President & CEO's Message

July 2014

A message from Marina R. James, President & CEO, Economic Development Winnipeg Inc.


Walk ‘The Loop’ with Us on July 31

Summer is in full bloom here once again, and with it comes a sense of renewal and energy that enlivens a desire to get out and experience Winnipeg in new and exciting ways. This season, I’ve been especially preoccupied with our city’s amazing architecture, both old and new, and I’ve also been inspired by Winnipeggers who have joined with EDW and its strategic partners to promote healthy living across all corners of Winnipeg in some very novel ways.

Truth be told, I don’t even have to exit EDW’s offices to experience our incredible architectural legacy, since we’re located in the historically evocative Paris Building in downtown Winnipeg. Completed in 1917 at a cost of $330,000—just a little more than Winnipeg’s current average house price—the Paris Building was one of several office towers that helped shift business interests away from Main Street in the early 20th century.

Aside from incidental renovations, the building largely retains its original appearance, as designed by Winnipeg-based architects John Woodman and Raymond Carey. The building is now a municipally designated historic site and was acknowledged with Heritage Winnipeg Preservation Awards in 1988 and 2004. Terra cotta wraps this elegant 11-storey skyscraper, and its graceful design and magnificent detail prompted local architect, architectural historian and educator William Paul Thompson to write that it was at one time “the most elegantly clothed of the steel-frame skyscrapers in the city.”

But enough about EDW’s little corner of Winnipeg. It’s no exaggeration to say that this city is perhaps one of Canada’s best examples of how a city’s built environment infuses its inhabitants with a sense of wonder, creativity and promise. Where you live says a lot about who you are, and those of us who live in Winnipeg seem to intuitively appreciate everything we see around us in a way that makes us want to celebrate our storied past while striving for something more. The juxtaposition of the modern masterpiece, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, with its adjacent turn-of-the-century treasures and a communal gathering place that boasts a 6,000-year history, is the perfect example of this ethos.

If you aren’t as familiar with Winnipeg architecture as you’d like to be, or if you’d just like to join your coworkers and other workplaces in a healthy way to pass an afternoon, please consider joining me and my staff as we explore ‘The Loop’ on July 31. Commencing at 1 p.m. from our starting point—the atrium at The Forks—all participants will engage in a purpose-filled foray into Winnipeg’s past and present that I’m certain will invigorate you in both body and soul.

The Loop is a 9.5-kilometre 3.5-hour circuit that lets walkers explore urban Winnipeg’s historic, cultural, architectural and modern-day gems. Starting off at The Forks, The Loop crosses Esplanade Riel and winds through some of St. Boniface’s oldest sites. Then it loops back on Provencher Boulevard, goes over the bridge, heads down Waterfront Drive through the Exchange District National Historic Site, and moves up Portage Avenue along the burgeoning Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District. After that, it veers left at Memorial Boulevard toward the Manitoba Legislative Building, and finally traverses Assiniboine Avenue and Broadway before concluding at Union Station back at The Forks.

I’m sure you’ll come away with a fresh new perspective on our city—where it’s been, its current progression and where it’s going. And whether you join us for the full circuit or just part of it, you’ll get an opportunity to move and groove a bit to Winnipeg’s inimitable vibe with like-minded enthusiasts.

At its heart, innovative architecture allows communities of people—workers, dreamers, recreationists, intellectuals and hosts of others—to converge on a place and stake their own unique claim there, just as the building itself does. As Winnipeggers, we’re fortunate to have always been populated by people and places that have pushed the boundaries of what’s possible for a once-isolated outpost in the middle of nowhere. Today, a similar sense of self-reliance and self-direction thrives here, as does our sense of civic responsibility and our belief that we can be a beacon for others to emulate. And all of that makes me proud to call this place home.

I hope to see you on July 31 as we actively acknowledge our city’s ever-evolving identity by exercising our bodies and minds while touring The Loop and experiencing the insights of past and present-day visionaries who have erected our greatest testaments to Winnipeg’s promising future.

Let’s keep healthy—and let’s keep moving Winnipeg forward together.

Marina R. James MBA
President & CEO