Tag Archives: Exchange District

An American Invasion?

Saturday night when we came home around midnight after our Fringe Festival show we saw all these bleachers up and down our street draped with American flag style bunting. The next morning when we went outside to go to church there were American flags flying on every light standard and pole in the neighborhood. American flags were plastered on billboards, hydro boxes, and buildings.  What was going on?  Had the Americans invaded Canada?  Considering the wacky president who currently resides in the White House even the most unbelievable scenarios can seem possible.  No, an American invasion hadn’t happened overnight. Instead, we discovered that some parade scenes from an American movie called Flag Day were being shot in our neighborhood. The film stars and is directed by two- time Oscar-winner Sean Penn. Two of Sean’s children also have roles in the production which is based on the book Flim Flam Man a true story of a girl who finds out her father is a bank robber and career counterfeiter.  sean penn wiki commonsMaybe I should have stayed outside all day to wait for a glimpse of Sean Penn but I had other things to do.   The Winnipeg Exchange District is a popular location for movie makers.  I’ve jokingly told people we live in the middle of a movie set. And sometimes, like yesterday, it certainly feels like that.  

Other posts……..

I Live in A Movie Set

In the Middle of a Movie Set

Winnipeg in the Movies

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Filed under Movies, Winnipeg

Dave’s Tomatoes- A New Plan

You may remember that last year my husband Dave in an attempt to relive his childhood on a tomato farm in Leamington Ontario planted tomatoes in an outdoor garden box near our home. His plants were lush and fruitful but he didn’t get to eat any of its products because our neighbors, workers in nearby offices, and Exchange District visitors kept picking them before he could. This year he came up with a new idea. He would plant two plants outside and have two plants in pots in our condo just in front of our sunny livingroom window. Both his outside and inside plants are loaded with lovely tomatoes and we have been eating the ones on the indoor plants. Dave has already spotted a few of the tomatoes from his outdoor plants ripening on the window ledges in offices nearby.  It seems Dave’s new plan is a winner! We get tomatoes and so do other tomato lovers in our neighborhood. 

Other posts……..

Checking Up on the  Guerilla Gardener

I’m Married to a Guerilla

Finally a Ripe Tomato


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It’s About To Crash!

IMG_3652A white elephant that’s been sitting empty for five years is finally coming down. The demolition of Winnipeg’s former Civic Parkade will leave a huge empty space in the heart of the Exchange District.  

Last Tuesday CentreVenture, a group that facilitates development in Winnipeg’s downtown, hosted residents of the Exchange District at the Amsterdam Tea Room.  Over luscious  cupcakes and fabulous teas a full house of people offered Centre Venture plenty of ideas for what could happen to the space currently occupied by the defunct parking garage. 

public safety building winnipeg

The future of the Public Safety Building next to the parking garage is also up for discussion. Should it be remodeled or torn down too? 

One resident suggested we need to diversify the kind of housing in the Exchange.  Right now there are plenty of high end options but what about more affordable housing that would attract for example Red River Community College and University of Winnipeg students. The two institutions both have downtown campuses. 

A young parent suggested a daycare.  If we want more young families to move to the Exchange we need to offer more quality childcare options downtown. 

We learned in the 1880s the soon to be empty site was home to Winnipeg’s public market.  Some residents suggested we build our own indoor market place similar to Kensington Market in Toronto or The Ferry Plaza Market in San Francisco. 

“Parking, parking, parking,” said one resident.  Almost all Exchange residents agree we need many more parking options in our area. 

Other suggestions were a green space,  a public stage for cultural events, a park with picnic tables, an apartment block, a site for more public art, and of course something everyone who lives in the Exchange wants- a grocery store. 

Exchange District residents aren’t the only ones who have been consulted about the future use of the space.  If you go on the CentreVenture website you can see all the different groups who’ve discussed it.  You can also read the responses of many Winnipeg residents who’ve taken the time to submit their ideas to CentreVenture .  I think its speaks well for the city’s vitality that so many folks are enthusiastically engaging in conversations about how a soon to be empty space in a historic area of Winnipeg could be used.  

Other posts……..

Living in An Art Gallery

Meeting With the Mayor- Homelessness

Meeting With the Mayor- The Arts


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I Live in A Movie Set

Did you know that fifteen movies or television series were shot in Winnipeg last year?  That information comes courtesy of the Manitoba branch of  The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists.   A movie was being filmed on our street again last week. When I left the condo early on Thursday morning to take my husband to work, they were stringing lights around the trees on our side of Bannaytne Avenue and decorating them with greenery and bows.  Later when I went to the gym the Winnipeg police were on duty making sure people didn’t interfere with the filming.  film crew on bannatyneWhen I left for work in the late afternoon a horse drawn carriage was standing in front of Hermanos, the restaurant on the main floor of our building and actors were rehearsing a scene on Hermanos’ steps.  

I looked online and two movies are being filmed in Winnipeg right now, Mr. Snowman and Break My Heart A Thousand Times.  I’m guessing the one on our street was Mr. Snowman. 

set for jack layton film

Crew filming outside my building a few years ago.

According to the city’s website Winnipeg is a great location to make a movie because it can masquerade as many other places. The Exchange District has 140 buildings preserved as they looked at the turn of the century making it a great location for filming period pieces. We also have highly quailifed film crews and production facilities and a provincial tax credit program to encourage film production. Other drawing cards are Winnipeg’s four distinct seasons and lots of quality hotels as well as cultural activities to house and entertain film production crews. 

 Having film crews in the neighborhood is nothing unusual if you live in the Exchange District of Winnipeg.  It is all part of the charm and excitement of having a home in such an historic part of the city. 

Other posts……..

I’m Living in a Movie Set

Chicago of the North

Winnipeg in the Movies



Filed under Movies, Winnipeg

I Slept Right Through It!

bannatyne avenueThere was a confrontation with the police  right in front of my condo building on Friday night. According to a CBC news report a crowd had gathered. Someone got hurt and the police were called.   When they arrived on the scene  certain crowd members became aggressive and in an ensuing tussle one police officer had his taser gun stolen. According to the Winnipeg Free Press the whole thing happened at around 2:30 in the morning. 

My husband Dave was in Minnesota on a golf trip. He called me on Saturday wondering what I’d seen and heard the night before.  He’d read about the disturbance in the online version of the Winnipeg Free Press. I hadn’ t read the paper yet so I wasn’t even aware of what had happened. I had slept right through the incident. Didn’t hear a thing!  We got new windows in our condo building this past year and they just block out all the noise from the street. 

bannatyne ariel viewPeople have asked me if incidents like the one on Friday night in the Exchange District don’t scare me, but actually they don’t.  Our building is locked in the evening and on the weekends a security guard is on duty all through the night. I don’t make it a practice to go for strolls at 2 in the morning and by the time I went to the gym  at 9am on Saturday the streets were as calm and peaceful as always.  

People like to say the downtown isn’t safe but then neither are other areas of the city.  Just last Wednesday night 35 homes and garages in the Elmwood area experienced break ins. According to the Winnipeg Free Press some items were stolen from rooms inside homes just steps away from where the residents were sleeping.  Now that’s scary!

Even rural areas aren’t immune. At the end of July Steinbach online reported a rash of break ins and thefts in the city.  Apparently its an almost daily occurrence there. 

These incidents in different urban areas make me think about………

What happens to people that makes them want to harm police officers who have just come to help them?

Why do people steal? Do they need money to fuel addictions, are they out of work, do they feel it is unfair that others have wealth and they do not, or have they never been taught stealing is wrong? 

I know there aren’t easy answers to these questions. I choose not to feel scared about living where I do because there is no place that is immune to danger and when I look at the dangerous places in the world where so many people live, often not through their own choice, I know I am utterly blessed. 

Other posts…….

Welcome to Our Amazing Neighbourhood 

David Bowie in My Neighbourhood

Letting in the Light


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Letting in the Light

galpern candy companyThe former home of the Galpern Candy Company at the corner of Rorie and McDermot, and just across the street from the our condo building is being turned into a rental establishment. It will have 30 suites on the upper floors and the main floor and basement will house four townhouses. 

june 5, 2015The side of the building had only a few windows and its been interesting to watch as they have cut windows to let in the light. This is how the side of the building looked a year ago. 


cutting windows


next onegalpern candy company building 2016This is how the building looks today.

It is being renovated by Alston Properties.    I hope they’ll have an Open House when all the work is done.  I’d sure like to see what the building looks like on the inside after following its exterior progress for almost a year now.  The Exchange District where we live is always changing. The Galpern Candy Company building conversion is just one of many that will happen as 900 new rental spaces are being planned for the downtown. 

Other posts…….

North Watch

A Roof With a View

Aren’t You Afraid to Live in the Exchange District?


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bronutsWe’d seen the article in the newspaper about the new bakery in our neighborhood where two brothers were making donuts so delicious that on their first day of business they sold out their inventory in 90 minutes!bronuts logo

So on Saturday we decided to give Bronuts a try.  The place was full and bustling but we didn’t have to wait in line. bronuts six kinds

There were six kinds of donuts for sale and we decided to try the lemon poppy seed, strawberry and peanut butter chocolate. donuts cut up

They were all delicious- light and fluffy with creamy icing.  The lemon poppy seed was my favourite. donut ingredientsThe decor at Bronuts is clean and minimilist the only real decoration these artistic renderings of the donut ingredients painted on the wall. china town twoWe bought the donuts right after going out for breakfast so we shared one and then took the rest home to eat later with evening guests. Our bronuts were great! We will be going back for more. 

Other posts…………

From the Land

Fools and Horses

Tacos The Real Meal Deal

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Filed under Food, Restaurants, Winnipeg

Cleaning Up My Neighborhood

Whiskey bottles, condoms, pill bottles, syringes, blankets, sleeping bags, shoes, socks, underwear and even a snow shovel–are just a few of the interesting things we found on Thursday when seven residents of the Exchange District showed up on a warm, sunny afternoon to help clean up Steve Juba Park and the riverbank beside it.

I was picking up trash with V, a friendly outgoing woman a little older than me, and we chatted about our families, our experiences with condo life in the Exchange and our travels. It was a great chance to get to know one of my neighbors. V says she makes it a regular part of her neighborhood walks to pick up litter. She has a real sense of ownership and responsibility for her Exchange community. “I’m just embarrassed when we get company and they see all this garbage from our condo window!”

V and I picked up hundreds of cigarette butts and when a trio of young people slid onto a park bench in an area we’d just cleaned and lit up their cigarettes, V walked up to them and said kindly, “You know what happens to the poor baby birds when they ingest cigarette butts  don’t you? They die! Birds pick up the butts to use for nest-building and then their hatchlings eat material from the butts and can be poisoned.” Suprisingly the teens listened politely and threw their butts in the garbage when they were done smoking. 

So many people walking by stopped to thank us for what we were doing. It really felt good to have our efforts recognized. Two Asian ladies who didn’t speak English very well, kept repeating with a question in their voices “Volunteer?” They seemed to find it hard to believe we would volunteer for such a task. One enthusiastic walker even gave us God’s blessing and told us we’d go to heaven for our clean up efforts. 

As I worked I thought about the people who had left all that garbage. Why would they just toss their paper bags and styrofoam cups into the bushes when there are lots of garbage cans available in the park? 


Under the pump house porch I found evidence that someone had been living there in the past. There was a foam mattress embedded in the dirt, a muddy blanket, lots of metal sardine cans, dozens of empty juice boxes and even a broken mirror. I wondered what had happened in that person’s life that forced him or her to make a temporary home on the riverbank. It was good for me to realize that people with a very different lifestyle than mine also call my neighborhood home. 

Picking up litter was certainly great exercise–all that bending and lifting and carrying full bags of trash. V and I remarked that we wouldn’t need to visit the gym the next day–we’d had our workout. We speculated as to how many calories we’d burned in our two hours of garbage detail. 


The seven of us filled up 26 bags of litter. Not bad for an afternoon’s work! I felt a real sense of accomplishment as I walked back to my condo. 

What next? There’s another clean up day scheduled on April 21st. I think I just might go again, meet some more new people, and do my part to keep my neighborhood clean. 

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Filed under New Experiences, People, Winnipeg

Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe

  “I recognize that man behind us”, I whisper to my husband as we slip into our seats on the sunny patio of the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe on Mc Dermot Avenue. “It’s columnist Dan Lett“, my husband Dave tells me. It’s clear Mr. Lett is using the news cafe as a site for a lunch hour interview. “Should I know that person with him? Is he someone famous?” I ask before we head to the restaurant counter to order our meals.The cafe is obviously a popular spot.There is hardly a chair free inside and we scan the crowd for other people we might know.  A journalist appears to be writing news copy at a table near the stage and I spot internationally recognized graphic artist, writer and design consultant Robert L. Peters at one of the tables. 

      Half the fun of eating at Canada’s first official news cafe is looking for media people who may be dining or working there. Wait a minute—I’m a media person myself. Although it has been eight years since I gave up my column in the Winnipeg Free Press to move to Hong Kong I’ve continued writing weekly for The Carillon, a southeastern Manitoba newspaper and today I’m having lunch with a fellow Carillon staffer—Terry Frey, the paper’s award-winning sports writer. Terry and his wife Audrey, also happen to be good friends of ours, and we haven’t seen them since last year when we made our annual visit to Manitoba from Hong Kong. They suggest we meet at the news cafe, within walking distance of our new home in the Exchange District.  One of the things we chat about is the change in ownership of The Carillon in February, when FP Canadian newspapers, the same company that owns the Free Press, bought Derksen Printers in Steinbach which publishes The Carillon.

The news cafe offers free copies of several Winnipeg publications and as you can see from Dave’s full arms he’s taken advantage of the opportunity to avail himself of the print material provided on the racks at the front of the restaurant.

This isn’t the first time the historic Albert or Alexandra Block has held a restaurant.  According to a Winnipeg Historical Buildings  report a Mr. Frank Mariaggi from Corsica opened a restaurant in the same spot in 1902, serving fine Italian food.  He had a farm just outside of Winnipeg where he grew the vegetables for his eating establishment. He also kept chickens and Jersey cows to supply the necessary dairy and poultry. The restaurant became very popular because it featured a Grotto in the basement with four cave-like dining rooms and a bar. In 1908 Mr. Mariaggi sold the restaurant and the luxury hotel he had also opened in the building, and moved back to Corsica. 

Apparently the building has almost the same appearance today as it did in 1901 when it was built by investors James and William Tupper, two Winnipeg corporate lawyers, who just happened to be the sons of Charles Tupper, Father of Confederation and a Canadian Prime Minister. William became Manitoba’s Lieutenant Governor in 1934. The building featured the same salmon colored brick in 1901. It came from Kettle River in northeastern Manitoba. 

But exciting as it may be to see your favorite Free Press columnist at a restaurant, and interesting as it may be to know you are dining in one of Winnipeg’s oldest buildings, the reason you go to a cafe is to eat and the Free Press News Cafe does not disappoint in this regard.  I had the vegetable tostado mentioned in Marion Warhaft’s recent review and a creamy, spicy broccoli-curry soup. 

My fellow diners, who each ordered one of the sandwiches featured on the menu agreed Marion had not been off the mark when she awarded the restaurant four stars.  

We live just a five minute walk away from the News Cafe and I know we will be back. What next? I’d like to try the breakfast menu and I notice tonight the cafe is hosting a poetry slam.  Sounds like fun!

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Filed under History, Media, New Experiences, People, Restaurants, Winnipeg