It’s fitting that the signature detailing on Winnipeg designer Lennard Taylor’s raw-denim jeans is a stitched Prairie-grass motif that he says is a “tribute to Canada’s grain farmers.” Taylor not only makes most of his distressed-denim pieces and recycled-leather accessories himself but also hand-writes sayings like “Enjoy the little things that make you happy” on each of his sales tags. His year-and-a-half-old shop epitomizes the kind of unexpected gems you’ll discover in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, the city’s trendiest ’hood, where dozens of art studios, design shops and restaurants are tucked into brick-clad heritage buildings and warehouses. It’s a great place to poke around on a late summer afternoon while keeping another of Taylor’s “tag mottoes” in mind: “Enjoy the beauty of this moment!”
SHOP Just around the corner from Taylor’s studio is Tiny Feast, a stationery and home-goods shop that printmaker Drex Serduletz and graphic designer Danika Bock opened after being inspired by a trip to Copenhagen. Pick up some contemporary handmade mugs from the Mud and Stone studio, run by local potters Jenn McCurry and Lynne Mulvihill.
LUNCH As a nod to Winnipeg’s Ukrainian heritage, order the borscht alongside your “chicken fried chicken” sandwich at Deer and Almond, chef Mandel Hitzer’s laid-back Exchange District resto. It’s just a six-minute walk from the new Alt Hotel Winnipeg, where each of the 160 rooms showcases a different collection of little square paintings by Winnipeg artist Cliff Eyland.
EXPLORE Head across the Red River to St. Boniface, the heart of the city’s French community. At Café Postal, grab a latte or a homemade pickle-brine soda (“It’s a great hangover cure,” says co-owner Louis Lévesque-Côté) before perusing French bookstore Librairie À la Page and popping into the kitschy Dwarf no Cachette Cafe & Gift Shop, where the decor MO is thoroughly garden gnome.
TOUR Yes, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the underwater polar-bear-viewing tunnel at Assiniboine Park Zoo are good options, but make time to join a more unexpected outing too. Architectural historian Frank Albo’s Hermetic Code tour of the Manitoba Legislature offers up the tale of the 1920s building’s hidden hieroglyphic inscriptions, Egyptian sphinxes, famous Golden Boy topper and more. For a patriotic snack, take along a Manitoba-shaped hazelnut chocolate bar from local chocolatier Constance Popp.
DRINK & DINE Be sure to make a reservation at Enoteca, the city’s buzziest new resto. Chef Scott Bagshaw’s latest outpost offers up savoury share plates, like braised beef short ribs with oyster sauce and roasted cauliflower with citrus and capers. The small curated wine list includes $5 tasting sizes, making it easy to switch things up with every shared course.