Beginning of an 800-word articles which ends with 'Time to Spare' recommendations


Winnipeg - The community that grew up around the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers is getting serious about its roots - and where else is better than in an area designated The Forks National Historic Park, the traditional meeting place of aboriginal people thousands of years ago, and the centre of European trade and settlement since the 1700s.

Now The Forks is important again, this time for its Wall Through Time exhibit portraying the city's past, and for the festivals held here. Former railway buildings house a two-storey market - a bright and lively place with boutiques, artists and craftspeople showing their work, restaurants and produce stalls. Picnic supplies, along with seating indoors and out, provide a nice alternative to a restaurant lunch.

A short walk from The Forks, in the shadow of the Fort Garry Hotel, you can see an old stone arch from Upper Fort Garry, last of the fortified fur trading posts around which the settlement grew. As the fur industry declined, the city's centre shifted to nearby commercial establishments located at the crossroads of two major fur trails, reputed to be the windiest corner in all of Canada.


The Portage Avenue and Main Street area is still the hub of commerce in the city, but wintry winds are cheated somewhat these days by climate-controlled walkways between office towers and shopping complexes. This downtown core has 50 buildings of historic note. For a glimpse into the Winnipeg of the 1920s, the Museum of Man & Nature in Main Street's Centennial Centre has a superb re-creation of its Boomtown era.

Thick red mud on the river banks, once such a trial to settlers, has given way to delightful city parks. Deservedly popular is Kildonan Park on the Red River, a shaded oasis off Main Street and site of an outdoor theatre staging musicals in summer. Another is Assiniboine Park, 375 acres (152 ha) of rolling woods, manicured lawns, an English garden and conservatory - and cricket matches. The park's zoo is a cut above most, with 1,200 animals, both native species and rare exotics.

Park land around the Legislative Building is all the more attractive for its sculpted figures important to city history.

FOR MORE INFORMATION contact Tourism Winnipeg, 279 Portage Ave, Winnipeg. MB R3B 2B4, tel (204) 943-1970 or 1-800-665-0204 or