The Exchange District (The Exchange) is a National Historic site in downtown Winnipeg. This bustling neighbourhood is only twenty city blocks and was originally founded in 1881. The area has so much to offer and according to the Exchange District Plan 2022, the boundaries of this community might well extend in the future, bringing even more opportunities to the residents in the area. The Exchange is home to one of the campuses of Red River College Polytechnic as well as other post-secondary institutions. As a result, there are a wide range of restaurants, coffee houses and boutique stores to entertain locals and students coming from different areas of the city. The neighbourhood is often called “the Arts and Cultural District” as it is home to many festivals and cultural events.
Construction in the area started in the 1880’s. You will see a stunning parade of early 20th Century architecture mixed amongst a few buildings that were built in the 21st Century. The majority of the residences within the area are either condominiums or rental units in high-rise apartment-style buildings with some smaller, more boutique-style structures in-between. Loft style apartments are some of the neighbourhoods most sought after real estate. The Ashdown Warehouse is a sought after building in the area, it, being a historic building, a lot of the original architecture has been preserved but with modern touches and amenities added creating a big city feel in the heart of our city. A lot of the residential buildings are found along Waterfront Drive, with beautiful views of the winding Red River and the Provencher Bridge. There are no single detached homes within the borders.
The Exchange District is within the Winnipeg School Division but all public-school catchments are located beyond the borders for the area. Although the neighbourhood is only 20 square blocks, your child’s school may vary based on your address.
Children living on the East side of Main Street will start their learning at Norquay School, which is a Nursery to Grade Six English Elementary School in North Point Douglas. Ecole Victoria – Albert School offers Nursery to Grade Six English Programming for students living on the South side of Main Street.
Learners from both schools will follow their middle years at Hugh John MacDonald School in West Alexander. Their English high school option is Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute in the West End.
Students in the area also qualify to attend Wolseley School which is an Elementary Alternative School.
If your child wishes to be on the French Dual track, their elementary option is Ecole Victoria – Albert School from Kindergarten to Grade Six. They would then follow their studies at Ecole Stanley Knowles School and finish their high school academics at Ecole Secondaire Sisler High School.
The Winnipeg School Division also offers French milieu alternative for students living in the Exchange District. Ecole Sacre-Coeur offers programming from Nursery to Grade Eight. Their high school option is College Churchill High School.
The Exchange District is home to two postsecondary campuses and there are several just beyond its borders.
Red River College Polytechnic Exchange District has three main buildings in the neighbourhood: The Roblin Centre, Paterson GlobalFoods Institute, and Manitu a bi Bii daziigae. The Roblin Centre provides programs in business, IT, and creative arts and also includes a library and fitness centre. Hospitality and culinary arts classes are at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. The upper level of this building also offers residences for students. Manitou a bi Bii daziigae is the new expansion of the Exchange District Campus. The building was designed with community and indigenous culture in mind. The building houses new classrooms, meeting spaces, the Applied Computer Education Project Space, and the Language Training Centre. Along the new building, the College also constructed a greenspace and pedestrian plaza. The Elgin Avenue Plaza has power outlets for entertainment and food trucks, recreational areas and seating areas, ideal for study or for an enjoyable lunch.
Willis College is a private college for business, technology and healthcare. The Winnipeg Campus is the former PrairieView School of Photography. This expansion allowed Willis College to offer further programs in business, health, technology and create the Faculty of Design and Photography.
Robertson College Winnipeg Campus is just on the border of the area. The College offers diploma programs, online micro-courses as well as international programs in health, business, technology and community services. The classes are provided in-person or online, or you can attend hybrid courses that blend the two options into one.
CHN College Inc is a private vocational institution and has two campuses in the surrounding areas. This institute provides healthcare programs for Immigrants and Canadians.
CDI College is within walking distance from The Exchange and offers courses in business, healthcare, dental, legal and technology. The college operates under the Private Vocational Institutions of the National Association of Career Colleges, Manitoba Branch.
The University of Manitoba Bannatyne Campus and the University of Winnipeg are both also a short commute from the neighbourhood.
The University of Manitoba Campus adjoins the Health Sciences Centre, which is the closest hospital and also Manitoba’s largest health-care facility.
Saint Boniface Hospital is conveniently close too. It is a quick drive over the Provencher Bridge. Both the Health Sciences Centre and Saint Boniface Hospital are known as the teaching hospitals in Winnipeg, where many Medical Students in residence begin their training.
Misericordia Health Centre is not far away either, it is approximately a ten-minute drive from the area.
The Exchange District does not have big box stores, or large retailers but is home to more than 40 unique shops and countless cafes and restaurants.
The Downtown Winnipeg Farmers’ Market is located at City Place during the winter months. You can visit the market from October to May on every second Thursday. From June to September the Market moves outdoors with extended hours at Manitoba Hydro Place. Check for market dates at the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ website.
Mottola Grocery can be found in Hargrave Street Market. It is the first epicurean grocery store in Winnipeg.
For additional shopping opportunities and for more variety, plan to drive about 15 minutes on Sargent or Ellice Avenue to reach Polo Park, Polo Park North, Plaza at Polo Park and St James Station. This area offers stores like Save-on-Foods, Walmart, The Real Canadian Superstore, Costco, Canadian Tire, The Home Depot, HomeSense and Winners, Marshall’s, Marks, The Brick, Hudson Bay and many more.
Walking along the cobblestone streets of the Exchange District, you can explore a wide selection of one-of-a-kind locally owned boutique stores, such as Vantage Vintage Boutique, Clothing Bakery, Haberdashery Guys & Girls and a hat and accessories shop. One of our favourites in the area is Toad Hall Toys, which is Manitoba’s oldest toy store!
The Exchange District has one large greenspace, Stephen Juba Park. This park offers beautiful Red River views. The Trans-Canada Trail runs through the park connecting it to other green spaces and landmarks, such as Fort Douglas Park, the Human Right Museum and the Forks. Well worth the walk!
Chinese Gardens is a smaller area located in China Town. It has water features, a little walking bridge and a beautiful array of flowers in the summer.
Additional green spaces close to the community are Tache Promenade, Parc Joseph Royal, Parc Elzear Goulet Park and Whittier Park in St Boniface. Whittier Park is home to Fort Gibraltar, soccer and baseball fields and it hosts Winnipeg’s biggest Winter Festival, Festival du Voyageur in February. Whittier Park also has walking paths that connect to Lagimodière-Gaboury Park. This park is known for its mountain bike trails and river views.
Central Park is outside of the area but still in the downtown area. It features a soccer field, a playground, public washrooms, a skating rink in the winter and a splash pad in the summer.
The Exchange District is also part of the Central Winnipeg Bike Loop, a 10 km bike-friendly path that guides you through parks, landmarks and allows you to stop and explore local businesses with most offering convenient bike racks. Without stopping, this loop can be completed in about 45 minutes.
The Loop Walking Trail is a self-guided trail that connects The Exchange to downtown and Old St Boniface. It is approximately 9.5 km and highlights Winnipeg most iconic landmarks such as the Canadian Human Rights Museum, Saint Boniface Cathedral, the Esplanade Riel Footbridge and Old Market Square. Old Market Square is the focal point of the community. At the centre of the Square is the Cube, an outdoor stage that host festivals like the Winnipeg Fringe Festival or the Winnipeg International Jazz Festival. The Old Market Square Rink is busy with skaters in the winter and is adorned with colorful, changing lights.
The Exchange is also home to the new winter festival, Lights on the Exchange, that features sculptures, contemporary installations and projections that showcase a reimagined history of the area.
The Exchange Event Centre is an event and live music venue, hosting concerts all year-round.
Looking for more cultural activities and festivals? The neighbourhood and surrounding areas boast galleries, theaters and sport and entertainment venues.
Burton Cummings Theatre is an event venue for performing arts. It hosts events for all ages and it organizes the Winnipeg Comedy Festival.
Rachel Brownie Theatre is home to the Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. The Theatre is also rentable for musicals, dance events and rehearsals.
Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre is the oldest English – language regional theatre in Canada and has two locations in the city. The John Hirsch Main stage has a 785-seat auditorium and is located on Market Avenue. The Tom Hendry Warehouse is a 286-seat theatre and can be accessed from Rupert Avenue.
Centennial Concert Hall is located at 555 Main Street. It his home to the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra but hosts many concerts, convocations, local dance school recitals, performing arts by the Manitoba Opera and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet just to name a few. The Concert Hall puts on the Winnipeg New Music Festival featuring world and Canadian premieres and up-and-coming composers.
Royal Winnipeg Ballet is the oldest ballet company in Canada. The school located on Graham Avenue has the RWB Founders' Studio that hosts many performances. Several shows can be seen at the Royal Manitoba Theatre, at the Centennial Concert Hall or at the Manitoba Theatre for Young People by the Forks.
Manitoba’s largest, non-profit centre for heritage and science education is the Manitoba Museum. It is a human and nature museum located on Rupert Avenue. The Museum consists of interpretive galleries, three-dimensional walk-through galleries, the Science Gallery and the Planetarium Theatre.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a bit further from the Exchange but is a walkable distance. It is a world-renowned visual art museum. In 2021 the museum extended with Quaumajug, which is the world’s largest contemporary Inuit art collection. The new building adjoins to the Art Gallery on all level.
Fort Garry Hotel is home for Yuk Yuk’s, the International Stand-Up Comedy. Definitely worth the visit if you enjoy a good laugh. If you like music, you can catch jazz concerts every Sunday at the Hotel’s Club Room. This iconic building also consists of a spa that is open to the public. Ten Spa is located in the penthouse and has a wide variety of services to offer like hamam rituals, massage, facials, body therapy and more.
Just a stone’s throw away from the neighbourhood is The Forks, another hot spot in the city. The Forks offers countless events, festivals, restaurants, specialty boutiques all year-round. In the winter months the Forks has the Arctic Glacier Winter Park that offers skating trails along the river and skating rinks under the canopy in front of the CN Stage. The Forks Port Rink is located on the Red River and is an easy access point to Winnipeg largest skating trail, the Nestaweya River Trail. This six-kilometer-long trail stretches along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers and consists of small skating rinks and warming huts along the way. There are many ways to explore the trail. You can skate, fat bike, ice bike, kicksled, cross-country ski, snowshoe, skate or just walk along the frozen river. In the summer the Port is a docking area for canoes, boats and water taxis.
Adjacent to the Forks is Johnston Terminal, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Childrens Museum.
Millenium Library is located between Donald and Graham Street and is the main library for the Winnipeg Public Library System.
Would you prefer a live sporting event? The Exchange District is only steps away from two of the city largest sport and entertainment venues. Shaw Park is home to the Winnipeg Goldeyes, the city’s minor-league baseball team. If you are a hockey fan, the Canada Life Centre is your place to go to catch either an NHL game with the Winnipeg Jets, or a more affordable AHL game with the Manitoba Moose. BOTH teams tend to put on excellent performances!
Want to play a sport yourself? The Winnipeg Winter Club has a variety of sports to choose from some of which include, tennis, swimming, hockey, badminton, squash and more. Membership is required for most of the leagues.
The Exchange also offers fitness centres within or nearby its borders. The Sport Manitoba Fitness Centre offers a 160 meter indoor three-lane track, fitness, yoga and spin classes, personal training and plenty more. The facility houses the Sport Manitoba Clinic as well. The Community Gym is located at 468 Main Street. It provides six different classes such as, boxing workout, strength training, spin class, rowing, yoga and a movement and mobility workout. GoodLife Fitness is situated at Winnipeg Square providing a variety of training and workout equipment.
The Exchange District has more than 50 locally-owned cafes, restaurants, bars and breweries. It is often called “the patio capital of Winnipeg”, as it consists of more than 20 patios to enjoy in the summer. Many of these restaurants participate in annual events such as La Poutine Week or Le Burger Week, among other fun challenges.
Let’s see some of the local favorites!
King’s Head Pub is a popular option in the neighborhood. It offers a wide variety of food and drinks as well as live entertainment.
Across the Board Game Café is a fun place to spend some time with your friends. You can choose from more than 1600 games to play while you are enjoying your meal and company.
Are you craving sweets? Cakeology will have something delicious for you from their everyday specials to custom requests.
Miss Browns is a hot press sandwich place with a small patio to enjoy a quick lunchbreak.
Saddlery on Market is a rustic restaurant, a great place to have great food.
Clementine offers brunch specialties, hot and cold beverages. We eat here whenever we have the chance – the food is delicious!
Cordova Tapas and Wine is a great choice for an evening out. They provide a variety of Wines and Cocktails with a selection of Tapas.
The Amsterdam Tea Room is a unique cocktail bar serving specialty tea-based cocktails.
Want to try something international? Chosabi is an Asian restaurant, Peasant Cookery is a French-inspired homestyle cuisine, Bahay Kubo brings you Filippino specialties. Blufish is a Japanese Sushi place, Carnaval serves you with Brazilian barbeque, Daanook introduce you to the Syrian gastronomy and Corrientes have Argentine Pizza on the menu. So many great options to choose from!
The Exchange District is full of life. Everything is less than ten-minute walk away on the tree-lined streets. You have plenty of on and off-street parking options if you are visiting from outside of the area. It is also one of the most connected areas in the city, with major transit routes mostly meeting here. Whether you are local, or a student, The Exchange offers a variety of experiences too – whether it be culinary, socializing, or exploring!
"I think the Exchange is a really unique spot in Winnipeg.It is really. It reminds me a lot of those, typical super urban city centers, and I think it just has so much to offer. It's just so cute. Lots of cool shops, awesome architecture and lovely people. I work down here. I haven't spent much time down here, too much in my off time, but working down here is such a lovely place to come and it makes me want to come back more in my off time. To come see things like at the stage here and whatever else.There's always cute artistic things going on and all sorts of stuff. You can pick up a pamphlet in any one of these coffee shops and there's so many things that we wouldn't know about otherwise as Winnipeggers. So big fan of the Exchange."
"I've been here for like, a year and a half. I've been going to school here for, like a year, you know. The Exchange District is a nice area of a lot of restaurants. There is a lot of activities, especially during the summertime. I mean, you can meet new people. You can interact with other people besides people, you know. [...] It's a nice it's a nice area. Overall, I've been enjoying myself since I've been here and it's like a relaxing place for me."
"So I think it has like history connected to it. Like you can look at all the buildings, lots of buildings dated back to the 1800’ s, early 1920’s. I think is more of history, interconnection of history and the modern day world. [...] Look at the architecture of the Cube, look at the buildings. It's always like a surprise when you see all those old architecture and you open the door and you see like modern interiors inside, right? And I think it's also a cool place to hang out, just sit down with friends and eat as well."
" It's a nice communal area. The architecture is really nice, and it's a great place to be outside during the summer. And a lot of walkable places to be."
" For me, the Exchange District it's just growing up, it was always an area of connection and stuff like that because the Fringe Festival happens here, Jazz Festival. There's always street performers going on in this area. I grew up around here. It was nice. Now I actually just work a little few streets over and it's a nice place to just kind of relax before I have to go in and honestly, I hope more people can find that joy in this place. "
"What I like about the Exchange District is that it is a hub for artistry and creative people. We all kinda gather here. We've got the School of Contemporary Dancers, Video Pool, Cre8tery, all kinds of spaces that kind of create this really artistic hub in the center of downtown Winnipeg. And it's always such an interesting spot. Definitely check out First Fridays, because this place turns into just a creative hub for excitement."
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