Winnipeg

We were very confused which other places to add during our Canada Excursions. There are some places which is always a given and some aren’t. Well Winnipeg was one which we were very confused should we visit or not.

We decided to go with things to do in Winnipeg and since we felt there were things which would be a first to us we decided to proceed. After visiting the place I did feel like it was the right choice because we did enjoy our time here.

For me personally one thing which appeals in any place are the people. For some reason I was not very happy with the people I met here. Since we were staying in the city we did come across some scary neighbourhood also. When I think back on my time here the unfriendliness does seem strong. However, not everyone were bad I did meet some friendly locals who interacted with warmth. I left Winnipeg with mixed feeling and still wonder would I ever recommend this place to anyone.

TIME TO VISIT WINNIPEG

It is said to be having four seasons in Winnipeg. Locals say they have very brutal winter where some jokingly call the place “Winterpeg”. Since I lived in Toronto I personally felt no place could be worst and since I didn’t see the winter in Winnipeg I am not sure how true that is.

Warm weather is from May to September and is the one I would recommend especially to enjoy the place better. We had visited in August and we totally loved it. 

Be prepared for the rain also. When we landed in Winnipeg we did experience the rain along with the windy condition. The hotel staff had told us this was a surprise rain as rest of the week was pleasant. The rainy season however is expected to be from March to November with maximum rain during June. 

TRAVELING AROUND IN WINNIPEG

We were traveling from Toronto hence we had chosen plane as a mode of transport to reach here. 

There are also Via Rail which runs trains to Winnipeg from various locations. I would recommend checking out deals offered should you want to choose train.

There are also many buses which run like Greyhound or beaver bus lines. I however never used them and hence not sure how efficient or reliable they are.

Within Winnipeg we had used a combination of walking and Winnipeg Transit. I was happy with the overall transport in Winnipeg. 

Downtown Spirit buses are free convenient buses which run around downtown and covers The Forks, Broadway & Garry, Portage & Fort and the Forks. We however never used this because we loved the walk. Don’t know how convenient and efficient they are. 

For the Winnipeg Transits there is the Peggo reloadable card, single journey tickets, Monthly Pass, Bus Tickets (5 or 10 sheet option) Superpass, or the Mass 5 Pass. For tourist I personally felt the either the single journey tickets or the Bus Ticket booklet would work best. Kindly check the fares and your itinerary and plan accordingly. Should you plan to do transfer then make sure you complete it in 75 minutes. You have to ask for the transfer if you are planning to make one. We had used the bus ticket (10 sheet option). Everything was simple to follow and convenient.

One of the best thing we enjoyed doing here was exploring the place on foot. Since we had good weather and were staying walkable distance from our hotel we most of the time preferred walking. 

Taxis are also available but I never really used it. Most places were close by so not sure if taxi is really needed. You can use it to the airport if you have luggage. 

WHERE WE STAYED IN WINNIPEG

We had stayed for three nights in Humphry Inn & Suites. This is right in the city and close to most of the public transport. We also found most of the places we wanted to visit in Winnipeg ideal from the hotel. There are also restaurants and shopping malls nearby which are walking distance from the hotel.

We were also very happy with the room. It was spacious and clean with all the necessary amenities provided. We had also chosen the breakfast option and were happy with the varieties provided. 

The front desk staff and the housing staff were both very friendly and always welcomed and answered queries with a smile. Would highly recommend the hotel for overall good experience. 

THINGS TO DO IN WINNEPEG

THE MANITOBA MUSEUM & PLANETARIUM

The largest museum in Winnipeg is located next to the City Hall. It has the largest heritage focusing on humans and natural. Some of the galleries we saw were Artic, Hudson’s Bay, Grassland, Urban and Boreal Forest. 

Don’t miss the full size replica of the Nonsuch ship whose voyage led to the founding of the Hudson’s Bay Company. 

This was one of the kind museum which was beautifully presented.

You can see the life of Manitobans in the past. Everything is displayed with great care.Most of them looked real and I for one loved each and every one of them.

The museum is really big so you will end up spending a lot of time but never a dull moment.

There are also tours organised but we preferred reading ourselves. 

Don’t miss walking along the sections showing the dentist’s surgery, family parlour, early pharmacy, carpenter’s workshop, railway office and many more.

We did visit the planetarium also and enjoyed our time in here also. The prices of the tickets varies so you can decide accordingly should you want to do the planetarium or not

DOWNTOWN 

While we were in the Canadian Museum of Human Rights we saw downtown from top and so we decided to walk along and explore it more. 

By the end of the walk you will see the good and the bad. Besides the tourist destinations on the way I did see some quiet and some busy neighbourhood also. 

I had read a lot about Winnipeg being unsafe so we avoided night. There were some parts which we did find scary but overall we didn’t have any bad experience.

ASSINIBOINE ZOO

We spent almost  little over half our day inside the zoo. The zoo is huge  and is best known for its polar bear exhibit.   

Journey to Churchill was an interesting one as it featured, polar bears, Arctic fox, wolf, mush ox, caribou, snowy owl and seal habitats. Don’t miss the underwater tunnels for polar beards and seals.

In the Kinsmen Discovery Centre you will see the zoo’s second biggest indoor exhibit. There is also the Australian Walkabout where you can walk with the animals. We were lucky to see the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden, this is closed during winters.

We had a lot of fun inside the Dinosaurs alive section. Felt like we were inside the Jurassic world.

The zoo is always having new things added so there might be something new to enjoys during your visit. 

Since I had been the Toronto Zoo l did find this smaller. Personally I did like the layout of Toronto Zoo better but this one but it was also fun to see. 

MANITOBA LEGISLATIVE BUILDING

The place for the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. Loved the architectural structure of the building and the sculptures throughout the building. Special mention here to the beautiful stairways.

The building is famous for the Golden Boy statue which is styled like the Roman god Mercury or the Greek god Hermes at the top of the doomed ceiling.

Some fun things to try out – There is also an echo chamber where you can hear back your words; Do stand under the dome and the do check out the black star. 

We didn’t do the guided tour as we were planning to do one in Regina. I have heard people say the stories are interesting, hence I would recommend doing one.


ROYAL CANADIAN MINT

This was a place which was totally different to the rest of the places we visited in Canada hence we couldn’t miss it.

The Mint produces all of Canada’s coins. It manufactures precious and metal base coins which includes gold, silver, palladium, platinum bullion coins, medals, medallions and tokens. 

From 1985 to 2011 it has won many award- winning coins. Some are being displayed which I recommend seeing. 

There are tours being conducted in the mornings and afternoon but make sure you have done booking in advance. We did do the tour and enjoyed it. 

Don’t miss out on seeing the flags flying in the front showing all the countries where The Mint made coins. 

SAINT BONIFACE CATHEDRAL

A Roman Catholic basilica siting in the city centre.  An important building in Winnipeg and the main church serving eastern part of Manitoba province along with the local Franco-Manitoban community.

The original church was destroyed by fire but the modern one stand behind it and has its own beauty to it. I loved seeing the blend of the old and new. A piece of history still preserved and the new adding onto the beauty of it.

Throughout the premises there are various historical monuments like Louis Reil cemetery, Joseph-Norbert Provencher monument, Lagimodiere- Gaboury tomb, The Grey Nuns monument, Our Lady of assumption statue and Le Verendrye monument. I would highly recommend exploring the place and checking out the history.  

There is also a panoramic view of the city of Winnipeg along the river. 

ST. BONIFACE UNIVERSITY

It is said to be the only French language university and the oldest post- secondary institution in Western Canada. It was established in 1818 but by the looks of it looks very well maintained. 

THE ESPLANADE RIEL

Here is a beautiful pedestrian which is named in honour of Louis Riel. The bridge is said to connect downtown and district of St. Boniface. 

The bridge has cables from a single inclined pylon which is 57 meters above the river below. It is said to be the only bridge with a restaurant in North America. 

Everyday it’s usually having people walking or cycling along it. The bridge along with the Canadian Museum of Human Rights together makes a postcard-like image in one frame. 

Another connection with the bridge is The Forks National Historic Site. If you ask me my favourite place in Winnipeg then it would be this connection.

THE FORKS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE

This was considered to be the meeting place for early aboriginal peoples and since then been enjoyed by the locals and tourists. It has been the National Historic Site of Canada since 1954. Throughout you will see many things which is telling a story of the history behind the place. 

There are lots of smaller sections to explore inside the place as well namely:

THE FORKS MARKET

Here is a six storey tower with a viewing platform to get information on the site’s history. There are various vendors selling fruits, breads, meat, wine and some tasty food halls to feast your taste buds. We enjoyed meals at this place and would highly recommend.

JOHNSTON TERMINAL

Another four storey building which was initially a warehouse and freight forwarding facility. The place was used by Johnston National Cartage Company on lease basis for 15 years. In 1977 when it was vacated it went through redevelopment and now has many boutiques, cafes, offices and The Old Spaghetti Factory inside.

I loved seeing the creativity done to the place. A fun place to meet for coffee, family and friend shopping or simply see the creativity of the place. 


WINNIPEG RAIL MUSEUM

This is located adjacent to the Forks at the Union station. Here you will see countless Dufferin steam locomotive, the first one which came to Western Canada. We only saw this from outside hence not too sure how big and interesting it is. 

OODENA

The Oodena circle is set as a reminder to show the 6000 years that the aboriginal people stayed in that area. Oodena-“heart of the community” has ceremonial fire pit, ethereal sculptures, a sundial and interpretive signage.

It’s a nice place to enjoy some cultural celebrations or just to sit back and simply vision how the celebration must be taken place in the past. The circle has received many awards in the past.  

– PATH OF TIME AT THE FORKS

  -THE RIVERWALK AT THE FORKS

Enjoy a walk along Assiniboine river walk from underneath Esplanade Riel to the Manitoba Legislative Building. 

CANADIAN MUSEUM OF HUMAN RIGHTS

The architectural structure of the building is the first which catches your attention. I was in total awe at what my eyes were seeing.

The walk up the levels in the ramps is a beautiful sight. The whole museum has lots of stuff to read in regards to human rights.  

There are total eight levels which the building holds inside each showcasing different topics. There are different galleries to explore in level four. Level Eight which is known as the Tower of Hope has a viewing deck with a panoramic view of the city and its surrounding.

I would highly recommend doing this. There is so much to learn inside it and some places are sure to be an eye opener in certain matters. A piece of history which is very well portrayed throughout the museum.

EXCHANGE DISTRICT BIZ

Another National Historic Site which is said to have approximately 150 heritage buildings. It gets its name from the original grain industry along with other commodities which were exchanged between 1881- 1918. 

At that time Manitoba was the fastest growing cities and the third largest cities in Canada. However things changed after World War I and the opening of the Panama canals. Lot of changes took place since then. 

There are lots of walking guided tours, however we did it on our own. Walking from one lane to another enjoying the architecture and the restaurants in the vicinity.  

SHAW PARK 

A baseball stadium in Winnipeg which we saw from the Hope Tower in Canadian Museum of Human Rights. In 1999 Pan American Games it was the main baseball venue where Canadian squad got bronze medal. 

Besides baseball it is also used as concert venue. 

CITY HALL

On our way to Manitoba Museum we came across City Hall. The two storey council chamber was built in 1966. It also has a six-storey administrative building. Since we visited during the civic holiday we were only able to see it from outside. 

LOUIS RIEL’S TOMBSTONE

Louis Riel is said to be one of the founders of Manitoba. He was found guilty for his role in the 1885 rebel and hence was hanged on November 16, 1885. There is a statue and a tomb in his honour in Winnipeg. 

201 PORTAGE AVE

201 Portage is the tallest building in Winnipeg. It is an office tower which is in the intersection of Portage and Main. Since it is the tallest one in the region we walked past it but I guess we have seen taller ones hence we weren’t very impressed. 

While writing I also came across some other places which would have been interesting. I would recommend seeing Millennium Library, Chinatown, Children’s museum inside The Forks and MTS Centre. I am not sure how good they are but seems interesting, something I would add given time. 

Besides these there are also plenty more which you can come across during the walk in the Loop. See map below for you to add and explore. You can also use this map for direction on walking in my below itinerary.

Map courtesy Winnipeg tourism

OUR ITINERARY IN WINNIPEG

DAY 1

Manitoba Museum & Planetarium and City Hall

Traveling tip:

  • We took bus from the airport to reach our hotel. Bus no. 20, 14 and 15 all takes you to the hotel but you have to walk little. Bus no. 14 is less than 1 min walk and you have to get off at Southbound Main at St. Mary.
  • From our hotel we walked to The Manitoba Museum. It’s roughly 15 mins walk or 1.2 km. 
  • We also saw City Hall during our walk. 
  • From here we returned back to our hotel. 

Note: Since we had only half a day due to rain we could only do the above. Should you want more time then add Chinatown as this is walking distance from City Hall. 

DAY 2

Assiniboine Park Zoo, Manitoba Legislative Building and Louis Riel Statue.

Traveling tip:

  • There are lots of buses to choose from but we wanted to avoid changing buses. Hence we choose bus no. 67 and got off at Westbound Robin at Zoo. 
  • We took the same bus back and got off at Eastbound Portage at Balmore. From here there is a walk of 950 m, roughly 12 mins reach Manitoba Legislative Building
  • If you walk a little then you also come across Louis Riel’s Statue.
  • We decided from here to walk back to our hotel which was roughly 1.4 km.

DAY 3 

Royal Canadian Mint, Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Shaw Park, Esplanade Riel, Saint Boniface Cathedral, St. Boniface University and Louis Riel’s Tombstone

Traveling tip:

  • We took bus no. 50 and got off at Eastbound East Mint at Lagimodiere and walked 450m to reach Royal Canadian Mint. You can also take bus no. 19 and get off at Westbound Paterson at Lagimodiere and walk 20 mins (1.6km)
  • We took the same bus back to get to Canadian Museum for Human Rights. You can also take bus no. 19 then get off at Northbound Main at Broadway (Union Station) and walk 5 mins or Take bus no. 50 and get off at Westbound Pioneer at Canadian Museum for Human Rights and walk 3 mins. 
  • We saw Shaw Park from The Tower of Hope inside Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
  • Walk along Esplanade Riel and enjoy the bridge.
  • On the other side of the bridge you get to see Saint Boniface Cathedral. 
  • While walking you will also come across the St. Boniface University.
  • You can walk next to the Cathedral and see the Louis Riel Tombstone.
  • Walked back from the cathedral to our hotel.

DAY 4

Exchange District Biz, 201 Portage Ave, Downtown, The Forks National Historic Site, Airport for flight to Regina.

Traveling tip:

  • From our hotel we decided to walk to Exchange District Biz. This is less than 1 km and takes roughly 10 mins walk.
  • From here we also walked to 201 Portage Ave which was less than 5 mins away.
  • Further 3 mins walk will also get you to downtown.
  • We then decided to walk to The Forks National Historical site. This is roughly 15 mins (1.1 km). Here we explored everything inside the Forks.
  • Walked back to our hotel, picked our bags and headed to the airport. Bus no. 20, 14 and 15 all takes you to the airport but you have to walk little.. Would advise bus no. 20 as it takes directly to airport and only 5 mins walk.

If you see we have not really used the Downtown Spirit free bus as we preferred to walk. Should you wish to use then below is the map and route to help you plan your trip.

Map courtesy Winnipeg transit

THINGS TO NOTE IN WINNIPEG

  • For Royal Canadian Mint you have to pre book the tour. Should you not you might struggle to get in. Since we were coming from far and were leaving next day they managed to put us in that day’s tour.
  • If you stay in downtown then the Royal Canadian Mint is far and bus frequency not so great. Plan accordingly. 
  • Make sure you check for civic holidays. Our first day since it was holiday and raining we couldn’t get much done.
  • We had decided to walk to Saint Boniface Cathedral. Although the walk is very pretty in between narrow lanes I did feel it can be confusing. Use public transport should you not want to do the walk. 
  • There might be changes in buses mentioned due to time and day of the week. Plan ahead before leaving to get exact bus.
  • Manitobans are the largest consumers of Slurpee from 7-eleven, would recommend trying it.
  • If you are visiting via border crossing then make sure you have all the necessary documents. 
  • In downtown be very careful of panhandlers. Don’t be scared as such, just say sorry I don’t have and move on. Don’t engage in unnecessary conversations.