Hey, it’s that Uniter 30 issue.
We asked you to vote on your favourite local people, places and things of 2014. We tried to find categories that interested our readers. Yes, we’d love to include every type of restaurant and every type of dancer, but as some of us ex-Uptown contributors can attest, that is a lot of categories to get through so we’ve kept it at 30. You’ll see some people that won last year, some names that regularly appear in the paper and a few surprises.
Yeah, normally we put out the Uniter 30 as our December issue, and it sits on the shelf for a month while the students take a break, and everyone smiles if they liked what got picked or they complain if they don’t like what got picked. But when I went to tabulate the votes (a task that took me two days last year) I realized that a lot more people submitted ballots. Last year there were 194 ballots, while this year there were 1,506 (two of which were handwritten). I’m guessing it took me about 70 hours to tabulate everything. So you’re getting this issue now (I almost abandoned the concept entirely in favour of a cute puppies issue, but then I’d have to choose WHICH cute puppies to include and I got stressed out). That being said, thank you SO MUCH FOR ALL THE VOTES.
We then asked our writers to talk to these people, visit these places and hold(?) these things that you voted for. Some people took pictures of them, while other people drew pictures of them. It all turns into this thing in your hands RIGHT NOW. I think it’s a decent representation of what makes up Winnipeg, or at least what a Uniter reader is into. Not your favourite stuff? I don’t know what to tell you.
In politics, one person’s decision can often have unexpected consequences. By choosing to leave office rather than run for re-election, former Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz may have helped set in motion a series of events that dramatically altered politics in our province.
When the Falcon descended on last year’s mayoral race he was the fringe candidate who wound up coming in third. All the people I knew that voted for Judy last time around were voting for him, as were a lot of people who had never cast a ballot before. He brought about change simply by speaking to people that most candidates ignored. He also did a Reddit AMA.
In her own way, Samantha Hill is taking part in theatre history. The Winnipeg-born actress who cut her teeth starring in Rainbow Stage productions of Peter Pan and Beauty and the Beast has moved on to the Broadway stage. After a successful run as Christine Daae in The Phantom of the Opera (which remains the longest-running show in Broadway history), Hill is now starring as Cossette in the newest revival of Les Misérables at the historic Imperial Theatre.
Steve Locke is a poet
For Jill Groening, dance began as a hobby, one amidst all the other usual extracurricular sports, at age 11. As the years passed, the sports fell to the wayside and dancing grew from a hobby into a passion. When she learned of the Uniter 30 results, her reaction was one of bashful humility. Groening, a writer for this very publication, is humble, bordering on embarrassed by the honour, admitting she’s not a competitive person.
In many ways, seeing Guy Maddin (My Winnipeg, The Saddest Music in the World) voted as favourite local filmmaker isn’t a surprise. The director’s name is as synonymous with Winnipeg as the Golden Boy or the bitter cold of winter. But it’s also a fitting testament to his staying power, with the celebrated auteur nearing 30 years as a major force in world cinema.
Unless you live under a rock (no pun intended), or are actively striving to be the worst Winnipegger ever, you have probably heard of local curling sensation Jennifer Jones. Renowned as one of the top female Canadian curlers of the last decade, Jones has been throwing rocks and shouting “hurry!” since she was 11-years-old.
Ian Bawa knows a thing or two about success.
“Coffee brings people together,” says Nils Vik, the guy behind the counter at Parlour Coffee on Main St.
Comedian Garet Seman has only been performing stand-up for two years, but is already gaining a reputation in the Winnipeg performing arts scene. He speaks humbly of his beginnings in comedy, quipping, “I wasn’t bitten by a radioactive comedian.”
When pastry chef Nathalie Gautier set out to buy a bakery two and a half years ago, she was aiming for St. Boniface, but ended up on North Main. “I didn’t know exactly what area I was [in] or what the community was, so it was a good challenge,” Gautier says. They arrived in March, and by August of the same year, A L’Epi de Ble opened its doors.
Along with music festivals and potholes, Winnipeg has no shortage of farmers’ markets. It’s clear that our city has a love for fresh produce and locally made wares - in Winnipeg alone there are 13 markets, spread out enough to effectively compete with chain grocery stores.
The topic of music venues was actually a pretty important one for Winnipeg in 2014. New spots like The Good Will and The Handsome Daughter cut ribbons and opened doors.
For the last eight years ‘Peg City Groove has been a place for Winnipeggers to keep up with the local music scene and it’s still going strong.
Matt Moskal’s no stranger to this category, as The Supporting Act was ranked second in last years’ Uniter 30 poll. Hardly a small feat for a podcast that had only existed a mere 10 episodes at the time.
It took six years, but the Civil Disobedients stopped being super lazy procrastinators and finally released the follow-up to Sell Your Soul Until You Can Buy It Back.
Eric the Great is no fairweather busker. On any given day, he’ll be out somewhere in Winnipeg, greeting passers-by with a song and his bright, distinctive smile. He’s been regaling the streets with song for 10 solid years, averaging about 16 hours a day, he estimates.
I dare you to find one Winnipegger who hasn’t spent a day strolling through the Winnipeg Folk Festival grounds, or at least a bitter soul who hasn’t had thoughts of sneaking into the festival campground.
The Uniter was founded in 1824 by John Uniter, a wealthy Selkirk industrialist who coined the phrase “People before profit.” The publication was one page and was used to inform people about the upcoming general strike (which didn’t occur for almost a century). It had a circulation of 20 and was printed on the back of old rags found in Uniter’s garage.