Albert Street Autonomous Zone

Coordinates: 49°53′51.22″N 97°8′24.98″W / 49.8975611°N 97.1402722°W / 49.8975611; -97.1402722
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Imperial Dry Goods Block
The Imperial Dry Goods Building, home of Old Market Autonomous Zone
Alternative namesTrend Interiors

Emma Goldman Building Mondragon Bookstore and Cafe

Tooke Building
General information
Location91 Albert Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Technical details
Floor count3
Design and construction
Architect(s)J.H. Cadham
Heritage site
DesignationWinnipeg Landmark Heritage Structure
Recognized16 June 1980 (1980-06-16)
CRHP listing29 January 2008 (2008-01-29)
Recognition authorityCity of Winnipeg

The Albert Street Autonomous Zone, also known as A-Zone or the Old Market Autonomous Zone, was founded in 1995, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, by local activists Paul Burrows and Sandra Drosdowech, who also co-founded Winnipeg's Mondragon Bookstore.[1]

Its name is derived from "Old Market Square", the historic Exchange District in Winnipeg's downtown core area,[2] combined with Hakim Bey's notion of a "temporary autonomous zone" (or TAZ). The Winnipeg A-Zone occupies a three-story building sometimes referred to as the Imperial Dry Goods Building, originally built in 1899. Like many buildings in the area, it is classified as a heritage building by the city of Winnipeg. Since 1995,[3] the building has been known locally as both the A-Zone, and sometimes the Emma Goldman Building.[4]

Member organizations[edit]

The A-Zone supported worker-owned businesses, whether worker co-ops or sole proprietorships, as well as grassroots activist groups and collectives, and in turn been supported by them, since starting in 1995. Past members included groups such as Food Not Bombs, Arbeiter Ring Publishing, Urban Shaman (Artist Run Aboriginal Art Gallery), Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women, Amnesty International (Winnipeg), Okijida Warriors' Society, Manitoba Women in Trades and Technology (MBWITT), Dada World Data (DWD), Mondragon Bookstore & Coffee House, and others.[5] Tenant members have included G7 Welcoming Committee Records, a label run by Propagandhi on principles of participatory economics.[6]

In 2007, the Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre (r2c2) was founded on the third floor of the building, and according to the r2c2 website, functions as a "gallery and multi-purpose venue for social, political, and cultural events of interest to the anarchist, activist, and wider Winnipeg community."[7]

On 1 February 2012, it was announced the tenant-owned co-operative consisting of Mondragon, Winnipeg Copwatch, Boreal Forest Network, ParIT, Natural Cycle Courier and Rudolph Rocker Cultural Center had purchased the building.[8] While the cooperative continued to own the building a year later,[9] by 2021 the building had been converted into a commercial property.[10]


The Mondragon café and bookstore closed in January 2014 after 18 years of operation. The cooperatively run venue was known for its leftist politics as an anarchist icon within the city of Winnipeg. Its signature dish was southern-fried tofu. Closing after several final years of unstable finances, the venue had seen increased costs, increased competition, decreased bookstore revenue, and decreased overall foot traffic. Only five members remained in the cooperative from a height of 12. As a key tenant in the building, its absence put the cooperative's long-term solvency into question.[11]


The Albert Street Autonomous Zone has additionally hosted the 2012 Winnipeg Anarchist Book Fair with a panel and workshops.[12]


  1. ^ French, Michelle (12 September 2001). "Mondragon at five". The Manitoban. Archived from the original on 6 May 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  2. ^ "Winnipeg : Essential City : Old Market Square |". Archived from the original on 2 January 2007. Retrieved 1 January 2007.
  3. ^ Development, City of Winnipeg Planning, Property &; Winnipeg, City of. "List of Historical Resources - Planning, Property and Development Department - City of Winnipeg". Archived from the original on 13 July 2021. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  4. ^ "Old Market Autonomous Zone :: The A-Zone: A Brief History". Archived from the original on 9 August 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2007.
  5. ^ "Member Groups". Albert Street Autonomous Zone. Archived from the original on 25 October 2021. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  6. ^ Moore, Julie (November 2005). "A Veteran Punk in Relentless Pursuit of Love". Canadian Dimension. Vol. 39, no. 6. p. 47. ISSN 0008-3402. ProQuest 204154287. Archived from the original on November 5, 2021. Retrieved November 5, 2021 – via ProQuest.
  7. ^ Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre Archived 23 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
  8. ^ "HERITAGE EXCHANGE DISTRICT BUILDING SOLD TO A-ZONE CO-OPERATIVE" (PDF). Press Release. Autonomouse Zone. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 October 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  9. ^ Mackintosh, Karen (March 2013). "Around the Left in 60 Days". Canadian Dimension. Vol. 47, no. 2. pp. 10–11. ISSN 0008-3402. ProQuest 1372334652. Archived from the original on November 5, 2021. Retrieved November 5, 2021 – via ProQuest.
  10. ^ "91 Albert – Winnipeg | Manitoba | Canada". Archived from the original on 22 October 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  11. ^ Welch, Mary Agnes (19 January 2014). "Anarchist icon serving last meal". Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeg, Man., Canada. p. A3. ISSN 0828-1785. ProQuest 1485717865. Archived from the original on 27 October 2021. Retrieved 5 November 2021.
  12. ^ Armstrong, Bob (August 25, 2012). "Red River College instructor a textbook pioneer". Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeg, Man., Canada. p. J.8. ISSN 0828-1785. ProQuest 1034925884. Archived from the original on November 5, 2021. Retrieved November 5, 2021 – via ProQuest.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

49°53′51.22″N 97°8′24.98″W / 49.8975611°N 97.1402722°W / 49.8975611; -97.1402722