Winnipeg’s new airport terminal brings the Manitoba capital into the 21st century

I love to travel, and frequently travel through the terminal at Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. What a joy it was, when on October 30, 2011, a new state-of-the-art terminal was finally opened to the public after more than four years in the making.

An evening shot of the new airport terminal courtesy of Winnipeg Airports Authority.

A joint effort of US-based Master architect, Pelli Clarke Pelli, who have also been responsible for various world class designs including the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the World Financial Center in New York, and our own local architectural firm of Stantec, Winnipeg’s new terminal is proudly the newest and greenest of all airports in Canada.

A nice shot of the awesome lights in the terminal courtesy of Winnipeg Airports Authority.

A nice high for Winnipeg to enjoy. Combined with the recent return of the Winnipeg Jets pro hockey team, and the fact that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the Eastern final in the Canadian Football League game today–getting them into the Grey Cup championship game next weekend–the Manitoba capital is really enjoying a much-needed resurgence.

Many of you reading this may have never been to Winnipeg and are likely wondering, why visit this land of ice and snow? It’s true. We have winter for five months of the year (generally from early November through March) during which we time we usually have ice, snow, and below freezing temperatures.

But I must tell you, Winnipeg is a warm place to come at any time of the year. People are caring and friendly. They welcome you into their lives and their homes. I have friends who have lived in larger cities for many years and have yet to make any close friends. That just doesn’t happen in Manitoba. If you’re here and you’re friendly … you’re family, and are welcome into our homes and to share our hopes and dreams.

Can those of you living in larger centres say that? I was born and raised in Winnipeg, and have lived all of my life within an hour’s drive of the city. We have our problems with respect to crime and that’s part of the reason I have chosen to live in smaller communities in rural Manitoba the past 30+ years. But overall, it is a clean, inviting urban landscape that offers unsurpassed multi-cultural and cultural options, a thriving creative community, affordable cost of living and stable economy that makes all of us who know it, love it.

Please come and see us. If you come before April 1st, bring your parka and boots. But be assured that the warmth we extend your way will nurture your spirit and make you wonder why it took you so long to finally make the journey.

Back on the subject of the Winnipeg Airport, our long stretch of winter weather does make me wonder why they didn’t enclose the walkway from the parkade to the terminal. No matter how warm you are inside, the blowing winds outside can quickly chill your enthusiasm when you walk outside that lovely new terminal building.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

24 Responses

  1. Winnipeg and Manitoba are truly amazing – and I appreciate the way you celebrate them in your blog post. The cultural history of Winnipeg alone, with the internationally acclaimed Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Manitoba Theater Centre say much for the city’s vibrancy. Music greats Neil Young, Randy Bachman, and Chantal Kreviazuk, among others originated in Winnipeg.

    Up and coming musicians, now in their teens and from virtually every ethnic group, are now starting to make their mark in the music world. Some of them will be the stars of tomorrow.

    Winnipeg is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in North America.

    Visitors to our city and province can expect friendly hospitality (as well as great food in restaurants of all kinds).

  2. Tracy says:

    Manitoba as a whole is a fantastic province. There is such rich diversity in culture and landscape. Living on the edge of the Canadian shield, I am in awe of the beauty. I also grew up in the south on a farm and appreciate on the “flat land” has to offer. As often as possible my family and I make our way down to Winnipeg to enjoy such a wide variety of events: hockey games, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Cirque du Soleil, all sorts of concerts and of course shopping. Also of note is the high qulaity restaurants that are scattered throughout. The movement toward local, organic quality foods is very evident.
    Love my home province!

    • Thanks very much to Tracy and Daly for opening the conversation on this post.

      I’m glad you mention the fact that Winnipeg is cosmopolitan, Daly, as I don’t think many people see it that way. I think our multi-culturalism really adds to the personality of the city and I’m so glad to see that we’re finally enhancing that with some amazing infrastructure.

      Thanks for providing your rural perspective, Tracy. It’s great to live in rural MB, but it’s wonderful to have the cultural attributes of the city so close at hand.

  3. Linda Strange says:

    HI Doreen: In my communications with friends and relatives in big cities around the world, I get a giggle by telling them it takes me 15 minutes to get downtown in rush hour; and about an hour from one side of the city to the other.
    While enjoying the climates of other countries, my thought is usually …”nice place to visit, but…”
    Truly, there’s no place like home.
    Linda

  4. Marlo Boux says:

    The new airport is gorgeous! I had the pleasure of seeing it only a few days after it opened on my way to Los Angeles. It really reflects the beauty and passion Winnipeg has to offer.

    • Thanks for your comments, Linda and Marlo.

      Yes, we’re fortunate to now have an airport that reflects the artistic beauty of Winnipeg and Manitoba in general. Much better way to make a great first impression with visitors and makes us locals proud when we return from abroad.

  5. Boomergirl says:

    My hubby is from Winnipeg so we’ve always had a strong affection for the city. Still remember the 1st time I flew into Winnipeg from Toronto. Couldn’t believe how easy it was to navigate Winnipeg’s airport. Looking forward to flying in to Winnipeg’s new airport digs. Pix on this post suggest it’s impressive.

  6. Bo Kauffmann says:

    Winnipeg is a very under-rated city. I find that even our own citizens often dont appreciate what we have here. But what’s happening lately is truly amazing. Starting with the new airport, but also the new Hydro Building, MTS Centre, the new Stadium, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, major upgrades to our zoo and the list goes on and on. Our provincial government spends less on tourism advertising than some smaller provinces, so its important that bloggers, such as Doreen, help spread the word about this hidden treasure we call Winnipeg.

  7. Thanks for your comments, Judy and Bo.

    Judy: Yes, the new terminal is definitely impressive. And green! Said to be the greenest building in Canada for a structure of its size. And do let me know the next time you visit Wpg. Would be nice to get together.

    Thanks so much, Bo, for your acknowledgment and encouragement! You’re right in that Wpg is often under-rated — both by our local inhabitants, but certainly by those in other centres as well. It drives me crazy when I hear people refer to our city as “Winterpeg.” I must admit, for that reason, I didn’t appreciate the art depicting ice at the airport. Couldn’t we have focused on the loveliness of spring, summer and fall? Thanks again for dropping into the blog.

  8. Hmmm… maybe that was water in front of the terminal, or maybe just some artistic photoshopping? ( I don’t remember any mention of skating….)

    My husband and I used the new airport two days after the opening, and all systems were working well! As one can see from the photos, the “look” is stupendous ! Very airy and space-agey . And what a pleasure to experience brand-new facilities, walk on new carpet etc!

    New shops as well – including Rocky Mountain Candy Company which had a great intro deal on packaged caramel corn. ( Sorry, Doreen, we didn’t try the chocolate) I hear that Stella’s will be there as well. Very little on the non-departure side – I guess they want to encourage people to go through security as soon as they get there.

    The volunteers are still there and extremely helpful – quite an advantage , especially in the early days when we don’;t know our way around yet. There’s a central information booth/lost and found to help as well.

    The new airport made me feel that I was ” somewhere” – and that somewhere is Winnipeg, where we seem to be feeling more and more optimistic about most aspects of our city.

    It’s a classy place!

    • Yay, Laurel! Welcome to the blog, and thanks so much for sharing your personal impressions of the new Winnipeg “airport” experience. I’m looking forward to going thru the terminal on Friday when we leave for Missouri. (We’d done a test run a couple of weeks ago, but haven’t yet gone thru security.)

      Yes, it’s really nice to be able to feel proud of all the awesome stuff happening in Wpg and MB in general. Makes me proud to be a Manitoban and (former) Winnipegger. Will share my further impressions of the airport once we actually go thru the entire process, and will also look forward to hearing Bev’s comments (she wrote and said she’s got a trip this weekend and will share her impressions after her return.)

      Funny you should mention the Rocky Mountain Candy Company, Laurel, as I was eating their chocolate nut fudge this morning! It’s absolutely luscious!

  9. Adeline says:

    What a beautiful airport, Doreen. I haven’t been to Winnipeg yet. But after reading this, it’s going to definitely be in my list of places to visit.

  10. We travelled thru the US departures portion of the Wpg airport terminal on Friday, Nov 25th.

    Was disappointed to learn that Stella’s is not open yet, and that it will be on the 2nd floor departures area (presumably for Canadian departures.) We had lunch at the TGI Friday’s on the 3rd floor and it was good.

    Will post another comment when we return thru the arrivals area on Dec 2nd.

  11. Gorgeous photos! I think that we underestimate the importance of an airport. It can set the tone for a person’s visit as it’s often the first connection to a place. Looks like a lot of thought, brains and money went into this one! Lots to be proud of Doreen. Thanks for letting the world know about this!

    • Thanks for your comment, Sandra.

      You are so right about the importance an airport terminal serves when receiving new visitors to its city/region. We flew this week in and out of the Springfield, Missouri National Airport and were very impressed. It’s small, bright and clean, and really reflects the friendly spirit of the state. We truly felt welcomed, the moment we landed. That set the stage for a terrific week of touring.

      And I promised to give an update re the Arrivals section of the new Winnipeg Airport Terminal. We found it to be highly efficient, and much more light and airy than the previous arrivals area. My only real criticism of the terminal is that the walkway to the parking terminal is not enclosed. In view of the 5 months of winter weather we experience in MB, that would have been such a nice touch.

  12. Wendy Peck says:

    Doreen — love that shot of the new airport. I picked up and a few days later, dropped him off again, at the new terminal. I love it. Driving up to the departures just makes so much sense, and the parking is great. Thanks for highlighting it.

  13. Doreen
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for dropping by the new blog, Wendy, and for your comments about the airport. Yes, overall… I think the designers did a great job. I just hope we can raise the funds to enclose that walkway from the parkade to the terminal. I hope you had a great visit with your son.

  14. CheapOair says:

    What a cool looking design! Airports, globally need to be upgraded to be more comfortable for the traveler as demand increases.

  15. CheapOair says:

    Doreen,

    Would you be interested in guest blogging on our travel blog?

    If so, you can e-mail me at rmastriani@fareportal.com

    Thanks,

    Rich

  16. Pawlina says:

    As a former Winnipegger who has travelled “back home” often, I was amazed and delighted last month when I first foot in the new airport. Much brighter than the old terminal, so a much nicer experience for travellers. Although, according to a former airline colleague stationed there, the designers didn’t take into consideration the practical needs of the workers. Hopefully that will be dealt with soon so that everyone can fully enjoy the new digs.

    • Doreen
      Twitter:
      says:

      Thanks so much for joining us here on the blog, Paulette (Pawlina – for those who don’t know your Ukrainian persona!)

      Yes, the new terminal is great, but hopefully, they will complete the perks and as you say, make it more user friendly for all – incl the workers!

  17. This is very interesting! Great information and it is also very well written. I will bookmark and comeback soon.

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