Jul 122015
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The Forks

An age-old meeting place in Winnipeg, Manitoba offers dining, shopping, entertainment and other attractions in a public space rich with history

The area in the centre of Winnipeg, Manitoba at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers has been a meeting place for thousands of years. Today, the 54 acres known as The Forks is listed on the Winnipeg tourism site as one of the top 10 things to do and remains a popular meeting spot.

The Forks contain a market, unique shops, restaurants with outdoor patios, a hotel and spa, tree-lined walking paths, a skateboard park, a children’s play area the Children’s Museum, Manitoba Theatre for Young People and an outdoor stage. At the northern end is the latest addition to the Winnipeg skyline, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

The Forks skateboard park

Part of the skateboard park with a view of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in the background

The Forks Market

The Forks Market

Originally two adjacent stables for competing railway companies in the early 1900s now joined by a courtyard and bridges, the Forks Market houses a fresh food emporium, a food court with a varied choice of foods and shops selling a range of goods including crafts, jewelry, clothing, crystals, souvenirs and artwork. When you enter the building, scents of baked bread, chocolate and spices are likely to whet your appetite.

Inside The Forks Market

Inside The Forks Market

Johnston Terminal

Johnston Terminal

The Johnston terminal was once a cold storage railway warehouse. It is now home to unique boutiques, offices, a pub and a cafe.

Canopy at The Forks

Canopy at The Forks

The Forks Market Plaza between the Forks Market and the Johnston Terminal is home to a number of patio restaurants and the Canopy which serves as a performance space in the summers and is  the location of a number of events. My personal favourite is Salsa Sundays, which takes place on a few Sunday evenings in summer. People bring lawn chairs and set up around the perimeter of the canopy watch, listen and dance. The evening usually starts with dance demonstrations by professional dancers, followed by a dance lesson for the group (a different Latin dance is featured each Sunday) and then a couple of hours of live band music for listening and dancing pleasure. In the winter the space is home to an artificially cooled skating rink.

The Forks National Historic Site Park

The Forks National Historic Site Park

The Forks National Historic Site is a 9-acre riverside park operated by Parks Canada and dedicated to preserving and presenting the 6,000-year history of human presence at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.

Archaeological investigations show that aboriginal groups were active at The Forks thousands of years ago. The first Europeans arrived by canoe. In 1738, La Vérendrye, a French-Canadian explorer, erected Fort Rouge, the first of many forts and trading posts in the area. The Forks was the hub of the fur trade until the 1880s when grain production became the primary industry. Starting in 1886, the area became a key site for railroad development on the prairies, with rail yards of several competing companies dominating the site. In the 1980s, a plan to renew the area was developed. The Forks opened in 1989. Many expansions and improvements have been made over the years since then to produce the current day site.

The Forks history plaques

As you walk through The Forks park,
various plaques and signboards give you a mini-history lesson

View from The Forks Park

View across the Red River to St. Boniface, Winnipeg’s French quarter

Forks Parks Canada Playground Playground

Parks Canada Playground encourages imaginative play

Variety Heritage Adventure Playground

History theme is continued into the playground

The Forks prairie garden

Part of the Prairie Garden, which contains over 150 native species

Riverwalk closed

Pathways lead from the site to the Assiniboine Riverwalk, which passes by the Forks and continues to the foot of the Manitoba Legislature. Although the Riverwalk is open at the time of publishing this post, high water levels result in frequent closures of the walk.

The Forks Historic Rail Bridge

The Forks Historic Rail Bridge

The Forks Historic Rail Bridge allows pedestrians and cyclists to cross to the south side of the Assiniboine River. The bridge was originally built in 1888 and was abandoned for many years before being converted to its current state. It is also the optimum spot to see the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.

Red and Assiniboine Rivers junction

The Assiniboine River meets the Red River

Festival Park and Stage

Preparations at the Festival Park and Stage for an upcoming festival

The Forks dock

Dock area at The Forks

You can rent a canoe, dock your boat as you visit the Forks, or take a scenic half-hour river tour . The Forks is one of the stops along the River Spirit water bus route. In the winter, you can bring your skates or skis to the Red River Mutual Trail, the Guiness World-record holding longest naturally frozen skating trail in the world.

With so much to offer, it is no surprise The Forks remains a popular meeting spot.

The Forks Buskstop

PIN ITThe Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba has been a meeting place for thousands of years and remains one today with things to do, restaurants, shopping and green space. #Winnipeg #Manitoba #dining #touristspot

This post is linked to Travel Photo Mondays and

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  36 Responses to “Meet Me At The Forks”

  1. Not heard of The Forks! But what a gorgeous place Donna! And so much to do. The Bridge looks lie it’s calling you to come to the other side. This was fun…thanks

  2. The Forks sounds like a great place to visit. We are in Canada right now and planning a return visit next year so we might put this on our itinerary. Thanks.

    • Lyn, the Forks is one of the top tourist attractions in Winnipeg. If you do get here next year, we should arrange to meet up.

  3. This is an excellent use of waterfront and repurposing to honor the traditional meeting place. I love that it’s such a vibrant mix of activities and informative aspects. Well done, Winnipeg!

    • Betsy, I’ve visited The Forks many times, for different reasons, and knew there was a lot there, but really came to appreciate the mix of activities when I wrote this post – there just seemed to be more and more to say,

  4. I haven’t heard of The Forks and as a meeting place it looks perfect.

  5. I am a big fan of parks in the middle of a city, and The Forks seems to have it all – green spaces, market, recreation areas, museums and at the same time preserving the heritage of the site.
    Well done Winnipeg!

    • Yasha, The Forks is popular with locals and tourists alike, but sometimes we locals may take it a bit for granted. It is a unique space.

  6. History, food, greenspace—looks like The Forks offers something for everyone!

  7. What a fun tour Donna, thanks for taking me on a first visit to this area, it really is lovely and the water views and clouds make it really perfect.

  8. As much as I’ve become a real sissy about the cold I would love to try that frozen skating trail! Very interesting – I’ve never read about Winnipeg before and it looks charming.

    • Kay, I’ve taken to spending the winters someplace warmer so I haven’t done the skating trail either. I would like to. The last couple of years they’ve had architectural competitions for the warming huts along the trail. There have been some interesting and unusual huts set up.

  9. Hi Donna,
    So inviting. Wouldn’t it be fun to all meet at the Forks! Absolutely charming.

  10. Hi Donna. This looks like a great place to spend the day. I love that view of the river. I was in Winnipeg back in the early 90s. I was working a conference, so didn’t have a lot of time to sight see. One of these days maybe I’ll get back.

    • Nancie – The Forks is much different now than it was in the early 1990s. Development into what it is now had just started at that point.

  11. The Forks looks like a great area! Nice to see they are accommodating all age groups with something for everyone. The Salsa dance lessons sound like a fun night out.

  12. There seems to be a lot to do at the Forks.To think many describe Winnipeg so differently. And, as usual,you carefully presented all the details!

  13. Great tour Donna. What comprehensive use they’ve made of the space at The Forks. Literally something for everyone. I love to see old historical buildings converted to new use, and I love that you’ve shared that history with us. I’m learning through your posts that Winnipeg offers a lot to see!

  14. Very pretty spot! And it is soooo green. It’s great to have a window into northern hemisphere places where it’s summer, while we’re in the depths of winter here in Melbourne, Australia!

  15. I like The Forks. Have never seen this historic site, but just from your pictures and description I’d like to visit it. It seems it has a little of everything. Thank you for sharing this post and thank you for joining us for The Weekly Postcard.

  16. The Forks looks lovely, the historic site park seems like the perfect place to relax. Your photos are beautiful! 🙂

    • Thanks Vlad. You’re right about relaxing – even with all the activities one can find at the Forks, it does feel relaxed.

  17. What a beautiful place to explore – the playground would be the first place our boys would drag us to! Love looking over the river along the walkways, thanks for sharing “The Forks”

    • When I see that playground, I wish either I was still a kid or my daughter was young again to bring her to it.

  18. The Forks looks like a great place to visit–such a variety of things to do.

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