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Showing posts from 2019

A Walk Through Winnipeg's Wondrous Warehouse District

In the heart of downtown Winnipeg sits the Exchange District, frozen in time, forever paying homage to the golden era of a young prairie city. Shaped by the railway that once shipped grain from Canada to the world, the Exchange is filled with early 20th century warehouses that were strategically located around spur lines, which are now only a memory. After a long period of decline, what was once known as the Warehouse District was reimagined and reborn as the Exchange District, an architectural gem rich with historic significance. Designated as a national historic site of Canada in 1997, the Exchange is now a beautiful neighborhood filled with countless heritage buildings, amazing examples of adaptive reuse and a vibrant arts community.

This summer, Heritage Winnipeg's 2019 Young Canada Works summer students, Riva and Adam, had the opportunity to go on walking tours in the Exchange courtesy of the Exchange District BIZ. Walking tours are an excellent way to not only learn about th…

From Olympia to Marlborough: A Heartwarming Historic Hotel

The Marlborough Hotel sits less than a block off Portage Avenue, a medieval looking building tucked behind the modern glass of the Kensington Building. Originally known as the Olympia Hotel, it is quiet and unassuming, with Gothic architecture that would seem more at home on a college campus rather than the urban core of Winnipeg. The hotel has stood the test of time, adapting and succeeding no matter what the circumstances. Imperative to that success is the people that work there, who truly believe in what the hotel stands for - an historic gem that is capable of celebrating its history while thriving in the 21st century.
History of the Olympia Hotel In the early 20th century when Winnipeg was a flourishing city at the heart of the prairies, four Italian immigrants were hard at work building successful businesses. Giuseppe Panaro and Leonardi Emma ran a fruit and confectionery shop on Main Street while brothers Augustine and Joseph Badali had a similar shop at the corner of Portage A…

Fighting for a Future: The Vaughan Street Jail

The Vaughan Street Jail is an ominous building that has loomed over Memorial Boulevard for nearly 140 years. Winnipeg's primary jail from 1881 to 1930, men, women, and even children as old as five were incarcerated in the Vaughan Street Jail. The jail is the most popular site in Doors Open Winnipeg, receiving thousands of visitors and repeatedly voted the Best Overall Experience. Today, the employees of the Province of Manitoba occupy a section of the main floor, while the rest of the building is vacant.

Most of the buildings surrounding the Manitoba Legislative Building on the east end of Memorial Boulevard are uniform in appearance, echoing the Legislative's Tyndall stone facade and neoclassical styling. Smooth and bright facades, sometimes adorned with columns, friezes, and pediments, create a pleasing consistency between the provincially owned Law Courts, Archives of Manitoba and Legislative.

One building, however, stands apart from the others on this street. Located at 44…

Culture Not Condos: The Fortune and Macdonald Blocks

In the not so distant past, the glorious Fortune and Macdonald Blocks were in a sad state, under threat of demolition. After years of neglect, the buildings were in disrepair and the owner wanted to level them and build a hotel in their place. Unwilling to let Winnipeg's priceless heritage be destroyed, Heritage Winnipeg advocated for the designation of the buildings to protect them from demolition. And after being purchased by a new owner that truly understood their value and potential, the beautifully conserved Fortune and Macdonald Blocks made their public debut in Doors Open Winnipeg 2019.

Originally built in 1882 in the High Victorian Italianate style, both the Fortune and Macdonald Blocks, which are virtually indistinguishable from each other, have stood on Main Street for over 130 years. An article in the newspaper marveling at the changes to Main Street at the time described it as:
...a massive 4-storey brick building for business purposes, erected by Mark Fortune, but rec…