To this day, I often wonder if my best guy friend, Bryan, was under the influence when he asked me to be a "groomslady" in his Winnipeg wedding. I answered his request with, "You know I'm pregnant and due 4 weeks before your wedding, right?" Somehow, he didn't take my response as a "no."
7 months later, I found myself in Winnipeg with a designer groomslady dress and a baby on the hip. My Winnipeg experience as a brand new mom attending many manly events for 4 days taught me some incredibly important life lessons: Winnipeg beer stores are terrifying, Greta Constantine dresses are forgiving and bachelor parties are absolutely amazing.
In between all of the wedding fun, I did have the chance to check out Manitoba's capital. Pam, Bryan's beautiful bride-to-be (now wife!) and Winnipeg native offered me some amazing recommendations on how to make the most of my time in her hometown. Pam is also the owner of Pam and Paper, where she designs prints, stationary, invitations and tote bags (Pictured below) to name a few. You can also see more of her work on Instagram @PamandPaper
I was able to explore Pam's city, with Pam's recommendations while carrying Pam's tote bag! Is it clear that I love Pam? There's more on Pam and Paper's wedding products in Winnipeg, Part 2. For now, enjoy this list, inspired by, you guessed it, Pam.
things to do in winnipeg
1. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights: This museum is located at 85 Asper Way and is open from 10AM-5PM on most days (Adult admission costs $18). My visit was incredibly engaging, inspiring and educational. The museum is "dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. [It's] aim is to build not only a national hub for human rights learning and discovery, but a new era of global human rights leadership."
Each floor of the museum connects the visitor to a human right issue: "Indigenous Perspectives", "Protecting Rights in Canada" and "Examining the Holocaust" are some exhibits I found especially moving. The final floor of the museum showcases the exhibit "Inspiring Change" and it shares the inspiring stories of activists such as Craig and Mark Kielburger and Malala Yousafzai. Although many exhibits bring great injustices to light, visitors leave feeling optimistic, hopeful and inspired to make a positive change in the world.
I also enjoyed how accessible the museum was. I toured it with a stroller and was able to use gradually rising, circular ramps to visit each floor, gallery and exhibit. I did not have to get into an elevator from floors 1-7. The only time I used the elevator was to check out the tower at the very top for a beautiful view of Winnipeg. I highly recommend taking the time to make stop at this museum.
2. The Forks: Located in downtown Winnipeg on 1 Forks Market Road, The Forks is the #1 tourist destination. Pam explains that The Forks "Served as a meeting place for our first Aboriginal peoples, the fur trade, and the landing of European settlers. Today it hosts a range of markets, restaurants, and museums on the banks of Winnipeg's two rivers." It was the first stop I made after landing in Winnipeg and I had a wonderful afternoon taking in the beautiful views while visiting the shops, waterfront and stopping for lunch at the market.
3. Winnipeg Art Gallery: Also located right downtown on 300 Memorial Boulevard, this gallery showcases an extensive collection of Canadian pieces and holds impressive collections in decorative, photography and Inuit art. The museum opens at 11AM (Closed Mondays) and adult admission is $10.
4. The Exchange District: This District is a hip and vibrant area which spans 20 blocks and is packed with shops, restaurants, galleries, theaters and attractions. "The approximate boundaries are Adelaide Street, Ross Avenue, Notre Dame Avenue and Main Street for the west Exchange. The east Exchange area is located between the Disraeli Bridge, Waterfront Drive, William Stephenson Way and Main Street" (Tourism Winnipeg).
If you only have time for a quick bite and shop, Pam recommends Deer + Almond (A restaurant which specializes in homestyle cooking); Tiny Feast (a stationary and gift store); Kit and Ace (Canadian apparel) and Hilary Druxman ( unique, hand crafted jewelry). If you have more time, the area also provides walking tours and attractions such as the Historic Exchange, Old Market Square, the Cube and the waterfront.
5. Thermea Spa: The night before her wedding, Pam and her bridal party visited this Nordic outdoor spa. The spa offers thermal treatments, massages, and body treatments and is located beside the Crescent Drive golf course. If you are interested in some relaxation while surrounded by nature, check out their detailed services and rates here.
6. The Fort Garry Hotel: If you don't stay here, this hotel is worth a visit. It was built in 1913 and designated as a National Historic Site of Canada. The architecture and decor of this Winnipeg landmark is stunning both inside and out. It is also said to be haunted and there is a spooky story about an old guest who stayed in room 202...You'll have to google it, I'm actually too scared to write about it.
I was able to visit this hotel regularly as Bryan, the groom was staying here. This hotel often acted as the meeting place for all of the manly events I previously mentioned attending. Luckily, this venue allowed me ghost hunt when I grew tired of watching the men swear, talk about sports, fight with their tuxedos, boutineers or each other. If you're looking for an excuse to pop in or search for ghosts, The Palm Lounge is open to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as for live music nightly.
7. Fort Gibraltar is located at 866 St. Joseph Street and offers visitors a history of the Red River valley from 1815-1821. It's purpose is to have visitors not only witness "the importance of the fur trade as an economic development factor in Manitoba’s history, but also the lifestyle of the settlement and the roles played by the Metis, the settlers, the explorers, the Aboriginal peoples, the companies and of course, the Voyageurs" (Fort Gibraltar 2016). In the summer, Fort Gibraltar offers 2 hour tours with actors playing characters from 1815. Adult admission is $8 and parking is free.
This historic landmark is the location Bryan and Pam chose for their beautiful wedding. More on Fort Gibraltar in Winnipeg, Part 2- this post will talk all things wedding and my experience as a groomslady attending all of those manly events.