A version of this post was first published on the Travel Manitoba website.
Winnipeg’s Exchange District oozes historic charm with its turn-of-the-20th-century warehouse buildings. Throughout the year, this is the place to be thanks to its independent boutiques, cafés, galleries, and summer festivals such as the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival and Jazz Winnipeg festival.
Design Quarter Winnipeg has taken the very best of the Exchange District (and parts of downtown) and compiled them into a curated, self-guided walking tour. Consult their map and plan yourself a route to take in the best of Winnipeg’s design-focused businesses.
Shopping the Design Quarter means picking up locally-made handicrafts or trendy fashion and home décor not found in mainstream shopping malls. Head to the hidden third floor loft of Winnipeg Makers and Market at 290 McDermott Avenue where a handful of Winnipeg’s top artisans share studio space inside this historic warehouse. There pick up macramé and handmade pottery from Mud + Stone or hand sewn men’s shirts from Commonwealth Manufacturing. Be sure to pop over to Tiny Feast for a curated selection of stationary items and then to Hut K for designer furniture.
The Exchange District boasts the highest concentration of galleries in Winnipeg, and art lovers can spend an afternoon wandering through the mix of talent found on these walls. Cre8ery dubs itself a ‘creative space for creative people’ and offers a wide array of shows including classes and workshops. Head to Martha Street Studio for art focused on printmaking, while Ace Art Inc. offers an artist run space of contemporary art. Urban Shaman is an Indigenous-owned and operated gallery and is considered a leader in promoting Indigenous art in Canada.
For those with a penchant for style, the Design Quarter highlights leading Winnipeg designers. Head to Hilary Druxman where handcrafted jewellery combines high style with easy wear. Lennard Taylor offers a high-fashion line of men’s and women’s clothing made with crisp lines and luxury fabric sewn right in the back of his store, while Boutique Anya carries ready-to-wear fashion focused on minimalist design.
After exploring the shops and galleries of Design Quarter Winnipeg, take a break to whet your whistle. For a coffee fix, head to Forth for a turmeric latte or to Parlour Coffee for a pour over – this tiny spot is the one that started the city’s hipster coffee movement. The Common at The Forks Market serves a variety of craft beer and wine – be sure to order one of their tasting flights served on a wooden tray shaped like Manitoba. Cibo Waterfront Cafe provides stunning views of the Red River as you sip your martini, while Little Brown Jug is a noteworthy addition to the city’s craft beer movement.
Winnipeg’s food scene is top-notch, and many of the best places to nosh can be found in the Design Quarter. Clementine Cafe is the city’s most talked about restaurant, serving creative brunch dishes that can’t be found on any other menu. For diners with a conscious, visit at Era Bistro inside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights where everything on the menu is local, sustainable, or fair trade. For casual eats like hand-crafted, slow-roasted meat sandwiches, check out King + Bannatyne and Miss Browns.