Summer Roasts, Toasts, Thoughts and a Question

July 19th, 2014 by Emma Durand-Wood

Ah, summer in Winnipeg. I guess it’s nothing if not unpredictable! I don’t have a super-cohesive post today; just some random stuff I wanted to share, a question to ask, things to complain about, and others to rave about. In no particular order…

Toasts: We love the garage we take our car to (Midwest Tire at Regent & Lag) for many reasons, not the least of which is the oil change perk – often a voucher for a free carwash at the The Chamois. I had never experienced or even heard of something as awesome as the Chamois until I moved to Winnipeg – does this sort of thing exist elsewhere? I feel like you could make millions! Yes indeed, we love the Chamois (truth be told, we always, always call it the Sham-Wow) and even my mum looks forward to her visits to Winnipeg specifically for the opportunity to visit the Chamois. For the uninitiated, the Chamois is a magical place where you can get your car cleaned on the inside and outside AT THE SAME TIME. All the while, you get to sit in a nice, cool, air-conditioned area on comfy couches, drinking a cup of free coffee, while your 4-year old presses his face against the glass, entranced, as he watches the giant scrubbers give your car a serious cleaning.  As the outside is cleaned, a team of cleaners is inside the vehicle, wiping it down, vacuuming up a winter’s worth of gravel and a spring’s worth of those annoying elm seed pods, and, should you desire, adorning it with an air freshener in the scent of your choice. Take my word for it. The Chamois rules.

We were visiting with family in West Hawk Lake last weekend and it happened to be MeteorFest. What a fun little community party! Even with the off- and on- crappy weather, we still got a decent amount of beach time in, and there we met a team of lovely young women running the Recycle Everywhere tent. They gave the little ones in our group free Frisbees, temporary tattoos, and beach pails.  I couldn’t resist offering up my thoughts on how Manitoba seriously needs to get on the deposit-for-all-beverage-containers train, and despite my ranting they were still nice to me, and even gave me one of those cool folding reusable shopping bags.

Lastly in the toasts category… I went on a great tour this week: The West End BIZ Murals Tour! Our friendly and knowledgeable tour guide Sasha took us to see a whole bunch of cool murals in the West End and I learned a lot about the area. I’m planning an actual blog post on that soon. There was an added bonus to the tour, too: it gave me the opportunity to finally meet Chris Cassidy, of West End Dumplings fame — we’ve “known” each other for years online but never met in person.

Roasts: Speaking of elms, yesterday while walking in my neighbourhood, a gentleman who was coming out of his house pointed out yet another of our area’s ancient elm trees has been tagged for removal because of Dutch Elm disease. SO SAD. We chatted for a few minutes about the trees, and he told us that Glenelm’s trees were actually planted as a Depression-era make-work project in the 1930s. It’s truly painful to see these beautiful, giant trees come down and the exchange served as a good reminder for me to be diligent about banding our trees – and even got me thinking that maybe I could organize a block-wide banding effort this year.

Also, come on, mosquitoes of Winnipeg. Why you gotta be that way? Seriously, even with the fogging, the mosquitoes are BAD this year. The other day I took the kids grocery shopping and between leaving the front door, buckling them into their seats, and closing my car door, I had three new bites. Plus, on the drive, I killed many more that were trapped in the car. I was at Vita Health earlier today and noticed a big display of anti-mosquito products. One suggestion was using lavender oil in an aromatherapy diffuser to keep the bugs away while you’re on the deck. The cashier also told me neem oil seems to be very popular this year. Anyone had luck with either of those?

Question: A question for you born-and-bred and in-the-know Winnipeggers – what is the scoop with the beach at Birds Hill Park? I always hear people talking about what a great family beach there is, but I have also heard mixed information on whether it’s part of a privately owned campground (Oasis?), and that it was actually closed for a while… can anyone clarify? When people talk about the beach, are they referring to one actually in Birds Hill Provincial Park? I’m super-confused. Help!

Thoughts (food-related, natch): I think we can all agree that Winnipeg just keeps getting more and more awesome for food lovers. Every time I read about our growing food truck fleet, I am practically drooling. Gourmet tater tots? Yes please. I tried some pizza from Red Ember at the St Norbert Farmers Market a few weeks ago… wow. Visiting the food trucks is definitely on my to-do list this summer.

A year I wrote that I was hoping to check out the Scoop n’ Weigh one of these days, and I did make it there! What a great store. I love that they have kitchenware AND food. And their play area for kids is fantastic.

A new shop is about to open up in my ‘hood… Fresh to the Bone Meats at 260 Henderson (in the old Elmwood Hobbyworks space). Don’t know anything about the store, but I’m psyched that a food store is coming back to the area after the Pal’s at Johnson & Henderson closed. I have a secret dream that maybe Neechi Commons could open at satellite store in the old Pal’s space. Frankly, Pal’s was not the most appealing grocery store, but everyone in the area really misses being able to pop in to grab milk or other staples. Neechi is such a wonderful and surprisingly well-stocked small grocery store, and I would frequent it regularly if it were within walking distance.

Over & out for me today… happy summer, everyone – stay cool (or warm) and dry, and above all, bite-free and having fun!

3 Responses to “Summer Roasts, Toasts, Thoughts and a Question”

  1. PT says:

    Nice post, and nice to see you’ve kept up the blogging while so many of us bloggers have fallen by the wayside!

    Love the Chamois! Definitely a Winnipeg institution.

    The Bird’s Hill Park beach is open to the public. I haven’t been there in years, but we used to love it as kids. It’s an artificial lake with quite shallow water (maybe 6 ft at its deepest). During beach season, I believe there are change rooms and an ice cream stand too. Nearby there’s a beautiful walking and biking trail. See this map (beach parking lot is just northeast of the lake):

    There is apparently a nice beach and campground at Oasis too, though I’ve never been.

  2. Prairie says:

    Birds Hill Park (and all other prov parks) are free to get into this wknd! Go! The beach there is nice. Often busy. I think the main allure is really the proximity to the city.

    I’m in Glenelm in Elmwood too and it drives me nuts that very few people band their trees here. Elm is in our neighbourhood’s name! An old neighbour saw me doing ours & told me not to bother bc he wasn’t doing his. Ugh.

  3. Emma Durand-Wood says:

    PT and Prairie – thanks so much for the info on the Birds Hill beach, very helpful!

    I wonder if’s there’s a good reason that banding isn’t done by the city. Seems to me to be a relatively easy and low-cost way to protect our trees; the cost to band a tree has got to be way less than taking an old one down and replacing it with a new one.

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