Downtown Winnipeg – Portage Avenue

September 26, 2006 at 11:23 pm 38 comments

I was out again last weekend taking pictures of buildings downtown here in Winnipeg.  I already had some pictures from my trip down there a few weeks ago when I photographed the murals but I wanted to have some more to give you guys a pretty good picture of Downtown Winnipeg.


Before I show you Portage Avenue, let me first share this mural, which I’ve seen for the first time just last week at the corner of Main Street and Higgins Avenue as I was entering downtown from the North End of Winnipeg.  I don’t go to this area that often but I had to accompany Reggie to his saxophone lesson in that part of the city.  I was amazed when I saw this huge mural on our way back.   This is titled Welcome to Downtown and according to The Murals of Winnipeg website this was just painted in 2001 and it was Mural of the Year 2002.  The picture depicts the Copper Lady welcoming a newcomer with a map on his hands.  You can view a larger image and read more about this mural on this page, or go to the site and browse the location 678 Main Street.

When I got off Portage Avenue on Saturday, I started taking pictures of The Bay.  At first I thought that I looked silly taking pictures but I saw at least two people also taking snaps so I didn’t feel silly after that.  I can’t remember if it was Señor Enrique or Sidney who said that we should try to be tourists in our own cities so that we could appreciate the beauty of our hometown, or something to that effect, and I guess that was what I have been doing lately. 

bearamelia.jpgBefore I start, let me first introduce you to the Bears on Broadway as I will be mentioning them quite a bit in this and the next posts.  In May 2005, CancerCare Manitoba set up 62 artistic polar bears on Broadway Blvd.  The exhibit was a fund-raiser for CancerCare Manitoba in conjunction with sponsoring businesses who have paid for the bears to be decorated.  All spring and summer long, Winnipeggers and visitors flocked Broadway Blvd. to visit the bears and take pictures.  My family and I went there and took pictures of all 62 bears.  You can view our Bears on Broadway album here.  I just have to warn you.  You might be sick of my face by the time you view all the bears.  He he he.  The Bears were removed from Broadway Blvd. in October 2005 to protect them from the harsh winter temperatures.  They were moved to different locations all over the city and in some places throughout Canada. 

To continue with the spirit of the Bears, now called Bears Beyond Broadway, new sculptures were placed all over downtown this past summer.  This 10-piece temporary Public Art Display along Portage Avenue in the downtown core is called Art on the Avenue Sculpture Walk. 

portageelephantt.jpgNow, let us start our tour of Portage Avenue at the corner of Memorial Blvd.  This elephant structure, ELRT or Elephant Light Rail Transit, is just behind the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the building as my attention was focused on Portage Avenue.  But you can take a glimpse of this triangular shaped building at this site. Last year, it was Bear’nard, A Work of Art, which occupied the elephant’s spot. 

portagethebayt.jpgAcross the street is The Hudson’s Bay Co., or The Bay as we fondly call it.   It is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and the biggest department store here in Winnipeg.  The goods sold here are a little more expensive than the ones sold at the shopping malls but they do have a better quality.  It was here that Reggie finally found a watch that suited his taste after months of searching many stores.  This teenager of mine has a very particular taste in clothes, shoes and other accessories.  Picky, you might say, but Señor Enrique has mentioned that jazz musicians do have a sophisticated taste in clothing. 

Standing in contrast against the old building of The Bay is the very modern Investors Group building with its glass windows.  There’s a big red banner at the front which says, Manitoba Spirited Energy, a slogan we just started seeing this summer.


portageplacet.jpgOne of our favourite shopping malls is at the heart of downtown, Portage Place.  It is a four-storey building that spans three city blocks.  You’ll find most of the stores on the first and second floor.  The third floor is the Entertainment Level where the Globe Cinema, IMAX Theatre and Prairie Theatre Exchange are located.  It was at the Prairie Theatre Exchange where Reggie performed at the Manitoba High School Big Band Night in June 2005 and where they also had the Spring Jazz Concert in June 2006.  The fourth floor contains mostly business offices. 

The stores that we usually go to at Portage Place are Staples Home Depot, Payless ShoeSource, HMV, Hallmark Store and McNally Robinson Bookstore where I thought I lost Ryland last year when we watched a free jazz concert there.  There is also a food court at this mall and a Baskin Robbins just next to the front door and where we usually buy ice cream cones after shopping. 

portagepolicet.jpgIn front of the mall is another one of the Art on the Avenue sculpture, called The Right Stuff (the police man).  In this picture you’ll see one of a number of covered overpasses downtown, which we call Skywalk.  They are very useful especially in the cold winter months. 

Pictured below is one of the MTS (Manitoba Telecom Services) pay phones. There is one located at almost every other corner in the main streets of Winnipeg. 


portagemtst.jpgThis is the MTS Centre.  Eaton’s, another old department store, used to occupy this place but it has been demolished in 2003, much to the dismay of many old patrons, to give way to this new architectural delight as another step in giving downtown a more contemporary look.  Construction of the new building took at least about a year and MTS Centre opened its doors in November 2004.  Since then, it has been the host to many sports and entertainment events.  The first time I entered its arena was when my two younger boys and I watched the Toronto Raptors play against the Portland Trailblazers in October 2005.  The 2005 Juno Awards was also held here.  It’s the equivalent of the Grammy Awards in the U.S.  Some of the famous entertainers that had concerts here are Cher, Green Day, Black Eyed Peas, Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain, BackStreet Boys, Paul Anka, Gwen Stefani, Bryan Adams, Crosby Stills Nash & Young.  And most recently, Mariah Carey and Red Hot Chili Peppers.  When I heard that James Blunt is coming on October 31, I almost bought a ticket, but it is on Halloween night and my kids, well at least my youngest one needs me that night to go trick or treating.  So no can do.  Well, anyway, I only really like one of his songs, You’re Beautiful.  I just love his haunting voice. 

portageblockst.jpgThis is Wind Wall, another Art on the Avenue sculpture.  According to its young sculptor, “this multi-coloured wall is as reactive to the human touch as it is to the wind.”  I think it was placed there strategically close to the corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street, which I heard is the windiest part of the world. 


That ends our tour for now.  More next time.


Entry filed under: Detour, Winnipeg.

Sunny Autumn Day The other (ugly) side of Fall

38 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kyels  |  September 27, 2006 at 6:42 am

    A good tour of Winnipeg Niceheart! Now, I feel like going there. Heehee.


  • 2. watson  |  September 27, 2006 at 7:35 am

    So nice and clean. I like the multicolored sculpture!

  • 3. zeroimpact  |  September 27, 2006 at 7:59 am

    That’s a great tour
    Wish I could be there to be a tourist
    It would have been fun

  • 4. eric aka senor enrique  |  September 27, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    Wow! I love the photos of your city, Irene. Now, I’m able to visualize your city as I read your entries.

    MTS Centre caught my attention immediately, though I love the old The Bay ‘building as well because it reminds me of Macy’s in NYC. And of course, that mural. You guys got Manhattan beat. Actually, since the Dineyfication of Manhattan, it hasn’t been as exciting as before. There are other major cities such as yours that are becoming more progressive in terms of supporting the arts in general and our young artists in particular.

    As for your teenager, yes. Another example: Joshua Bell (Reggie would know him) would only wear clothing and shoes by Prada for his concert tours; and that was before Prada became a household name. Whereas, my sister in-law, a private nurse in NYC and a fashionista, raved about Miles Davis’ accessories when he hired her as his private nurse during his convalescence. She claimed this jazz legend had a collection of watches, belts and shoes, including custom-made rings and bracelets that were simply amazing.

    I also had a feeling Reggie would take up saxophone as his second instrument for music college.

    Please, Irene, keep taking more shots of Winnepeg to share with us 🙂

  • 5. niceheart  |  September 27, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    Thank you, Kyels. You are very welcome to come visit here. 🙂

    Watson, that sculpture is also one of my favourites. People seem to notice the cleanliness. We do take pride in that. 🙂

    Thanks, zeroimpact. Do come and visit us. 🙂

  • 6. niceheart  |  September 27, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    Eric, I’m glad you like the pictures. The architecture of MTS Centre is really to be admired. You should visit the link to the site so you can see pictures of the inside of the building.

    Wow, you have a sister in law who looked after Miles Davis. She must have lots of amazing stories. 🙂

    Reggie isn’t really that fond of the saxophone. He wanted to play a second instrument towards the end of grade nine and we leased one from St. John’s but he later on neglected it and I wasn’t too happy when he let his school friend play it in their band concerts. We returned it to St. John’s this past summer. He wanted me to buy him a professional flute but I refused to buy him a $3000 instrument. So now, he’s learning to play the tenor sax, a loaner from his school. But he just learned that he would not be playing solo tenor sax in his jazz band so he’s still not sure if he wants to continue his sax lessons.

  • 7. Shoshana  |  September 27, 2006 at 10:17 pm

    Wow, that is one beautiful city you live in. Great idea to tour your own city.

  • 8. munimuni  |  September 27, 2006 at 10:43 pm

    Winnipeg is beautiful. Nice photos. I should visit one day coz I’m also here in Canada.

  • 9. Karen  |  September 27, 2006 at 11:11 pm

    i’m very fond of archictecture, esp. old intricate ones and that’s what i enjoy the most when i walk around downtown winnipeg (i haven’t been there in months, though). my favourite building is the bay, i’ve been meaning to take a picture of this (and others), but i’ve gotten lazy. bad karen.

    i haven’t seen the policeman in person yet. maybe i should really pay downtown a visit soon 🙂

  • 10. ipanema  |  September 28, 2006 at 1:35 am

    I love the mural! It’s a beautiful one.

  • 11. aurea  |  September 28, 2006 at 11:37 am

    Thanks for the online tour, niceheart. Makes me want to visit.

    I played violin from 6th grade through college. What I’ve found is that local music stores are more expensive than buying online. My first violin was bought locally for $1000, and my second one I ordered online for $600. I actually liked the second one better. I also bought violin strings, sheet music etc online.

    Senor Enrique – the Disneyfication of Manhattan also got rid of many more exciting XXX shops, eh? 😉 Interesting tidbit about Joshua Bell.

  • 12. phil  |  September 28, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    Looking at your pics Nice, you’ve inspired me to start carrying my old digicam around with me as I tool here and there in Angeles City. I realize looking through the view finder how non-photogenic this place is, but just the same I think I’ll keep doing it just to keep track of all the changes going on around here. I’ve been here just over four years and the building boom going on has made AC unrecognizable from when I first arrived.

  • 13. melai  |  September 28, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    you shoot nice din pala niceheart 🙂

  • 14. Rey  |  September 28, 2006 at 9:04 pm

    Great architectural edifices, fantastic sculptures and artworks, nice international shows and sports to watch, and a hauntingly good song to listen too.
    What’s more? You live in a great and condusive place.

    Only 2% of Filipinos experience this in their lifetime. you’re lucky. But of course we already knew that. 🙂

  • 15. niceheart  |  September 28, 2006 at 10:22 pm

    Shoshana and munimuni, thanks. I also think it’s a beautiful city. But of course I am biased. 🙂

    Karen, don’t delay your visit to downtown. The sculptures will be there only until October.

    Ipanema, it’s such a beauty, and it’s huge.

  • 16. niceheart  |  September 28, 2006 at 10:26 pm

    Thanks for the tip, aurea. I want to support Reggie’s passion in music but instruments are just so expensive. Once he earns his own money he can get that professional flute that he wanted. I just think that $3000 is too much. It’s beyond our budget.

    Phil, I’ve also been inspired by bloggers like Eric and Sidney. You should take photos too. I’d like to see Angeles City. I’ve never been there.

  • 17. niceheart  |  September 28, 2006 at 10:28 pm

    Thank you Melai. I just like taking pictures. :)This blog is a good medium of sharing them.

    I do feel lucky, Rey. And yeah, Winnipeg is a great supporter not only of arts but theatre as well.

  • 18. iskoo  |  September 28, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    cool billboard, sana ganyan din mga naka display dito sa pilipinas. nga pala bumagyo dito, nagbagsakan ang mga billboards sa edsa.

    ganda pala talga sa canada, particularly sa Winnipeg, hope in the future mabisita ko dyan siya. keep on taking pictures, para na rin kaming nakapunta dyan.

  • 19. Lazarus  |  September 29, 2006 at 3:17 am

    very very nice city! hope to visit it someday.

  • 20. zingtrial  |  September 29, 2006 at 11:11 pm

    Hi This is a really good posting.
    Thanks for sharing
    Have a nice weekend
    Wish you well

  • 21. ann  |  September 30, 2006 at 7:21 am

    Para na rin kaming nakapamasyal sa Winnipeg. More pictures..of you..hehehe.

  • 22. haze  |  September 30, 2006 at 2:31 pm

    Hi I’m back ! Wow I would really love to visit your place 😉 I like the first mural art….galing ! Thanks for sharing these lovely arts and cityscape ! Your city is really clean !!!

  • 23. Sidney  |  September 30, 2006 at 10:03 pm

    Congrats! What a great tour of your city!
    Maybe you should become the official tour guide of Winnipeg!
    Now I really want to visit your city (but in Summer ! 😉

  • 24. niceheart  |  September 30, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Iskoo. It’s actually the side of the building that was painted. It’s not a billboard. I’ve heard about the typhoon there. Hope you’re alright. I have some more pictures to share later. 🙂

    Thank you Lazarus. You are always welcome to visit. 🙂

    Thank you Zingtrial. A nice weekend to you too.

  • 25. niceheart  |  September 30, 2006 at 10:48 pm

    Ganu’n ba ann? So I guess you’ve seen my Bears album. Hindi ka pa ba sawa sa mukha ko. 🙂

    Welcome back Haze. Yeah, come visit us here. 🙂

    Thank you Sidney. Now, I don’t know about being an official tour guide. There are a lot more places to see here that I haven’t been to. I’m just showing my favourite ones. 🙂

  • 26. Toe  |  October 1, 2006 at 5:17 am

    Winnipeg looks beautiful. I like it that there is plenty of artwork in the form of murals and sculptures. The bears, especially, look very interesting. It looks like a nice place not only to visit but also to live in and raise a family.

  • 27. niceheart  |  October 1, 2006 at 2:03 pm

    Toe, Winnipeg really supports all forms of art. And it is a nice place to raise a family. The government programs here are very family-oriented.

  • 28. bw  |  October 1, 2006 at 8:06 pm

    It’s a pity that your folks lost the Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg is a great hockey town. Glad you were able to watch the Raptors play in Winnipeg. Here in Toronto my office ls literally a block away from Air Canada Centre where the Raps and the Toronto Maple Leafs ( hockey) play. It’s also a block away from the Sky Dome where the Toronto Blue Jays ( baseball) play ! What more could I ask.. he he.

  • 29. niceheart  |  October 1, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    I’m not really a sports fan but yeah, many fans were sad to see the Jets go. I’d love to go to Toronto someday and visit the Sky Dome.

  • 30. anothergene  |  October 12, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    It’s amazing how your great pictures make an otherwise crap hole of a downtown look nice and apealing. If you are a tourist, I would highly recommend not wasting your money coming here.

    There seems to be a rash our tourists getting mugged or robber and when the city catches wind of it via some sort of publicity giving them all kinds of free stuff to try and patch things up. In short, come to Winnipeg, get robbed, make noise about it in the local paper and we’ll give you free stuff to shut up about it.

    About the only thing Winnipeg has going for it, is that it’s not Regina.

    As far as the Jets go, let’s let their attendance speak for it self. People whine and complain about not having an NHL franchise, but if it came back here I would garentee you that after a few sold out games the cheap skate in Winnipegers would take over and attendance would dwindle. If you want to loose money on an NHL franchise, bring it here!

  • 31. anothergene  |  October 12, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    I’m also surprised you managed to catch the murals and sculptures before they were tagged with gang related spray paint.

  • 32. niceheart  |  October 15, 2006 at 11:38 pm

    Anothergene, if you think that Winnipeg is a crap hole, that’s your own opinion. And I will respect that. I am not a tourist. I have been a resident for 17 years now and I happen to like Winnipeg a lot, even though it has long and cold winters.

    As for tourists being mugged, I haven’t heard much about this. I believe you that there are probably some who have been mugged, but I think every city has it’s own incidence of crime. And I think that Winnipeg has a low percentage of crime rate compared to other cities.

    And I never heard about the murals being vandalized. Last time I’ve seen them, they were still in good condition.

  • 33. anothergene  |  November 24, 2006 at 11:46 am

    I’m not denying your opinion of Winnipeg. I just have a different one. As to who’s is more realistic, well some one else will have to decide that. I happen to know some one who was related to some one who painted one of the murals on Portage Ave. She is called in regularly to clean it up due to gang related tagging. Also there was an article in the Free Press that the sculpture of the police officer lasted about a week before it had to be cleaned of vandalism. As far as the mural at Higgins and Main street, I would not recomend that any one, let alone tourists walk around in that area for any reason….

    There were several instances of tourists getting mugged and cashing in documented in the free press over the last year. Most of them in areas people thought to be tame, like in front of the Portage Place.

    In short, in my opinion, don’t waste you money coming to Winnipeg. You will be disapointed.

  • 34. ias  |  October 2, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    I take exception to anyone who says Winnipeg is not worth visiting. Winnipeg, like any other place, is only as rough as you make it for yourself. Snarl at anyone and he/she will snarl back. Try smiling, then the world will brighten up. I have lived in the north end of Winnipeg since 1970. I finished school in 1973 and worked since then, retiring on disability in 2005. I bought my first car in 1978, walking on the north end streets and bussing it until then. Now because of my disability I am taking buses and HandiTransit again, no car. The only problem I have walking around Winnipeg and using buses is panhandlers. When I say no, sorry, they just walk away. Ha ha, actually my life is peaceful because I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, I don’t chase men, I’m not rich, I look like a First Nations person, I’m only five feet tall, I don’t bother anyone, and I try to remember to use my Canadian and Aboriginal manners. No one bothers me, no one, no matter where I go in this City. Everyone is nice. Maybe you could say I do not have anything anyone wants, hence they leave me alone? I have everything I want and need here in Winnipeg – peace, quiet, beauty, a nice comfortable orderly apartment, health care, a computer and the internet, everything I need and want. If I was miserable here, I would MOVE, simple as that, to a better place. That is an option for people who hate Winnipeg – they can always move out – to Calgary, New Zealand, the Netherlands, wherever. But these unhappy people will not find a better city anywhere in the world, until they get comfortable with themselves and with where they live now. A person has to be comfortable at home first, with himself/herself, before he/she can be comfortable anywhere else. That is my opinion, and I am not sticking to it. I am open to change my opinion if anyone gives me good reason to change it.

  • 35. Bill, a winnipeg lawyer  |  February 15, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    You have a great website, look at mine if you want

  • 36. Abo Riginal  |  February 26, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    There is truth about what anothergene is talking about. Last time I checked, a 13 year old boy was stabbed to death, the 4th homicide in the early 2008 in Winnipeg. I am a Winnipeger and I can sadly say that it has the highest crime rate in Canada! I myself inhibit going to Downtown except for very important reasons like going to an office or MTS.

    The roads might be clean in summer. You should check them out in Winter or Spring. Roads have holes everywhere. I was told, there are only two seasons in Winnipeg. Winter and Road Construction seasons. Roads are battered due to their consistency, a clayish one that expands and constricts in seasons. The province is not prosperous because of the high maintenance of roads and therefore high, over the roof taxes. Amber trails and Linden Woods lead the pack on high property tax areas.

    But I still reside here, nonetheless due to low profile life. It’s way better than living in Manila Slums.

  • 37. khalid  |  August 22, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    I am moving to Winnipeg,anything special about it?

  • 38. niceheart  |  August 22, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Hi Khalid.

    Thank you for visiting my blog.

    What’s special about Winnipeg? Well, aside from the long and cold winters, Winnipeg embraces multiculturalism. And of course, the friendly people is a special bonus. 🙂


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