Goodbye Paddlewheel

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the Paddlewheel Restaurant on the sixth floor of The Bay Downtown will soon be closing. The announcement came as both sad and happy for me.

Sad because the Paddlewheel has been such a cornerstone in this city–and even my own life–for so long. I remember going there as a kid for fish and chips and seeing Sharon, Lois and Bram, and even now, I still meet up with my good friend every Christmas Eve for lunch. I’m not sure how that happened, except that it’s become a tradition that we both cherish.

My grandmother actually worked at the Bay for 30 years and I distinctly remember going to visit her on the fifth floor of the draperies department with my grandfather. After we’d visit her, we’d go upstairs for lunch. It’s a memory I’ll carry with me always.

I know it’s been a gathering place for so many for decades–stop in for lunch any day and you’ll see how many people there are. I’ve always marveled at its size–it must be the biggest restaurant in the city. It is probably one of the few places left where you can have a full lunch for less than $5 and I always found it so intriguing that they sold wine and beer right next to the bright green Jell-O. It’s the kind of place that will always remind me of another era and another time. (I’ve been known to joke that I’d like to have my wedding there.)

Of course, despite the memories that will be lost, the change does signal something very important as well. Something exciting for downtown.

With The Bay Downtown’s recent changes and the addition of the Zellers to the basement, it’s clear that change is happening. Downtown is evolving and growing for the better.

The Avenue Building on Portage Avenue is looking spectacular with its fresh coat of paint and sense of progress. I can’t wait for the first people to move in there–it’s going to be such an exciting and dynamic place to be. The new Titanic exhibit is opening next week, after the wildly successful Bodies show drew thousands of people downtown.

The new police cadets are out in full force, manning the streets in their bright blue coats and the Downtown Watch continues to grow, making the streets safer and more accessible for everyone.

There are tons of great events planned for downtown this summer. If you were at Lights on Broadway last year–you saw what can happen when a city comes alive. It was amazing.

While I’m definitely sad to see the Paddlewheel go, I’m also eager to see what is coming next. We can cherish the memories of the past and remember Winnipeg for what it once was–and that will always be important, but for us to keep moving, we must do just that–keep moving.

So, Oliver and Bonacini Restaurants–welcome to downtown Winnipeg. I can’t wait to see what you have planned.

2 thoughts on “Goodbye Paddlewheel

  1. While change is both good and exciting, there is something to be said about tradition and nostalgia. I love The Bay downtown. It symbolizes so much of what Winnipeg was and is, that it’s almost disappointing to watch where it is heading.

    Piece by piece it’s losing it’s charm and slowly morphing into a suburban big box store with funky urban packaging.

    Take Rae & Jerrys for example. That place is set in another era, untouched by time and still as fabulous as it ever was. I don’t think it would be half as successful if they made changes to ‘keep up’.

    Just my early morning thoughts

  2. I’m sad to see the paddlewheel restaurant go too. There is something wonderful in the dated feeling it has. I have memories of going there for lunch as a kid with my mom, and though currently go there less than once a year, I still want it to stick around forever, and agree with you, it would be a great spot to host larger functions like weddings!

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