Assiniboine Park’s newest attraction reaches a wide audience

By: Emma Honeybun

The Leaf, the new biodome at Assiniboine Park, just opened in Winnipeg.

The attraction is Winnipeg’s second conservatory, following the closure of the Assiniboine Park Conservatory in 2018.

It aims to attract as many different demographics as possible, according to Laura Cabak, director of communications at Assiniboine Park.

“Some people will love coming in on a day where there’s maybe some music playing, or crafts for kids. They want that energy,” said Cabak. “Others may choose to come on a morning that’s quieter and just relax and soak up the humidity and energy of the space in a more peaceful way.” 

At its core, The Leaf exists to interlink nature and culture. Through that, the attraction has already been successful in bringing a diverse crowd of people in through its doors.

On The Leaf’s opening day, Cabak said she had run into a visitor who immediately started to tell her about how much they loved the new greenspace, she said. They had moved to Winnipeg from the much warmer Paraguay some years ago.

“They said, ‘You know, I was just having a really bad morning, and now I’m here and I feel so much better,’” said Cabak. “I think it was very kind of them to share such a personal reflection with me.” 

The inside of The Leaf at Assiniboine Park on Jan. 9, 2023. The display biome was closed to set up the attraction’s second theme: ‘Unfurl.’ (Emma Honeybun)

Cabak said the park will be implementing different programs at The Leaf. They have some that are more oriented to young people, like an outdoor classroom, and general activities like live bands and meditation workshops.

To keep it feeling fresh for visitors, they’ll also be changing the display biome four times a year.

“This is only the beginning,” she said. “I think that there’s a list of opportunities there and we’re just starting to tap into them.”

Cabak said the “Instagram worthy” imagery might also draw a younger audience.

“You can walk through and look at plants and be done in 45 minutes, or you can sit, relax and you can soak it up,” she said. “You can read the stories from Winnipeggers who shared their stories about their connection or sit and enjoy music if that happens to be there during that time.”

Amy Maclaren, a graphic design student at Red River College Polytechnic, said that The Leaf would be a good spot to do their class sketch days.

“It would give us a variety of things to draw,” she said. “And just be a different space (different from) than the college or The Forks.”

The attraction has not been safe from pushback, however.

While the previous conservatory was free, The Leaf has a regular adult rate of $15.50.

The Leaf is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day of the week, and tickets can be purchased in advance on the Assiniboine Park website. 

The Leaf and surrounding outdoor gardens are open year-round.