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Old Posted May 27, 2013, 12:02 AM
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WINNIPEG: A Tiny Peak Above the Historic Exchange District

Greetings, y'all. Today the city was hosting Doors Open Winnipeg, an annual free event in which citizens can either explore on their own, or take guided tours of historic buildings around town. My pal and I had hoped to see either an old jail or the regal Fort Garry Hotel, but both said buildings were host to massive lines. It was a bit disappointing not being able to have the time to explore these buildings, but it was still nice to see the large crowds out. It's awesome to see so many people taking advantage of this event, and appreciating the architecture of their home.

We did, however, have time to visit the Marlborough Hotel (1914), was was still a pretty cool treat. I only included a couple shots of the interior, because I'm not a great indoor photographer, and my real aim was to sneak a couple shots of our historic Exchange District from the upper floors. The windows were dirtier than your sister, but don't blame me.

Without further ado:


The bottom four floors of stonework were completed by a collaboration of four Italian families in 1914. The red brick above was added in 1935, and the white addition of more hotel rooms to the left was slapped on in 1960:

The shots looking outside betray the filthy windows:

This is perhaps 1/4 of the Exchange District, the largest and most intact collection of buildings from this era in North America:

A portion of the ever expanding Health Sciences Centre in the background:

The Chicago of the North, she was called:

The slightly overcast sky didn't help the atmosphere of these shots. This shit's grainier than a 1960s photograph out of some old magazine:


The dreadful surface area parking lot below should really be the site of some kind of Flatiron Building. Ya know, all triangly an' such:

Looking north towards the metro's main black and Chinese communities, which are anchored by a newly regenerated Centennial Park:

The Odeon Theatre (since called the Walker Theatre) is now called the Burton Cummings Theatre, in honour of the lead singer from Winnipeg's band The Guess Who. For whatever shame this lends the city, please remember that Neil Young got his start here too:

The brown highrise to left reminds me of the brilliant flick Fargo. "They have everything! It's a Radisson!" To the right is the MTS Centre, named after the provincial telecom conglomorate and home to the NHL's Winnipeg Jets, and behind that is the Manitoba Hydro Building (2009), which at the time was Canada's most energy efficient building. Not sure if the record still stands:

Did I mention that the windows were filthier than a drunken contortionist playing Truth or Dare? Anyways, across Portage Avenue from the hockey arena a crane is aiding construction of a highrise hotel. To the right of that ("behind it") will be another highrise condo project. Things are lookin' up:

Some of the windows were covered with chicken wire. Is this necessary? Really? Anyways, here's Portage and Main:

Attempting to get the wire out of the frame was hard, and I'm talkin' harder than a priest at a playground, so I gave up. Here 'tis, wire and all:


Still pretty dirty, but some of the windows were worse:

Meh. Might as well give you a couple interior shots. On mescaline during the tour, I assumed this was a Sky Octopus. I was wrong:

Allegedly a ballroom, but I didn't see even a single ball in the entire building:

Not sure why I included this one, but there ya go:

This clock was shipped from England at the turn of the century and.... I disn't really pay attention to the rest:

A bright room in an otherwise pretty dimly lit building:

The stained glass was shipped from NYC. The entire room is original, except for the tacky electric chandeliers:

Well, there you have it! A tiny taste of Winnipeg from her classic era, viewed from horribly filthy windows on the 8th floor. Thanks for lookin'. Word.

P.S. - I noticed that the title should read "Peek" instead of "Peak," but I'm not savvy enough to know how to correct it.
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Last edited by Lenin; Jul 14, 2013 at 9:23 PM.
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Old Posted May 27, 2013, 12:52 AM
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Old Posted May 27, 2013, 4:33 AM
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I just pray more of it is properly restored/retained.
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Old Posted May 28, 2013, 12:27 AM
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Winnipeg certainly has a few hidden gems, still with much potential.
Thanks for sharing.
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Old Posted May 28, 2013, 3:19 AM
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Nice pics!! Thanks!!
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Old Posted May 31, 2013, 6:38 PM
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Winnipeg has such a vast amount of historic buildings in the downtown core and it is fairly dense. I think this city will do very well in the future converting those old buildings into restaurants, retail, residential and commercial. Along with the new construction, I look forward to watching it grow.
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Old Posted Jun 1, 2013, 1:12 AM
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Old Posted Jun 1, 2013, 3:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Lenin View Post
This is perhaps 1/4 of the Exchange District, the largest and most intact collection of buildings from this era in North America
What era? Are you sure?
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Old Posted Jun 1, 2013, 3:32 AM
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Of all the Canadian cities I've never been to, which is all of 'em, this is my favorite to look at on here. A pocket of density in the middle of a remote area. Lack of expressways. No real competing suburbs. Multiple grid orientations and three rivers converging near downtown. Nice look.
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Old Posted Jun 1, 2013, 9:22 PM
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That was fun. Gotta say the dirty windows added a touch of grit.

I do agree about putting a nice building on that surface lot. Thanks for the tour.
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Old Posted Jun 1, 2013, 10:13 PM
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Old Posted Jul 13, 2013, 5:55 PM
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I could throw you a storyless picture book and you'd make it interesting lol

Enjoyed the shots and commentary, yet again! Great job!
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Old Posted Jul 13, 2013, 6:24 PM
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Thanks for lookin' folks!

Oh, and @ fflint: I'm not 100% certain what calculation methods were used to make the claim, but the Exchange District bills itself as the most intact collection of turn of the century buildings. I assume this means roughly 1885 - 1915, give or take. I suppose this might be a bit of a wishful interpretation by the people who print up local maps and tourist pamphlets and such. One would assume some areas of Manhattan and Chicago would easily have as much architecture intact from this era. Perhaps the Exchange District is marketed in this way because there's virtually no newer buildings in this area, whereas other larger centres tend to have a sprinkling of new glass towers mixed in with the old. I guess in this sense the Exchange District might be the largest 'homogenous' such area in North America? Again, I'm not sure exactly where the claim originated, but you gave me something new to think about!

Thanks again for the comments, fellow urban geeks!
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Old Posted Jul 13, 2013, 8:48 PM
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I like those 5-10 storey buildings from prewar era
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Old Posted Jul 15, 2013, 2:14 AM
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very cool. what a great annual opportunity and event that is.

i used to like open house nyc weekend, but with the advent of online social media it got so popular it books up instantly and it sucks now. the walk-on sites are ok, but the ones you have to reserve forget it. bah dont get me started...!
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