Architecture, City & Politics, Design & Style, History

Doors are open this weekend in Winnipeg

This weekend, over 80 buildings and sites will open their doors to the public as Heritage Winnipeg presents the 10th annual Doors Open Winnipeg.

The city-wide event features buildings in Downtown, the Exchange District, St. Boniface, St. James, the North End, St. Norbert, Transcona, St. Vital and West Kildonan.

There are 13 new sites this year and I’ve highlighted five central-ish locations that are worth exploring.

Notable new sites:

Paterson GlobalFoods Institute (Former Union Bank Tower) – 1904, reopened in 2013

504 Main Street


Western Canada’s first skyscraper sat vacant for 18 years before being renovated and repurposed as the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute of Red River College in 2013. Initially built for the Union Bank of Canada, the Royal Bank of Canada operated out of the building until 1992 before moving the branch to James Avenue at Main Street. This Chicago Style skyscraper underwent a $34 million restoration and reopened in January 2013 as the new home of RRC’s Culinary Arts, Hospitality and Tourism Management program. Paterson GlobalFoods Institute now houses two restaurants on the first three floors including Jane’s, an upscale restaurant in the renovated main banking hall, student residences and a rooftop patio and garden.

Paterson GlobalFoods Institute is open Saturday with timed tours only: 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.


Stovel Building – 1893

245 McDermot Avenue


Originally built in the Romanesque Revival style as a two-storey warehouse for the printing and publishing firm of Stovel Company in 1893, two more floors were added in 1900 when the company outgrew its space. After a fire gutted the building in 1916, the building housed several textile supply companies until it was sold to Kay’s Limited in 1940. Founded by Hyman Kay in 1905, Kay’s grew into one of Western Canada’s largest dry goods firms and Kay became an important figure in the Winnipeg community, eventually playing a large role in the construction of Shaarey Zedek Synagogue (also featured in Doors Open Winnipeg).

The Stovel Building is open Sunday only, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


St. Mary’s Cathedral – 1881

353 St. Mary Avenue


St. Mary’s Cathedral was also built in the Romanesque Revival style and was completed in 1881. In 1896 the church was updated by Samuel Hooper, a stonemason and architect from England who eventually became the Provincial Architect of Manitoba. The church was designated a cathedral in 1918 after Pope Benedict XV created the Archdiocese of Winnipeg. The cathedral is also noted for its stained glass windows, installed in 1951, which tell a theological narrative.

St. Mary’s Cathedral is open Saturday only, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.


St. John’s-Ravenscourt School  – 1914 (present location)

400 South Drive


St. John’s-Ravenscourt School traces its history back to 1820 but in 1934, SJR’s headmaster, Norman Young, convinced the school to purchase the Jacobethan style Thomson House (1914, above) and convert it into a school. Over the years, SJR added many buildings including the Richardson Gymnasium (1937), Dutton Memorial Arena (1967) and most recently, the SJRPA Music & Arts Studio (2004).

St. John’s-Ravenscourt School is open Sunday only, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Fox and Fiddle Restaurant & Pub (Former Bank of Toronto Building) – 1905

456 Main Street

Located in the area once known as “Bankers’ Row”, the former site of the Bank of Toronto in Winnipeg came relatively late to “the Row”, as it may have been affectionally called. The building boasted Winnipeg’s first marble facade, oak-finished offices and the interior banking hall rose 15 feet with paneled walls and columns of polished white Italian marble. Throughout the years, the building has hosted a credit union, a library, an art gallery and now, a fiddle-playing fox who serves drinks.

Fox and Fiddle Restaurant & Pub is open Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Visit the Doors Open Winnipeg homepage here for a full list of open buildings and times.

Palmer does the social media for Spectator Tribune and his own Twitter account, too!