A man walks across the street wearing distressed denim along
with a tight black tee shirt that covers a third his full sleeve tattoos. He has a sharp haircut and black sunglasses. Under his arm is an environmentally friendly grocery bag. In it, is freshly picked rhubarb, which he is bringing to his friend’s house. Today, they will be making preserves with this rhubarb – a day of canning if you will – followed by a stroll along this charming neighbourhood’s historical, tree line streets to get a fresh loaf of organic spelt bread (whose grains were locally stone-milled no less) on which to spread their preserves.
This is Wolseley, a diverse neighbourhood where the cool kids, families, artsy types, and all round good people call home. It’s affectionately known as “The Granola Belt” of Winnipeg and it features one of the most intact pre-1930 residential areas in Canada. It’s pretty much the poster child of whimsical charm in Winnipeg.
Where to eat and shop
You can’t say you’ve done Wolseley without a trip to the original Tall Grass Prairie, which opened on Westminster Avenue in 1990 and has since expanded to several locations across the city. The bakery supports organic agriculture and works closely with Manitoba farmers whose grains they stone-grind at their Forks Market location. Their cinnamon buns and Folk Fest cookies are legendary, so you’d be silly not to purchase them along with some excellent, old school breads.
Another institution is De Luca’s Specialty Foods. This culinary emporium made its name selling imported Mediterranean food and all things related to great Italian coffee. Their deli serves premium meats, cheeses and take-away entrees, and the shelves are lined with pasta, sauces, produce and espresso. They have an on-site bakery; a wine shop with some great vintages (and not just Italian, also some great bottles from British Columbia) and you can also take cooking classes. And if that isn’t enough, affable butchers – a couple of whom have brought their craft from the Old World – staff their meat counter.
Live music and pizza, now if that isn’t a winning combo we don’t know what is. The folks at Bella Vista know this well, and they’ve been serving quality slices and hosting acts of all genres for years now, making it a Wolseley mainstay.
Eco-conscious shoppers head to Organic Planet Worker Co-op for organic, fair-trade and locally produced groceries, as well as home and body care products. The on-site deli offers freshly squeezed juices and smoothies, from-scratch vegan soups and baked goods made with locally ground spelt flour.
Another institution in the neighbourhood is Prairie Sky Books, having served the community since 1978. Read up on astrology, yoga and tai chi, or pick up beautiful crafts sourced from around the world, including woodcarvings, glass art and beeswax candles.
We’re not spinning a yarn by saying crocheting is cool, which the fine folks at Wolseley Wool have known for years. This independent store has it all from colours, patterns, and fibres, while they also regularly have classes to help develop your DIY side.
It must be mentioned that Sherbrook Street, which lays claim to one of Winnipeg’s best restaurant scenes, also straddles the Wolseley boarded.
Things to See and Do
Take a walk in Wolseley and check out the local architecture and historical buildings along the way, which you can read about here from the Manitoba Historical Society. Along the way, should it be a Tuesday or Thursday from June to October, you’re sure to spot all the locals congregating at the Wolseley Farmers Market where fresh produce, meats, honey and crafts are always available.
Visit the former residence of Canadian women’s right activist Nellie McClung, who lived at McClung House from 1911-1914. A blue metal oval plaque out front marks the spot while nearby, a plaque at Wolseley Avenue and Lenore Street recognizes McClung’s involvement in the social reform and women’s suffrage movements in the early 20th century.
Located on the western edge of Wolseley, Omand Park is home to baseball diamonds, several pathways and Omand’s Creek. This creek is an important habitat for fish and other wildlife, including mallards, great blue herons, muskrats, jackrabbits, painted turtles and northern pike. Enter Omand’s Park off Ragland Road.
The grand towers, stunning stained glass and dramatic neo-gothic architecture of Westminster United Church have made this place of worship a neighbourhood landmark since 1892. Catch regular concerts here by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra or as part of the church’s organ performance series.