Contact Travel Manitoba (tel. 800/665-0040 or 204/927-7800; www.travelmanitoba.com). You can also visit the Explore Manitoba Centre at 21 Forks Market Rd., open daily 9am to 6pm mid-May to early September. For specific Winnipeg information, contact Tourism Winnipeg (259 Portage Ave.; tel. 800/665-0204 or 204/943-1970; www.tourismwinnipeg.com), open Monday through Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm, or stop by the information kiosk at Winnipeg International Airport (tel. 204/982-7543), open daily 8am to 9:45pm.
A native Winnipegger once said to me, "I still can't get used to the confined and narrow streets in the east." When you see Portage Avenue and Main Street, each 40m (131 ft.) wide (that's 9m/30 ft. off the width of a football field), and the eerie flatness that means no matter where you go, you can see where you're going, you'll understand why.
The Forks -- the site of the original Winnipeg settlement, at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers -- remains a hub of the city, with its historic warehouses converted to shops and restaurants, and the ample riverside green space dedicated to festivals and concerts. Northwest of the Forks is the city's most famous corner, Portage Avenue and Main Street -- the focus of the city's high-rise commercial district. This intersection is also known as the historic site of the 1919 General Strike and has the reputation as the windiest spot in Canada (it has to do with the way the business towers funnel the prevailing winds).
The Red River runs north-south, as does Main Street; the Assiniboine River and Portage Avenue run east-west. Going north on Main Street from the Portage Avenue-Main Street junction will bring you to City Hall, the Exchange District, the Manitoba Centennial Centre (including the Manitoba Theatre Centre), the Manitoba Museum, and on into the North End, once a mosaic of cultures and still dotted with bulbous Ukrainian church domes and authentic delis.
From Portage Avenue and Main Street, if you go 6 blocks west along Portage Avenue (a major shopping district) and 2 blocks south, you'll hit the Convention Centre. From here, going 1 block south and 2 blocks west brings you to the Legislative Building, the art gallery, and south, just across the Assiniboine River, trendy Osborne Village.
On the east side of the Red River, across the Provencher Bridge, is the old French-Canadian settlement of St. Boniface. Boulevarde Provencher is the main commercial street through St. Boniface, while avenue Taché runs along the riverfront and past the ruined facade of the Roman Catholic cathedral.