RecPlex renamed to honour Axworthy


 Axworthy Healthy and RecPlex

Axworthy Healthy and RecPlex – mock up

WINNIPEG, MB – The University of Winnipeg Board of Regents unanimously voted last night to rename the new recreation complex on Spence Street the Axworthy Health and RecPlex to honour the many contributions of Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, alumnus and former President and Vice-Chancellor, who served from 2004 to 2014.

The wellness and recreation facility serves both students and the surrounding community with approximately 3,000 people enjoying the soccer fields, jump pit, climbing wall and community gyms every week during the winter months. Axworthy ensured ongoing access for neighbourhood residents by establishing a unique Community Charter and a Community Access Advisory Committee to guide programming within the facility.

“Dr. Axworthy was responsible for many outreach initiatives while he served as President. The RecPlex is one of his most important living legacies, which will serve the campus and community for decades to come” said Eric Johnstone, Chair of the Board of Regents.

Opened in September 2014, the RecPlex is a block-long physical activity and health complex, the first of its kind in the center of the city. The multi-use artificial turf field can be converted to three cross court fields that accommodate soccer, football, ultimate, baseball and other field sports. It has a four-lane 60 meter rubberized sprint track, retractable batting cages,  community gym, and a multi-purpose soundproofed room for drumming and Pow wow groups, with ventilation to accommodate smudging.

“This is a wonderful honour that is especially meaningful for me,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from United College in 1961 (now The University of Winnipeg), and went on to receive his PhD at Princeton University.

In addition to being a recreation complex, the Great-West Life Healthy Campus and Research Centre, located on the second floor, promotes academic research and student practicums. It includes the Sun Life Diabetes Awareness and Education Program which is teaching wellness skills to inner city youth.

“When I walk through the RecPlex and see new immigrants, neighbourhood children, Wesmen athletes and our students enjoying this safe and welcoming space, I speak on behalf of the UWinnipeg community in saying we feel a real sense of pride,” said Dr. Annette Trimbee, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “It is a tangible example of UWinnipeg’s deep, ongoing commitment to community learning and is an important part of Dr. Axworthy’s legacy.”

The University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation spearheaded development of the RecPlex; the architect is Number TEN Architectural Group; the project manager is Resolve Group Inc.; construction is by PCL Construction Canada Inc; tree salvaging and recycling is by Wood Anchor. It is targeted for LEED Silver status.


Lloyd Axworthy Portrait

Lloyd Axworthy Portrait


Dr. Lloyd Axworthy’s portrait is oil on linen. The unframed measurements are 60” x 40”. It will be installed on the second floor entrance vestibule of the newly named Axworthy Health and RecPlex.


Brenda Bury was born, educated, and trained in England. She took an Honours Degree in Fine Art at the University of Reading in order to study with Anthony Betts, himself a pupil and friend of Sargent, Whistler and Sickert. The influences of these painters are evident in her work. Bury began her professional life by painting Lord and Lady St. Oswald at their estate, Nostell Priory in Yorkshire. With their encouragement, she painted members of the Royal Family, the aristocracy and the British Government.

Bury took a studio in London’s Chelsea, but before doing this, she went to Canada for just over a year, where she painted portraits, beginning with the then Prime Minister Mr. Diefenbaker. She left reluctantly, but felt that she could better improve her skills as a painter in England, a country with a strong tradition for portraiture.

In the 1980s, Bury felt she was ready to return to Canada, and took a studio. She had hardly unpacked before she found herself back in England for a visit to number 10 Downing Street to paint a life-size group portrait of Prime Minister Thatcher and her advisors in the Falklands conflict.

In 2001, she painted former Prime Minister John Turner’s official portrait which is in the House of Commons Heritage Collection.

Bury now works on both sides of the Atlantic from her base in Toronto where she lives with her husband, scientist John Polanyi.

The portraits of UWinnipeg’s past Presidents hang in Wesley Hall.

Dr. Constance Rooke (1999-2002)
Dr. Marsha Hanen (1989-99)
Dr. Robin Farquhar (1981-89)
Dr. Henry Duckworth (1971-81)
Dr. Wilfred Lockhart (1967-71)



Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7135, E:

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