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.
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.
The Johnston terminal was once a cold storage railway warehouse. It is now home to unique boutiques, offices, a pub and a cafe.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
This post is linked to Travel Photo Mondays and