September 16, 2014 3:42 pm

New project will keep Winnipeg’s ghost signs from fading

The Ad Association of Winnipeg is working to preserve advertisements like this one.

Talia Ricci/Global News

WINNIPEG-Hundreds of Winnipeggers walk by the old painted advertisements on the sides of buildings in the Exchange District every day. A new project aims to preserve this part of our city’s history, which is starting to fade.

“These are a part of our downtown fabric, everyone walks by them but you don’t really pay attention,” says Matt Cohen, president of the Ad Association of Winnipeg.

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Cohen and his team are certainly paying attention. They’re launching a project to protect the history of what’s been dubbed ‘ghost signs.’ The association along with some volunteers will spend the next year collecting information on the dates of the signs, the artists and the products. The information gathered will eventually be turned into an interactive website. Cohen says it’s important to do this before the ghost signs fade completely.

“It’s preserving our history. They aren’t protected by any historical acts that are in place right now so if a business owner wanted to paint over it there’s nothing to really stop them,” says Cohen.

The project launches this Saturday and Sunday in partnership with the Winnipeg Design Festival. Special tours around the Exchange will be offered to give Winnipeggers a sneak peek into some of the history that’s already been uncovered.

“We felt like it was a really good fit,” says Monica Derksen, festival coordinator. “Not only does it celebrate the history of the Exchange, but it also is a nice new design element we could add to the festival.”

The project is expected to be complete in the next eight months. The Ad Association will be collecting photos and stories about the buildings and signs from Winnipeggers as part of the project.

To contribute your photos or stories you can email

For more info on the design festival visit:

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