The Loop is an 8km downtown Winnipeg walking tour that reveals the city’s rich history, Chicago-style modernist architecture, and enthusiastic food culture with 49 numbered stops. Visit some (or all) of them to become acquainted with this big little city’s central neighbourhoods.
Begin your walk at The Forks (#1). This national heritage site is in many ways the city’s birthplace (its name refers to the intersections of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, where First Nations met and traded more than six thousand years ago). It’s now home to long stretches of walking trails, eateries, antiques and specialty shops, and public art.
From there, head over to Winnipeg’s Francophone quarter, St. Boniface, via the Riel Esplanade footbridge (#2), a local icon you’ll see on countless Winnipeg postcards. This is the only bridge in North America that has a restaurant on it, and you’ll be glad you tried one of Chez Sophie‘s famous quiches or pizzas.
In St. Boniface, browse the shops on Provencher Boulevard, and stop in for a treat at Chocolatier Constance Popp – a local artisan who’s made chocolates for a diverse range of individuals and occasions, including Queen Elizabeth II and the Oscars. Pick up an ingredient-laden “Manitobar“ to take home with you as a delicious souvenir.
Continue your Winnipeg walking tour by visiting some important local landmarks, including the tombstone of Manitoba founder Louis Riel (#3), and the St Boniface Cathedral (#4), a spectacular church with a tumultuous past.
Upon crossing the bridge back to downtown, it’s impossible to miss the brand new Canadian Museum for Human Rights (#12). Marvel at its breathtaking architecture, and learn about the fight for human rights around the world.
Stroll down the lush riverside footpaths of Stephen Juba Park (#14) along Waterfront Drive. History buffs will enjoy exploring the James Avenue Pumping Station (#16), a local landmark that provided fire protection to downtown Winnipeg for many decades.
In the Exchange District, check out quirky boutiques and restaurants, and don’t miss the brilliant preservation work that incorporates the original facades of six heritage buildings into the Red River College campus (#23).
Head towards the downtown core business area, Portage Avenue, and see where the Jets, Winnipeg’s NHL hockey team, play at MTS Centre (#30), then make your way to the Winnipeg Art Gallery (#40), Western Canada’s oldest public art gallery.
Stop at the department store Hudson’s Bay Company (#39) (or “The Bay” as it’s known locally), which is the oldest continuously run business in North America; browse their signature HBC collection for the quintessential Canadian souvenir.
At the very top of the Legislative Building (#44), you’ll spy the Golden Boy statue, a beloved provincial symbol. The building’s architecture is steeped in mystery, with Masonic, numerological, and ancient Egyptian occult clues incorporated throughout (take the acclaimed “Hermetic Code Tour“ to learn a little more about the building’s secrets).
The Loop is drawing to a close, and as you stroll along Broadway, stop in for a cocktail in the swanky Palm Lounge, or treat yourself to some relaxation in Ten Spa‘s Turkish hamam. Both are located within the Fort Garry Hotel (#47), a century-old luxury hotel (also rumoured to be haunted!).
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Header image © Forks Bridge at dusk – AJ Batac/Flickr
Have you taken a Winnipeg walking tour of The Loop? What were your favourite sites along the way? Let us know in the comments section below.
Written by Emma Durand–Wood