Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Hats off to Assiniboine Park !

Leo Mol Sculpture Garden

Over the summer I was entertaining an aunt from overseas. It was a great chance to get to those places that one only visits when entertaining visitors, such as the Manitoba Museum, Lower Fort Garry etc.

Most impressive was Assiniboine Park. I have been to the park in recent years but usually to go somewhere specific, not wander around at length. I recall a decade ago that the park was looking its age. A bit tired and worn out.

Children's Garden

The park now boasts a new duck pond / picnic area, a Children's Garden and play area and a Butterfly Conservancy. You can see some of the new construction at the zoo (I assume that's the polar bear exhibit). It's looking more like the gem that it is.

Leo Mol Sculpture Garden
Leo Mol Sculpture Garden

The Leo Mol Sculpture Garden and adjoining English Garden look spectacular. Given the hot, dry summer it must take a lot of work to keep them in such great shape. The advantage is that you can probably still catch them in full bloom this late in the year.

Shards from Royal Alex Hotel

I noticed that the gardens contain a number of building fragments from long-forgotten edifices such as the Royal Alexandra Hotel (above) and the Dominion Post Office.


A friend pointed out that one thing the park is missing is a central concession area and I have to agree. The upscale restaurant and gallery in the Pavilion is great but really makes the building off limits, even as a place to go sit and cool down.

The Pavilion's second floor, then and now

I remember the old main floor concession. It was family friendly and you could grab an ice cream, canned drink, bag of cotton candy or just use the washroom and sit down for a bit.

The upstairs was a restaurant, now home to a gallery. The gallery is nice but does have a lot of dead space. I am not sure how many people visit but in the half hour we were there nobody else came in.

Cricket in the Park

And for the 20th year in a row my vow to read up a bit on the rules of cricket and go catch a few games in-person never panned out. Ah well, there's always next year !

Assiniboine Park Attractions


Kevin Hunter said...

Good Morning,

My name is Kevin Hunter and I'm the Director of Marketing & Communications for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. Thanks very much for all your great feedback on the developments at Assiniboine Park!

I just wanted to follow up on your comments regarding the need for a central concession area. You're absolutely right that this is a gap that needs to be filled and we're actually nearing completion of the new Qualico Family Centre right next to the newly expanded Duck Pond. This completely new facility will be opening in November of this year and will feature casual dining, take-out concessions, education programming as well as serving as a beautiful venue for weddings and receptions in the evenings.

This one of a kind new centre is literally nestled within the forest and will be a central hub of endless activity for generations. We look forward to unveiling it later this year and thanks again for your feedback on all things Assiniboine Park.

Kevin Hunter

Christian Cassidy said...

That's great to hear. I will go check it out when it opens !

Winnipeg Girl said...

@ Kevin - can you please make sure that with all the fancy renovations that you're doing to the park that you try to keep the original ZOO sign on Roblin? We're losing too many of our older/mid century signs and that sign would be a loss. It is perfectly succinct; although I'm totally cool with an additional sign somewhere in the lot that's all modern and fancy - make new friends but keep the old, one is (new) modern and the other is (vintage) GOLD!