years and counting, and run by a sixth-generation framer - go and enjoy a personal tour of the gallery, including background on the pieces of beautiful artwork on display!
Gibraltar House - The North-West Company
This isn't your high school Canadian History course - come out and see one of the buildings that played an integral role in the North-West Company and the fur trade! Built in 1912 as a warehouse, it now houses work areas, paintings, artifacts, and an Inuit Art collection, and is still the hub for the North-West Company's Canadian retail operations.
HSM Temple and Cultural Centre
The Hindu Society of Manitoba makes its home in the former Liberty Church, built in 1947. As the first Hindu community place of worship in Manitoba, it is an important part of our heritage - come out and discover the beautiful temple and learn about Hindu culture!
Kinsmen Sherbrook Pool
Built in 1931, the Sherbrook Pool has gone through extensive renovation and has been newly reopened in 2017! Go explore the role of Sherbrook Pool in the history and community of the West End. On site will also be Free Press columnist and history enthusiast Christian Cassidy!
6000 Years in 60 Minutes
Let a Parks Canada interpreter take you on a journey through time and learn about one of the most important historic sites in Winnipeg! Many of us have walked through the Forks, but have you ever thought about the history that lies just under your feet?
Heritage Winnipeg is happy to have Bike Winnipeg collaborate with Doors Open Winnipeg to bring you our first cycling tour! Visit multiple Doors Open Winnipeg buildings and sites on this fun and active tour.
Downtown Winnipeg Flashback Tour
Have you ever wondered what Downtown Winnipeg looked like 30 years ago? Maybe 50 years ago? What about 70 years ago? If yes, this tour is for you. Compare what Winnipeg looked like then with what it looks like now with the help of a Viewmaster and be amazed at the changes and the continuity of our downtown centre.
Exchange District BIZ Greatest Hits Tour
Discover the Exchange District, one of Winnipeg's main attractions. This tour winds through an area with over 100 different heritage buildings, and the tour guides have stories for all of them.
Lord Selkirk School/Elmwood-East Kildonan Active Living Centre Walking Tour
Built in 1908, Lord Selkirk School is a beautiful example of turn-of-the-century architecture. On this tour, learn about the school's history, as well as the history of 180 Poplar, while taking in laminated maps, easel displays, as well as some light refreshments!
Public Art with the Winnipeg Arts Council
If you've lived in or visited Winnipeg, chances are you've seen one of the many pieces of public artwork on display in our city. On this tour, learn the stories of these fantastic pieces of art, including why pieces are located in certain places, and what they mean! Great for giving your friends and family fun facts when they come to visit.
2017 AWARD WINNERS - Tried and true favourites! These buildings and tours were voted the best of the best. Here are some of the winners from last years' Doors Open Winnipeg Event:
Best Restoration - Dalnavert Museum and Visitor's Centre (61 Carlton St)
Best Guided Tour or Programming - Vaughan Street Jail (444 York Ave)
Best Architecture - Canadian Museum for Human Rights (85 Israel Asper Way)
Hidden Gem - McBeth House (31 McBeth St)
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Feel free to contact Heritage Winnipeg at 204-942-2663 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you want to help us make Doors Open Winnipeg a great experience? Are you passionate about local history? Check out our volunteer page here! Simply fill out the form and let us know where you'd like to help out! Or, if you take some great photos, send them to us to post after the event!
Written by Natassja Brien for Heritage Winnipeg