Thursday, July 17, 2014

Take a hike! (Ok, a walk, a guided walk...)

Last fall I was lucky enough to get to go on one of the mural tours offered by the West End Biz. If you haven't been and you are looking for something unique to do in Winnipeg, this could be it. It's doubly great because while interesting for an out-of-towner, it's also really interesting for locals - no complaining that "there's nothing to do"!! The tours are also only $5 for adults and $2 for kids, so it falls under cheap things to do as well. If you're not from Winnipeg, know that being cheap or free often is a deciding factor for a Winnipegger.

Let's get the contact stuff out of the way so it doesn't get lost at the bottom of the blog post. If you are interested in taking one of these great tours, you can visit the West End Biz website at
or email directly. Heck, you can even go old school and call them at 204-954-7900.

These tours run until the end of August, but don't wait, if I recall correctly, space often sells out!

One of my favourite murals from the day was this one, of Zoohky, and I asked Sasha, one of this year's mural tour guides to refresh my memory about the story behind this one and this is what she had to say:
The one with the man and the bike is called “Zoohky” and is at 635 Sargent Ave. This was painted by Jill Sellers in 2003. This mural celebrates Walter Zielke Ruesch, also known as Zoohky. Zoohky lived in the West End for the majority of his life and was known by the whole community as helpful and kind-hearted. He would go around the community and found things that people had discarded such as old bicycles, stereos, toys, etc. and would fix them and donate them to families who benefitted from them. He didn’t have a means of supporting himself, so businesses in the community would give him donations so that he could continue living his lifestyle. He also lived with many cats that he rescued off the street and the local Safeway gave him cat food. Initially, the bicycle was not included in the mural but members of the community requested that it be included, so the artist went back a year later to paint the bicycle in. Zoohky was also a poet in his own right and in the mural he is holding his poem “Blue Danube.” This was published in the community newspaper West Central Streets. Zoohky passed away in 2002 at the age of 73.
I also really enjoyed the mural near the new University of Winnipeg building (which has TREES in it - they built around them, how cool is that?!) that was in tribute to the former Galaxy Roller Rink that was torn down to build the new classrooms and accommodation. I grew up being a "Saints" girl in my prime roller skating years but I did go to Galaxy a few times before it closed. We shall not even discuss the sad state that is the current Wheelies location. But now I am getting horribly off topic.

There are so many murals in the West End that the tour couldn't possibly take all of them in, but in whatever tour you take you'll get to learn so much more about history in Winnipeg, and of the West End in particular.

Be sure to ask your tour guide what the girls on the right were originally holding!