Posts Tagged With: Exchange District

Up on Our Roof Top

What Next?

roof top ash downOur condo,the Ashdown Warehouse added a brand new roof top patio this summer. We’ve been using it quite a bit, taking guests up there before dinner for drinks and after dinner for dessert. rooftop patio ashdown warehouseMy sister-in-law in Ontario asked why I hadn’t put some photos of our roof top patio on my blog. She was anxious to see it. fran and marge rooftopLast weekend the weather was much nicer than it is today.Our friends Fran and Marge were over and we not only had appetizers, but our dinner up on the roof top. I took my camera along and got some photos. view from ash down warehouse roofIt was a beautiful fall evening. We have some great views from our roof top. seating area ashdown warehouse roofThere are a half a dozen little meeting and sitting areas that afford different groups privacy.roof top ashdown warehouse The furniture is unique and attractive. view from ash down warehouse roof topReal estate agents tell us the roof top area has added value to all our…

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Cleaning Up My Neighborhood

Whiskey bottles, condoms, pill bottles, syringes, blankets, sleeping bags, shoes, socks, underwear and even a snow shovel–are just a few of the interesting things we found on Thursday when seven residents of the Exchange District showed up on a warm, sunny afternoon to help clean up Steve Juba Park and the riverbank beside it.

I was picking up trash with V, a friendly outgoing woman a little older than me, and we chatted about our families, our experiences with condo life in the Exchange and our travels. It was a great chance to get to know one of my neighbors. V says she makes it a regular part of her neighborhood walks to pick up litter. She has a real sense of ownership and responsibility for her Exchange community. “I’m just embarrassed when we get company and they see all this garbage from our condo window!”

V and I picked up hundreds of cigarette butts and when a trio of young people slid onto a park bench in an area we’d just cleaned and lit up their cigarettes, V walked up to them and said kindly, “You know what happens to the poor baby birds when they ingest cigarette butts  don’t you? They die! Birds pick up the butts to use for nest-building and then their hatchlings eat material from the butts and can be poisoned.” Suprisingly the teens listened politely and threw their butts in the garbage when they were done smoking. 

So many people walking by stopped to thank us for what we were doing. It really felt good to have our efforts recognized. Two Asian ladies who didn’t speak English very well, kept repeating with a question in their voices “Volunteer?” They seemed to find it hard to believe we would volunteer for such a task. One enthusiastic walker even gave us God’s blessing and told us we’d go to heaven for our clean up efforts. 

As I worked I thought about the people who had left all that garbage. Why would they just toss their paper bags and styrofoam cups into the bushes when there are lots of garbage cans available in the park? 

Under the pump house porch I found evidence that someone had been living there in the past. There was a foam mattress embedded in the dirt, a muddy blanket, lots of metal sardine cans, dozens of empty juice boxes and even a broken mirror. I wondered what had happened in that person’s life that forced him or her to make a temporary home on the riverbank. It was good for me to realize that people with a very different lifestyle than mine also call my neighborhood home. 

Picking up litter was certainly great exercise–all that bending and lifting and carrying full bags of trash. V and I remarked that we wouldn’t need to visit the gym the next day–we’d had our workout. We speculated as to how many calories we’d burned in our two hours of garbage detail. 

The seven of us filled up 26 bags of litter. Not bad for an afternoon’s work! I felt a real sense of accomplishment as I walked back to my condo. 


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Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe

  “I recognize that man behind us”, I whisper to my husband as we slip into our seats on the sunny patio of the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe on Mc Dermot Avenue. “It’s columnist Dan Lett“, my husband Dave tells me. It’s clear Mr. Lett is using the news cafe as a site for a lunch hour interview. “Should I know that person with him? Is he someone famous?” I ask before we head to the restaurant counter to order our meals.

The cafe is a popular spot.There’s hardly a chair free inside. We scan the crowd for people we might know.  A journalist is writing news copy at a table near the stage and I spot internationally recognized graphic artist, writer and design consultant Robert L. Peters at one of the tables. 

     Half the fun of eating at Canada’s first official news cafe is looking for media people who may be dining or working there. Wait a minute—I’m a media person myself. Although it has been eight years since I gave up my column in the Winnipeg Free Press to move to Hong Kong I’ve continued writing weekly for The Carillon, a southeastern Manitoba newspaper and today I’m having lunch with a fellow Carillon staffer—Terry Frey, the paper’s award-winning sports writer. Terry and his wife Audrey, also happen to be good friends of ours, and we haven’t seen them since last year when we made our annual visit to Manitoba from Hong Kong. They suggest we meet at the news cafe, within walking distance of our new home in the Exchange District.  One of the things we chat about is the change in ownership of The Carillon in February, when FP Canadian newspapers, the same company that owns the Free Press, bought Derksen Printers in Steinbach which publishes The Carillon.

The news cafe offers free copies of several Winnipeg publications and as you can see from Dave’s full arms he’s taken advantage of the opportunity to avail himself of the print material provided on the racks at the front of the restaurant.

This isn’t the first time the historic Albert or Alexandra Block has held a restaurant.  According to a Winnipeg Historical Buildings  report a Mr. Frank Mariaggi from Corsica opened a restaurant in the same spot in 1902, serving fine Italian food.  He had a farm just outside of Winnipeg where he grew the vegetables for his eating establishment. He also kept chickens and Jersey cows to supply the necessary dairy and poultry. The restaurant became very popular because it featured a Grotto in the basement with four cave-like dining rooms and a bar. In 1908 Mr. Mariaggi sold the restaurant and the luxury hotel he had also opened in the building, and moved back to Corsica. 

Apparently the building has almost the same appearance today as it did in 1901 when it was built by investors James and William Tupper, two Winnipeg corporate lawyers, who just happened to be the sons of Charles Tupper, Father of Confederation and a Canadian Prime Minister. William became Manitoba’s Lieutenant Governor in 1934. The building featured the same salmon colored brick in 1901. It came from Kettle River in northeastern Manitoba. 

But exciting as it may be to see your favorite Free Press columnist at a restaurant, and interesting as it may be to know you are dining in one of Winnipeg’s oldest buildings, the reason you go to a cafe is to eat and the Free Press News Cafe does not disappoint in this regard.  I had the vegetable tostado mentioned in Marion Warhaft’s recent review and a creamy, spicy broccoli-curry soup. 

My fellow diners, who each ordered one of the sandwiches featured on the menu agreed Marion had not been off the mark when she awarded the restaurant four stars.  

We live just a five minute walk away from the News Cafe and I know we will be back.  I’d like to try the breakfast menu and I notice tonight the cafe is hosting a poetry slam.  Sounds like fun!

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