As the days chill, and the leaves turn and fall, I’ve seen less and less of the Village. Unless it’s speeding by from the seat of my ten-speed, or the window seat of a number 16 bus, I really haven’t been there at all.
My wife and I recently bought a major fixer upper down in South Osborne, on the Riverview side of Arnold Avenue. It’s the area that my wife grew up in, and the price for the place was just right. It was a sad day packing up our stuff and leaving the Shelldrake and the Best Neighbourhood in Canada behind. But we take some comfort in the fact we’re just a quick pedal away.
Gone is the accessibility of cheap booze, and the myriad options for whooping it up late into the night and early morning. But gone also (I hope) are the late night screaming matches and broken bottles in the alleyways — though those can sometimes be rather entertaining. The ability to get anywhere in the city within a few short bus jaunts will also be missed, since I have a surprising talent at missing the #16 bus by less than 30 seconds.
But then again, I kind of like being somewhat removed from a quick pint at the pub or a casual hour spent flipping through stacks of records. I like that a jaunt to the record shop is somewhat of a planned affair, in that I expect to spend twenty bucks or so, rather than accidentally dropping that cash on the reg. And if I really fancy a cold one in a dark locaish, there are a couple down here in the South Oz that are great spots to do just that.
There are things happening down here, too. The Park Theatre is always pumping out quality gigs, Luxalune is home to Manitoba’s newest quality, local lager, and Pollocks Hardware Co-op is about to open up shop down the street. There are endless, well treed back lanes to wander, and plenty of river front. All the boys in my band live a short bike ride away — with the exception of the St James Bad Boy, Cal Austin Jr — making band practices that much easier to indulge in.
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So with that, I’ll have to leave off writing about the Best Neighbourhood in Canada to someone who still calls it home. Not that I’ll be too far away, though. All backlanes, after all, do eventually lead to the Zoo Vendor.
Sheldon Birnie is an editor at large for The Albatross and the editor of Stylus Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @badguybirnie