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Planning, Property & Development

The Exchange District National Historic Site

About the Exchange District

exchange district

City of Winnipeg Photo
Bankers Row, Main Street
(PAM, Winnipeg - Streets - 
Main 10906 1 N19677)




City of Winnipeg Photo
Bannatyne and Family
(PAM, Bannatyne,
  A.G.B. 4-N120624)



City of Winnipeg Photo
The Grain Exchange
(PAM, Winnipeg - Buildings - Businesses - Grain Exchange/Princess 2, 


City of Winnipeg Photo
Princess Street
(PAM, Winnipeg
 - Streets - Princess 2


City of Winnipeg Photo
Stagehand, Pantages 
Theatre (PAM, Winnipeg -
 Theatres - Playhouse 12 - 


City of Winnipeg Photo
Victoria Park
(PAM, N11900)



  • Served as the original core of the City of Winnipeg
  • Declared a National Historic Site on September 27, 1997 by the federal Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Sheila Copps
  • Covers a twenty city block area with approximately 150 heritage buildings
  • Selected as one of a few urban areas to receive this distinction
  • The Historic Winnipeg (HW) By-law defines the boundaries of the Exchange District and legally protects municipally designated structures within its boundaries.
  • There are almost 80 municipally designated buildings in the Exchange District with a further 52 on the inventory, any of which may fit the criteria for municipal designation.
  • Only one building within the Exchange District, the former Great-West Life Building, 177 Lombard Avenue, has been designated by the Province of Manitoba;
  • Winning the Vote by Women, Winnipeg is a federally commemorated event at the Walker Theatre.
  • Area buildings registered as National Historic Sites include:
    • The Pantages Theatre
    • The Royal/Union Bank Tower and Annex
    • The Confederation Building
    • Early Skyscrapers: Confederation Life Building, Bank of Hamilton, and Union Trust
    • The Walker Theatre (located just outside the boundary of the district)
  • The 1919 Winnipeg General Strike is a federally commemorated event in the Exchange District at William and Main Street.
City of Winnipeg Photo
McDermot Street East of
Main Street
City of Winnipeg Photo
Fringe Festival in
Old Market Square

Other Canadian Historic Districts with National Historic Site Status

Other Canadian historic districts with National Historic Site status include streetscapes, former company towns, and vibrant urban areas. This short inventory of other sites demonstrates that the Exchange District is a unique and historically noteworthy area. Other districts of national significance include:

National Historic Sites (that are districts Designation Date
Prince William Streetscape, St. John, NB 1981
Water Street Historic District, St. John's, NF 1987
Rennie's Mill Road Historic District, St. John's, NF 1987
Great George Street Historic District, Charlottetown, PEI 1990
Old Town Lunenburg Historic District, Lunenburg, NS 1991
The Hydrostone District, Halifax, NS 1993
Historic Marysville, Fredericton, NB 1993
Annapolis Royal Historic District, Annapolis Royal, NS 1994
St. Andrew's Historic District, St. Andrew's, NB 1995
Chinatown, Victoria, BC 1995
Powell River Townsite, Powell River, BC 1995
Esquimalt Naval Sites, Esquimalt, BC 1995
Saint Laurant Boulevard ("The Main") Historic District, Montreal, PQ 1996
Battle Harbour Historic District, Battle Harbour, NF 1996
The Exchange District, Winnipeg, MB 1996
Port Union Historic District, Port Union, NF 1998

The Benefits of National Designation of the Exchange District

  • While national designation of the Exchange District offers no legal protection of the built resources and cultural landscape, it is an honour that can be used as a marketing and conservation tool.
  • When the news of the designation became public in the spring of 1998, international news agencies printed the story in newspapers in Grande Prairie, Alberta; Chicago, Illinois; and even as far away as Florida.
  • National Historic Sites are commemorated by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) by installation of a bronze plaque at the site. The Board has two styles of plaques, one for sites and another for districts.
  • The plaque for the Exchange District National Historic Site contains a bilingual explanation of the national significance of the site, three archival photographs, and a map of the district. The following inscription is found on the plaque:

    This remarkable group of commercial buildings vividly illustrates Winnipeg’s transformation between 1878 and 1913 from a modest pioneer settlement to western Canada’s largest metropolitan centre. The district’s banks, warehouses, and early skyscrapers recall the city’s dominance in the fields of finance, manufacturing, wholesale distribution and the international grain trade. Designed by a number of well known architects, the buildings of the Exchange District reflect an approach to architecture that was innovative, functional and stylish. The First World War and the Great Depression contributed to the end of Winnipeg’s spectacular boom era, leaving the district virtually intact. Through the efforts of dedicated citizens since the 1970s, the Exchange District has been preserved as a distinctive legacy from a formative period in Canada’s economic development.

  • In October 1999, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada hosted a plaque unveiling ceremony at the Pantages Theatre.
City of Winnipeg Photo
New National Historic Site
Banners for the 
Exchange District
City of Winnipeg Photo
Historic Sites and Monuments Board 
Ceremony, Pantages Theatre in 
October 1999

Exchange District Commemorative Posters

  • The Exchange District Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) in co-operation with the City of Winnipeg, the Province of Manitoba, and Parks Canada produced a set of commemorative posters for the Exchange District National Historic Site.
  • The poster set is a spliced reproduction of a 1912 panoramic photo showing Main Street and the west side of the Exchange District.
  • It is available for purchase at several Winnipeg locations and the BIZ.
  • Proceeds go toward the development and enhancement of programs in the District.
  • Contact the BIZ at (204) 942-6716 or by email at for further information.


City of Winnipeg Photo
The left side of the poster. (PAM, Winnipeg Views 1911 (1) N19604-N19610)

City of Winnipeg Photo
The right side of the poster. (PAM, Winnipeg Views 1911 (1) N19604-N19610)

Last update: October 12, 2008