Line drawings of the exteriors of the Mount Royal Hotel, Manitoba Legislature, and the Rainbow Resource Centre underneath a rainbow.

Winnipeg Queer History Tour

by Devin Slippert
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation


Winnipeg’s Pride celebration in 2024 was the biggest the city has ever seen. We have come a long way since the first pride parade in 1987, when people covered their heads with paper bags to protect their identities. Faced with discrimination at all levels, 2SLGBTQIA+ people have had to create spaces for themselves, from bars and membership clubs to community spaces and health centres. Coming out of the closet and into the streets of Winnipeg, this tour reveals some of the queer spaces that have made their mark on Winnipeg history.

A black and white negative of Gay Pride March through Downtown Winnipeg. Demonstrators can be seen holding various signs with different slogans including two men carrying a large banner reading "Gay is Good".
Photo by Gays for Equality, 08/31/1974. Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives, Archives and Special Collections, University of Manitoba.

This tour is a noncomprehensive look, with an architectural focus, at some of the places and spaces 2SLGBTQIA+ people have occupied in Winnipeg. Many of the buildings that queer people previously occupied have been demolished or are architecturally insignificant, and thus are not included on this tour. The buildings that are included vary in age and design, from heritage buildings such as the Manitoba Legislature to modern offices. However, they share a common theme: most of these buildings were not designed with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in mind, and the queer people who occupied them had to adapt the spaces to meet their needs.

There is very little BIPOC 2SLGBTQIA+ representation in the available archival and research materials due to a history of racism within the queer community. Some organisations such as Queer People of Colour Winnipeg (QPOC) do not have a physical space of their own to represent on our tour. We hope that with the exponential growth of pride in Winnipeg, these underrepresented communities will soon find permanent spaces to call their own.

Tour Stops

Embark on a journey celebrating the vibrant history and cultural significance of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in Winnipeg with this digital tour of landmark buildings. From iconic bars to historic community centres, each stop tells a story of resilience, creativity, and activism. While these tour stops are scattered across the city, they're too far apart for a walking tour. Our digital guide allows you to explore these meaningful sites at your own pace, connecting with the rich tapestry of 2SLGBTQIA+ heritage with just a swipe of your screen.


Manitoba Legislative Building (The Hill)

450 Broadway

FW Simon, Architect
The exterior of the Manitoba Legislative Building in the summer.
Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2009

The Manitoba Legislature and grounds is an important location in Winnipeg’s queer history. The Legislative Building has been the site of many protests and demonstrations fighting for queer rights. From the 1970s to today, queer people have gathered at the Legislature to demand equality. In addition to being a space for activism, the grounds served another purpose for Winnipeg’s gay community. The area behind the Legislative building down to the bank of the river is known as “The Hill” and was a popular cruising site from the 1950s onward. Before the 1950s, gay men cruised along the west bank of the Red River from the Alexander Docks down to Union Station. At the Hill, cruising would begin after dark, and it would get especially busy after bars closed. Police presence increased in the area when gay bashings began occurring more frequently. The Winnipeg Gay Community Centre warned potential Hill-goers of the possibility of assaults in a 1984 Gay Directory . The Hill remained prominent well into the 1990s.

On the left is a photo of the Golden Boy on top of the Manitoba Legislative Building, and on the right is a photo of the interior of the Manitoba Legislative Building.
Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism, 2009

Architectural Description

A Manitoba landmark, the Legislative Building is the pinnacle of Beaux-Arts architecture in the province and the meeting place of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. It was officially opened July 15, 1920, the 50th anniversary of Manitoba’s entry into confederation. Both the building and the Golden Boy atop the dome face north, the direction the province saw its future prosperity and potential. Local Tyndall stone wraps the massive concrete, steel, and stone structure. The building is H-shape in plan and its grandeur is evident across the exterior and throughout its interior. There’s grandeur in the building’s multitiered central tower, with fluted Corinthian columns, a copper panelled dome, and the Golden Boy on the cupola. The statue shines brightly thanks to a regilding in 2002. Entrances on all four sides of the building have large stone staircases, colonades with giant order columns, and historical and allegorical sculptures and figures. On entering the north doors, you’ll see inside a grand marble staircase flanked by two life-size bronze bison on high stone pedestals. The staircase leads up to a rotunda with high semi-circular walls and a marble balustrade. To the south sits Canada’s only circular Legislative chamber, which features bronze statues, murals, a domed ceiling, marble and walnut trim, and elegant mouldings.


Mount Royal Hotel

186 Higgins Avenue

Henry S. Griffith, Architect
The exterior of The Mount Royal Hotel. The building is grey and there is a sign that says "MOUNT ROYAL HOTEL" above the door.
George Penner, 2017

The Mount Royal Hotel was a prominent lesbian meeting place in Winnipeg in the 1950s and 60s. It was primarily a working-class lesbian bar, but it was a mixed space with some drag queens, sex workers, and leather scene clientele. The bar was known to be “grubby and sleazy,” but the queer people who hung out there kept each other safe.

The exterior of The Mount Royal Hotel. The building is grey and there is a sign that says "MOUNT ROYAL HOTEL" above the door.
Gordon Goldsborough, 2017
The exterior of The Mount Royal Hotel in the winter. The building is grey and there is a sign that says "MOUNT ROYAL HOTEL" above the door. There is a fire escape on the right-hand side of the building.
George Penner, 2023

Architectural Description

The Mount Royal Hotel was designed by Winnipeg architect Henry S. Griffith. It was built as the Wolseley Hotel in 1904 by Benjamin G. Fonseca and Alfonso G. Fonseca. The hotel is an excellent example of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, with its arched openings and rough surfaces.

The ground floor of the front (north) facade has been altered, the windows are newer units and the walls have been stuccoed. The centrally located arched entrance may be original. A modest cornice separates the ground floor from the upper storeys. Second floor windows are square headed, with stone lug sills and a wide stone belt course as continuous heads. The original window units have been replaced. Third floor windows are arched with brick drip moulding and stone lug sills, all connected by a thin line of brick. Below these openings are ornamental brick panels and above are several rows of patterned brick. The central three bays of windows are slightly recessed and modest brick pilasters frame the centre window on the third floor. A metal cornice and brick parapet with unique rounded projections (many of which have been removed) and a central squared portion finish the facade. A large neon sign with the words “MOUNT ROYAL HOTEL” is attached to the second floor of the facade.

The west side was obviously designed to be a public elevation, many of the design elements of the front continue on this facade, including arched windows, brick drip moulding, stepped parapet, stone belt course (between the second and third floors) and ornamental brick panels. A small palladian window and a metal fire escape grace this facade. All windows are either replacement units or the opening has been boarded up.

The east side of the building includes a large painted sign at the north end where the brick wall is uninterrupted and a rear section with numerous arched windows and doors. The rear of the building features painted signage at the roofline and arched windows on all three floors.


Rainbow Resource Centre

545 Broadway

J.H.G. Russell, Architect
A photo of the Wilson House. The building is beige brick with brown accents. There is a tower on the left side of the building, and a large porch in front.
George Penner, 2021

Rainbow Resource Centre offers counselling, education, and a variety of programs and events for 2SLGBTQIA+ people of all ages and their families. The Centre offers many resources including a library and a monthly “Trans ID Clinic” to help people updating their name or gender marker on their ID documents. In 2024, Rainbow Resource Centre will announce their inaugural Drag Artist in Residence.

The Rainbow Resource Centre has existed in different forms since 1973. Phil Graham founded Gays for Equality that year, a student organisation at the University of Manitoba. A decade later, the group had expanded and moved to the Winnipeg Gay Community Centre at 275 Sherbrook Street, sharing a building with Giovanni’s Room. In 1986, the Centre, along with Gio’s, moved to 616 Broadway. They remained in that space until 1988, when they moved to 222 Osborne Street under a new name: the Winnipeg Gay/Lesbian Resource Centre. In 1999 the organisation changed its name to Rainbow Resource Centre, then moved to 170 Scott Street in 2008. Most recently, Rainbow Resource Centre moved to the historic Wilson House at 545 Broadway, from where Klinic used to operate.

Rainbow Resource Centre’s Place of Pride is currently under construction next door to the Wilson House. This affordable housing complex exclusively for 2SLGBTQIA+ older adults is the first of its kind in Canada. The complex will offer a community centre, a cultural space, a café, a community kitchen, meeting spaces for community groups, and an Indigenous Permaculture Garden, in addition to direct access to supports, resources, and social connections.

The beige brick Wilson House is to the right, and the concrete frame of the Place of Pride is to the left.
Rainbow Resource Centre, 2023
The beige brick Wilson House is to the right, and the Place of Pride under construction is to the left.
Rainbow Resource Centre, 2023

Architectural Description

Rainbow Resource Centre has a new home in the historic Wilson House, designed by J.H.G. Russell and built in a reduced Queen Anne style. This style was extremely popular in North America from about 1880-1910. This type of residential structure often includes a steeply pitched, irregularly shaped roof with a dominant front-facing gable. Towers are often present, and structures are asymmetrical. Patterned shingles, bay windows and porches are used to avoid a smooth walled appearance. The porches, usually one storey high, extend along the front and one or both sides.

The rusticated stone at grade gives way to stretcher style brick veneer walls. The L-shaped porch features wooden plinths and unadorned columns joined by a series of ogee arches. Eaves above the porch and along the roof feature modestly ornamented wooden brackets. Most windows are rectangular except for two small round-headed windows on the second floor above the main entrance. Segmented arches above the windows are formed by radiating brick; rough stone sills and wooden surrounds complete these openings. Numerous muntin bars create multi-paned windows throughout. The building includes a tower at its southwest corner. The main roof is hipped with two lower side gables.

A black-and-white- photograph of the Wilson House. There is a tower on the left side of the building, and a large porch in front.
M. Peterson, 1990.

In 1977 the Klinic Corporation moved in and spent $10,000 on interior alterations in 1981. The building was converted into small offices, examination rooms and other areas related to its new function. Thus, the interior retains little of its original feel or organisation.


Winnipeg Gay Community Centre/Giovanni’s Room

275-277 Sherbrook Street

Daniel Smith & William Bruce, Architects
Two black-and-white negatives of the exterior of Giovanni's Room. There is a sign hanging off the side of the building that says "Giovanni's Room, Winnipeg Gay Centre".
Photos by Glenn Fewster, 1983. Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives, Archives and Special Collections, University of Manitoba.

The Winnipeg Gay Community Centre, opened in 1982, was located at 275 Sherbrook Street. Richard North proposed the idea for Giovanni’s Room in 1980, inspired by a James Baldwin novel of the same name. The proposal was initially rejected by Project Lambda, which led to the creation of the Oscar Wilde Memorial Society, soon to be the managers of the centre. Eventually Project Lambda, Happenings Social Club, and the Oscar Wilde Memorial Society joined forces to open the community centre. The Winnipeg Gay Centre was coincidentally right across the street from Happenings Social Club, which helped the community centre financially. Within the centre was Giovanni’s Room, the licensed clubroom, restaurant, and bar. The centre also contained meeting rooms, office space, a library and reading room, and the Gays for Equality Counselling office. Membership for the club was $10 a year, or guests could come for $2 per evening. The Winnipeg Gay Community Health Centre also operated in the building, and they provided health services to Manitoba’s gay population. The Gay Centre would remain at this location until 1986, when they moved to 616 Broadway.

A black and white negative of the interior of Giovanni's Room. There are rows of smalls tables and a few large light fixtures can be seen hanging from the low ceiling.
Photo by Glenn Fewster, 1983. Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives, Archives and Special Collections, University of Manitoba.

Architectural Description

The Norman Hall, later known as the Normandy Dance Hall then the Sildor Ballroom, was built around 1909. The building was designed by architects Daniel Smith and William Bruce. The structure featured a stone foundation and concrete footings, external walls of brick, and a flat roof. The building was demolished in 1986. The Sildor Ballroom was to be replaced by a community health centre, but it is unclear if this was ever constructed.

Four film photos of the interior of Giovanni's Room. The top two photos show tables and chairs and a piano. The bottom two photos show the bar and a pool table.
Photos by Glenn Fewster, 1983. Manitoba Gay and Lesbian Archives, Archives and Special Collections, University of Manitoba.


Gio’s Club and Bar

155 Smith Street

Charles Faurer, Architect
The exterior of Gio's Club and Bar. The building is beige with red trim.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Giovanni’s Room eventually turned into Gio’s Club and Bar, located at 155 Smith Street. Financial troubles and competition from newer gay bars in Winnipeg caused the bar to close in 2013 after thirty-one years of operation. Gio’s was one of the first gay bars in Winnipeg, and it was an important safe place for the community. The Oscar Wilde Memorial Society’s volunteer-based board ran the bar as a nonprofit organisation, and they also ran an HIV/AIDS charity called Gio’s Cares. All profits from Gio’s either went to maintaining the bar or were donated to LGBTQ+ charities, including Gio’s Cares.

The exterior front of Gio's Club and Bar. The building is beige with red trim, and there is a rainbow pride flag above the door.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Architectural Description

Several reincarnations have altered this building so thoroughly that one can only glimpse at its original design. Architect Charles Faurer made the original plans in 1968 for Hertz Rent-a-car, including offices, a car wash, maintenance garage and parking lot. Western Cassions sank the foundation supports.

In 1981 an addition was added to the southeast corner of the building. This addition was 58x21 ft and two storeys high. It was meant as extra space for a kitchen and office. The 1981 renovations also included covering the brick exterior in stucco panelling, reworking the windows, and adding a canopy above the building's main entrance. Rearranging of the interior also meant a new main entrance at the southwest corner of the building, facing the Smith Street and York Avenue intersection.

The exterior of the renovated 155 Smith Street. The building is black with wood accents. There is a sign for La Roca with a skull.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation
The exterior of the renovated 155 Smith Street. The building is black with wood accents. There is a sign for La Roca with a skull.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

In 1990 the entrance was moved again to be centred facing Smith Street. The renovation also added a few more windows.

The current tenant of the building is La Roca, a Mexican restaurant and bar, and before it opened there was once again a large interior and exterior renovation. The renovation included an addition of 1,000 sq ft of space on the building as well as two level patio that added an additional 2,500 sq ft.


Happenings Social Club

242 Manitoba Avenue

Unknown Architect
The exterior of 242 Manitoba Ave. The building is light grey stucco with no windows, and the two front doors are red. There is a sign above the doors that says "Foundation for Freedom Ministries - Welcome to All".
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Happenings Social Club was incorporated as the Mutual Friendship Society in July 1973. It took three attempts to get the charter for the Mutual Friendship Society, and they had to agree to changes to the charter in order for it to be accepted. When Happenings first began, they had nearly fifty members, with a strict “no straights” rule to keep their members safe. Happenings organised socials as fundraisers for the club, and they eventually secured enough funding to rent 242 Manitoba Avenue. The club hosted Sunday brunches and Christmas fundraisers in addition to its typical function as a bar and dance club. Happenings raised enough money from their socials to secure a permanent location in 1983 at 272 Sherbrook Street, right across from the Winnipeg Gay Community Centre and Giovanni’s Room. Happenings membership was fairly equal between men and women until the establishment of women’s only clubs in Winnipeg. The club was described in a 1984 directory as “Happenings Social Club. The licensed dance bar and beverage room for the members and guests of the Mutual Friendship Society. It is located in the Sum Quod Sum Building at 272 Sherbrook Street, Winnipeg, MB. Open evenings from Monday to Saturday.”

A closeup of the exterior of 242 Manitoba Ave. The building is light grey stucco with no windows, and the two front doors are dark red. There is a sign above the doors that says "Foundation for Freedom Ministries - Welcome to All". and the two front doors are dark red.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Architectural Description

242 Manitoba Avenue was constructed around 1921. Originally a synagogue, the building was renovated in 1937. According to a building inspection report, the building was moved back from the street and significant alterations were made to the original design. The synagogue received a new foundation and new concrete front steps. The gallery was framed on three sides with steel beams and posts, and only one stair to it. The new ceilings were lathed with ribbed lath and nailed with galvanised nails.

A closeup of the exterior of 242 Manitoba Ave. The building is light grey stucco with no windows. There is a sign above the doors that says "Foundation for Freedom Ministries - Welcome to All".
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation


The Women’s Building

730 Alexander Avenue

John Nelson Semmens, Architect
The exterior of 730 Alexander. The brick building is two storeys with white trim.
George Penner, 2019

In 1978, The Winnipeg Women’s Cultural and Education Centre purchased 730 Alexander Ave from the United Church of Canada. Several women’s organisations moved into the building the following year: Women in Trade, Wages Due Lesbians, Lesbian Phone Lines, and Winnipeg Women’s Liberation. Lesbian Phone Lines was a telephone counselling service for queer women, and Wages Due advocated for lesbians in poverty, in particular poor lesbian mothers. Ms. Purdy’s membership club briefly operated in the basement of the building until it moved to 226 Main Street. Heterosexual feminist organisations occupied the building as well and would sometimes help the lesbian organisations secure government funding. The lesbians could not apply for government funding due to homophobic discrimination. The heterosexual feminist groups kept quiet their financial support for the lesbian groups because if the government found out, they were at risk of losing their funding. The Women’s Building closed in 1983.

A side view of 730 Alexander. The front facade is brown brick and the side of the building is white.
Nathan Kramer, 2022

Architectural Description

730 Alexander Avenue is a two-storey brick building designed by architect John Nelson Semmens. It is the second building to occupy this site, after the original Bethel Mission chapel was demolished in 1921. The new structure, which would open that same year, was constructed by Wyatt & Ireland Company for about $30,000 for the newly renamed Maclean Mission. The church was later converted into an apartment block after the congregation disbanded.

The doorway of 730 Alexander Avenue. There is a stone arch above the door, with "730" engraved into it.
Nathan Kramer, 2022


Ms. Purdy’s

226 Main Street

C. Mancel Willmot & George W. Stewart, Architects
The now restored Fortune and Macdonald blocks. The building is beige with red and metal accents.
George Penner, 2019

Ms. Purdy’s membership club began its life in the Women’s Building on Alexander Street, and then moved to 226 Main Street. It was described in the Winnipeg Gay Centre’s 1984 directory as “Ms. Purdy’s Women’s Bar - 226 Main Street. Telephone: 942-8212. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 4:00pm to 1:00am. Membership club. Men allowed on Wednesdays only when accompanied by a member. Popular with feminists and lesbians.” In addition to live music and dancing, Ms. Purdy’s offered bingo, films, concerts, drop-ins, and potlucks, as well as ping-pong tables, darts, chess, checkers, and cards. Ms. Purdy’s moved once more in 1990 to 272 Sherbrook Street. It was one of the longest-running lesbian bars in Canada when it closed in 2002.

A black and white sketch of the Fortune and Macdonald blocks.
CBC News – Archives of Manitoba, 1884.

Architectural Description

The Macdonald Block at 226 Main Street, designed in the High Victorian Italianate style, is an extension of the Fortune Block. It was built in 1883 for Alexander Macdonald, likely designed by the same architects who designed the Fortune Block, C. Mancel Willmot and George W. Stewart. By 1903, Sam Spence had purchased the building and hired architect Henry. S Griffiths to convert it into the Commercial Hotel. In the mid-1980s, Ms. Purdy’s took over the ground floor as a private club while the upper floors remained residential. The ground floor was significantly altered from the original design but was restored in 2018–2019 after the Pollard family purchased the building, bringing back the large windows and doors at street level. The restorations also brought back the ornamental cornices and railing above the top floor windows. The red detail around the windows was painted over in the early 1900s and revealed through cleaning during restorations. The interior has lost its original features due to a number of renovations throughout the years. An elevator was added to the Macdonald Block during the renovation.


Nine Circles Community Health Centre

705 Broadway

Early 1970s
Unknown Architect
The exterior of 705 Broadway. The building is brown brick with brown stone surrounding the door.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Nine Circles Community Health Centre was incorporated in September 2001. After the release of the Manitoba AIDS Strategy document in 1996, the executive directors of the Village Clinic (1984–2003), Kali Shiva AIDS Services (1987–present), AIDS Shelter Coalition of Manitoba (1991–2004), and Manitoba Aboriginal AIDS Task Force (1993–2001) joined forces to improve the coordination of HIV/AIDS services in Winnipeg. These founding agencies would become Nine Circles Community Health Centre, except for Kali Shiva which opted to stay independent and would later become Sunshine House. Nine Circles partnered with Health Sciences Centre – HIV Program in 2007 to create the Manitoba HIV Program. The program was, and is, a success; in 2019 the program expanded to the Prairie Mountain Health Region when the 7th Street Access Centre in Brandon joined the program.

Nine Circles Community Health Centre believes that HIV shouldn’t be seen as exceptional. Executive Director Michael Payne describes the health centre as a family doctors’ office that happens to specialize in HIV. In addition to providing support to Manitoba’s HIV-positive population, Nine Circles operates the “Pit Stop” Harm Reduction Services. The services are free, and include safer drug use and safer sex supplies, take-home-naloxone, and access to hygiene and menstrual items.

A photo of the mural inside the waiting room at Nine Circles Community Health Centre. The mural features pink and grey birds, strawberries, and flowering plants on a lavender background.
Synonym Art Consultation

Architectural Description

705 Broadway, built around the early 1970s, was originally the offices of Winnipeg Detachment of R.C.M.P and the Winnipeg Subdivision Headquarters Offices. By 1980 it housed city welfare offices, which remained there until April 1999. On September 1, 1999, the Village Clinic relocated to 705 Broadway, which would become Nine Circles Community Health Centre two years later. The location was, and is, perfect. The health centre serves the surrounding community, it is easily accessible by transit and there is a large parking lot at the rear of the building.

705 Broadway was originally full of cubicles and small offices. When Nine Circles moved in, they were able to gut the interior and redesign for their purposes. The building was designed for four separate organisations operating in the same space. When the four AIDS service organisations amalgamated, the newly formed Nine Circles struggled with integration and communication across the separate wings of the building. It was important for them to include a ceremonial space in the building, and Nine Circles had to convince both the Province, which were funding the renovations, and the owner of the building to allow them to build it. Most recently, Nine Circles renovated in 2021–2023 to redesign the entrance and reception areas of the building. Previously there were two entrances and two reception areas, one for the clinic and one for everything else. Nine Circles’ clients said that the reception area was crowded and uncomfortable. The renovations were to create a safer and more welcoming environment, and to improve flow through the building. Now, there is one entrance through the back door, which leads into an open reception area, called the Pit Stop.

The health centre focused on adapting the space to the needs of their clients. They consulted with the people they serve to figure out what feels welcoming and safe. The goal is to make it welcoming for people who are structurally disadvantaged. Nine Circles has been able to make small changes like painting and larger changes like renovations through Winnipeg Foundation grants. As the organisation grows, space is getting more and more limited at Nine Circles Community Health Centre. Their space is too small for large community events, so they have to host those events at other locations.

If Nine Circles could design their own building, it would be a larger, more integrated space. The building would have fewer offices and more open and shared space. There would be twice as many exam rooms, and the rooms would be throughout the building, not just in one area, to make the environment more welcoming. Larger spaces would improve Nine Circles’ ability to deliver programming, as well as offer the room to share a space with partner organisations.


Sunshine House

646 Logan Avenue

Lewis H. Jordan & Walter Percy Over, Architects
A picture of 646 Logan at sunset. The building is two storeys tall, made of brown brick.
Christian Cassidy, 2010

Sunshine House is a community drop-in and resource centre with a focus on harm reduction. They welcome people as they are, without the expectation of sobriety. Sunshine House offers a drop-in open to anyone five days a week, and a drop-in specifically for members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community twice a week in the evening. Their other programs include Gizhiwenimin, which supports 2SLGBTQIA+ refugees and immigrants; Sunday brunch; Street Feet, a foot care service; and Science and Supper, which tackles health care topics while providing a meal. Sunshine House sees up to 200 people come for drop-in or brunch in a day.

Sunshine House started out as the Kali-Shiva Society in 1983. Kali-Shiva was a group of volunteers dedicated to providing care for people with HIV/AIDS. The organisation was renamed Sunshine House after Dione Sunshine, a two-spirit trans person who died of AIDS in January 2000.

A black and white poster advertising the Union Bank of Canada. There is a drawing of 646 Logan in the centre of the poster.
Christian Cassidy – Manitoba Free Press, May 26, 1922

Architectural Description

646 Logan Avenue was originally a Union Bank of Canada, designed by Winnipeg architects Lewis H. Jordan and Walter Percy Over. It was built in 1910 by William Horner for $10,000. The bank closed in 1939 and became a bakery and restaurant for the next several decades, with residential suites on the upper floor. Sunshine House took possession of the building in 2007 and has operated out of 646 Logan ever since.

The main floor of the building is Sunshine House’s main programming space, and includes a reception area and a kitchen. Upstairs are a laundry room, showers, the medic room, offices, and a board room with a computer community members can access. In the basement, there is a washroom and storage space for donations and harm reduction supplies—the old bank vault still exists and is used for storage.

The main programming area and front desk at Sunshine House. The room is crowded with furniture and decorations.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Sunshine House is fortunate to own the building and they have been able to adapt the space to fit their needs and make changes as needed, including the current renovations. Sunshine House hired Purpose Construction for the renovations, which will see a ramp added to the rear door, a washroom added to the main floor, the medic office moved from the second floor down to the first floor, upgrades to the kitchen, and the front desk area removed. These renovations will improve accessibility and efficiency of service delivery, as well as improving overall participant experience.

Accessibility issues, navigating shared office space, a lack of private space for meetings and conversations, limited capacity, limited storage space, and difficulty communicating between the three floors of the building are some of the challenges of operating in a building that was not designed for Sunshine House’s purpose. If the organisation could design their own space, Sunshine House would want to upsize. A larger, more versatile drop-in space with separate lounging and eating spaces, offices on the main floor, a bigger kitchen, and more resources like showers and laundry would improve participant experience. However, the current location is an old building with an unassuming, familiar, and homey feel that is often missing in brand new buildings. Sunshine House’s location at 646 Logan is important because the surrounding community relies on the drop-in centre.

Office space on the upper floor of Sunshine House. The walls are painted bright yellow and there is a black, white, and red flag on the wall that says "Kali Shiva Society".
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

At Sunshine House, the people make the space queer. The organisation focuses on inclusivity regardless of identity, with specific mandates to serve 2SLGBTQIA+ people and the community, who even refer to Sunshine House as “the gay space”. Sunshine House is a space free of assumptions, hierarchy, or formality. There is a lot of “just being” that is encouraged and permitted. It is very clearly a community space, which helps community members feel at ease.


Klinic Community Health

167 Sherbrook Street

ft3 Architecture Landscape Interior Design (2018 Renovations)
The exterior of 167 Sherbrook St. The building is grey brick with a large green and blue sign in the window listing the organisations in the building, Klinic, SERC, and OHC.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Klinic Community Health is a nonprofit charitable organisation that offers health care services, crisis support, in-person counselling, wellness and support groups, and education and training services. The organisation’s values are rooted in social justice for all. Klinic Community Health began its life in the 1970s as a grass roots effort focused on social justice. Originally called “Committee Representing Youth Problems Today” or CRYPT, they opened a drop-in centre in 1970. The following year, the Manitoba Health Services Commission provided a grant to establish basic medical and counselling services, including a 24-hour crisis line, called Klinic. The organisation was officially incorporated in 1973, and their programs slowly expanded over time. Notably, Klinic opened the first Manitoba Transgender Clinic in 2009.

The front entrance waiting area inside Klinic Community Health. There are green and blue chairs in front of large windows.
ft3 Architecture Landscape Interior Design

Architectural Description

Klinic Community Health moved to its current location at 167 Sherbrook Street in the summer of 2020. This new location is shared with Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC) and MFL Occupational Health Centre. Klinic worked closely with ft3 Architecture Landscape Interior Design on the renovations to 167 Sherbrook to create a space that is welcoming and accessible.

A closeup of the exterior of 167 Sherbrook St. There is a large green and blue sign in the window listing the organisations in the building, Klinic, SERC, and OHC.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

The 36,000 sq ft building is a major upgrade for Klinic, with eighteen exam rooms, three rooms for group therapy, five rooms for drop-in counselling, and around thirty counselling rooms, in addition to an Indigenous consultation room and an art therapy display room. An increase in lab space allows Klinic to do more work on site. The former warehouse on the north side of the building was transformed into two floors of office space to deliver primary care services. Instead of mainly private offices, Klinic has shifted to a mixed-use interdisciplinary area. People can interact freely within that space, which has changed the way people work and interact.

The increase in square footage compared to Klinic’s previous locations has enabled the health centre to grow programs and add staff. However, the Sherbrook facility is still too small as the need for services continues to grow. The basement of the building is not yet developed, which leaves potential for more expansion.

The front desk inside Klinic Community Health. There is protective glass surrounding the white and wooden desk.
ft3 Architecture Landscape Interior Design


Homo Heaven

Osborne Village

Unknown Architect
A neon sign that says "Homo" with a halo above it in the window of the house.
Mike Sudoma, 2015

Homo Heaven is a house built in 1905 in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village neighbourhood. The house was purchased by two gay men and two gay women in 1993, including performance artist Shawna Dempsey. The group house was named Homo Heaven, and the roommates made a sign and a logo for the home in response to the lack of gay signage in Winnipeg. The house is symbolic of queer house parties, which were popular before the emergence of gay bars. Homo Heaven also symbolises the “found family” narrative, common in many queer people’s lives. Homo Heaven is known across Canada as a fun and safe place to be. Since Dempsey is so well known in the arts scene, many travelling artists or folks new to Winnipeg would stay there. Today, queer and straight people alike live in Homo Heaven.

The interior of Homo Heaven. There is a red couch and a pink and red rug on the floor, and a large, bright coloured painting hangs on the greenish-beige wall.
Mike Sudoma, 2015

Architectural Description

Homo Heaven is a private residence in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village neighbourhood. Osborne Village is situated within the larger neighbourhood of Fort Rouge. The area was named after a military fort that was built around 1738 by Sieur Louis Damours de Louvieres. Likely, the fort was built to serve as a trading post between French fur traders and the Indigenous people who lived in the area. The exact location of the fort is not known, only that it was built along the Assiniboine River, and was abandoned by 1749. There were still, however, smaller trading posts within the area and by the 1870s Fort Rouge was a predominantly Metis farming community known as West St. Boniface.

Homo Heaven guestbooks on a red table.
Mike Sudoma, 2015


Two Spirited People of Manitoba Inc.

286 Smith Street

Macleod Reimer and Webster, Architectural Firm
A sepia-tone photo of the exterior of 286 Smith Street.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

In 1986, a group of community members in Winnipeg came together to assist one another and organise community events for the 2Spirit community. In September 2007, the organisation was officially recognised as a non-profit called Two Spirited People of Manitoba Inc. The community-based organisation works to assist 2Spirit & Indigenous LGBTQIA+ people in improving their lives. Two Spirited People of Manitoba Inc. conducts awareness workshops, speaks out against homophobia, transphobia and other types of discrimination, organises community events, and works in tandem with other initiatives and organisations to improve their services.

A black and white sketch of 286 Smith Street.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Architectural Description

Described at the time of its opening as a “new ultra modern” facility, 286 Smith Street was a strikingly contemporary addition to Winnipeg’s downtown in the early 1960s. Built by Credit Foncier Franco-Canadien, a large financial Franco-Canadian firm founded in Quebec during the 1880s, the building was designed by the firm of Macleod Reimer and Webster. Its design represents a mix of luxe materials, balance and a modern energy conveyed in subtle details such as the angled Tyndall stone facade sections. Beyond Tyndall stone (sourced by Garson Limestone Company Limited, of Winnipeg) the Smith Street elevation features richly toned charcoal American marble and gold anodised aluminum window frames. The building was constructed by G.A. Baert Construction, with piles and cassons fabricated by Subterranean (Canada) Ltd. The $700,000, 28,000 sq ft structure was officially opened December 6, 1963 by Manitoba Premier Duff Roblin.

The exterior of 286 Smith Street. The building is beige Tyndall stone with charcoal marble around the windows.
Winnipeg Architecture Foundation

Square footage: 73 feet north-south facing Smith Street and 120 deep (east-west). Approximately half the ground floor houses a covered single storey parking area. Across the building’s elevation four limestone panels are set between five narrow pilasters. Each window is trimmed in gold anodised aluminum, a material which also punctuates the ground floor windows and the main entrance. Building plans show elegant designed twin door handles, also in gold, set in with door pulls of heraldic crests. To demonstrate in a visual capacity the coming-together of French and Canadian partners, the building's door crests featured three gold leaves on an emerald background alternating with three royal blue fleur-de-lis on a gold background.


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