The End of an Era in Winnipeg: Goodbye to The Zoo

A Winnipeg live music scene without The Zoo is unthinkable. Yet that’s what’s upon us.

The Zoo–the long-lived scuzzy rock bar in the Osborne Village Inn–was one of the first places I went when I reached legal age. Along with The Black Knight (RIP) and The Norlander (is it still there?), The Zoo was part of the holy trinity of rock clubs, one of the places a band would play before they graduated to the level above the bar scene. Talk to virtually any Canadian rock band and they’ll tell you a Zoo tale.

It could be a rough place–I recall it at something of a biker bar in the 80s–but that only added to its allure. The Zoo, along with its sister bar, Ozzy’s, could mean trouble–which is why you went. The smell of sour beer and nicotine stuck to your skin for days afterwards.

But now the Osborne Hotel–the 60’s-era building that housed the club–has been sold.  And while the new owners aren’t commenting on its future, there are rumours of plans for a boutique hotel.  That means total destruction of the property, including The Zoo and Ozzy’s.

Okay, so it’s not exactly the closing of CBGB, but if you grew up in Winnipeg, you’re probably feeling a little misty-eyed right now.

(Via Tom through CJOB)


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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