This idea that “Osborne Village is the best neighbourhood in Canada” has always been laughable, as has been stated in these webpages before. Osborne Village isn’t the best neighbourhood in Canada. It isn’t even the best neighbourhood in Winnipeg.
That’s West Broadway.
West Broadway makes Osborne Village look like Waverley West’s lazy niece. West Broadway is a more vibrant, more cosmopolitan, more carnivalesque neighbourhood, and we have a fucking hospital.
Osborne Village has lost the diversity it had in the 90s. Nobody on the short side of the middle class collects there anymore, save for the street kids who are making a pit stop in the Village while train-hopping their way towards Shambala from Quebec, clothed in their various shades of brown, collecting street dirt, asking for money, bereft of busking skills, while their dog, which they have tethered to another dog, collects a greater amount of street dirt.
For a fully flavourful cross-section of Winnipeg diversity, you have to go to West Broadway. We’ve got the young professionals. And we have everything else. We party with greater abandon, work a wider variety of jobs and we ask for change with far more panache.
We have a bicycle highway, a thrift store and a fucking hospital.
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Where did the Tallest Poppy return after its journey to the netherworld? Not Osborne Village. It’s back and it’s taller and poppyier than ever, and it rose from the flames in West Broadway. I’ve been twice so far and I’ve overheard the phrase “this is the best Caesar I’ve ever had” both times. Yes, from different people. What should you get to eat? I’ll just say this: their fried chicken is perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the chicken race to date.
The Handsome Daughter has finally opened, giving West B a venue to suit our sensibilities.
Fitzroy is a preposterously underrated establishment for dining. I recommend sitting at the bar to watch your Corned Beef Tongue sandwich come into being, or have the American Cheese Burger, which is perhaps the greatest burger available in this city – a simple, elemental creation that draws all the love out of the kinship between beef, bun, onion and cheese.
I don’t know what The Nook’s hiring policy is, but it produces the most genuinely friendly and consummately professional service of any ensemble staff I’ve experienced anywhere.
You think buying booze at the Zoo vendor is great? I prefer the experience of being forced into a dungeon lock box with three dudes returning collected alley cans that you get at the Sherby vendor. It’s like being at the very point where the snake’s tail goes into its mouth. But with metal bars.
I will grant Osborne Village the following:
1) Litte Sister Coffee Maker is a fabulous joint. I adore the decore. That tapestry is terrific. Tapestries are due for a comeback and Little Sister gets it. They’re radiant and kind and tasteful and they make great beverages.
2) The Osborne Village Cafe has my favourite menu in town. Spectacular.
3) Sean Kim of Agit is the friendliest, hardest working karaoke bar proprietor in the universe and I love hearing him tell me about the last time he had a day off and how he got “soooooo drunk”.
But that’s it.
There is a greater sense of community in Wannabees alone than in the entire Village.
Maybe you’re thinking: hey, why pick a fight? Winnipeg desperately needs more liveable neighbourhoods, not fights between two of the few existing ones. You’re right. But “Neighbourhoods that let you live without a car are good for us” is not a fun article that four out of five people searching the internet for some scrap of salvation or a chuckle will click on.
Okay, I’ll try to stay positive. West Broadway is more inclusive. We’re the site of more social cross-pollination. We’re home to a greater variety of human struggle. Our bridge is less of a heat score to drink under.
There are tonnes of places to go for STI checks. Four Rivers and Nine Circles.
And no matter what news you get there, the celebratory/conciliatory pizza is always piping warm at Pizza Bite. In the summer they put a table outside the front door to create a tranquil patio experience.
And that’s what West Broadway provides: a wealth of experiences.
When the artificial bells chime out of Westminster Cathedral while you’re skulking home in the morning light after a long night of sin, or getting up to clock-in to a soul-crushing job, it feels like a scene from a lost film that Coppola and Scorsese collaborated on in ‘76.
And we have a fucking hospital – a hospital with the phoneme “misery” in its name. All is both blessed and blasphemous that falls beneath the beacon of the neon cross atop the Misericordia. Long may it burn. Or do whatever neon does.
Who has it best in Winnipeg? The answer is obvious: those of us who reside at the languorous end of Landside, or make our weary end at the merry end of Maryland, or shelter on short strip that was once called “Preston between the nuts”.
Follow Ross McCannell on Twitter @RossMcCannell.