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Winnipeg’s historical Shanghai restaurant razed, Calgary’s Viva Verdi, Edmonton store owner finds violinist on flight, and Saskatoon discovers shipwreck.

 Historical building in Winnipeg’s Chinatown gets demolished

There was some big rubble in Winnipeg’s little Chinatown on Sunday after Shanghai Restaurant, one of downtown’s buildings with seniority got razed to make room for seniors. There was once a time when the big decisions that were made in the 128-year-old building had nothing to do with what to order from the menu;  it served as Winnipeg’s city hall from 1883 to 1886.

A permit was issued to the new owners to begin the demolishing of the historical building on early Sunday morning, a restaurant that was owned by three generations of the Lee family. Mary Lee whose family owned the restaurant when she was growing up was present for the tear down.

“I grew up upstairs, so when I was a little girl in between meal times, I’d be running underneath the tables – hiding,” said Lee.

The historical building was bought earlier this year by the Winnipeg Chinatown Development Corporation. There were high hopes to keep the building in tact but Dr. Joseph Du, but the head of the not-for-profit agency said it was more cost effective to level it for it’s future plans. The space will be used to build a senior’s home.



 Calgary’s new opera season showcases the works of Giuseppe Verdi

Long live Verdi is the theme for Calgary Opera’s 2012/2013 season. They kicked things off in fine fashion on Saturday night with Verdi’s second-last opera Otello; which is considered to be a masterpiece of tragedy. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth; a man considered an operatic prodigy, it was fitting to lead off the season with what is considered to be the acme of his career.

Tenor John Macmaster was said to capture the true essence of hero Otello, who falls to the hands of jealousy. While Calgary audience favourite, baritone Gregory Dahl, played Verdi’s greatest villain Iago to a tee, according to critics.

This opera brings as much pleasure to the eyes, as it does the ears; courtesy of set designer Scott Reid who amalgamated both Cypriot and Venetian architecture.

Calgarians who go gaga for Verdi can look forward to Falstaff and La Traviata later in the season.

Otello preview link:



Violinist Sophie Seraphino gets new representation

Sometimes some small talk can lead to big things. Tammy Davidson, owner of My Filosophy clothing stores was on a shoe-buying trip to Las Vegas when a chat with her flight attendant landed her and violinist Sophie Serafino some interesting opportunities. The flight attendant was a part-time assistant for Serafino, the fiery redheaded songwriter, composer and violinist. Serafino fuses classical music, with dance, rock, as well as influence from the Middle East.

After exchanging particulars with her flight attendant, Davidson was soon in touch with Serafino, the Australian native that calls Calgary her home. She has travelled the world playing for dignitaries in places such as Denmark, Brazil, and Dubai.  Davidson invited Serafino to play at one of her shops last March, as well as the Stolley Children’s Hospital Foundation fundraiser.

Davidson was drawn to Serafino’s impeccable talent from the first listen, and with good business sense in her blood, she was determined to manage the rising star, talking her out of returning home to Australia.  Davidson plans to create a record label with the violinist, who is currently working on her first North American CD with Dan Hill after recording two in Australia. The owner of My Filosophy is excited by her new venture and hopes to handle other artists in the future.

Sophie Serafino link:



Shipwreck found in South Saskatchewan River

While Saskatchewan is known for their Roughriders, they have also been known to have rough waters; at least enough to sink the last steamship ever to voyage on the South Saskatchewan River. Archaeologists recently found the wreckage of the S.S. City of Medicine Hat, which reportedly sank in June of 1908 after crashing into one of the columns of the Victoria Bridge. This has been known as “the greatest nautical disaster in prairie history.”

Butch Amundson is thrilled by the findings of over 1000 artifacts, including clothing, tableware, metal parts, and ceramics. He says these artifacts that were found eigh metres down are not something that were discarded in modern times but are in fact from the Edwardian era.

The S.S. City of Medicine Hat was considered a luxurious ship in its time, and was designed by Scottish nobleman Horatio Hamilton Ross who spared no expense when constructing the 40-metre-long vessel for $28,000. Ross later became known for the steam-ship empire he established in Western Canada.

“I had a pretty good hunch the hull of the City of Medicine Hat was underneath the bridge. We just didn’t have any real evidence until now,” says Amundson.

It is an exciting find for Saskatoon and will contribute greatly to the city’s educational and cultural prosperity. A report is currently being prepared requesting funding from the city to ensure the artifacts are conserved.



Chadd Cawson is an intern at Spectator Tribune. Follow him at: @ChaddCawson

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