TWS Conference: Can’t-Miss Things to do in Winnipeg

By Nick Wesdock

Winnipeg Convention Centre
Image Credit: Winnipeg Convention Centre

Between the exciting opportunities offered by TWS and the wide variety of tourist attractions in Manitoba, this year’s Annual Conference in Winnipeg will not fall short in the activities category.

With the province featuring so much culture, history and outdoor fun for professionals and families alike, you’re sure to find something in Winnipeg that piques your interest! Outlined here is just a short list of what the city has to offer to help you start planning your trip.

The Forks National Historic Site

For over 6,000 years the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers has been a gathering place for humans. Early aboriginal people converged here to trade long before Europeans ever arrived in North America. Today, it is still considered Winnipeg’s meeting place. The Forks National Historic Site is nine acres of river-front park complete with interpretive exhibits, walking trails, a native prairie garden, sculptures and an amphitheater. The Forks Market is popular here. Featuring two levels of food and loft outlets, the market sells everything from gourmet cheeses to cigars and local souvenirs. In addition to the permanent stores, many vendors set up tables in the market and outside at The Plaza, Canada’s largest urban skate park, which has been visited by world-famous skateboarders Tony Hawk and Bam Margera. The Forks is within walking distance from the RBC Convention Centre where the conference will take place.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Also located at The Forks, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights sits along the banks of the Red River. It is the first and only museum in the world dedicated entirely to human rights. The unique building is said to parallel a human rights journey, spiraling upwards from the ground to the Tower of Hope protruding out of the top. As visitors travel up six levels of exhibits, they experience 11 different galleries, including Indigenous Perspectives, Canadian Journeys, Actions Count, Rights Today and Inspiring Change. The museum is great for families too, as many of the galleries feature activities for children. Tickets are required, but once purchased they can be used on any day that the museum is open. It is recommended that you plan to spend three to four hours at the museum if you’d like to see every exhibit.

FortWhyte Alive

One of the field trips TWS is offering at this year’s conference is a visit to FortWhyte Alive, where guests can experience bison, birds and other species up close and personal. You can also observe burrowing owls, an endangered species and the only owls that nest in the ground, while learning about FortWhyte’s breeding program designed to help increase their population. A special two-hour tour will be held for TWS members who sign up for the trip. Despite cool temperatures, the beauty of the yellow aspen and oak trees is undeniable in the fall when the trip will take place. Click here for more information about FortWhyte Alive or other TWS field trips.

Oak Hammock Marsh

Also offered at the conference is a field trip to the 9,000-acre Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre and Wildlife Management Area, which is also the headquarters for Ducks Unlimited, Canada. Guests on this trip will have the opportunity to learn about the songbird banding efforts at the marsh, see a mist net demonstration, and may also have the opportunity to hold and release a bird. You can also stroll through the marsh on the 30 kilometers of wooden walkways or paddle through it in a ten-person canoe, all the while experiencing wildlife such as coyotes, badgers, reptiles and amphibians, and up to 300 species of birds. Click here for more information about Oak Hammock Marsh or how to sign up for TWS field trips.

Assiniboine Park and Zoo/Conservatory

For those of you traveling to Winnipeg from south of the border, you may find it to be a bit colder than you’re used to for mid-October, with an average daytime temperature of 52 degrees. If that’s too chilly for you, take a trip to the conservatory at Assiniboine Park and Zoo. Pretend you’re on a visit to south Florida where the temperatures are still in the mid-80s and enjoy more than 8,000 tree, plant and flower species. The zoo at Assiniboine Park is another great activity for people of all ages. One of the main attractions at the zoo is the Journey to Churchill exhibit, a tribute to the famous Churchill, Manitoba, polar bear capital of the world. Journey to Churchill is the most comprehensive arctic species exhibit in the world, featuring polar bears, muskoxen, wolves and more. The park and conservatory are free, but a ticket is required for the zoo. It is about a 20-minute drive southwest of the convention center.

Manitoba Museum

The Manitoba Museum will host the conference’s opening event, A Night at the Museum, on Sunday evening. Not only will this be a great opportunity to kick-start the week, it is also a great chance to learn about the history of Manitoba. A life-size replica of the ship that founded the Hudson’s Bay Company and an urban-scape of 1920’s Winnipeg are among the popular exhibits, along with many environmentally oriented galleries. The event is free with the “Complete Access” badge.

The Exchange District

After exploring years of history at The Manitoba Museum, step out into the surrounding neighborhood and experience present-day Winnipeg. The Exchange District is a 20 city block area that was originally the heart of the city. It was declared a National Historic Site in 1997 and continues to be one of the cultural centers of the country. Terracotta and cut-stone architecture are characteristic of the area, which is comprised of about 150 historic buildings. The hip and trendy district is home to a plethora of restaurants, pubs, cafés, shops, galleries, theatres and more. The Exchange District is a short drive from the conference and, depending upon weather conditions, may even be walkable.

McPhillips Station Casino

Winnipeg has several casinos, but the McPhillips Station Casino is closest in proximity to the conference. Their 800 slot machines range from one cent to $100 and vary in theme. Blackjack tables start from $3 and Texas Hold’em tables offer $1/$2 or $2/$5 games. Five bingo games are held daily, with six on Friday and Saturday. Baccarat, Craps, Roulette and Keno are also available. Gaming hours are 10 a.m.-3 a.m. Monday through Saturday and noon-3 a.m. on Sunday. The casino is located on McPhillips Street just passed Jarvis Avenue, a 10-15 minute drive from the RBC Convention Centre.

Osborne Village

If you want to experience the nightlife in Winnipeg as a local, head to Osborne Village. Recently named ‘Canada’s Greatest Neighbourhood’ by the Canadian Institute of Planners, “The Village” boasts the highest concentration of restaurants and bars in the city. The mixture of historic and modern buildings play host to everything from chic clothing and jewelry shops to pubs and nightclubs. Toad in the Hole is one of the most popular hangouts in the area and has become the go-to place for live, local music. The pub and eatery offers a wide selection of domestic and import beers as well as over 160 different whiskies. Osborne Village is just across the Assiniboine River from downtown, about a five-minute drive from the RBC Convention Centre.