St. Vital was established by Francophone settlers in 1822 and was named by Archbishop Taché in 1860, in honour of his colleague, Father Vital-Justin Grandin. Today, it’s a sprawling suburb with lots of greenspace, local eateries, and plenty of shops and services.
Located along the Red River, St. Vital Park’s hiking and cycling trails provide picturesque views of the water. Barbecue pits, athletic fields, toboggan slides, cross-country ski trails and a play structure make this a great spot for picnics, family gatherings and recreation. If you’ve got Fido in tow, then head to the off-leash dog park, Maple Grove Park, a large urban green space located at St. Mary’s Road and the Perimeter, that’s a popular spot for dogs and owners to socialize. For more outdoor fun, grab your clubs and head to the Winnipeg Canoe Club Golf Course, a public course nestled along the Red River.
Also located in St. Vital is Riel House National Historic Site which contains Louis Riel's family home, where his descendants continued to live until 1969. It is here, in the living room of his mother's house, that Riel's body laid in state for two days in December 1885. The house itself, a Red River frame building (a style of construction popular for this region) has been restored to reflect the spring of 1886.
In St. Vital, one of the hardest dinner reservations to get is at Santa Ana, a small Italian bistro with big heart. Their loyal following of customers is due to both thin, crispy wood-fired pizzas and fluffier stone-baked versions. New to the area is Harth Mozza & Wine Bar, whose extensive wine list and time-honoured Italian recipes served family-style have already made it into one of the busiest spots in the area. When Winnipeg heats up in the summer, locals flock to hidden gems Licks Ice Cream Patio or Dairy Delight. Both family-run spots offer delicious soft serve and other frozen treats.
Jardins St-Léon Gardens is Winnipeg’s only Francophone outdoor market. Locals seeking seasonally grown fruit and vegetables, fresh breads and baguettes baked daily, cheeses, home-made jams, and flowers and bedding plants visit this seasonal shop.
For those who like to shop, Winnipeg’s second largest mall, St. Vital Centre, houses more than 160 shops and services, a state-of-the-art movie theatre, dining hall, several casual restaurants and a warm atmosphere. Down the road, you can browse through more than 3,000 types of wine, gifts and gourmet products with the help of certified sommeliers inside Banville & Jones Wine Co., a gorgeous Tuscan-inspired boutique. Of particular note is their room of exceptional vintages, where rare, specialty wines are shelved in temperature- and humidity-controlled environments.