A Day in My Life in Elmwood

May 26th, 2009 by Emma Durand-Wood

My first home in Winnipeg was in St. Boniface, near Marion and Archibald, where I lived with friends when I arrived in the ‘Peg. St. Boniface was definitely a neighbourhood I’d heard of before I moved here, and not just because I had friends there.  I liked the neighbourhood a lot: it was nice to walk around in, had a good mix of ages, and was on a good, fast bus route to downtown.

elmwoodBut my next move was to…drumroll please…. Elmwood! Yep,  I learned pretty quickly what people think of this neighbourhood. Before long, I was ambiguously saying “East Kildonan” (or “EK” if I was feeling particularly cool) when asked where I was living… it meant I didn’t have to follow up with defences like “it’s not so bad, really!” or “but our street isn’t  one of the really sketchy ones!” I didn’t grow up in Winnipeg, and therefore didn’t have any preconceived notions of this neighbourhood, but I had to admit, there are definitely certain pockets of fairly undesirable-looking houses! And I definitely don’t feel quite at ease here when I’m out by myself at night.

It’s been pleasant, though, the increasing frequency at which I hear “I live in that neighbourhood, too” or “We just bought a place not too far from you”. In my experience so far, it’s a place where houses are pretty reasonably priced and some great fixer-upper deals can be found. I find this part of town to be very convenient – getting downtown is only a quick 10-minute bus or car ride away.

I recently came across a really neat section of the CBC Manitoba website. It’s called “Urban Myths: Think you know Winnipeg? Think Again“. I’m not sure where the name came from, but the content is fascinating: 19 neighbourhood profiles from Centennial to Wolseley.  The Elmwood profile seems spot-on to me.

“A lack of banks in the area gave boom to moneylenders and payday loan businesses”

And how! There are at least three nearby that I can think of off the top of my head. That, and locksmiths….hmmm….

“It also has had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the province.”

This is not surprising to me, either. I take the bus home from work downtown almost every day, and there are always, always young women with strollers on the bus headed this direction. Many more than when I took the 19 from downtown to St. B at the same time of the day.

Elmwood does have its redeeming qualities, though:

“Still, Elmwood is a tight-knit community with a great network of schools and churches.”

Last summer, the Free Press ran a great series of articles called “Winnipeg from A to Z”, and it provided a great initial orientation to some of the city’s insider knowledge. E was for Elmwood, and indeed, Joe Paraskevas uncovered a close group of long-time Elmwood residents. One of them, Rob Knight, told him, ““Elmwood people who still hang out together, went to school together, and they’re my age, which is the mid-60s. They’re still all friends with one another. They go down to Palm Springs together. They camp together. They all go out for dinners together. I’m not saying that that doesn’t happen in other areas of the city … But I certainly feel it’s more profound in Elmwood.””

Anyway, now that the weather is progressively getting a little nicer, I’ve been exploring some of the local businesses in my ‘hood, and I thought I’d share some of my favourite spots with you!

  • Big Rick’s Hot Rod Diner  (379 Henderson at Larsen; open 8-3 Monday to Friday, 9 to 3 Saturday, 9 to 2 Sunday) is the place I consider my “breakfast local”. It’s close, cheap,  and we’ve never had to wait for a table.  The food is consistently good diner fare, and there’s tons to look at while you wait for your meal. A perfect spot to do the crossword on the weekend, or meet friends for late breakfast.  Breakfast Winnipeg didn’t love it, but conceded “Great value for your money“.  I have to agree. It’s definitely not the sort of place I’d bring my mum, but for a greasy spoon, it’s perfect.  We’ve never struck up conversation with fellow diners, but I get the impression that there’s a real community there. (And the place has a great story, too.)
  • With a huge selection of beautiful and reasonably priced treasures, Vintage Veruca’s (241 Henderson; open 12-5 Monday to Saturday) is a quaint little antique shop right on the corner of Henderson and Johnson (and there’s a bus-stop right in front of it).  I love popping in here every now and then to see what’s new. There’s a great selection of gorgeous teacups, Depression glass in many colours, pretty Jadite and milk glass items, and much more. A fantastic place to find a unique gift at a decent price.
  • Mercadito Latino (219 Henderson; open noon to 6 Monday to Friday; 11 to 6:30 Saturdays) is my most recent discovery. Presuming it was an ethnic foods store, we recently popped in to see what kind of items they carried – but quickly realised they’ve got a little restaurant in the back, too! We enjoyed delicious and authentic El Salvadorian pupusas (sort of like a pancake with bean, pork, and cheese stuffing) and quesadilla (different from the sort I was familiar with, Salvadorian quesadilla is a mild, sweet bread) and tried a tasty pink beverage called horchata. Our hostess was very friendly, and the man running the till told us they’d been a coffee shop for several years but only recently opened the cafe portion. We can’t wait to go back – both to purchase ingredients for a delicious home-cooked feast, and for more of the restaurant’s mouth-watering meals.
  • As Laurel described in her last post, there are certain places you have to scope out when you move to a new ‘hood. Aside from a local pub (and a breakfast local, we concurred), another essential place to seek out is your nearest coffeeshop (Tim’s and Starbucks don’t really count). Outside of downtown, the only one that I’ve been to is Mountain Bean (wayyyyyy up north on Henderson) and Finale’s (nowhere near). I need a place closer to home, preferably within walking distance. And while I haven’t had a chance to visit it yet, I think Sam’s Place ( 159 Henderson; open 10-10 Monday to Saturday) might be my closest coffeeshop. An MCC initiative, Sam’s Place is a used bookstore, a coffeeshop, and a place where emerging artists can perform. Our neighbours report that they’ve been and it’s lovely. I can’t wait to check it out, too.
  • And of course, there’s always Roxy Lanes (385 Henderson). Not the most modern bowling alley (is there any such thing, anyway?), good times-a-plenty can be had for reasonable prices – I think it’s $7 for two games, including shoes. How can you go wrong with that?

In August, we’ll move just across Henderson Highway to the adjoining Glenelm area (which, according to the CBC profile is known as the “Wolseley of Elmwood”). It’s funny: it’s only a five minute walk from our current house, but it’s like another world completely. Bigger trees, better maintained houses, more chalk on the sidewalks… just a nicer aesthetic appeal and honestly, a neighbourhood that I think I’ll feel a little safer in, especially at night. Fortunately, it’s so close to where I live now, that I’ll be able to continue enjoying all these businesses I’ve discovered so far.

Do you know of any hidden Elmwood gems? Do share!

28 Responses to “A Day in My Life in Elmwood”

  1. Travis says:

    I grew up in the East Elmwood area that runs along Nairn Ave. all the way to Panet road. Much like the Glenelm area it is totally different then the central area of elm wood that everyone thinks of. ie watt street.

  2. linds_c_m says:

    The Plaza on the corner of Union and Watt.
    We now live on the other side of town but it’s the only place for chinese food for us…for the past 20 years.

  3. Paul says:

    Style Rite, on Grey at the NW corner of Grey & Talbot, your local barbershop.

  4. Travis says:

    Subzero ice cream on the corner of Jamison and Brazier..

  5. Emma says:

    Thanks for the suggestions, guys!

    @travis That’s so funny… We actually walked over to Sub Zero at lunchtime today, hoping they’d be open. They weren’t, so we walked over to Kool Delites on Watt. Still got my ice cream (well, fro yo) fix 😉

  6. Anon says:

    True Story about Sub Zero… one night I was there and a family was sitting on top of the back seat of a cadillac with the top down, listening to a baseball game on the radio, enjoying thier ice cream. It was a true 1950’s moment.

    From the Glenelm side, it’s a short walk across the bridget to Boogies for a beverage and wings.

    The decor in Glenwood Motors is awesome & ‘Dr. Rocks’ has a great story – neighbourhood kid who once worked at the gas station & grew up to run the place.

  7. Eric Friesen says:

    I live in EK so could throw a stone and hit Elmwood (almost). Not that I would. Definitely can echo the Plaza and Sub Zero shout outs. Does Sub Zero still have blue dip?

    And all of the Elmwood High School students that I’ve met are awesome. Sandbagging, volunteering, you name it. They’re a good bunch.

  8. PB says:

    I grew up in the East Elmwood area that runs along Nairn Ave. all the way to Panet road. Much like the Glenelm area it is totally different then the central area of elm wood that everyone thinks of. ie watt street.

  9. Graham says:

    Elmwood really is a great community. It gets a bad rap from time to time, but when you spend time around the place you realize it’s not so bad.

    My favourite part are the streets just North of Hespeler, giant, monster Elm trees that dwarf the houses they shelter.

    I’m trying to think of a “Pub” kind of thing but not much to draw from there. Did that pool hall close down? At any rate it was a dingy pool hall at best (great bar food though).

    And Mountain Bean is great, but it certainly isn’t in Elmwood!

    I’m a fan of George’s Burgers and Subs, although there are a few of those around Winnipeg, it’s the only one I go to. Also, Kildonan Pets is the best Aquarium store in town if you like to keep fish.

  10. Vanessa says:

    I’m a fellow Pegger (transplanted from rural MB 4 or so years ago) who just stumbled on your blog! I’ve never lived in Elmwood though, so I don’t have much to say about that. Just thought I’d say hi 🙂

  11. Travis says:

    @Graham: Yeah the Cue Club closed shortly after the smoking ban came into effect. There used to be a telemarketing firm in the upstairs of that building.. but now it just sits empty, with boards over the windows.

  12. EB says:

    First off, welcome to the neighborhood! Unfortunately it’s no longer “my” neighborhood. I moved out of Glenelm almost a year ago and really miss it – lots of families or young professionals mixed in with those who’ve been there for 40 some-odd-years. It has taken me a while to get used the my new stomping grounds(now in Westwood).

    I loved that Glenelm was close to downtown and the trip home after a night out at MTC/Concert Hall/etc was only 5-10 min. Enjoy the beautiful elm trees and remember to take part in the local “band together” program to keep the trees healthy. I enjoyed jogging through the cemetery or along Glenwood Cres. into Elmwood park.

    I agree with Graham’s comment about George’s…great place to walk to. I heard that Sonya’s Restaurant is great but every time I tried to go I found it closed… Sam’s place opened after I left – let me know what you think. About SubZero, I love their “Larson Ave”…but I’m one of those that has really missed the “ice-cream Nazis” (Wpg’s version – Seinfeld)

    And although more EK than Elmwood I have to say that the food is so good at the Empress of China (1050 Henderson) that I actually do drive across town (40 min) for Chinese food…

  13. Brenda says:

    If I remember correctly Vintage Veruca’s is run by our former next door neighbour’s friend. And our neighbour Cory said she had wonderful stuff.

  14. Aaron says:

    @Graham & @EB: If I am thinking of the same building (re: used to be a pool hall?) is it the one across the street from Soap Sudz where I can be spotted doing my laundry from time to time? If so, that building needs some serious revitalization. It’s completely boarded-up, and looks as though it may have been large enough to be the space you’re discussing! I think the only tenants there now are pigeons. Sad.

  15. Elmwoodie says:

    Elmwood has a great curling club at Brazier and Harbison. You need something to do in winter, its cheap and the lounge is friendly and affordable.

  16. Aaron says:

    Well, Elmwoodie, we’ve seen this Curling Club and have often wondered what it’s like on the inside…thanks for letting us know it’s an inviting place to be! I would venture to say it’s our local club so I can’t wait to check out the lounge.

  17. richard says:

    I lived in Winnipeg for 10 years. Married a Winnipeg girl. 22 years ago I moved from Winnipeg to Vancouver. Lived in Vancouver for 10 years then I (we) moved from Vancouver to Calgary (12 years). We have lots of family in Winnipeg and have been looking at mls listings. I have noted some nicely priced homes in Elmwood but just don’t know. I find it strange that Winnipeg suburb houses are more expensive than inner city houses. Yet the core is where life really should happen. How strange for 120k you can get a 1000 sq ft character home where 200k seems to get you a suburban projects. This is somewhat backward compared to other cities. Anyhow, my wife and I are concerened aboout crime and neigbourhood (fair enough). Any suggestions as to places we should seriously consider that give us the city experience (easy access for work, assuming downtown)we wish for but still the balance of safety, community and family. feedback is greatly appreciated.

  18. Michel says:

    @Richard,

    From what you describe in your comment, I’d tend to direct you to the following neighbourhoods: St. Boniface, East Kildonan, Wolseley (possibly in that order, but not necessarily). The reasons are exactly as you stated — balance of safety, community and family, all the while being easy access to downtown. In general, these are what you would call “mature” neighbourhoods, meaning they’ve been around long enough to have a good amount of large trees and character homes (both St.B and EK also have new home developments within them as well, not sure about Wolseley).

    Also, you could look at Fort Rouge (specifically in the Corydon area), as well as Osborne Village… which are much “trendier”, for lack of a better word. These neighbourhoods also present all the same advantages listed for St.B et al. However, while you may be able to catch a good deal here and there, the home prices in those neighbourhoods will tend to be a little pricier than the other “older” areas (read here: generally 250K+ for a nice character home).

    If you’re looking for a little more bang for your buck, St.B, EK and Wolseley are definitely worth a look.

    P.S. I haven’t mentioned Elmwood (and more specifically West Elmwood, where I reside (and LOVE)) since I believe Emma’s post pretty much speaks for itself. 😉

  19. richard says:

    Well, appreciate the reply to my Winnipeg quest. Further listings keep popping up in the west end. Great pricing but not sure if that is a good thing. I think Michl reponse to me is great. I have looked at EK and elmwood as possible place to create a new home nest. My next question is about boundaries or street areas. Sorry to say but I have to ask. Is there a section of streets or blocks that I should look at and others that I should stay away from. Don’t want to raise any issues. Just being outside it is tough to know where to look at times. You can always send me a private note. Thanks so much.

  20. Robin says:

    SubZero is definitely one of our favourite ice cream joints… along with Banana Boat.
    Too bad there aren’t many restaurants or pubs around here… but at least it’s quiet!
    We just moved into the Glenelm area in August, and love it so far (except for the mosquito population here!) I call it “the poor man’s Wolseley” 🙂

  21. Shellyna says:

    I’m thinking of buying a condo on herbert st, just off of eaton. any thoughts on the area?

  22. Emma says:

    Hi Shellyna, I’m not familiar with the area at all. Have you walked around in the area during the day and the evening? I think you can tell a lot about a neighbourhood that way. Good luck with the condo hunt!

  23. Thanks for the lovely comments about my shop.
    I just wanted to say my move from the Elmwood area wasn’t really voluntary – I believe in the neighborhood and think it has many nice qualities.
    The City of Winnipeg sent me a letter in early 2009 stating that the Disraeli Freeway would be closed of 18 months starting in early 2010. As a result of this letter, I bought another building and relocated the business. Any business that has suffered through one of the City’s protracted construction projects knows that it is guaranteed way to put your small business out of business.
    In any case, I relocated Vintage Veruca Antiques to 1342 Main Street, which is just two sets of lights North of the Redwood Bridge on the West Side at Cathedral Avenue. I painted in a bright shade of jade or granny smith green, so it’s kind of hard to miss.
    I hope you’ll take the time to come and see us at the new shop. We’re open Wednesday to Saturday 12noon to 5pm 339-5301.
    Thank you again
    Monique

  24. Richard says:

    Well after years of talking about it, its official! We are moving back to Winnipeg. Sold the house in Calgary and headed home. I left 22 years ago. Thanks so much everyone for your feedback. I do hope house prices come down a bit like the rest of the country.

  25. Emma says:

    Richard – that’s great! Best of luck to you on your long awaited return to the ‘Peg. The city’ll be glad to have you back!

  26. Heather says:

    Hi there, My husband and I are currently living in North Kildonan, renting an apartment, we have seen a few really nice houses in East Kildonan, wondering what the street Larsen ave is like? the house we like is closer to Henderson Hwy, if anyone has feed back on the area if there is alot of crime around those streets thx 🙂

  27. Larry says:

    Hi there, Just could not resist leaving a comment. Lived on McIntosh Ave in 1953 and went to Lord Selkirk school both elementary and high school. My Mom worked at Mercury drugs on Henderson Hwy after my Dad passed away. We then moved to B.C. and now live in a small town in Alberta. Often look up things to do with the PEG and Manitoba in general. In my time there it was quite a nice neighbourhood but in recent times , 1 yr ago , went there and was not too nice, not what I remembered anyway.
    Anyway, there you have it, nostalgia from a 73 yr olde guy.
    Take care and enjoy

  28. Kathy says:

    Reading this article brought back memories.
    Of growing up in Elmwood. We lived on Union Avenue
    East. Across from George V School. Which is now known
    as Ecole George V. From there Elmwood High School.
    I still talk to many people I went to school with
    It’s was a quiet neighbourhood then. I even lived
    there for a few years as an adult. I don’t live
    there anymore. It is home but doesn’t seem like
    It.

Leave a Reply

Want an image with your comment? Create an account at Gravatar!

PLEASE NOTE: Wo'MH reserves the right to delete off-topic, inflammatory or inappropriate comments. Because, you know, our moms read this blog.