Severe thunderstorms didn't close Doors Open Winnipeg Saturday.

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This article was published 29/5/2010 (4380 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Helene Girard shows a painted vault door in the Exchange District's 1899 Silpit Building.

MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

Helene Girard shows a painted vault door in the Exchange District's 1899 Silpit Building.

Severe thunderstorms didn't close Doors Open Winnipeg Saturday.

The seventh annual weekend-long event carried on with just a few weather-related glitches.

A planned walking tour of the Upper Fort Garry site was cancelled because of the rain. It was to include a visit to the architectural dig -- but there was just too much water at the site on 130 Main St.

But the rain didn't stop walking-tour guide Danny Schur. He said his route exploring the events of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike had "plenty of places to hide" from the inclement weather.

Indoors, a few blocks away, Mariaggi's Theme Suite Hotel and Spa was packed with people planning to stay dry.

"It's amazing," said engineer Andrew Oliver, who was taking pictures during the tour. He and engineering student Ashley Keep marvelled at the architecture of Winnipeg's older buildings.

"They brought in materials from all over the world," said Oliver. "You don't see that anymore."

Keep was impressed at the extravagance and attention to detail from back in the day. The Bank of Montreal Building at the corner of Portage and Main has millions of dollars worth of gold leaf in the ceiling, said Keep.

"Everything today is 'cheaper, cheaper' and 'faster, faster,' " said Oliver.

Built in 1901 by Sir James Tupper and originally called the Albert Block, Mariaggi's was converted into one of Canada's most luxurious hotels in the early 20th century by Frank Mariaggi from Corsica, Italy.

The hotel was taken over by Don Laluk and his family. They've converted it again into theme suites from around the world.

Visitors admire the Exchange Community Church inside the 1904-built Silvester-Willson Building during Doors Open Winnipeg Saturday.

MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

Visitors admire the Exchange Community Church inside the 1904-built Silvester-Willson Building during Doors Open Winnipeg Saturday.

"We've been doing this for 20 years," said Laluk's son and general manager Lowell Laluk. The latest theme suite is the Chinese emperor's suite, he said.

The top-floor Jakarta suite is outfitted with Indonesian decor including batik wallpaper, elephant statues, a giant hot tub, a waterfall, a billiard table and a grand piano.

One of the hallways is filled with pictures of celebrities who have stayed there over the years, including Joan Rivers, Mr. Dressup (Ernie Coombs) and Dan Aykroyd.

Laluk said he's trying to confirm one of the biggest names to have visited the hotel.

He's heard King George V -- the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II -- stood on the hotel balcony -- which still has its original wrought-iron railing -- to observe the parade in his honour passing by on McDermot Avenue, said Laluk.

Doors Open Winnipeg continues today.

Doors Open: Sunday

A few of the historic buildings taking part today in Doors Open:

 

"Ø J.W. Harris House (built in 1902), 26 Edmonton

"Ø Kildonan Presbyterian Church & Cemetery (1852), 2373 Main

"Ø The Chocolate Shop Restaurant (1900), 268 Portage

"Ø Silpit Building (1899), 265 McDermot

"Ø The Belgian Club (1908), 407 Provencher

"Ø Seven Oaks House Museum (1851-1853), 115 Rupertsland

"Ø Former Dominion Bank Building (1907), 678 Main

"Ø St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Church (1890), 110 Disraeli

"Ø Marlborough Hotel (1913), 331 Smith

"Ø The Old House Revival Company (1914), 324 Young

"Ø Former CPR Station (1904), 181 Higgins

"Ø Silvester-Willson Building (1904), 75 Albert

"Ø Artspace/Gault Building (1900), 100 Arthur

"Ø Henderson Building (1910), 332 Bannatyne

 

For a complete list and more information, see www.doorsopenwinnipeg.ca

 

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.