Literary landmarks: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Winnipeg was, and is, home to plenty of authors, including Gabrielle Roy, Miriam Toews and Guy Gavriel Kay, which makes it the perfect place for book lovers to visit this summer. Use our suggestions as a starting point for a tour of the literary landmarks in the Manitoba capital.

Headed to another city? Check out our complete Literary Landmarks series here.

Ralph Connor House



Ralph Connor was the pen name for Charles William Gordon, a reverend who was once the master of Upper Canada College. Under the name Ralph Connor, Gordon became one of Canada's most successful novelists, selling more than five million copies of his books. His best-known novel is The Sky Pilot, which was published in 1899. This house was built in 1914 and his family lived in it until Ralph Connor died in 1937. Today, the home is a National Historic Site of Canada, an event centre and the home to the University Women's Club of Winnipeg. 

McNally Robinson Booksellers


Image: McNally Robinson Facebook Page

McNally Robinson is one of Canada's largest independent bookstores. A strong supporter of Canadian literature, the store hosts many events and has a very large selection of books by Canadian and local authors. Stop by, browse around and be sure to buy a book from this iconic Canadian store.

Ivan Franko Museum


Image: Google Maps

Ivan Franko was a Ukrainian writer, poet and translator, whose work and activism greatly influenced contemporary Ukraine. This museum is the only museum in the world outside of Ukraine to be dedicated to Franko.

University of Manitoba


Image: JamesTeterenko, Wikimedia

The city's largest institution of higher education has been a refuge and champion for arts and culture in Manitoba since its formation in 1877, when it became the first public university in western Canada. Literary alumni include Guy Gavriel Gay, Adele Wiseman and Miriam Toews.

Elizabeth Dafoe Library


Image: Tanja Harrison, Creative Commons

Elizabeth Dafoe was the chief librarian at the University of Manitoba from 1937 until 1960. Dafoe was central to shaping not only the university's library, but libraries across the country, even serving at the president of the Canadian Library Associations and championing the idea of a National Library of Canada. The library named in her honour is home to a wide variety of the university's special collections and is a wonderful sanctuary for students and bookworms alike.

Winnipeg Free Press Building


Image: Interlaker, Wikimedia

300 Carlton Street is not the current home for the Winnipeg Free Press, nor was it the first. But it is the most important and possibly the most charming, having housed Manitoba's oldest newspaper for 78 years, from 1913 to 1991. It's not open to the public, but its beautiful architecture is worth a stroll to check it out.

Manitoba Legislative Building


Image: Canucks4ever83, Wikimedia

Take a walk on the legislature grounds to check out the many statues, including several with literary connections: poet and artist Taras Shevchenko, the famous five memorial featuring activists and writers Nellie McClung and Emily Murphy, Louis Riel, Scottish poet Robbie Burns, and aviator and spy Sir William S. Stephenson who was the inspiration for Ian Fleming's James Bond. You can download a free self-guided tour of the grounds here.

La Maison Gabrielle Roy


Image: Travel Manitoba, Creative Commons

Gabrielle Roy lived in this home-turned-museum from her birth in 1909 to 1937, when she left to travel. Her novel Street of Riches is set in this house. Roy's mother sold the home in 1936, but lived in an apartment in the house until her death in 1981. Open since 2003, the museum offers tours in both French and English and plays an active role in supporting writing, arts and culture in Winnipeg.

Shakespeare in the Ruins



Take in a traditional Shakespeare play in a non-traditional setting thanks to this theatre series. Since 1991, Shakespeare in the Ruins have been putting on the bard's best work outdoors, rain or shine, making it a memorable experience for visitors.

Thanks to CBC Winnipeg's Sandy Thacker for helping build this list.