What You Need To Know

Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of the province of Manitoba in Canada. It is located near the longitudinal centre of North America, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers.

The city is named after the nearby Lake Winnipeg; the name comes from the Western Cree words for muddy water. The region was a trading centre for aboriginal peoples long before the arrival of Europeans. French traders built the first fort on the site in 1738. A settlement was later founded by the Selkirk settlers of the Red River Colony in 1812, the nucleus of which was incorporated as the City of Winnipeg in 1873. As of 2011, Winnipeg is the seventh most populated municipality in Canada.

Area: 464.1 km²
Population:771,200

Currency

  • The currency used in Winnipeg is the Canadian Dollar. It is recommended that visitors exchange their currency at a bank, a foreign exchange outlet or use a banking machine.

Weather

Winnipeg experiences a continental climate characterized by four distinct seasons. Average temperatures range between -12° Celsius (+10.4° Fahrenheit) in the winter months to +26° Celsius (+78.8° Fahrenheit) in the summertime. Due to its northern location, Winnipeg residents enjoy 2,300 hours of sunlight annually and up to 16 hours of sunlight daily during the summer months. Winnipeg averages approximately 51.4 centimetres (20.2 inches) of precipitation each year.

Winnipeg is ranked as Canada’s second sunniest city year-round and second for clearest skies year-round. Summers are typically warm and often humid, particularly in July, with frequent night time thunderstorms. On average, Winnipeg has 45 days a year where the humidex (combined effect of heat and humidity) reaches above 30°C.

Spring and fall tend to be rather contracted seasons, each averaging a little over six weeks. In general the weather during these seasons is highly variable, and rapidly changing. It is typical for the day to start off quite cold in the morning, but heat up considerably in the afternoon. It can be difficult to judge how to dress during this time, so layers are the best option.

Winters in Winnipeg are usually dry, and can feel colder due to the often windy conditions. The winters are long and overnight minima average below -15°C with rare extremes going down to near -40°C, though there is still much to enjoy during these months. Snow cover can be expected from mid-November to late March. The city turns on what is arguably Canada’s best display of Christmas lights from late November until well into January.

Winnipeg is also known for its high mosquito population, particularly during early summer. Dusk and dawn are the most active time for mosquitoes. Late August and September tend to provide the most pleasant environment for summer visitors.

Language

English and French are Canada’s two official languages. English is the predominant language spoken in Winnipeg. Old St. Boniface – Winnipeg’s French Quarter, is largely French-speaking. Many banks, hotels, airline offices, service institutions, shops and key tourist destinations have multilingual staff.

Winnipeg is a multicultural city. As of the 2006 census, visible minorities make up 16.3% of Winnipeg’s population, and aboriginals 10%. Much of Winnipeg’s population is of European descent, notably from England, Scotland, Germany, Ukraine, France, Ireland and Poland. More than a hundred languages are spoken in Winnipeg. The city celebrates its diversity with the Folklorama festival, the longest running multicultural event of its kind. Winnipeg is home to one of Canada’s largest French speaking populations outside of Québec, and the largest in western Canada.

Health and security

  • Winnipeg is a fairly safe place to visit. Having said this, there are certain precautions that travelers should take when visiting this Canadian city. As always, common sense is the most important tool for staying safe.

    This is a general recommendation for any unfamiliar area, but should be followed in Winnipeg as well: Walking alone at night is never a good idea, especially for women. If staying with a group is not an option, make sure to remain in lighted areas and take safe modes of transportation (car or taxi).

    Street crime, vandalism, and petty theft rates are relatively low in Canada. Winnipeg had one of the highest rates of the country’s major metropolitan areas. This has been mitigated by the implimentation of more Police Patrols, Downtown Security Patrols and the hard work of the Winnipeg Police Service and Downtown Biz. Part of the mandate of the latter organization is ensuring the downtown area is safe for locals and tourists. Not that these issues should cause major concern, but certain rules should be followed to avoid possible problems. Don’t carry around large amounts of money, and avoid wearing expensive jewelry or looking flashy. Drawing attention to yourself is never a good idea. Try blending into the crowd instead of sticking out.

    Street crime in Winnipeg is concentrated in particualar sections of the city and will not impact the average traveller that avoids these areas. Areas to be avoided at night are the North and West Ends of the city bordered by Portage Avenue North to Burrows Avenue North and Strathcona Street West to Main Street East. The Exchange District is a safe area with regular police patrols. Any other suburban area, including those close to downtown are entirely safe. Beautiful areas to walk though night or day include The Gates, Wellington Crescent North and South, River Heights, North and South Tuxedo and the Assinaboine Park and Forest. Suburban areas outside the district(s) noted above are perfectly safe and quiet.
    In case of an emergency, contact the local police department by dialing 911 from any phone.
    Manitoba is known for the high quality of our free public health care and school systems.

DON’T

  • It can get extremely cold in Winnipeg. When this happens, advisories are issued to avoid outdoor activities if possible. Dress warmly in the winter, especially if you are going to be outside for long periods of time.
  • Like many other places, Winnipeg has deployed red light cameras to catch people running red lights, but with a twist. The cameras are also equipped with photo radar, so if you speed up to make the light, you can get nailed for running and red light PLUS end up with a speeding ticket as well.

DO

  • The newest jewel in Winnipeg’s luxuriant-spa crown, Thermëa brings a bit of Scandinavia to the heart of the Canada. Let the stress soak out of you in thermal pools situated amongst the pines; indulge your senses in Finnish saunas; treat yourself to the best in body treatments and massage therapy. Then, finish your day with some exquisite dining because hey, you are worth it.
  • Visit the forks national historic site : Saturated in 6,000 years of history, the meeting of the Red and Assiniboine rivers has always been a gathering place for peoples. Across 54 beautiful acres you’ll find a bustling central market, exceptional dining and accommodations, vast treelined paths overlooking all the bends in the riverbank, a world-class skate park, a children’s play area and water park, and all the best things a Winnipeg winter has to offer, like skate rentals and access to one of the world’s longest skating rinks. It also bridges, via the sexy Esplanade Riel, the très-European St. Boniface — with its restaurants, cafés, artistic heir and francophone flavour — and the downtown core.
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