Bonjour and welcome to Saint-Boniface, the lovely neighbourhood nestled in the heart of Manitoba’s French-speaking community.
Located just across the Red River from Downtown Winnipeg, Saint-Boniface is the perfect spot to experience the region's distinct and intertwined francophone and Métis history, while its cute shops, charming cafes and le Patio 340–a fantastic new(ish) outdoor bilingual bar and music venue–will ensure there's a little something to experience for everyone.
Saint-Boniface is a component of The Riel District, which also includes Saint-Norbert and Saint-Vital. All three areas are brimming with francophone culture and Métis history, while the culinary, theatre and cultural scene can't be beat.
Here are just a few reasons to explore Saint-Boniface to learn about the passion and history of Winnipeg’s French Quarter this summer:
So many dining options!
Saint-Boniface has pastries aplenty. And one can't walk past shops like La Belle Baguette, and Le Croissant and not be drawn in by the smell of butter and wheat coming together in perfect, flaky harmony.
After you get a pain au chocolat or tart from one of the above, grab your morning coffee from Café Postal, located in the heart of Saint-Boniface on Provencher Blvd. The tiny coffee shop has the tastiest lineup of brewed coffee and light snacks, served up by the friendliest staff (like seriously; so friendly). Try out its sweet coffee subscription to receive your reliable favourites or for something new. Sign up for weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly options.
If you’re in the mood for brunch, then you must pay a visit to the charming Marion Street Eatery. Located inside the Marion Hotel, this gem has all the flavour and tender care with a little less fuss. The spot is known for its specialty in comfort food serving up dishes like the incredible mac & cheese, the brisket hash and of course, the classic eggs Benedict.
Lunch is served with the culinary duo inside the Norwood Hotel. Reminiscent of a 1920s French bistro, Pauline Bistro serves up breakfast, brunch and lunch with quaint dishes like the brioche cinnamon bun French toast, the West Coast salmon bagel or the avocado tartine. While you’re here, its sister restaurant, the Wood Tavern (located within the same expansive room) offers campfire-inspired cuisine, great craft cocktails and plenty of local beer options. It's your perfect hangout spot to enjoy loaded burgers and incredible entrees like fish and chips, butternut gnocchi and pappardelle pasta.
When it comes to dinner spots, Saint-Boniface restaurants never disappoint. Family-owned since 1983, the Resto Gare experience takes you to dine inside of a 1913 Saint-Boniface train car. The historic train station remains as one of Winnipeg’s most stunning dining rooms, serving French cuisine alongside wood framing, grand light fixtures and scarlet drapes. It offers full service in both English and French all while playing the latest Montreal Francophone music.
If you're in the mood for some Italian (because you'd be lying if you aren't), Pasquale's is the spot. This Italian restaurant has been up and running since 1977, with its first location on Osborne Street. It eventually found its forever home on Marion Street in 1996. The restaurant is constantly busy, filled with lovely staff serving up family recipes to share (literally, these portions are enormous) like the Lasagna El Forno, chicken and eggplant parmesan and homemade bread and pizza dough kneaded by hand every day. It also has a 50-seat rooftop patio to escape the traffic below while admiring the surrounding French Quarter.
A hidden gem of sorts for fun, authentic Japanese cuisine that goes far beyond sushi is Dwarf No Cachette. Also located right on Provencher, this super kawaii spot from Tokyo-born couple Yasuko and Takekuni Akimoto features ramen, yōshoku-style dishes and so many types of yakisoba, udon, and tempuras. Look for daily specials, along with a vast selection of milkshakes to beat the summer heat.
And we can't forget about the lovely Nola. This spot is your go-to for small plates with a playful combination of unique, simple and elegant dishes. Don't pass up its incredible items like the Gunpowder Roast Carrots, the Haloumi Waldorf salad and those scallops(!) which The Globe and Mail prairie food columnist Dan Clapson described as "the best dish I've had in Canada this year."
Of course, a full day of restaurant hopping wouldn’t be the same without dessert. The Parisian-inspired, Dug and Betty's ice cream shop and café is unlike anything on this side of the prairies. It is home to small batch gourmet ice cream flavours like The Monster Cookie, Sour Cherry with dark chocolate and the coconut chocolate fudge Oreo. The cute ice cream shop sits in the heart of Winnipeg’s French Quarter across the street from the Kirouac family’s other culinary success, Inferno’s Bistro. Chocolatier Constance Popp also has your sweet tooth covered, particularly when it comes to ethical, fair-trade chocolate made into cool touristy gifts, and milkshakes made with local MB birch syrup.
Museums and Historic Sites
Saint-Boniface is host to a vast landscape of museums and historic buildings, filled with opportunities to learn more about Winnipeg's French Quarter. Enjoy a guided walking tour of Saint-Boniface to learn about the people, spaces and events that contribute to the community. Tours are offered by Ô Tours (a division of Tourism Riel/Entreprises Riel), guided in both English and French.
Stop by the Saint-Boniface Museum, the oldest building in Winnipeg. Originally a Grey Nuns convent, the building opened to the public as a museum in 1967. Also known as the "lived-in museum", the space was home to many people over the course of its 100-year life. It is a keeper of Francophone and Métis heritage and a rich reference for researchers, teachers and students.
Pay a visit to the Maison Gabrielle Roy House to discover the childhood house of Gabrielle Roy, a famed author with an impactful Canadian literary voice. Just steps away lies the Archbishops House, formerly known as Bishop’s Palace. It was built in 1864 for Archbishop-Antonin Taché and has housed the Saint-Boniface archbishops for over 150 years. It was given heritage designation by the City of Winnipeg in 2019.
Step back in time at Fort Gibraltar. The Fort was originally built by the Montreal-based North West company in 1810 at the forks of the Assiniboine and Red rivers (the version you see today is an impressive replica). Throughout summer, it is home to a staff of 10-20 voyageurs living life like it was still the early 19th century, with saucy interpreters and tradesmen taking guests back in time to the beginning of the fur-trading era. Tours are perfect for family outings, inviting kiddos to see real-life historical trades inside the blacksmith and carpentry shops.
The Saint-Boniface Cathedral-Basilica Parish, Mother Church of Western Canada, was originally built in 1906. Most of the original structure burned down in 1968, while the current church–a modern design that incorporates the west-facing ruins with its picturesque accidental oculus (the result of the original church's windows blowing out in the fire)–is actually the sixth religious building to be erected on the site. The current Cathedral, designed and completed by famed Winnipeg architect Étienne Gaboury in 1972, does a remarkable job combining the past and the present, with the two structures living in tandem with one another. It's one of the most photographed areas of all of Winnipeg, while history buffs can also find the gravesite of Louis Riel–the founder of Manitoba–within its cemetery grounds.
The Heritage Garden is a must see, located on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and Métis right on the riverfront property of the Archdiocese of Saint-Boniface. Venture through the Saint-Boniface Heritage Garden to recognize the space in honour of the Métis Nation. The array of foliage invites all to explore the grounds of the Archbishop’s residence and acknowledge the contributors to the Saint-Boniface mission.
Outdoor Markets, Culinary Events and Arts
The Riel District has it all when it comes to outdoor markets, culinary events and a vibrant arts scene.
If you’re in search of fresh locally sourced produce and other grocery items, be sure to check out the bustling St-Leons Gardens (Saint-Vital), as well as the St. Norbert Farmers Market (Saint-Norbert). We always love to keep it local.
The arts in Saint-Boniface is lively and strung together with creative centres like the Centre culturel Franco Manitobain, La Maison des artistes’ visuals francophones and Théâtre Cercle Molière. You can also catch Francophonie Thursdays, a weekly event showcasing the notable markets and spaces that bring the fanco-manitoban culture to the lovely Saint-Boniface. Catch even more creative action with culinary events including the internationally recognized Folklorama in July and the Festival Du Voyageur in February.
Saint-Boniface the perfect place to explore the lively environment with trails and gardens that encompass the French Quarter. Here is a list of the area’s parks and outside spaces to look for during your next outdoor experience:
- Esplanade Riel Bridge
- La Vérendrye Park and La Vérendrye Monument
- Lagimodière-Gaboury Park
- Provencher Park
- Seine River Trail (1.25 km)
- The Old St. Boniface Trail (9km)
- Sculpture Garden