Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bits and Bites

Globosapiens Used Bookstore in their new location on Portage (top picture) and old one on Roblin (bottom picture)

Last year Globosapiens Used Bookstore closed on Roblin Boulevard. Thought it was gone for good but it took over the spot on Portage Avenue once the location of The Chronicle, a hemp shop. Don't know what the quality of the bookstore is but any used book store is good for the city.

Sydney Morning Herald travel column

I had meant to talk about this a couple of time and it was once again mentioned in brief in the Free Press in the last weeks about the Sydney Morning Herald.

Unlike a lot of travel column writers, the Australian writer did not come for the main attractions like museum or a festival. He came for the flavour of the city. That is not something easy to see for someone to find.

How do we define ourselves? What are we proud of? What attractions do we love and want to show off?

Going downtown is not going to wow someone unless they are at The Forks or attending an event like Fringe. The downtown can be desolate place a lot of the time. I can't tell you how many times people have mentioned how empty it seems or how threatening it is.

The place our intrepid travel found to be the real Winnipeg was found in Osborne Village.

As a backpacker, our traveller says this:

So what does Winnipeg have going for it? On the surface, not much. This is a city that counts a difficult intersection (the aptly named Confusion Corner) as a famous landmark, which should tell you all you need to know.

The tourist brochures would point you towards the Manitoba Museum, an undoubtedly interesting collection of artifacts and historical pieces in the town centre. But I'm not much of a museum goer, so that was only going to keep me amused for a couple of hours.

Sooo, no museums for our fellow. Guess Human Rights Museum wouldn't rank high either.

Not all travellers will be be attracted to such things.

So off to Osborne Village our reporter went:

But help was at hand. That friend I once travelled with was still living in Winnipeg and she'd offered to meet up for a drink. We were going to Osborne Village, she said, the artsy, creative side of Winnipeg that I only realized existed after I was told we were meeting there.

And that's when Winnipeg started to make sense.

You know how dodgy, rundown suburbs seem to become cool over time? How places such as Surry Hills in Sydney used to be no-go zones until the artists and musicians moved in and suddenly the people who wanted to be around artists and musicians followed suit?

Winnipeg is on the cusp of that transition. It was never dodgy - just dull. But it was also cheap and the government offered incentives for creative types to move in, so the artists and musicians packed up their vans, tackled Confusion Corner and settled down on the prairies, completely changing the city's landscape.

There have been a few people who mention how the Shopper's Drug Mart will destroy this unique culture. I don't particularly buy it. A displaced video rental store and one restaurant won't do it.

Having said that, a well designed multi-story Shopper's could have addressed a few concerns about diversity, density and design.

Is it too late? Would have loved a Vi-Ann overlooking Osborne from above. And a Movie Village could have found a home in that concept as well.

Anyway, all is not lost. Osborne Village is a work in progress and people continue to want to live there. And that is a good thing.

Our reporter had this to say in the end.

It would probably shock the customs guy as much as the rest of Canada, but the city I found is not just cold - it's cool. Who'd have thought?

Not James Turner but he might know the guy

James Turner has been a reporter in Winnipeg since 2005. He has bounced around from one media group to another but is now at the Winnipeg Sun. Good reporter. Too bad he can't do the headlines as well since the stories are good, the headlines cringeworthy.

There is no truth to the rumour that he is creating the Turnerington Post.

Academy Road, Bejeweled and Frenchway

Some closures of businesses on Academy Road. Bejeweled, across the Street from Starbucks is shut down. Likewise, Frenchway restaurant.

Both have been around for a couple of years.

Charitable Giving

We have seen a number of stories of charitable giving in the last years from gifts to the universities to hospitals to the human rights museum.

The Silverberg's gift to the Jewish Foundation which in turn will gift others such as the Humane Society and Manitoba Branch of the Cancer Society will be lifetime contributions. The $8.5 million will go far.

Similarly, the contribution by Laurie Johnson, a retired pharmacist of $1 million split between Riverview Health Center and Misericordia Health Centre is a remarkable gift.

I contribute monthly to the Winnipeg Foundation. I hope that when I am long gone, my family will be deciding on what things in Winnipeg to fund in perpetuity.


Unknown said...

Frenchway moved to that place on Academy that used to be an Irish Pub as well as to that place on Lilac that used to be Bread and Circuses.

Anonymous said...

RE: Osborne Village - Just go a few blocks up the street to Corydon. Only one faceless corporation to blight the neighbourhood. (Tim's @ Corydon & Stafford)

Anonymous said...

Well, the Frenchway expansion was shortlived. The one further up Academy, where J Foxes Pub used to be, has already closed. Inferno's is moving in there now (though the Frenchway sign is still lit up).
I believe the old Bread and Circuses location is still there, however.

John Dobbin said...

Thanks for the updates on Frenchways, guys.

Also, isn't Second Cup also on Corydon near Tim's?