Located just north of Portage and Main, the 20-block Exchange District National Historic Site encompasses over 130 historical buildings that display an innovative and functional approach to architecture. Massive cut-stone terracotta and brick warehouses, elegant skyscrapers and covered alleyways recall the period when Winnipeg was a large commercial centre, and the “Gateway to the West”.
In 1905, Winnipeg was the fastest growing city of its size in North America. As the city flourished, the Exchange became home to dozens of financial institutions, warehouses and manufacturing empires.
After experiencing a boom period between the 1880s and 1920s, World War I and the Great Depression left the district to age virtually intact. Over a century later, against a backdrop that never changes, The Exchange is in the midst of a renaissance; where locals have converged to curate one of the most dynamic and unique cultural experiences. Today, The Exchange is a vibrant community known for its specialty boutiques, antique shops, restaurants and pulsing culture.
With over 500 businesses, nothing here is more exciting than the burgeoning creative scene which includes film, art, culinary arts, design, digital innovation and more. What was built on the tradition of industrious creativity, the Exchange has become home to world-class businesses that have attracted the attention of the globe. With exquisite cuisine, the finest taste in design and innovative digital technology; nothing here is pre-fabricated, as no two businesses are the same.
While the Exchange is quickly becoming a culinary destination with recent additions including Deer + Almond, Cibo Waterfront Café and King and Bannatyne the Sandwich Shop on the Corner; even the boutiques, shops and galleries pride themselves on sharing ideas and style that are hand-picked and selected with a specific artistry.
Once known as Newspaper Row, McDermot Avenue West of Main Street used to be an iconic spot where Winnipeggers gathered to learn the news of the sinking of the Titanic, and onset of the Great War. Today, McDermot is littered with over 10 boutique shops like Tiny Feast, Paperdoll Clothing and world-renowned Hilary Druxman Jewellery. Without a doubt, creativity was born and bred here.
Even though a pulse is beating year round behind the historic walls, it is truly the summer season when everyone comes to play. Festivals, concerts, walking tours and so much more enliven the streets and bring people out of the woodwork to celebrate.
Every year, Old Market Square transforms into The Exchange hub. The Cube Stage in Old Market Square plays hosts to world renowned festivals including the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival, Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival and Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition.
These festivals and events attract visitors from all over the City, but they are also a great meeting point for residents, of which the Exchange has about 800. With recent and ongoing developments, it is estimated the Exchange will be home to over 1,600 residents by 2017.
The Exchange truly is the place to be. As the renaissance continues, the BIZ invites you to explore and enjoy all it has to offer. We are an all-season district, with events, creativity and connection happening year round. For more information on the district, its businesses and events, visit http://www.exchangedistrict.org.
Stephanie Scherbain is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Exchange District Biz.