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Walking Tour with Matt Cohen, Urban Archaeologist
Ghost signs are hand-painted, outdoor ads that have been preserved on sides of buildings. They are also known as fading ads or brick ads and were prevalent from the 1890s through to the 1960s. As outdoor advertising mediums evolved, ghost signs became a less popular way of advertising products and services and were replaced by billboards and vinyl banners.
Winnipeg’s rich collection of hand-painted wall ads date back to the early 1880s. After incorporating as a city in 1873, industrialists and entrepreneurs from around the world moved here to be part of the city’s boom. The population ballooned from a few hundred to hundreds of thousands within a generation. And, over a century and a half later, the businesses and brands advertised on the sides of buildings still remain.Explore the Ghost Signs of the Exchange District in Winnipeg on this tour.
Matt Cohen is a creative director, marketing strategist and urban archeologist. Since 2013, he’s been researching and documenting Winnipeg’s collection of fading promotional signage. What started as a one-off project has blossomed into a multi-year initiative celebrating the intersection of paint and persuasion. He currently maintains the website ghostsigns.ca and @fadingads social accounts, leads regular ghost sign walking tours and produces experiential events that use new media to showcase old ads.

Tour is free. You may also pay $20 for a copy of Matt’s new publication (retail $25)

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