Winnipeggers’ generosity celebrated on a tour through the historic Exchange District


The Winnipeg Foundation and Exchange District BIZ partner to present Walking Together: A Journey of Generosity through the Exchange

For immediate release: One hundred years ago William Forbes and Elizabeth Alloway established The Winnipeg Foundation. It is the first community foundation in Canada, and it forever changed philanthropy in our country. As part of its centennial celebrations, The Winnipeg Foundation is pleased to partner with the Exchange District BIZ to present a new walking tour through the historic Exchange District that examines our community’s philanthropic roots.  

For example, did you know…  

  • Jean Forsyth, who was a trained opera singer and performed at the Bijou Theatre (which was once located where Bijou Park now stands, next to 492 Main Street), brought together like-minded individuals to form the first Humane Society in Winnipeg.  
  • Annie McDermot Bannatyne, a fierce Métis woman, was a driving force behind the establishment of what is today the Health Sciences Centre. She was also renowned for taking a horsewhip to man after he published an offensive article about Métis women!   
  • William and Elizabeth Alloway established The Winnipeg Foundation in 1921 with a gift of $100,000. The Foundation did not receive its second gift until three years later: three gold coins valued at $5 each. This gift cemented the philosophy which guides The Foundation to this day: it is not the size of the gift but the act of giving that matters.  

Learn about Forsyth, McDermot Bannatyne, the Alloways, and many more during this 45-minute tour! It also includes information about grassroots, community-led philanthropy in various communities, including Indigenous cultures, while acknowledging historical truths society now recognizes are problematic. Tours are available now until late August.  

Beginning in mid-July, citizens will be able to demonstrate their generosity by sharing a selfie for a chance to win one of 10, $1,000 grants for their favourite Manitoba charity. Participating is easy! To enter:  

  • Take a selfie in Bijou Park next to the Journey of Generosity contest sign or with a walking tour flyer. 
  • Post it to your public Instagram or Twitter timeline (no stories).  
  • Tag @wpgfdn and use the hashtag #TWF100 
  • Name your favourite local charity. 
  • You can also email your entry to and include your favourite local charity.  
  • Complete contest rules will be available on The Foundation’s website.  

“The Foundation believes we are stronger when we work together, and this tour demonstrates why Manitobans are renowned for being the most generous in our country,” says Sky Bridges, CEO of The Winnipeg Foundation. “We are proud to celebrate our strong history of generosity, and to acknowledge hard truths in our journey forward, as we work to build ‘a Winnipeg where community life flourishes for all.’ We held a similar contest when we sponsored the Centennial River Trail earlier this year, and hundreds of Winnipeggers participated! We are excited the bring back the opportunity, which allows Winnipeggers to share their love of local charities and acknowledge the charities’ hard work and contributions.” 

“The Exchange District is a National Historic Site with more than 120 heritage buildings within an explorable area,” says Jessie Schmidtke, Marketing and Communications Coordinator with Exchange District BIZ. “Our walking tours are a great way to highlight this and connect our community with the neighbourhood’s story-filled past—including the generous people who helped build our city.” 

Tours are available Monday to Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They can be booked in advance by calling 204-942-6716 or emailing, or simply by walking up to the booth located in Bijou Park beside 492 Main Street. The cost is $10 per person, or $5 for students with a valid student ID.    

Additional Winnipeg Foundation centennial celebrations are planned throughout the year, dependent on gathering restrictions. Details are available at Stories of The Foundation’s activities during the past 100 years are available on a special website,


Media inquiries/questions:

LuAnn Lovlin, CFRE
Director of Communications & Marketing, The Winnipeg Foundation
Email LuAnn
C: 204-781-9336

Jessie Schmidtke
Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Exchange District BIZ
Email Jessie
P: 204-995-7706

The Winnipeg Foundation is For Good. Forever. We help people give back to our shared community by connecting generous donors with Causes they care about For Good. We’re are an endowment-based public foundation, so gifts are pooled and invested, and the annual earnings are distributed back to the community Forever. Formed in 1921, we are proud to be the first community foundation in Canada.

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