When I told Sheldon I’d take over his column about The Village here at the Spectator, I must admit I jumped at the chance without thinking about it. I love my neighbourhood. It’s the one place in the city that really and truly feels like home – home to my friends, to my favourite watering holes, to a consistent array of entertaining strangers, to a constantly changing face, and to the streets that turned me and many others into an adult. Well, the last one may be a bit of an overstatement. Maybe that’s why he suggested I take this on.
Some credentials: I’ve lived in The Village for four years, worked here for seven and a half, and it’s been my de facto home since I was 15, when I started playing music, helping host open mic nights, and working for food in a coffee house named Dregs. Since then that space has been the terribly named Tomato Pie, some restaurant with a Nascar theme, and the recently gone Deadfish. Soon it will be a Sushi restaurant. Soon after, sushi restaurants might finish their complete takeover of Corydon and Osborne. Things can change around here all the time, but the vibe stays pretty much the same.
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Like Sheldon, I was also incredibly proud that The Village was named Best Neighbourhood in Canada last year. It was a different sort of proud than usual, though. I was proud of the neighbourhood for the same reason I wanted to get up and cheer when Henry lays the beat down on Eddie in Barfly: It’s not the prettiest, the most sophisticated, or even a very clean neighbourhood. But that doesn’t stop it from being the goddamned best. And it’s the best because of the people who live here, the art and grit they inject into it to make it somewhere worth staying.
Things are getting exciting recently around here. Finally, The Village has a local competitor in its battle for coffee supremacy – Little Sister Coffee Maker. The unnamed offshoot that The Grove owners are opening up here should hopefully be slingin’ food and drink before the end of November (from what I can tell from peeking into their windows every day). You can still get wicked food into the wee hours (thanks, ALPH). And the mighty Zoo vendor still closes late and is open almost every day of the year. The patios might be closed for the winter, but the same places are open to keep you warm on those cold nights.
So I’ll be carrying the torch for at least a little while, sharing my stories and others’, keeping you updated on what’s going on around here when it’s going on. If I miss something, let me know. It’s your neighbourhood, too, after all.
Until then, I’ll see you sometime soon, because everyone knows all back alleys lead to the Zoo vendor.
Matt Williams is a Winnipeg-based writer and musician infatuated by lady country singers. Follow him on Twitter @MattGeeWilliams.
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