Hangout Handbook Winnipeg's Sublime Sliver of Summer
Published Oct 14, 2016In our annual Hangout Handbook, Exclaim! asks some of our favourite artists to discuss an ideal day in their hometown. Here, KEN Mode takes you through "a day when southern Manitoba could not be more sublime" with a trip to some of their favourite hometown haunts.
Winnipeg — and, for that matter, Manitoba — are well known for their hellish winters and relatively short summer season, but what we do get in terms of summer is said to make up for lost time.
If we're starting out an ideal summer day here through the eyes of this beholder, I'm going to do so with a strong coffee in one of our city's many green spaces. Let's hit one of our many independent coffee shops (which have only really emerged in the past five years) — Little Sister (270 River Ave), Parlour (468 Main St.) and Thom Bargen (64 Sherbrook St.; 250 Kennedy St.) — and get outside.
My folks' back yard is probably my favourite "green space," but clearly, that's not a public locale, so hit a park, wander around Osborne Village or the Wolseley neighbourhoods and their canopies of elm trees. Enjoy the green — it'll be fading in only a month's time.
After coffee (and maybe a litre or two of water), I'm ideally going to head down to Canadian Fighting Centre (519 Osborne St.), my home away from home, to get in a few rounds of bag work and kickboxing sparring to get the day truly rolling. I've been training here for the bulk of the past 10 years, and it is truly one of the things that keeps me loving this city; it's a legit world class martial arts facility.
Post-adrenaline dump, I think a solid breakfast is in order – and since I'm feeling like a big shot, we're going out! Lately my favourite breakfast spot in town is the Tallest Poppy (103 Sherbrook St.), and my go to is their deep fried brisket and eggs — but let's add another egg or two to that, as we've worked up an appetite. The fried chicken and waffles is also a must. Every time I come here, I marvel at the skinless taxidermy black bear that stands at the entrance of the restaurant, like a terrifying human sized weasel — I would very much like to have one for my own house's entranceway.
After brunch, we better keep the activity up, or an impromptu afternoon nap is sure to happen, and I can't afford the general disruption in my sleep pattern; Maybe dip down to Polo Park (1485 Portage Ave.), Winnipeg's largest mall, to check in on a summer sale at Harry Rosen. I'm not a fan of malls, but this is a necessary evil in this case, as it's probably the best for high quality menswear in the city.
Then, head out to Whiteshell Provincial Park an hour and a half drive east of Winnipeg; maybe rent a boat and go swimming over by the uninhabited side of the Winnipeg River System, or perhaps go for an off-road hike through the wilderness (bring your GPS). There are plenty of legit hiking/biking trails around there (the Mantario trail, Pine Point Rapids, the Cross Canada trail, etc), but I've always had the most meaningful strolls when making my own path.
One of the greatest appeals of this region is our connection to nature, and if you're coming out here in the summer, you'd truly be crazy to miss this aspect of our geography. The Whiteshell hits right as the Prairies meets the Great Canadian Shield, and to me represents all that is great about being Central Canadian.
Now, for dinner, I'd either suggest we grill something ourselves out here in cottage country, or perhaps we could head back to the city to hit Tropikis Restaurant (878 Ellice Ave.), as it's my most utilized restaurant when out of town touring pals come through and I'm looking to give them a distinct Manitoba dining experience. Tropikis is, for all intents and purposes, a Caribbean restaurant, but with a distinctly different twist that I'd argue is uniquely Manitoban: big game roti. My go-to here is the bison or elk roti.
Sorry vegetarians, I've got nothing for you on this one – I can drop you off at Boon Burger (79 Sherbrook St.), which I'm told is a killer vegan burger joint. It's a pretty weird hole in the wall joint, with no real theme in the décor, and a very unique staff. It's also a hop, skip, and a jump away from Goodies Bake Shop (1124 Ellice Ave.) where we should get some applejacks for dessert.
Post-dinner, if we're going for a night on the town, I'd be looking for who's playing at either the Good Will Social Club (625 Portage Ave.), the Handsome Daughter (61 Sherbrook St.) or the Windsor (187 Garry St.), which are the three main clubs that host most of the music that I care about that comes through here. Each room fits around 200–220 people, besides the Daughter which is probably only more around 100, and largely staffed with people I've known from the music scene for the past 20 years. It's the closest I get to Cheers in this town.
I'm not messing around with night clubs, sports events, or any other junk at my age. The only thing that will make me leave the confines of my home after a day like that is the one consistently bad influence on my general well-being: music.
KEN Mode's upcoming EP, Nerve, is due November 10 on Reptilian Records.