It’s a Friday afternoon and the # 10 bus is nearly empty as it exits the loop on Aubrey Street. It’s a bit early for the after-work commuters and a bit late for the after-school crowds. I am far from alone, however.
As the bus – a dated thing with lumpy blue vinyl seats and rocky idle – rolls east on Wolseley, John K. Samson draws my attention to the brick walls and limestone trim of Laura School. Secord, which I learn was designed by architect JB Mitchell and opened in December 1913.
No, the leader of the Weakerthans doesn’t spend his days on the bus, pointing out local landmarks to other runners in a soft, monotonous tone. Not exactly. Samson is one of the narrators of the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation’s new smartphone app, Archi10, which provides a highly accurate audio tour of some of the city’s most significant buildings.
“I live in Wolseley and have taken the # 10 bus a couple of times and have always thought it was one of the nicest routes in town,” said the foundation’s CEO. , Susan Algie. “It got me thinking about how we can celebrate this.”
The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the city’s built environment. The organization has an extensive online catalog of private residences and public addresses of architectural significance, as well as a number of self-guided and digital tours, none of which are as immersive as the Archi10 bus tour.
“The idea is that you get on the bus anywhere along the route… and learn a bit about the different buildings coming and going,” says Algie. “People who take the bus to work or school might do that, but also if you came to town and wanted a fun little tour, you could buy a bus ticket and get on board.”
“The idea is that you get on the bus anywhere along the way… and learn a bit about the different buildings coming and going.” – Susan Algie
Number 10 crosses Wolseley and Saint-Boniface, passing through 37 remarkable places, including the Manitoba Legislative Assembly, the Bank of Montreal, Maison Gabrielle-Roy and the University of Saint-Boniface. The tour lasts around an hour and is powered by GPS, so narration and points of interest are triggered automatically.
The tour is available in English or French with Samson narrating the western half of the tour and singer-songwriter Andrina Turenne covering the eastern French-speaking part. Aside from the architecture, the music is a central point of the bus tour – for reasons of interest and logistics.