Jul 282019
 
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The Forks Market Tower and the Canopy in The Forks Market Plaza at The Forks, Winnipeg, Manitoba
A popular public space on the site of an ancient meeting place in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba offers modern-day shopping, dining, entertainment, historic attractions, and green space

The Forks, located at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is a top attraction for both tourists and locals. The multi-use space offers dining, shopping, recreation, green space, and attractions of historic and cultural significance. It attracts over four million visitors each year.

The Forks has been a meeting place for over 6,000 years. Archaeological investigations have revealed evidence of indigenous peoples’ activity thousands of years ago. The Forks was the hub of the fur trade in the 18th and 19th centuries. As grain production became the primary industry in the late 19th century, the area turned into a key railway development site. Over the last thirty years, the site has been redeveloped as a modern multi-use meeting place.

Winnipeg is my home. I believe it has a lot to offer visitors and I can easily provide a long list of things to see and do, but The Forks is the top place I recommend to all tourists regardless of their specific personal interests. Each time I visit the site, I am again struck by what a lovely spot it is.

The Johnston Terminal, The Forks Market, The Forks Market Plaza, and an outdoor patio area form the hub of shopping and dining.

Front of the Johnston Terminal building at The Forks

The Johnston Terminal was once a cold storage railway warehouse. It is now home to a restaurant, a coffee shop, and several unique shops including Wag@TheForks, a Winnipeg Art Gallery outlet selling Inuit, First Nations, and Métis art along with Manitoban and Canadian handmade works.

Brick front of the The Forks Market in Winnipeg, Manitoba
The Forks Market

The Forks Market, housed in two former adjacent stables for competing railway companies, contains shops, a fresh food emporium, restaurants and a food court. The wide variety of food choices includes Caribbean, Italian, steak, all-day breakfast, sushi, fish and chips, burgers and hot dogs, Asian, pancakes, Greek, donuts, bakery goods, and ice cream. The entire two floors of the Market are licenced. The Common offers 20 craft beer and 20 wines on tap. Shops on the second floor offer local products, crafts, and artisan pieces. There is also a branch of my favourite bookstore, McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Contemporary food hall courtyard in The Forks Market

The space between the two original buildings has been turned into an contemporary courtyard housing the Food Hall. The space features a skylight and brick walls that were once the exteriors of the stables.

Part of the food court at The Forks Market with aboriginal-style murals on brick walls
Sitting area on the second level of The Forks
Sitting area on the second level
Tower and viewing platform of The Forks Market in Winnipeg, Manitoba
A viewing platform on the six-storey high tower at The Forks Market offers views of the site and the junction of the rivers
Canopy covering the central area of the plaza area just outside The Forks Market

A large canopy is the central point of the The Forks Market Plaza just outside the Market building. Various events, from concerts to dance lessons to fitness classes, occur under the Canopy. In the winter, the Canopy becomes a skating rink. Skate rentals are available in the Market.

Picnic tables shaded by trees on the patio at The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba

The entire plaza area has been newly licensed in 2019 for alcohol consumption. You can now take the beer or wine you purchased at the Common outside with your food onto the patio area. The area includes communal tables, bistro tables, Adirondack chairs, evening lighting, and fire pits, all overlooking the river.

Chairs and bistro tables on The Forks patio overlooking the river
Dock at The Forks

During summer months, Splash Dash offers half-hour river boat tours from the dock at the Forks. They also have canoes available and run a water bus service between 5 docks in Winnipeg (when water levels aren’t too high).

In the winter, the river is home to the world’s longest naturally frozen skating trail. The River Trail is lined with unique warming huts, winners of an architectural design competition.

Treed grassy area with picnic tables at The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba

The 54 acres at The Forks contain other recreational opportunities, green spaces, picnic areas, and historic and cultural features, all easily explored via walkways throughout the site. Tandem and other novelty bikes are available for rent if you prefer to explore The Forks and surrounding areas that way.

Another walkway, the Riverwalk, winds its way along the riverbank at the edge of The Forks to the foot of the Manitoba Legislature building with interpretive plaques along the route. Note that the Riverwalk is closed when river levels rise.

 
Patio stoned area overlooking the river at The Forks
River view and information about the river and flood history

Signage throughout The Forks provides historical, cultural, and geographical information.

Signpost in front of trees at the Forks National Historic Site
History signage at The Forks National Historic Site

The Forks National Historic Site is a Parks Canada riverside park dedicated to preserving and presenting the 6,000 years of human history at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.

Parks Canada red chairs at The Forks
The iconic red chairs that are located at each Parks Canada site offer a chance to slow down, relax, and enjoy what the park has to offer
Grass and stone amphitheatre
A shallow amphitheatre, known as the Oodena Celebration Circle, pays homage to the 6,000 years of Aboriginal peoples in the area. Oodena is Ojibwe for “heart of the community.” On several days during the summer, the circle is the site of Founding Nations Pow Wows.
Indigenous art mural on the former rail bridge at The Forks in Winnipeg
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.

White stone statue surrounded by rocks
Statue honouring Manitoba’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls
Natural prairie garden at The Forks in Winnipeg
Prairie Garden
Playground
Children’s playground
Splash Park
Splash Park
Buskstop sign indicating a place at The Forks to find street performers
The Forks is a favourite haunt for buskers (street performers)

Other things you’ll find at the Forks are a skateboard park, the CN Stage and Field which is a large outdoor stage and field hosting many concerts and events, the Manitoba Children’s Museum, Inn at the Forks hotel, Manitoba Theatre for Young People, the Winnipeg Railway Museum, and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Stone wall with The Forks mission on it

Writing on a stone wall at the site says The Forks is “a special meeting place open to everyone, honouring our history and culture.” It certainly does seem to have something for everyone. It is also the site of many festivals and events. Check The Forks Events page.

Winnipeg sign with glass panes of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in the background
Located beside the CN Stage and Field, the Winnipeg sign with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in the background

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The Forks: A popular public space on the site of an ancient meeting place in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada offers modern-day shopping, dining, entertainment, historic attractions, and green space. #Winnipeg #Manitoba #Canada #Attraction

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  4 Responses to “Meet Me At The Forks In Winnipeg”

  1. Not many public places, at least in North America, have that kind of history. Would love to visit someday.

  2. Being a resident of the Winnipeg area, I also frequent the Forks and definitely make it a stop when entertaining out-of-town friends. The tower that you mentioned is a great place to take photos and to show off both the highlights of our city skyline and the beautiful blanket of green of our well-treed city.

    • Eva, it’s been a while since I’ve gone up that tower. I may have get some photos from there in my next visit.

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