Public Art in Winnipeg

by Mackenzie Martens & the Students of HIST-2813 at the University of Winnipeg, Winter 2023
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation


The videos in this digital tour about public art in Winnipeg were produced by the students in the western survey course Art and Empires, taught at the University of Winnipeg in 2023. Survey courses are unwieldly and often by the last weeks of class we run out of time to fully explore contemporary art issues. To ensure we kept on track I included this assignment where students chose and researched a local contemporary public art piece that appealed to them. They created a short video response on their phones, with the goal of analysing and promoting public art in their neighbourhoods.

Winnipeg has a vital art scene and thanks to different levels of government support, especially the Winnipeg Arts Council, we can all engage freely with public art. The students studied a range of pieces, from well known, like the Bears on Broadway, to hidden gems such as window. We want to thank the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation for supporting the project and coordinating all the videos to create this digital map, making our research widely available to all Winnipeggers. We especially thank the project manager, Mackenzie Martens, who was also a student in the course, and who initiated this project.

Dr. Serena Keshavjee
Associate Professor, University of Winnipeg

Tour Stops


Table of Contents

Vimy Ridge Park

Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanski

Located at the south-east corner of Vimy Ridge Park, Table of Contents is an alternative to the historical, commemorative war memorials in the park. It honours "the everyday heroes of the present" who regularly occupy and pass through the space. Eduardo Aquino and Karen Shanski invited the community to submit phrases that reflect the importance of the park to them. The work is both practical and meaningful: community members are welcomed to the table by its inscriptions, which allows them to recognise and situate themselves at the table where they can gather and connect with others.

Video by Serena Keshavjee.


Four Flowers

20 W Gate

Michael Dumontier

Four Flowers by Michael Dumontier was designed to be kinetic, moving in response to the air flow of the Cornish Library's new reading room. The installation is made with concrete, aluminum, brass, and steel, inspired by the structural components of the recent addition. The work connects to the supportive column at the base of the building, bridging interior and exterior spaces.

Video by Laine Cosby.


Cancer Care Polar Bear Sculpture Project

450 Broadway

Various Artists

The Polar Bear Sculpture project was initiated by CancerCare Manitoba in partnership with the Winnipeg Foundation to commemorate their 75th anniversary. Thirty-two artists were paired with 71 local sponsors to create the diverse range of bears that can now be found all over Winnipeg. From its initial exhibition along Broadway, the project raised more than $500,000 for cancer research and patient care in Manitoba. Although most of the bears have been separated, a small selection of them remain on display together behind the Manitoba Legislative Building, along the Assiniboine River.

Video by Aaron Summers.


Manitoba Legislative Building - North Facing Pediment

450 Broadway

Frank Worthington Simon

Although it is only a small selection of the carvings adorning Manitoba's Legislative Building, the structure's north-facing pediment is a proclamation of the province's abundance and greatness. Following neoclassical tradition, an allegorical representation of Manitoba as a woman sits at the centre of the pediment. The other figures carved into the scene inform and instruct the viewing public how to lead their lives fruitfully with all that the land has to offer.

Video by Anna Fowler.


Tuniigusiia/The Gift

St. Mary's Avenue at Memorial Boulevard

Goota Ashoona

Tuniigusiia is one of the largest Inuit sculptures to exist. Carved from Verde Guatemala marble, the work is meant to reflect the transfer of knowledge through education and storytelling with a representation of Sedna, a story passed down to Ashoona by her grandmother, and a depiction of a mother teaching her daughter throat singing. Tuniigusiia was commissioned by the Manitoba Teacher's Society to honour the teachers all around us, who share their wisdom in the classroom, in the home, and on the land. This work is now part of the Winnipeg Art Gallery collection.

Video by Sydney Murchison.


M Theory

300 Memorial Boulevard

Bill Vazan

Located at the northernmost corner of the Winnipeg Art Gallery is M Theory, an installation comprising seven carved granite boulders of various sizes. These carvings refer to M Theory, a physics theory that combines all super string theories. With his art, Vazan strives to connect humans with nature and the cosmos. For Vazan, the longevity of stone engraving relates to the non-permanence that exists beyond our reality.

Video by Roman Borys.


Star Blanket

511 Ellice Avenue

Kenneth Lavallée and Annie Beach

Cloaking the University of Winnipeg's Helen Betty Osborne Building, Lavallée's star blanket design speaks to his Métis heritage and seeks to engage Indigenous communities. This mural is part of a project meant to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people and advance conversations on the topic. Star blankets are often bestowed as gifts of the highest honour, meant to protect and empower the wearer.

Video by Christopher Ronald.


O-ween du muh waun/We Were Told

345 Portage Avenue

Rebecca Belmore and Osvaldo Yero

O-ween du muh waun/We Were Told is an anti-monument to the colonial education forced upon Indigenous children, instead speaking to the wealth of knowledge that comes from Indigenous cultural and spiritual teachings and traditions passed on inter-generationally. The overturned chairs signify an ending, representing the daily efforts of Indigenous peoples to turn colonial knowledge on its head. The work was created for This Place, a major public art project seeking to raise awareness of the rich cultures and traditions of Indigenous peoples that are at the heart of the city and province.

Video by Andrew Kaul.



251 Donald Street

Bill Pechet

Forming the outline of an Erlenmeyer flask, emptyful is meant to evoke the emptiness of Winnipeg and its surrounding prairies. Though the shape implies containment, light, air, water, and snow easily pass through the structure, mimicking the weather conditions in a vast prairie landscape. Light and water features are activated according to the seasons to add to this effect.

Video by Kathryn Derksen.



100 Arthur Street

Noor Bhangu, Mariana Muñoz Gomez, and Jennifer Smith

window gallery is located on the north-facing wall of the Artspace building in Winnipeg's Exchange District. The gallery shows multiple short-term rotating exhibitions throughout the year and aims to exhibit a diverse array of artists and artistic forms. window seeks to create a public platform for marginalised voices.

Video by Mackenzie Martens.


Bloody Saturday

Main Street at Market Avenue

Bernie Miller and Noam Gonick

This installation by Bernie Miller and Noam Gonick commemorates the 100th anniversary of Bloody Saturday, a silent protest that turned out to be fatal when a streetcar was knocked off its track and set ablaze, triggering two deaths and the injury of 27 protestors at the hands of the RCMP. The work is located at the original site of the incident, a prominent place and high-traffic location to serve as a reminder of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike.

Video by Hanin Abdullah.


High Five

Waterfront Drive across from Shaw Park

Jennifer Stillwell

Standing over 25 ft tall, this site-specific work by Jennifer Stillwell consists of five stainless steel airplane wings. Stillwell uses the slope of the riverbank to her advantage, so that the installation creates the illusion of a hand from a distance. The targets appear to be abstracted fingerprints from afar, but also refer to the roundels on airplane wings and the home run potential of a baseball hitting the work from Shaw Park.

Video by Saskia Meuwese.


Louis Riel

536 Rue Aulneau

Marcien Lemay and Étienne Gaboury

Lemay's abstract representation of Louis Riel depicts the Métis leader as anguished and emaciated. The outer shell designed by Étienne Gaboury, emblazoned with Riel's name and quotes from his writings, represents the juxtaposition between Louis Riel the man and Louis Riel the politician, referring to the relentless tensions in his life. Due to its controversial depiction of Riel, the statute was removed from its original location on the legislative grounds soon after it was erected, and was replaced by a more conventional portrayal of Riel as a statesman. The statue is now situated on the Université de Saint-Boniface campus.

Video by Ana Sofia Colado.


Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral - Front Facade Mosaic

1175 Main Street

Leo Mol

The Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral opened in 1962, and Leo Mol's stunning mosaic was added 16 years later. Composed of designs by George Korbin, Alexander Powstenko, and Alex Nitchuck, the cathedral offers a contemporary take on traditional Kyivan styles of architecture. The cathedral's stylistic characteristics include onion domes and towers finished in copper, as well as decorative stained glass windows. Mol's mosaic adorns the church with a depiction of the Holy Trinity that glimmers in the sunlight, catching the eyes of passersby.

Video by Charles Apolinario.


Life Journey

Northeast Pioneers Greenway at Concordia Avenue

Denise Préfontaine and Kildonan-East Collegiate Girls' Club

Life Journey is an inter-generational collaborative mosaic sculpture documenting the life cycle of a monarch butterfly. This project was completed in partnership with Youth WITHART, an initiative that matches youth groups with professional artists to reflect on identity, current issues, and shared goals through an art project. The focus of the project was the issues that women and girls face on a daily basis due to their gender. Life Journey was designed for use as an outdoor classroom, meant to be a site that encourages open dialogue.

Video by Cora Pane.



Kildonan Park Duck Pond

Takashi Iwasaki and Nadi Design

This playful and functional artwork was created by Takashi Iwasaki as part of a recent initiative to revamp Kildonan Park's duck pond. Bokeh takes inspiration from the mid-century architecture in the park, with its exaggerated arched forms and globe-shaped lamps. During the day, Bokeh is a colourful sculpture but at night, it transforms the duck pond with rainbow-coloured lights that blur the lines between urban life and the natural world, reality and imagination.

Video by Sean Walsh.


Elwick Community Centre

44 Maberley Road

Dimitry Melman-Komar and the Elwick Community

Elwick Community Centre was transformed in 2008 from a windowless and often tagged cinderblock building to reflect the community's vibrancy. This project was part of the Youth WITHART initiative, which aims to encourage communities to explore issues, ideas, and concerns, find their identity and voice, express historical and cultural spirit, and create dialogue. Planning, prep, and installation for the mural and mosaic were all community-driven. The project was a catalyst for community action, ultimately bringing the Elwick community closer together.

Video by Imtiaz Sidhu


Along the Creek

Bunn's Creek Trail

Becky Thiessen and Knowles Centre, Rob Unik and John G. Stewart School

Following Bunn's Creek Trail are traditional and contemporary responses to the seven sacred teachings of Anishinaabe: respect, love, courage, honesty, wisdom, truth, humility. Facing east to west, each teaching is embodied by animal carvings made by Educational Assistant Rob Unik in collaboration with John G. Stewart School. From west to east, digital collage works were made in response to each of the teachings as a collaborative work by Becky Thiessen and the Knowles Centre. The work provides the youth and surrounding community an opportunity to connect with the land and deepen their understanding of the basic virtues that contribute to indiviudual and collective well-being.

Video by Stephen Taubner.


Rooster Town Kettle and Fetching Water

45 Hurst Way

Ian August

Rooster Town Kettle and Fetching Water commemorates the former Métis community of Rooster Town with a large scale representation of the copper kettles typically found in Métis homes and silhouettes of people gathering well water. Through this work, Ian August addresses the lack of clean drinking water accessible to the Rooster Town community as he reflects on the limited access to clean water and boil advisories in contemporary Indigenous communities. He honours the 250 residents that were forcefully removed from Rooster Town in 1959 by the City of Winnipeg with the kettle's size, made large enough to boil the minimum amount of water needed daily to sustain 250 people.

Video by Prabhleen Kaur.