Everyone with a heart, a taste for dry humour, symmetry, Bill Murray and ensemble casts loves Wes Anderson. And we do too.
We also love the Accidentally Wes Anderson website, as does local photographer April Carandang whose Winnipeg Whimsies Insta account has been periodically profiling places across the city that fit within the Texas auteur’s aesthetic since August 2020.
“I’ve always loved colours, symmetry and classic facades,” said Carandang.
“I was on the subreddit Accidental Wes Anderson and then found the Instagram account later on. While going around the city, I kept noticing these spots that fit the theme perfectly, so I started documenting them on the Winnipeg Whimsies account. Soon, people noticed and started sharing their Wes-inspired photos too. It's incredible, you know, seeing not just these gorgeous spots but also finding out about their rich histories and backgrounds.”
While Carandang's photographs and captions have since caught the attention of Accidentally Wes Anderson itself, we can’t help but notice that its website is missing a guide to Winnipeg – an omission as glaring as Anderson’s lack of Academy Awards (sure Birdman was great, but Grand Budapest was the best picture of 2015, while we won’t delve into Fantastic Mr. Fox vs WALL-E, as it will only get us cussin’).
That said, we’ve teamed up with Carandang to create this new Wes-inspired Winnipeg guide that hopefully goes over better than cracking a safe at Hinckley Cold Storage. This guide also coincides with the theatrical release of Anderson's tenth feature film, The French Dispatch (across the globe on Oct.29, and my word, does it ever look good).
Get those pants hemmed above the ankles and get ready to start exploring because this is where April (and our TW staff) think you should go Accidentally Wes Anderson-ing in the city.
Roslyn Square, Osborne Village
The Village’s iconic apartment is as chic as Alistair Hennessey’s pink scarf announcing itself in his all-white yachting ensemble. Everything about the building’s facade – from its green spires, its pinkish brick, to the white trim that lends it that castle-like quality – would fit right in Zubrowka. (It is also very similar to the Tenenbaum Mansion, which is located at 339 Convent Avenue in Harlem). Within Roslyn Square, you’ll find 16 ft. ceilings and handsome wood panelling in the common areas, while the stately 2,000 sq. ft. apartments are equally charming too, with and more oak and lead windows in the rooms proper. The only thing missing is a Miguel Calderón painting in the foyer.
Fort Garry Hotel
When entering Winnipeg’s castle, the Fort Garry Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre, you half expect to find M. Ivan (moustache and all) waiting for you at reception, much like he does at the Hotel Excelsior Palace (in fact, we’ve heard that Derrick Ross, the hotel’s Senior Front Desk Agent, is a member of the Society of the Crossed Keys). With its symmetrical Old-World grandeur aesthetic, nearly every area of the place smacks of Accidentally Wes Anderson, particularly the thickly carpeted ballrooms and lavish, towering hallways. Upon checking in, you must go exploring its public areas where countless little details – from patterned wallpapers to sturdy furniture and ornate ceilings (particularly in the Oval Room) – provide more excitement for the eye than a game of Whack-Bat.
St Norbert Provincial Park
The planned log panelling (which is called Red River Frame) and rustic details that compose Bohémier House in St. Norber Provincial Park would fit right in New Penzance. Unlike Moon Rise Kingdom’s New England summer retreat setting, St. Norbert Provincial Park’s three 19th century log homes showcase what life was like in this Métis settlement, while the surrounding area has 9 km of charming pathways that you don’t need Camp Ivanhoe-approved gear to explore.
Those iconic yellow chairs! That semi-transparent roof with its lattice-like design! The staging and plays themselves, include our all-time favourite production of Little Mermaid! Everything about Canada’s oldest and longest-running open-air theatre would be revered by one Max Fisher, who we could see adapting something like Papillion within this brilliant venue in Kildonan Park.
Granite Curling Club
Surely curling will one day make it into an Anderson film, and if it does this Winnipeg location would be a perfect fit. It’s been operating since 1912, and was founded back in 1880! The Tudor-style building features brown brickwork and an iconic iron wrought front entrance with large pillars, carriage lanterns and funky font. Inside, everywhere you look you’ll find even more Accidentally Wes Anderson scenes, from the stately fireplace to sheets themselves. Because you asked, our Anderson curling dream team would include Bill Ubell, Rosemary Cross, Kovacs and of course Coach Skip as the skip.
Ornate is great is our moto when describing The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre by Canad Inns. This National Historic Site of Canada opened on January 2, 1920, and now features a rooftop patio, The Allen restaurant (named after the Allen brothers who built the building as part of their cinema chain) is open during event days at Canada Life Centre (located right across the street) and plenty of space to host an event or party. Its stage is suitable for any situation, from a Max Fisher production to an intimate banjo performance from Jarvis Cocker’s Petey.
All of the Exchange District (Particularly the Exchange Building)
Winnipeg’s Exchange District features a mighty fine collection of turn-of-the-20th century warehouses and buildings whose brick and stone facades and fanciful details could fit right in almost any Anderson production. No matter where you point your camera, you can capture a symmetrical shot that is sure to enchant. Carandang's photo of The Exchange Building and the Red River College downtown campus captures its essence perfectly (plus how great is the excavator as an ode to Fantastic Mr. Fox), while other spots of Anderson-like note include The Grain Exchange, The Pantages Playhouse, pretty much all of Albert Street, and the J.H. Ashdown Hardware Company Building, which we are currently looking at from our office as we type this.
The Dynasty Building
This delightful pop of colour in Chinatown is home to the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre, which itself features a tranquil garden replete with a pagoda-like entranceway and pond, and Manitoba’s only Chinese library. The building’s symmetrical features and splashes of red and yellow are right out of the Anderson palate, as you’ll note in this great video “Sad Characters in a Colourful World.” Much of the Dynasty Building is based on motifs found in Beijing’s Forbidden City (here’s a great bit on that via the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation) and it’s also home to Noodle Express, a great spot for dim sum.
The top floor pool at The Fairmont Winnipeg
Pools play heavily on the AWA site, so we had to include one here. The Fairmont’s is a classic, with floor tiles and a square pattern roof that bring the symmetry along with window’s that run along the south wall allowing you to swim while looking out onto The Forks and Winnipeg's downtown. From its hot tub, you could imagine enjoying some light banter with a distinguished guest like the older Zero Moustafa (as played by the impeccable F Murray Abraham), hopefully, while dreamy Portuguese renditions of Bowie play on the sound system.
Of course, this is just a snippet of Accidentally Wes Andersons you can find in the city. We plan on continuing this series further this winter while you can always reply in our social media comment sections with your own photos and suggestions.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go on an overnight drunk and in 10 days we’re going to set out to find the shark that ate our friend and destroy it. Anyone who wants to join us is more than welcome.