I’ve been meaning to write for ages about Glenelm, the neighbourhood we moved to two summers ago. It’s a little known section of Elmwood that feels like another world entirely! Nestled on the west side of Henderson Hwy just over the Disraeli, in a crook of the Red River, this neighbourhood feels like an insider secret – not many know how great it is! So this post is to evangelize a little…
Since we come and go from the back door of our place, for most of our first year in the neighbourhood we actually didn’t meet all that many people. But once our son was born, and started spending lots of time enjoying the sunshine from our front porch, we discovered that having a new baby is a great way to meet your neighbours! They are a generous and welcoming bunch, who gave us gifts, loaned us baby gear, and filled us in on the the area and its residents. For instance, one lady across the street has lived in her house since 1942! Another couple recently left the area to start a tourist lodge in Tanzania. Just down the street from us, Gordon-King Memorial United Church hosts the hugely popular “Gordie’s Coffee House” on Thursday nights, where there’s live music, fair trade coffee and treats. When my brother- and sister-in-law moved to a house on Noble, we learned that their street has even more lovely traditions, including an annual block party! We also gleaned a handful of interesting things from their real estate agent, who grew up in Glenelm. He told us that when the area was first being populated, it was known as “River Heights North”. Who knew?
The sense of community is heartening. A couple weekends ago, I went to a neighbourhood ladies’ Christmas party and was delighted to meet more of my neighbours and hear about how tightly knight this little area is. (One person called it “incestuous, in a good way!” Not a great description, but you know exactly what it means.) I heard stories about people growing up in the area, moving away, and then returning to Glenelm to raise their own families. I heard about people downsizing from larger houses to smaller ones just down the street. A lot of people are connected through Glenelm School or the GKM United Church, and it really feels like people are looking out for each other. It’s wonderful.
A little while, I was contacted by a CBC reporter looking for Glenelm residents to talk about crime in our area. She’d done some mapping of crime stats and found that Glenelm is surrounded by high crime areas, but is relatively untouched by crime itself. My husband, sister-in-law, and I wound up talking to this journalist about our impressions of the area. Unfortunately, we missed hearing the segment on the radio, but I discovered a great write-up of the piece on the Glenelm Neighbourhood Association blog. Here’s an excerpt, which includes some of our thoughts on why Glenelm might have a lower crime rate:
“1. Geography – the Red River is a geographic barrier between Glenelm and the North End and Henderson Highway separates us from Chalmers. One resident recounted the story of crime rates dropping even further during the closure of Redwood Bridge.
2. Neighbourhood stability – a significant majority of Glenelm residents are homeowners (not renters) with very low rates of transience. The trend of adult children moving back to the neighbourhood to purchase homes was cited.
3. Sense of community – The importance of social gatherings was noted, including the annual Noble Block Party and weekly gatherings at Gordie’s Coffee House (Thursday evenings at Gordon King Memorial Church). One resident described a Block Parent house-to-house phone alert system, to ensure everyone is aware of what’s happening. Residents spoke warmly about the fabric of the neighbourhood, including anecdotes about neighbours mowing lawns for each other and and welcoming new neighbours with baking.
4. Socio-economic status – Glenelm is not a poor neighbourhood. The average household income is $54K, and 75% of residents have some type of post-secondary education. The reporter noted the correlation between poverty, education and crime.”
That’s not to say that there’s no crime in Glenelm. We had our barbeque stolen from our backyard, and shortly after that, someone broke one of our car’s windows and stole a bunch of tools from the trunk (fortunately, they left our curling brooms!). Other relatives who live on Martin have a friendly neighbourhood thief who takes anything from their yard or garage that isn’t nailed down… not the end of the world when it’s a case of empties; pretty annoying when it’s stuff from inside your car. Of course, it’s always a good idea to lock your car, because I’m pretty sure no part of the city is immune to crime.
Are there things I wish were different about the neighbourhood? Sure. While the area itself is beautiful and full of quiet, canopied streets for walking, there aren’t many walking-distance destinations. I wish there were a bigger grocery store close by, and a pub or place to grab a drink at night would be great, too. But I do appreciate several nice places we do have: Sam’s Place, which is an awesome used bookstore and cafe, and Sonya’s Restaurant, which is run by a charming Czech man and has delicious breakfast and lunch. We recently ate at JC’s Tacos and More and loved it! A neat little gift shop, Savoir Faire, just opened at 241 Henderson (the old Vintage Veruca’s locale) and I just heard about a vintage and costume shop, The Creative Stage, that’s opened in the same area as JC’s, which I’m really looking forward to checking out. (Update: learn more about The Creative Stage Emporium on Facebook.) Also in our neck of the woods, a middle eastern grocery store somewhat mysteriously opened and closed within about a month — too bad about that.
All in all, I’m thrilled with our decision to put down roots in Glenelm, and that feeling is continually reinforced. I’d recommend this neighbourhood to anyone moving to Winnipeg or looking for a new place within the city. The proximity to downtown is really convenient (a 10 minute ride on the #11 bus) and real estate is quite affordable. All in all, an amazing area that I’m so glad we discovered. Go Glenelm!!