Mural Mania in the West End!

June 2nd, 2015 by Emma Durand-Wood

This post is long overdue. It’s been almost a year since I was invited to go on the West End BIZ’s Mural Tour one sunny July day. Here’s a little blurb about the tour:

Put on your walking shoes. The West End BIZ’s guided mural tours are available for booking each summer (June-August)!

Join us for a tour Monday through Saturday. Flexible start times available (morning, afternoon and evening). Tours last two hours each and include a refreshment stop at a local eatery.

The cost is only $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for children aged 12 and under.
The West End’s outdoor mural gallery features over 50 pieces of public art, many of which are showcased during the tours along Sargent and Ellice Avenues, along with a few of our more recently painted pieces.

It’s a great way to explore the area! Bring along your summer visitors; consider a tour during your lunch hour (tours can be customized – duration, meeting place, etc), or as a staff appreciation event. Great fun for families and people of all ages!

• Selected as a past “Canada’s Top Ten Summer Attraction” by WHERE Canada
• Winner of the International Downtown Association’s ‘Award of Distinction’
• Manitoba Tourism Award finalist
• Winnipeg Tourism Award finalist

If you are looking to experience the unique history and culture of the West End area, this is your opportunity to do so. The engaging narrative includes interesting history about the area, fun trivia, descriptions about the murals and an introduction to the unique restaurants and businesses of the West End.

On site parking available. Group sizes of 2-15+ welcome. A bus tour option is also available for larger groups or those with mobility concerns (must provide own bus/driver).

I wanted to share some photos that I took that day – unfortunately the sun was incredibly bright and many of the pics are kind overexposed and do not do the murals justice, but I hope you’ll get the gist of the incredible art that graces the vibrant and eclectic streets of Winnipeg’s West End neighbourhood. I really encourage you to take the tour for yourself this summer!

Below: This was probably my favourite of all the murals we saw that day. I won’t ruin the story for you as it’s very cool to learn firsthand. Suffice it to say that this mural represents a colourful West End character named Zoohky. You can read a bit about him and the story behind the mural here, but I loved the experience we had on the tour and encourage you to hear about it for yourself. 


Below: another one of my favourites – this mural of Bill Norrie, entitled Legacy of Leadership, has an incredible amount of thoughtful detail, and I loved learning a bunch of interesting tidbits about our former mayor. (It’s too bad this one is so overexposed, but you can see a better image in the title link above.)


Below: this mural on Ellice & Sherbrook pays tribute to the West End childhood and Hollywood career of actor Adam Beach.


Below: This one honours the memory of social activist Harry Lehotsky. Learn more about it here.


Below: Power Play, a mural showcasing the sports achievements of our city.


Below: the Winnipeg Roller Rink is gone, but this mural remains to show what once stood here. The wood flooring has been incorporated into the U of W building just across the street!



Below: the next two images are from a mural representing Icelandic history and culture, including the cartoonist Charlie Thorson. I didn’t get a picture of the mural dedicated to Thorson’s work (which includes Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd), but you can see it here



Below: a mural that was a work in progress last summer, though the BIZ’ Mural Mentorship program. Can’t wait to see the finished product it in person sometime!


Below: a mural representing the multicultural makeup of the West End.


Below: this one shows the history of Sargent Ave.


Below: we learned a cool story about this particular mural, which is in “Winnipeg’s only drive-through mural“! Apparently in the original, the Polish girls were holding a Pepsi and a Coke, respectively, to convey the idea of peace and harmony. But as you might imagine, there were some trademark issues, so it was eventually adapted to have the girls holding flowers.


Below: another part of the drive-through mural.


The website The Murals of Winnipeg is a marvelous resource with tons of background info on all these murals and more.

It was a pleasure to participate on this mini-bloggers tour not only because the topic was fascinating, but also because after many years of knowing each other online, I finally got to meet prolific Winnipeg blogger Christian Cassidy in person! Chris later recorded an interview with our lovely tourguide, Sasha Ostrowski, for his radio show, West End Dumplings: The Radio Edition, along with Katie Seymour, who was also on the tour with us. Check out the podcast by going here and selecting the one named 20140720-405. The interview with Sasha starts at about the 24:50 mark.

In it, Chris, Katie, and Sasha shared what their favourite murals were. Katie’s favourite is the Bill Norrie mural , which won the Mural of the Year award in 2013. (I loved Katie’s panda pin memory… reminded me of the special Panda Magic ice cream we had in Alberta during the Calgary Zoo’s panda craze in 1988!) Sasha has two favourites, the Bill Norrie and the Zoohky mural, and one of Christian’s favourites is the Icelandic history mural.

As Christian remarked, this is a fantastic staycation-type activity, and I really hope you’ll take the West End Mural Tour too. A big thanks to the West End BIZ for the chance to take this tour for free!

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