Winnipeg is listed as one of the top canadian spots for gay tourism, with Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton...
Winnipeg was an early 20th-century boomtown, with 27 rail lines, 300 electric streetcars and the largest commodities market on the continent. Stately banks, warehouses, and vintage skyscrapers sprouted proudly on the prairie, earning Manitoba's capital the accolade "The Chicago of the North." Then came the fall: World War I withered Winnipeg's remarkable bloom, and for decades the Exchange District sat neglected, making the city an architecturally outstanding ghost town.
The once shy, quirky loner of the prairies no longer skulks in the shadow of its glory days -- or of faster-paced, more fashionable Canadian cities. This appealing city of more than 700,000 flaunts its talent, and those blocks of faded nobility now buzz with a vital hum, making it the center of one of Canada's most vibrant arts scenes. Declared a National Historic Site in 1997, the Exchange, one of Winnipeg's two gay-popular neighborhoods, along with Osborne Village, contains approximately 150 Chicago School-style buildings.
Writer Arnold Edinborough claims that "Canada has never been a melting pot; more like a tossed salad." Nowhere is this mix more apparent than in Winnipeg. Its distinct flavors emanate from its French-Canadian, Jewish, Ukrainian, Icelandic, Mennonite, and Filipino influences, and from being home to the largest native population of any city in Canada.
Although it only offers three gay-specific venues, the city carries some serious gay credentials. In 1998, Winnipeg became the first major North American city to elect an out gay mayor, Glen Murray. Local filmmaker Guy Maddin's homoerotica-imbued epics and rising gay director Noam Gonick of "Stryker" and "Hey, Happy!" fame cause serious celluloid splashes. The Forks, a trading destination for 6,000 years and currently a shopping hot spot, is the future site of the Human Rights Museum, opening in 2010.
A prairie revival has taken place. Exuding quiet confidence, Winnipeg has slowly but surely stepped into the spotlight.