Eulogy for the Good Will

Local West End venue will shut down Feb. 1, 2024

Legendary bar and venue the Good Will Social Club is shutting its doors after nearly a decade of business.

An Instagram post on Nov. 22 broke the news, and though the owners described the announcement as “not a goodbye, but rather a ‘see you later,’” this change suggests to some the end of a beloved and unique space for Winnipeg’s artistic community.

The Good Will opened its doors in late 2014, run by a group of 9 owners from largely creative backgrounds. They began the project with the goal of creating a space for Winnipeg’s musical and creative scenes to expand and flourish — not just as a venue, but also as an inclusive place for community building.

The venue’s first show was a tour stop for Calgary post-punk veterans Preoccupations.  Since then, the space has held countless concerts from local artists and touring acts from across the world. Posters for these shows are proudly displayed on the walls of the Good Will’s middle room, a sort of hall of fame for Winnipeg bands of the past 10 years.

Musician, co-founder and booking agent with First Date Touring, Gil Carroll, who plays in the band Living Hour and is the co-artistic director of local concert promotion company Real Love Winnipeg, described the venue as a crucial room for the local music scene.

“I’ve been playing there since the first year it opened, and it’s always been a super fun place to play with really good sound,” Carroll explained. “It sort of felt like a rite of passage the first time Living Hour headlined the Good Will.”

The venue’s 200-or-so capacity fills a very important niche in the music scene, large enough for notable touring acts like Jonathan Richman, R.A.P. Ferreira, Iceage and Sloan, while still being a reasonable size for smaller local bands to fill.

Beyond its indispensability to the city’s live music scene, the Good Will has also served as home to other community events like weekly trivia hosted by Jeff Sinclair on monday evenings, drag performances, queer bingo, spelling bees and karaoke.

The Good Will has also served as home to several restaurants throughout its time at 625 Portage Avenue, including the excellent fusion restaurant Khao House and latest occupant Primo’s Deli, makers of some of the best sandwiches in the city, who closed up shop on Dec. 1 and went on hiatus until a new location is secured. 

Carroll said the venue has always been reliable for musicians, liked by many, and said he’ll miss it once it’s gone. 

“I have so many amazing memories from playing there.” Carroll said. “I’ll miss it. Definitely. So much. And I’m really, really happy that we’re doing one last show there.”

As a regular attendee, diner, performer and occasional worker at the Good Will myself, words cannot describe how important the space has been for me and the massive role it’s played in my life. 

It was the first real venue I played as a musician and has been the central meeting place for my friends and I during my entire adult life. 

In its last couple of months of operation, make sure to pay your respects to the Good Will. There’s still lots of memories to be made in its halls.

May the Good Will live on as an inspiration to current and aspiring venue owners on how to hold community as top priority, treat people fairly, build a creative community and make your city a better place to live in.

The Good Will is open until Feb. 1, 2024. For information on future events, visit Tickets for Living Hour’s final show at the Good Will on Dec. 9 are available at