UNTIL DEC. 19 SNAP Members Show & Sale Impress your “impossible-to-buy-for” loved ones with the gift of art after a visit to SNAP’s annual sale of prints by local fine artists. (10123 121 St., SNAP Gallery, snapartists.com)
Holiday Magic Enjoy the sweet holiday spirit sounds at City Hall when sleighbell-slinging student choirs from around Edmonton gather for five straight days. It’s free, but you’re encouraged to bring Edmonton Food Bank donations. (10am–2pm, Churchill Square, edmonton.ca/attractions)
The Culture Collective Arts Market Celebrate the season with eclectic holiday makers and local retailers all in one place, plus live musical performances and entertainers. Tickets are $11 through Eventbrite or at the door. (7–11pm, Yellowhead Brewery, 10229 105 St., culturecollective.ca)
DEC. 31 Countdown at the Conservatory Get an early start to 2016 during this family-friendly festivity with crafts and games, and a countdown— every hour from 11am to 3pm. Who knows? By the end of it you might even decode the “Auld Lang Syne” lyrics. (9626 96A St., edmonton.ca/muttart)
New Year’s Eve Downtown Feel the body warmth of 20,000 people when you burrow into the crowd for hot cocoa and fresh bannock, before a beautiful fireworks show erupts over City Hall. (Churchill Square, exploreedmonton.com)
The EPIC Bash Get on Santa’s nice list early this year with a ticket to the Edmonton Potterwatch Institute for Charity’s bash, featuring musicians Sean Sonego and Amy Voyer. Tickets are $25, with all proceeds donated to Edmonton charities for at-risk youth like YESS and iHuman. (7:30pm, Starlite Room, 10030 102 St., starliteroom.ca)
DEC. 12 Junior Scientists Crack mind-boggling scientific mysteries with your kids when Stanley Milner children’s library presents a free event for children ages 6–8. Volunteers love nurturing kids’ relationship with science, but they’re just as likely to nurture yours too. (2pm, 7 Churchill Square, epl.ca)
Courtesy John Meyer/freeimages.com
Valentine’s Lunch Social Edmonton Senior’s Centre celebrates sweethearts and sweeties with its annual Valentine’s lunch. All are welcome. (11:30am, Edmonton Seniors Centre, 11111 Jasper Ave., edmontonseniorscentre.ca)
Family Day Celebration The Stanley Milner library programs a score of workshops and Family Day events graced by clowns, puppets and musicians. (7 Churchill Square, epl.ca)
JAN. 8–FEB. 18 The Lebret Residential Petroglyphs Tanya Harnett’s photo exhibition is a harrowing reflection of children forced to endure abuse and cultural degradation at the Lebret Residential School. Attend the artist’s talk on Jan. 14 at 6pm. (SNAP Gallery, 10123 121 St.)
SUNDAYS STARTING JAN. 12 Michael Gfroerer Join composer and pianist Michael Gfroerer as he leads his collective in a musical exploration inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (Sundays, 3-5pm, Robertson-Wesley United Church, 10209 123 St.)
JAN. 13 Opera 101: Carmen Panel Discussion In preparation for Carmen—at the Jubilee on Jan. 30, Feb. 2 and 4—Edmonton Opera invites opera-lovers to this evening discussion about the historical and political influences of Georges Bizet’s masterpiece, along with drinks and good company. It’s free with an RSVP through Eventbrite. (7pm, CKUA, 9804 Jasper Ave.)
JAN. 21–FEB. 27
Above the Clouds Consider the future of humankind through visual artist Aryen Hoekstra’s eyes. His mixed media work examines our planet’s looming ecological catastrophe by drawing from 1962’s Seattle World Fair and nuclear tests that same year. The artist is present on opening night, Jan. 21 at 7pm. (Creative Practices Institute, 10149 122 St.)
Green Drinks: Winter in YEG Loosen up and join the conversation with The Local Good at their (almost) monthly shin-dig, Green Drinks, where environmentally conscious Edmontonians fill the evening with engaging discussions and debates about Edmonton’s ecological future. (7–10pm, Yellowhead Brewery, 10229 105 St.)
The Gay Heritage Project Three former Edmontonians embark on a hilarious theatrical exploration to answer one question: Is there such thing as Gay Heritage? Tickets to this wildly entertaining play on LBGT identity start at $25 and can be purchased online. (Citadel Theatre, 9828 101A Ave.)
FEB. 21–MAR. 13 Drawing as Meditation with Carmella Hayowsky Spend Sunday afternoons with artist Carmella Hayowsky, who’ll help you find your zen in a drawing circle and become more mindful. (Sundays, 2–4pm, Robertson-Wesley United Church, 10209 123 St.)
Love and marriage had come for Sarah and Kyle Witiw, but the baby in the baby carriage? Not within the constraints of their 700-square-foot Oliver apartment. “We were climbing all over each other,” says Sarah, a 29-year-old representative with Red Cross. So they sought out a home for their inevitably growing family.
Sarah would have been happy living in any far-flung suburb like the one in which she grew up, but Kyle, a city planner and bike commuter who’s lived centrally for 11 years, insisted it be downtown. “With my planner background, I’m probably just a little too particular,” he says. Sarah, too, was particular, but about extra space—especially in the kitchen. “I’m Ukrainian, so…” she deadpans. But the first-time homebuyers’ $400,000 budget proved it difficult to find a central single-family detached home that wasn’t a fixer-upper.
After exhausting 42 houses within a few kilometres of their downtown offices, they were ready to give up. Then, in July 2014, Kyle discovered two downtown lofts spacious enough for a family of three or four. “I believe his words were, ‘Just humour me,’” recalls Sarah. “So I did, grumbling all the way there.” Suddenly the debate wasn’t whether there’d be enough space for her feasts, but which kitchen would be her new workshop.
Upsides: Awesome lighting fixtures; Exposed Brick; Bedroom Skylight; Community Patio
Downsides: Too small for planned family; Cramped Kitchen; No Covered Parking; Parking-Lot View
Kyle immediately fell in love with the industrial chic loft’s exposed brick and beams, while Sarah’s attention was drawn to an extravagant wrought iron chandelier in the dining area. The wrap-around windows forgave the parking-lot view, and a bedroom skylight deflected attention from the small built-in bed. But stylish as it was, the layout was inflexible for their future plans. When the bidding war got too hot, they took it as a sign to back out.
Upsides:Spacious; Massive Kitchen; Bedroom Barn Doors; Stone’s Throw From Jobs and 104th Street; Flexible Design
Downsides: Outdated Bathroom; Hidden Brick; No Visitor Parking or Patio
There was 1910 brick somewhere behind the beige walls, but Kyle quickly accepted they’d never get to it. The bathroom also needed work. Instead he and Sarah fixated on barn bedroom doors, matching new appliances and eight-minute walks to their offices. And then there’s space: an island bigger than their last kitchen and a living room that can easily be framed off for a baby room. After they brought the seller’s price closer to their budget, Sarah was convinced. “After living here,” she now says, “I can’t imagine living any further.”
Median Selling Price Aug – Oct 2015 Oliver: $235,000 (-$20,000 from Aug-Oct 2014)
– difference from listing price: +100
– days on market: 42 (+2 from Aug-Oct 2014)
Downtown: $327,000 (+19,500 from Aug-Oct 2014)
– difference from listing price: -3,449 – days on market: 36 (-5 from Aug-Oct 2014)
Snowy Excursions: Get off the beaten track just like the first Canadians used to—in snowshoes. Strike out on your own by trudging across Victoria or Hawrelak parks’ open snowscapes, or, if you require guidance, sign up for a guided tour with River Valley Adventure Co. Headquartered in Louise McKinney Park, the company doesn’t just rent out know-how, but snowshoes too. Gather a group of four or more, buckle on a pair of ergonomic MSR snowshoes (designed to improve your traction without weighing you down) and spend the day crunching over the river valley’s snowdrifts with a trusty guide. (Open Friday–Monday, 11am–4pm; 780-995-7347; rivervalleyadventure.com)
Skate Free What’s more Albertan than an outdoor skating rink? The rink on the Alberta Legislature grounds. Revel in the limited but bright winter sun or appreciate the twinkling Christmas lights adorning the park through December and January. For more space and bigger crowds, head to the Victoria Park Oval—and while you’re there, check out the Winter Chalet at Victoria Golf Course (weekends, 9am–4pm) to warm up with hot chocolate and bannock by the fire. Both rinks are open for free public skating everyday (10am—10pm) until it’s about to melt—but don’t wait too long because climatologists are expecting a short winter. Make the best of it.
Ski the Valley Take advantage of the well-groomed skiing trails in Hawrelak, Victoria and Kinsmen parks—all three locations are furnished with chalets, so you can thaw your toes before hitting the track again. The Edmonton Nordic Ski Club organizes group skiing in the river valley every Wednesday evening, as well as Sunday day-trips to venues outside the city. Whether your legs are a little wobbly or ready for Olympic tryouts, join the club’s Annual End-to-End River Valley Ski over the holiday season and keep your eyes peeled for “moonlight ski” events (think buddies, headlamps and a potluck). The club also facilitates an online ski swap in case your gear needs an upgrade or you haven’t any at all. Or you can rent skis from Mountain Equipment Co-op. (Edmontonnordic.ca)
Swing Away the Winter Blues From January to February, Swing ‘n’ Skate Sundays turns winter blues to winter grooves at City Hall. Live jazzy musicians in the City Room provide the soundtrack while Sugar Swing Dance Club members provide free instruction on the dance floor inside. They’ll guide you through tuck-turns and walkthroughs before sending you off to do it on skates—the band is also broadcast over the outdoor rink out front. Don’t have skates? On-site rentals are free. (Sundays 1–4 pm; exploreedmonton.com)
Coast the Slopes Some municipalities are cracking down on urban tobogganing, but not this one. Edmonton boasts prime sledding hills maintained by the City and made easy with run-outs and marked sledding areas. Whether you cruise on old-fashioned toboggans, “snow saucers” or Krazy Karpets (consult your childhood diary for definitions), bring along your sleds, helmets and besties to Emily Murphy or Gallagher Park hills. If you’re brave, hit the notorious hill at Government House Park. (For slope conditions and lists visit tinyurl.com/yegtoboggan)
Huddle Inside Built in 1972, the Oliver Arena is a neighbourhood institution. On those few blisteringly cold days, take refuge on its 1,500-square-metres of pristine ice surface. Drop-in public skating for all ages is free for an hour every Sunday at 4:15pm, and skate rentals and sharpening are available inside. (10335 119th street)
The grand opening of the new and improved Kitchener Park, on Oct. 4, included a neighbourly potluck and jubilant kids crawling all over the park’s new steam-engine themed jungle-gym. While the installation of the core’s coolest playground took five months, the redevelopment involved 12 years of hard work on the OCL’s part.
“People think that because we’re in the heart of the city, you’re going to have a transient community. But the OCL continues to prove that wrong,” said MLA David Shepherd, who, along with Coun. Scott McKeen, arrived to support the community’s long-standing dedication to the park.
The Park was established by community groups in 1923. The OCL later planted today’s mature trees.
In 2003, public consultation and a needs assessment inspired the OCL to raise $500,000 for major upgrades—including the railway mural, heat-beating spray park and, finally, new playground.
In addition to private donations, funders include the Province of Alberta’s Community Facility Enhancement and Community Spirit Grant funds, as well as the City of Edmonton’s Neighbourhood Parks Development Program. Check it out at 11411 103 Ave. And don’t miss the community socials, with hot chocolate and toasty fires, every other Sunday.
Angelika Matson stood before a stranger’s home, on a doormat that literally read, “Go Away,” and knocked anyway. She was accompanied by Howard Lawrence and Danny Hoyt, key members of Abundant Communities Initiative, a multi-community project connecting neighbours with the hope of creating a more supportive and inclusive neighbourhood on a person-to-person basis. Turning around would defeat the purpose.
She says, “Even a single connection feels like a triumph.” It’s a sentiment confirmed the moment a smiling face appeared from behind the door, and repeated each time she meets another Oliver neighbour.
Matson is one of Oliver’s designated Neighbourhood Connectors working diligently to, in her words, “link the people who need help with the people who can give it.” As a Connector, she tries to build ongoing relations with people all around the community and encourages them to independently reach out to other neighbours in their buildings. Matson believes it’s the most effective way she can inspire social wellbeing: the more connectors, the more social connections. That’s how Lawrence’s vision for ACI began, in 2013, with an idea for promoting community growth one knock at a time.
“It combats isolation in the midst of a big city,” says Matson, a former Red Deer resident and a social media manager. She’s also a mental health advocate who promotes positive body image and mental health awareness on YouTube.
In 2013, she shared her experiences of being bullied with the One Project to create #EraseBullying, an interactive art campaign that partnered with Lush Cosmetics to encourage bullying victims to speak up. But Matson, who volunteers for the Seniors Association of Greater Edmonton and sits on the City of Edmonton’s Youth Council, also knows the value of face-to-face interaction to improving personal well-being. She’s witnessed it in herself. And if it can change a person, it can change a city, she says.
Angelika’s hopeful that neighbours young and old will rise to the challenge and “open their door to a stranger.” They could become a good friend. It wouldn’t be the first time.
Are you passionate about community? Become a Neighbourhood Connector for your area. Email for more information.
We’re deep into the season of long nights and low temperatures but the Oliver Community League continues to bring warmth to our neighbourhood. As always, the OCL will be hosting inclusive events and programs, advocating for safe spaces that enable connection, and opening doors throughout Oliver.
In the fall issue we shared that we’ve been working diligently to bring programs and events to Oliver that will serve our diverse community members, and this momentum continues to build. On Saturday, Sept. 19, we hosted outdoor games, a barbecue and beer garden in Oliver Park as part of the Edmonton-wide Community League Day event. The OCL also participated in the 124 Street Business Association All Is Bright Festival in November, a special event that grows every year and highlights a great area in our neighbourhood and city.
The walking pub crawls around Oliver returned in September to great fanfare, and we were happy to see both new and familiar faces join us. See our events listing for details on future crawls and events, and come to meet your neighbours.
In August, we tested a new event—a potluck at the hall that invited community members to bring a favourite dish. We had a fantastic turnout and folks have been asking for another. So we are hosting a holiday potluck on Dec. 5. Because sharing a meal together is an immemorial way to also share stories, recipes, cultures and create community.
After 11 years of concerted efforts by dedicated OCL volunteers, the Kitchener Park redevelopment concluded with the completion of the playground this fall. The Abundant Communities Initiative continues to host biweekly hot chocolate socials in Kitchener, drawing us out on cold winter nights to enjoy the company of neighbours and friends around a campfire.
As highlighted in last issue’s feature, Jasper Ave. revitalization is a key advocacy issue for the OCL, and we hope that you’re involved in the City of Edmonton’s engagement process underway this winter. The OCL is also working with interested individuals to find another space for a community garden, ideally in the Grandin area.
Please reach out to us if you’d like to know more about anything we’re doing. We hope you and your loved ones enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!
OCL board of directors: Lisa Brown (President); Danny Hoyt (VP); Simon Yackuli (Secretary); Leah Hilsenteger (Treasurer); Curtis Boehm;Jarrett Campbell; James Eastham; Justin Keats; Luwam Kiflemariam; Rowan Kunitz; Dustin Martin; Marija Petrovic; Erin Wright; Hossein Zahiri.
The Yards turns one this season, but instead of throwing a birthday bash we want to celebrate you—the shops, services, spaces and faces that make the core Edmonton’s best place to live. There are 15 categories in our inaugural awards. Within each, a long list of nominees was brainstormed and then painstakingly whittled down until consensus on the top three was reached by more than a dozen of the magazine’s staff, governance board and freelance writers.
We don’t expect you to agree on them all—so please email, tweet or Facebook us about who you’d want to honour in these categories or in new ones. But we hope that our honourees will surprise you and give you more to discover in Oliver and Downtown, while reaffirming the reasons you love living here.
BEST REASON TO STARE AT A WALL
Giant Transition mural: This meeting of two giants—one rundown and one sweating, the other calm and reassuring—was painstakingly applied to the east side of the John Howard Society Building by artists Josh Holinaty and Luke Ramsey in 2010. Like the society itself, the mural’s message is one of resilience. Think of it like those Keep Calm and Carry On posters: A reminder to breathe, relax, and remember that today can be a little better than yesterday. (10010 105 St.)
RUNNERS-UP En Masse Collective tunnel: The permanent (and City-sanctioned) piece of spray-painted chaos on a multi-use trail features magpies, skeletal Oilers logos and goopy letters declaring “Pure filth!” (99 Ave., between 109 and 110 St.) Chez Pierre Cabaret mural: Little kids are delighted by the bubbly and friendly portrait of the building’s former owner, Pierre Cochard, while their parents try avoid explaining what, exactly, happens inside. (10040 105 St.) —MH
BEST DOG-WALKING DESTINATION
Victoria Park Heritage Trail: This path skirting the north edge of Victoria Golf Course is a quick and easy escape from the urban jungle for you and your fur-babies. Benches lining the heritage trail are perfect to pause and give your pet a treat. Give yourself one too, with a flawless view of Edmonton’s Green Jewel. It’s well maintained all year long, so regardless of the season the stretch of greenery is a common gathering place for cyclists, fitness junkies and other fur-parents. Trail runs from approx. 100 Ave. and 116 to 121 streets.
RUNNERS-UP RJW Mather Memorial Park: There’s an official downtown dog park in progress (Alex Decoteau), but until then the historical McKay Avenue School’s fenced-in yard remains the core’s unofficial off-leash park. 10425 99 Ave. Railtown Park: Following the path of an old railroad, this multi-use trail was envisioned as a quiet commuter path. That is, until the pooches took control. Between 109 and 110 Streets, south of 104 Ave. —BN
BEST HERITAGE HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT
Balfour Manor: Sandwiched between towering beige high-rises, this piece of history was built in 1912 as Edmonton’s fourth firehall. The Balfour housed horses and horse-drawn equipment that were then used for firefighting, before it was converted to a walk-up apartment and given its distinct Moderne aesthetic, in 1939. But passersby will still make out pieces of the firehall’s brick pavement under the front lawn. (10139 116 St.)
RUNNERS-UP Holowach Tree: Planted by a Ukrainian shop-owner on his property in 1920, the chestnut tree hasn’t budged and remains in downtown’s heart as a snapshot of the changing seasons. 106 St. and Jasper Ave. El Mirador: Since 1936, this Spanish- inspired 45-unit apartment and calming courtyard has offered respite from monotonous parking lots and offices along Capital Boulevard. (10133-10147 108 St.) —JP
MOST INTERESTING ABODE “Bubble Houses”: This set of unmissable brick row-homes along 102 Ave. is rooted in the 1920s, when they were built for the families of workers employed at the nearby railway and hospitals. But their most notable feature—spherical windows—weren’t added until a 1980s renovation by the Lord and Wolff architects, in an attempt to modernize the humble exteriors. Aside from the telltale bubbles beloved by sunbathing cats, newer residents have added beautiful landscaping, lush vegetable gardens and flowerpots that envelope the front stoops. (112th and 119th streets on 102 Ave.)
RUNNERS-UP Mel Hurtig Cabin: The two-story log cabin that looms over the valley of the North Saskatchewan River is one of the last remaining homes of its type within city limits. (9905 115 St.) Manasc Penthouse: The rainbow hues of architect Vivian Manasc’s glass box atop the New Cambridge Lofts Penthouse gives anyone with a view an unexpected flash of colour and style. (10024 Jasper Ave.) —JP
BEST OF THE COMMUNITY
BEST NEIGHBOURHOOD RECREATION Oliver Outdoor Pool: What’s more refreshing on a hot summer day than dipping in an outdoor pool? The City-run facility with full change rooms is housed in Oliver Park, enveloped by nature and smack-dab in the busy neighbourhood. If you’re more inclined to soak in the sun than swim in the 30-metres-long pool, there are deck chairs (if you’re lucky enough to score one) and grassy seating by the concession. Entry is $7 for adults, $4.50 for kids, but you’ll have to wait until it reopens next summer. (10315 119 St., edmonton.ca)
RUNNERS-UP Royal Lawn Bowling Club: Members have enjoyed competitive and recreational lawn bowling at this local institution by the Leg for nearly a century. (9515 107 St., royalbowls.ca) Swing ‘n Skate: On January and February Sunday afternoons, head to City Hall for free live swing music and dance lessons—on ice too, if you’re feeling brave. (Sir Winston Churchill Square, 800-463-4667) —JP
BEST ANNUAL EVENT Edmonton Community League Day: We’re a bit biased, but we think the morning-to-night Community League Day festivities by the OCL and DECL—and across the city at its 150-plus community leagues—are pretty rad. The party starts every third Saturday of September, in Beaver Hills Park for free roasted corn and at the Oliver Community Hall for a relaxing afternoon of family-friendly games and neighbourly connections. Then, the DJ arrives and the beer garden opens, to keep the community spirit up all night. (efcl.org)
RUNNERS-UP All is Bright: You’ll hardly notice the cold at 124 St.’s outdoor festival, while roasting marshmallows and chomping into food truck fixings in the glow of artsy light installations. (124street.ca/all-is-bright) Canada Day: The whole city seemingly comes out to Oliver and Downtown for this dazzling show of light and music on the High Level Bridge and fireworks at the Leg grounds. (edmontoncelebratecanada.ca) —AV
BEST OUTDOOR TRADITION
Photo via Facebook/Cody Wu
Latitude 53 Patio Party: The best way to start your weekend? A day early. That’s why Edmontonians clutter Latitude 53’s patio every Thursday evening from mid-June to mid-August. Hosted by a local business with food and DJs, its contemporary art gallery shows off its newest experimental exhibitions while the art crowd gets a little exhibitionist with their outfits. Sip and socialize with friends—or make new ones—until you notice the sunset reflected off the glass towers ahead. (10242 106 St., latitude53.org)
RUNNERS-UP Movies on the Square: Pack up the family and camping chairs every Tuesday night in August when our civic plaza becomes a drive-in movie theatre—minus the cars, shoddy FM channel and admission fees. (Churchill Sq.) Lighting Up the Leg: The holiday tradition of illuminating the entire government grounds at once can leave you breathless, but the best way to bask in the twinkling lights is on skates. (10800 97 Ave.) —BN
SAGE: Kitty-corner to Churchill Square, the nonprofit’s mandate is giving seniors independence for as long as its safe. By offering programs and service registries, SAGE motivates them to maintain full lives and, in doing so, helps people feel like valued members of the community. One of its many programs, Life Enrichment, proves you’re never too old for new experiences like Zumba and ukulele lessons, not to mention meeting new people through its many social outings. (15 Churchill Sq., 780-423-5510, mysage.ca)
RUNNERS-UP Oliver Primary Care Network: From dietitian consultation to mental health coordination, its programs help patients manage their mental and physical well-being and achieve healthy lifestyles. (11910 111 Ave., 780-453-3757, edmontonoliverpcn.com) STI Clinic: It’s never easy, but the STI clinic staff have a way putting one at ease, with free, confidential testing, counselling and treatment. Beat the waiting room by booking ahead. (11111 Jasper Ave., 780-342 2300, albertahealthservices.ca) —AV
BEST IN BUSINESS
Mack Male/ Flickr
Coffee Bureau: It’s almost a dare: How do you convert minuscule square footage into a beloved business? Peter West and Cristiane Tassinari have risen to the occasion with their minimalist, 10-seat ode to all things mid-century modern. And using delicious locally roasted beans from Ace Coffee Roasters means that the retro cafe keeps one eye on the present craft coffee scene, too. (10505 Jasper Ave., coffeebureau.ca)
RUNNERS-UP Credo Coffee: The O.G. of downtown’s coffee renaissance sees bearded undergrads in line next to provincial cabinet ministers—and ordering the same thing. (10134 104 St. and 10350 124 St., credocoffee.ca) District Coffee Co.: The second of Nate Box’s java empire is also its bakery HQ for inventive pastries (think: Polish bialy with gruyere), plus smooth cappuccinos and an extra shot of sunshine through its wide front windows. (101, 10011 109 St., districtcoffee.ca) —MH
BEST LATE NIGHT EATS Remedy: After sundown, its bright yellow banners double as beacons to hungry pedestrians everywhere, directing them to that last chai, buttered chicken bowl or “punny” cake slice before bed. The chain’s two central locations means that they’ve got both ends of Downtown and Oliver covered till at least 11 pm, seven days a week. (10279 Jasper Ave. and 10310 124 St., remedycafe.ca)
RUNNERS-UP North 53: This renowned cocktail bar keeps a special menu for late-night snackers—so next time you’re hankering for Filipino pork buns or cider-poached pear from 11 pm to 2 am, you know where to go. (10240 124 St., north53.com) La Shish Toauk: Its authentic Lebanese menu delivers plenty of bang for your buck—and it may well be home to Edmonton’s best shawarma (spinning till midnight). (10106 118 St., lashish.ca) —MH
Courtesy of Ceasol/Flickr
BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE Starlite Room: When the Salvation Army first built the brick building in 1925, chances are it didn’t envision a future where a murderer’s row of rappers, metal bands and indie-rock outfits would pass through it (and its sister venue, The Brixx) on a near-nightly basis. Every city needs a mid-sized venue to anchor the local music scene, and we should be proud to call the Starlite ours. (10030 102 St., starliteroom.com)
OTR (On the Rocks): Even if you drink it straight, everything comes with rock (and roll) at this bar from Fri. to Sun., courtesy of a revolving cast of excellent cover bands. (11740 Jasper Ave., ontherocksedmonton.com) Cask & Barrel: With slick wood paneling, cozy booths and low lighting, everything emanating from the stage is mood music. The kid-friendly restaurant hosts concerts every Saturday. (10041 104 St., thecaskandbarrel.ca) —MH
BEST REASON TO SKIP THE MALL Dawn’s Bra-Tique: Dawn Bell knows all there is to know about bras, much of it learned under the tutelage of her grandmother, a Regina bra boutique-owner. Since 2000, the junior Bell has helped women from Edmonton and afar find that elusive perfect fit, whether it be high-end imports from around the world, cup sizes ranging from AA to N, or a specialty bra for brides-to-be. There’s also one-on-one shopping for women who’ve undergone breast augmentations or mastectomies. (10130 118 St., dawnsbratique.ca)
RUNNERS-UP Workhall: See how entrepreneur and head designer Nicole Campre dresses women and men in her signature modern and minimalist style, inside the local label’s head boutique and studio. (10137 104 St., workhallstudio.com) The High Street: The strip of independent clothing, cosmetic, gift and cookware boutiques dazzles discerning consumers with products hard to find elsewhere—plus plenty of brunch options for good measure. (12420 102 Ave.) —JP
BEST SHOP FOR MEMORABLE GIFTS Habitat etc: Handcrafted and locally made goods are expertly curated by owner Annie Parent, so the stock along these antique shelves will please even the fussiest person on your holiday shopping list—and tempt you into buying a deliciously scented soy-wax candle for yourself. “It’s a place that you come when you want to find something unique and different, but still good quality,” says Parent. In addition to stocking quirky greeting cards and small-batch grooming products, Habitat hosts crafting workshops to make your loved ones something truly unique. (10187 104 St., habitatetc.com)
RUNNERS-UP Stylus Fine Pens: A must-stop for stationary-lovers, the niche store offers a dizzying selection of high-end pens from across the globe. (10538 102 Ave, stylusfinepens.com) Rowles & Company: For 30-plus years this LeMarchand Mansion gallery has offered everything from traditional Aboriginal sculptures to bright hand-blown glass works by Western Canadian artists. (108, 11523 100 Ave, rowles.ca) —JP
BEST HIDDEN GEM Iconoclast Koffeehuis: Lodged between Oliver Square and St. Joachim Cemetery, a mere sandwich board signals that you’ve come to the right place—that, and the smell of roasting coffee beans wafting out the open garage doors in spring and summer. No need to lock your bike outside; owner Ryan Arcand insists you roll it in (the cafe doubles as a bike store). Arcand is committed to making Iconoclast a social hub, hence the communal working table, table-tennis, board games and nightly event bookings. (11807 105 Ave., iconoclastcoffee.com)
RUNNERS-UP Marg’s Upholstery: Well-loved furniture gets a second life in this basement business that’s been family-owned and operated for 35-plus years. So you know your sofa’s in good hands. (11639 Jasper Ave, 780-488-0486) The Sequel Cafe: The embodiment of a feel-good mom-and-pop bistro: fresh salads, sandwiches, daily homemade soups and, of course, cash only! (10011 102 Ave, 780-425-9210) —AV
BEST FAMILY BUSINESS
Ikki Izakaya: It’s technically the Ishikawas’ third location, though you’ll have to fly to Thailand to find the other two. That’s where the Ishikawa family refined their version of Japanese pubs, specializing in sharing plates and Asian sprits. It’s also the third generation of proprietor—some recipes date back to grandma Takako’s cookbooks. Warm up all winter with a bowl of motsuni stew, a pork intestine that’s slow-cooked in a mixed miso until its perfectly tender. Or really heat it up with an ounce of Hakkaisan Junmai, a premium sake served “overflow,” meaning it literally flows over the brim into a little box—yet another tradition the Ishikawa’s have brought to west Oliver. (11931 Jasper Ave., ikki.ca)
Kunitz Shoes: The Kunitz kids inherited mother Darlene’s 35 years of footwear knowledge to make this ever-expanding store a destination for medium and high-end footwear. (10846 Jasper Ave., kunitzshoes.ca) Co Co Di: Not even a 2009 blaze in the Kelly Ramsey couldn’t stop the Ghazals from doing what they do best: cook up authentic Lebanese with a side of belly dancing, live Arabic singers and hookah. (11454 Jasper Ave.) —BN