by Dan Vineberg
The Forks is the meeting point of the Red River and the Assiniboine River. In the summer, there is an abundance of green space to enjoy, as well as popular restaurants, bars, and a world-class skate park (The Plaza). In the winter, The Forks is the site of the world’s longest naturally frozen skating trail (Red River Mutual Trail). As of 2014, The Forks is also the site of Canada’s newest National Museum (the Canadian Museum for Human Rights).
The Forks is also a site of historical significance that attracts Winnipeggers and tourists alike. For thousands of years it has been a place of cultural significance and trade for the indigenous people of Canada.
Before Winnipeg was founded, the Hudson’s Bay Company established the Upper Fort Garry area and used the confluence of the two rivers for their fur trade. In the 1870s, Western Canada’s first locomotive arrived at The Forks, carried up the Red River by an American steam boat. The Forks would soon become the “Gateway to the Canadian West” as the railroad developed, and immigrants flocked to Winnipeg and Western Canada in the fastest period of growth that our country has ever known.
At the heart of The Forks is Johnston Terminal. A Heritage Building constructed in 1929, Johnston Terminal was once a cold storage railway warehouse. Now Johnston Terminal is a combination of retail and office space, though it continues the the legacy of The Forks as a site of exploration in both its form and function.
In terms of design, the interior of Johnston Terminal features railway signage, a homage to the building’s history. It has a spacious interior, highlighted by the warm colours of its wooden beams.
Johnston Terminal’s Tenants
Johnston Terminal’s office tenants include Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and the Teacher’s Retirement Allowance Fund. A hundred years after The Forks served as Winnipeg’s primary point of entry for immigrants, it continues the tradition of laying out a better future for citizens of the prairie city.
Johnston Terminal’s retail tenants are an eclectic mix of local, independent businesses. Their shops are spaces to be explored and revisited. Kite and Kaboodle is a bright and seemingly endless toy store. Espresso Junction is a clean and naturally-lit coffee shop, overlooking the Forks Market. Wah-Sa Gallery is a space which highlights the work of Aboriginal artists. White Pine Bicycle Co., a new tenant, offers hip and customizable single-speed bicycles.
White Pine Bicycle Co. was the subject of a recent Artis video feature:
In the basement is Johnston Terminal’s Antique Mall, itself a journey to a foregone time. As the largest antique mall in Manitoba, it is truly a space worth exploring.
The tenants of Johnston Terminal are a diverse group, and together they form a world bazaar. It is the type of shopping experience to indulge in slowly, letting one’s eyes take in the variety of unique goods. It is the sort of building that promises new treasures to be discovered with each visit.
The tenants of The Forks are a diverse and unique group, much like the immigrants who first arrived into the Canadian West by rail. The Forks as a location is not only important to the past, but is thriving in the present. It remains a top destination in Winnipeg, receiving approximately 4 million visitors per year. Reconnect with Winnipeg’s routes and satisfy your need to explore by visiting Johnston Terminal today.
For a full list of tenants at Johnston Terminal, click here.