I arrived at 219 Provencher Boulevard a little before 5:30 p.m. The tour is guided by Philippe. Native of Saint-Boniface, but having grown up in Saint-Norbert, being the host of these tours allows Philippe to remain active in his community.
Philippe starts right away by having us go upstairs, to observe a painting from 1883 of Provencher Boulevard and compare the past and present times. Then, once outside, he begins to tell the story of Saint-Boniface, the Red River Mission, the birth of the community, the different municipal status types Saint-Boniface held, the differences between Saint-Boniface and Winnipeg, situated on the other side of the Red River.
As his narrative progresses, we continue along Provencher Boulevard: the old City Hall, the old fire station, the Sculpture Garden, Provencher Park… Philippe recites anecdotes and historical elements with enthusiasm. Did you know that Provencher Boulevard is a continuation of Broadway Avenue?
Another story awaits at the CCFM as we arrive at our first stop: Stella’s au CCFM, where we are served a drink and an appetizer. During the tasting, participants’ conversations abound about their Saint-Boniface, their first Festival du Voyageur, their memories and the things they love most about the neighborhood.
It’s time to leave – next stop the Resto Gare and the entrée. We are greeted by Linda, the owner of this unique place, where we are seated in an old, repurposed CN train car. The cuisine is refined and the decor is elegant, and the salad of the day that we were served converted me to a beet eater!
Next we start a grand walking tour of Old Saint-Boniface, mixing modern institutions (La Vérendrye Centre, Saint-Boniface University) and historical ones (the Cathedral), all the while talking about Gabrielle Roy, Étienne Gaboury and Louis Riel.
Discover something new at every stop. Philippe anticipates every participant’s reaction and loves to see the expression on people’s faces when they discover something they didn’t know and exclaim “Really? I had no idea!” (I think I also uttered this phrase at some point during the tour).
And here we are at our third restaurant of the evening: Promenade Cafe and Bistro, for a glass of wine and a dish of your choice between meat and fish. The decorations are cheerful and subdued, French cuisine true to my home country. One thing that I really enjoyed while enjoying our tasty dish – hearing the participants talk about – food!
Next up is dessert time on the Esplanade Riel. You’ve probably already tried the sweet or savory crêpes from Ker Breizh, two French entrepreneurs who share the culinary specialty of their home region, La Bretagne. My suggestion? Choose the salted caramel, a real treat.
Put aside about 3 hours and 30 minutes for the culinary tour and 5 km of walking so wear comfortable walking shoes! The tour takes place every Wednesday in August and September and reservations can be made online at