PASSION & HISTOIRE BLOG – Cool Streets Winnipeg : Making the city a brighter place, one bridge at a time.

Kenza Zaoui - Translated by Thea Wortley

Each summer, pictures of the painted bridges along the Seine river start to appear all over social media. Who paints them? Where? Why? How long? I have all those answers! 

It all started back in 2014. Stéphane Dorge was pushing to have bicycle paths constructed along Provencher boulevard. But things were moving too slowly and he decided to shift his focus to a project that could be realised faster, therefore allowing the community to benefit from it sooner. Thus, this mural project was born. 

In 2017, eleven murals were painted for the Canada Summer Games. Then in 2018, the Maison des Artistes joined the project, a non-profit organization that promotes the work of Francophone visual artists. The goal is to brighten up the city, and its pedestrian bridges, in particular to encourage their usage. If the bridges are beautiful, people will want to see for themselves, to talk about them, therefore reinforcing their importance.

As of 2020, thanks to the pandemic, all of these bridges are getting plenty of hype on Instagram. A whole new demographic of people who don’t live near the Seine river are now discovering these neighbourhoods and walking paths

The Seine River bridges in 2020.

In 2021, with the support of the CCFM (Franco-Manitoban cultural centre) and city councillors, the colourful bridges are back! 

The bridges are painted by artists found through Instagram or by word of mouth. Bridges are assigned to them randomly, depending on availability and the weather. Painting a bridge takes a few days, according to the numerous volunteers on site to help with the production : half the bridge must be accessible to pedestrians at all times. If there’s rain, you have to give the bridge a day to dry before starting or continuing the painting process.

The paint is non-toxic and acrylic based so the paintings have fairly short lifespans. Why? This way another artist will have a turn to paint a bridge the next summer and people can come back to admire a new design every year.

This bridge (Niakwa Trail) is next on the list to be painted.

I encourage you to get moving, take your bike or go for a walk to see the bridges along the Seine.They can be accessed from paths or residential streets.

As we publish this blog, only the Niakwa Road bridge is complete. But with help from the map and list below as well as Cool Streets Winnipeg’s social media, you can plan your excursions to see the recently painted bridges as the summer progresses. If all goes to plan, the bridges should be done by the end of June!

A list of the included bridges in 2021:

  1. Niakwa Road, south of Fermor;
  2. Niakwa Trail, north of Fermor;
  3. Voyageur Bridge, south of Maisonneuve, 
  4. Tremblay Bridge, between Tremblay and Edwegood streets. 
  5. John Bruce Road (north of Bois des Esprits) 
  6. Bunn’s Creek 
  7. Bunn’s Creek
  8. Bunn’s Creek

A map of the 2021 bridges: