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  • Ace Burpee's Most Fascinating Manitobans of 2011

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    100: Gail Asper: In what was largely a dull election, Gail dropped some serious rhymes encouraging people to vote. Type Gail Asper into Google and all the suggestions have the word rap in them. Word indeed. Video here:

    99: Andrew Harris: It hurt at the time, but the former Oak Park High School student was named, and rightly so, Most Outstanding Canadian in the 99th Grey Cup for the BC Lions.

    98: Julie Pederson: Designs "Muckies", a line of funky mukluks with a twist, as well as "Spats"... which are kind of a mukluk that goes with a heel type thing. Britney Spears and Katy Perry wore them on stage at MTS Centre. Anna Paquin (True Blood), Meaghan Waller (Canada’s Next Top Model) and Kristin Cavallari (The Hills) all have Muckies. Flare magazine has featured them. She’s a great person as well.

    97: Doug Brown: If the Grey Cup was indeed his last game as a Bomber, he doesn’t owe us anything else. Not a Manitoban by birth, but he’s one of us now. It should also be noted that he nailed his cameo in Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure, as did his dog.

    96: Broms: MC, camera guy, all-around stand up character.

    95: Stacey Nattrass: Nailed the anthems at every Jets game up until a couple of weeks ago - right up until giving birth. As in... seriously right up until giving birth. Her last game was about 30 hours before delivery.

    94: Susan Lewis: Has spent more than 30 years as President and CEO of United Way of Winnipeg. This year received the Order of Manitoba for her dedication to making Winnipeg a better place.

    93: David Arnason: Arnason, from Gimli, wrote a book called "Baldur’s Song: A Saga" which was my favourite book of the year, and I read many good books.

    92: Michael Champagne: The founder of the Aboriginal Youth Opportunities (AYO) group, and youth coordinator at Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad in the North End. He’s a 24 year-old lifetime North Ender dedicated to making a positive change in his own backyard. He’s tireless. He puts himself out there. The North End MC is indeed making a difference. He’s a great story.

    91: Josh Myers: He and his friends formed "Esperenza" at Miles Mac, a group dedicated to helping the efforts of Free the Children.

    90: Peter Takis: 16 year-old business owner and entrepreneur. Owns and operates a clothing line called Local Advancers which produces some really sick gear. 15,700 twitter followers and counting. Check out his stuff:

    89: Derek King: I grew up with Derek, played real hockey with him, ball hockey, mini-stick hockey... you name it. We all thought it was cool when he landed a job driving the Zamboni at the Hazelridge arena in the 90’s. We also quickly noticed that Hazelridge had probably the best ice around . Apparently he was on to something, as he is now the Chief Engineer & Manager of Ice Operations for your Winnipeg Jets. From Hazelridge to the NHL.

    88: Lisanne Pajot & James Swirsky: Made Indie Game: The Movie - a feature documentary about video games, their creators and the craft. Was recently named an Official Selection for the Sundance Film Festival 2012. Check out the trailer here:

    87: Alan McTavish: Got to kiss Katy Perry in front of a sold out MTS Centre. He’s got the profile pic to prove it.

    86: Victor Giesbrecht: One of the most amazing stories of the year. Giesbrecht, from Winnipeg, is driving through Wisconsin. He stops to change a tire for some strangers on the side of Interstate 94. Minutes later, after driving away, Victor has a heart attack. Who comes to his aid performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him until emergency personnel arrived? Lisa Meier, the woman who he had just moments earlier stopped to help. Incredible.

    85: Wayne Santos: Founder and director of Sikat, which might just be the best dance group in North America. Period. They’ve had a monster year, most recently winning the World of Dance title in Chicago. Watch this to see why and how:

    84: Saint Kris: Local hip-hop artist with one of the best songs of the year - any genre - anywhere - in "No Stress". Watch:

    83: Ian McCausland: Great photographer, and uses his talents to help various different causes.

    82: Desiree Scott: Former U of M Bison soccer player represented Canada in the FIFA Women’s World Cup of Soccer.

    81: Roland Delorme: MMA fighter competed on season 14 of the UFC’s Ultimate Fighter.

    80: Alex Babinsky: Somehow managed to arrange a proposal to his girlfriend on stage in front of thousands at the taping of the final Oprah show.

    79: Jenna Steinsvik: Was proposed to, full-on bended knee style, by number 80 on this list. She said yes.

    78: Master Cpl. Paul Alexander Munroe: From Stonewall, received a Medal of Military Valour from the Governor General for risking his life under enemy fire in Afghanistan to get his comrades and their equipment to safety.

    77 - 72: Winnitron 1000: It’s an independent old school video game arcade cabinet featuring new games created by indie game developers from Winnipeg and now around the world. The creation of Alec Holowka, Marlon Wiebe, Noel Berry, Kert Gartner, Tom Rab and Joel Forest.

    71: Mary Jane Feeke: Named the Canadian Culinary Federation Winnipeg Chef of The Year. MJ does her thing for Benjamin’s Gourmet Foods in Selkirk, and I’ve seen her create some amazing things using unique and ALL Manitoba ingredients.

    70: Edward Kennedy: The 2011 chair of the United Way and President and CEO of the Northwest Company.

    69: Cam Nikkel: Skater, blogger, photographer, dad. His work can be seen on his Pancakes and Skateboards blog. or at

    68: D’Arcy Johnston: Runs D’Arcy’s A.R.C. (Animal Rescue Centre) who got dragged into the world of TMZ after as visit from Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber.

    67: Wendy Novotny: Personal trainer. Saw her on TV, raced with her, she’s all over Twitter, she’s in magazines… she’s everywhere. And full of positivity.

    66: Reid Valmestad: Local high school dude who thought he could make money for MADD and the Japan Tsunami Relief efforts simply by putting his twitter handle on a t-shirt. So he did. And it worked. I bought two. Twitter: @reidov

    65: Dane Bjornson: At the age of 11 opened a sold-out show for Down with Webster, looking as poised and in control as a 30 year stage veteran. He’s awesome.

    64 - 63: Erica and Kevin Glasier: With their team at Tactica Interactive developed a charity t-shirt in support of the Red Cross Japan Tsunami Relief – complete with a QR code so you could scan a donation to the cause with your phone. Off of a t-shirt. Brilliant.

    62: Bob Brennan: After 47 years at Manitoba Hydro – including over 20 as the boss, he decided to step down this year.

    61: Michael Schmidt: He’s pretty much the best bowler in the world. Well, not pretty much. He is. This year he’s competing in his 6th World Cup and already has multiple titles. Tyndall, Manitoba represent.

    60: Natalie Dueck: From New Bothwell, placed 1st in the Manitoba Food Fight with her Chocolate Hemp Snackers.

    59 - 55: The World Men’s Curling Champions: I can’t get enough curling, and I loved watching every second of Jeff Stoughton, Jon Mead, Reid Carruthers and Steve Gould bring home the title. Shout out to 5th Garth Smith.

    54: Arun Chaturvedi: Has worked with FLO, Jaylene Johnson, Don Amero and Desiree Dorion… and this year was named Producer of the Year and Western Canadian Music Awards.

    53: Corey Quintaine: Publicist, performer, fun on Twitter.

    52: Carolyne Braid: President of PoleFit Canada, did very well on this past season of Dragon’s Den.

    51: David Richert: 8 years ago was racing go-karts in Gimli... this past year was a Formula 3 test driver in Italy. Legends Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen all drove F3. Next stop Indy or F1.

    50: Chris Friesen: With his company, Telenium, develpoed a pot hole app. It identifies not only the location, but the size. Info and "Potholeology 101" at

    49: Emily Cablek: Her two children have been missing for over 3 years, and this year Emily took the search public and to places rarely ventured with the help of a wonderful member of the Winnipeg Police Service. She just wants her kids back.

    48: D/Sgt. Shaunna Neufeld: Helped Emily, above, take her cause to the next level in her role with the WPS Missing Persons Unit. Watch and share:

    47: Mark Stone: In his past 104 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings, he’s scored 64 goals and notched 171 points. He will now get a chance to represent Winnipeg and his country in the World Junior Tournament.

    46: Justin Morrison: In the summer when we are all wondering if our team was going to be called the "Jets" or perhaps the "Falcons" or whatever other rumoured names were going around, Justin pumped out potential logo and jersey designs, and some great ones at that.

    45: Sean Quigley: I talked to him the day after his "Little Drummer Boy" video was posted to Youtube, and you could tell he was special. All his teachers and friends told me the same. Probably the best Christmas cover song ever. Now well clear of one million views on

    44: Reg Alcock: Long-serving Winnipeg South MP passed away this past year. "He knew why he was doing what he was doing, and he knew it was important," Ken Dryden said.

    43: Jesse Plessis: The Brandon University student won the 2012 Canadian Music Centre Prairie Region Emerging Composers Competition for Tender is the Night. The WSO will perform TITN at their New Music Festival.

    42: Ash Modha: Celebrated 25 years with his now iconic Winnipeg-based Mondetta clothing brand.

    41: Miriam Toews: Released another highly acclaimed book, Irma Voth, and also received the Order of Manitoba in 2011.

    40: Quinton Howden: Oakbank’s Howden will suit up for a second year in a row as a member of our Canadian World Junior hockey team. Super great guy.

    39: Bothwell Cheese: Not a person, but certainly Manitoban enough to qualify for this list. Celebrated an amazing 75 years in business this year.

    38: Amanda Furst: Two years ago formed formed Growing Opportunities International, or GO!, and has already built a nursery school in Rwanda and is working on a shelter and school for street children and orphans in Tanzania. I had the chance to present her with the Red Cross "Young Humanitarian of the Year" award.

    37: Elizabeth Buhler: When Elizabeth passed away this year in Winkler at age 111 (actually 2 weeks shy of 112), she did so as the oldest known living Canadian.

    36: Michael Vincent: Made an awesome, brave, and powerful anti-bullying video.

    35: Marymound School: Celebrated 100 years this past summer of "Finding the Good" in kids who might otherwise not have had the chance. they trow a great cultural day party as well.

    34 - 32: The Gaudry Boys: The brothers from St. Laurent have been ripping it up with some fine Metis fiddling music for a few years now. Dylan, Zachary, and Ryan keep it real.

    31: Pat Gill: The manager of University of Manitoba Bisons football team passed away recently, leaving a void that will never be filled. For over 40 years he was a constant with the team, and was equally loved and respected. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with him numerous times over the years, and enjoyed every moment. Pat will be missed.

    30: Juno: A Winnipeg Police dog that gave birth to 11 new K-9 Unit recruits in September. (Actually 13 but 2 died at birth).

    29 - 26: Living in Red: Winnipeg band that were on a show that more people should have watched on CBC called "Cover me Canada". They should have won. Jack Mohr, Joel Leonhardt, Dana Jerlo, and Marc Giirardin did a great job.

    25: Ian White: Is quietly putting together an NHL career most would dream of. As I write this, the Steinbach native LEADS the NHL in plus/minus with the Red Wings.

    24: Cathy & Bob Tallman: Run the Tallman Foundation, who have awarded 13 FULL scholarships to students from Sisler and St. John’s High Schools. Are now branching out to this year awarding 17 more with 6 more schools added to the roster. Great people.

    23: Ross Ward: Some people are just a great follow on Twitter. Saucy Rossy is one of them.

    22: Riley MacVicar: Same as above.

    21: Charlotte Jack: The 73-year-old Grandmother won a 25-thousand dollar prize for winning the Maple Leaf Foods "Top Dog" contest with Canada’s best hot dog recipe. She made them for me this summer... and they were incredible. She splits a hot dog, adds mustard and potato, then bakes the wiener with some cheese on top. They’re so good. She’s also just a lovely person and a ton of fun.

    20 - 19: Lynda and Lisa Shaw: Sisters who this year both received Heroes of Mental Health Awards from the Winnipeg chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

    18: Ethio-Canadian Dancers: Hopefully you got a chance to see them this past summer at Folklorama. The Ethiopian pavillion was wicked awesome thanks to this dance group. All-out. Non-stop.

    17: Tom Sherwin: Turned in one of the greatest performances ever for Manitoba at the Western Canada Summer Games in Canoe/Kayak. I remember someone sending me an e-mail with a heads up that their friend Tom was going to "kill it" at the summer games and that I should watch for him. That person knew what was up. 5 gold medals for Tom. Killed it.

    16: Meghan Athavale: Artistic Director for PO-MO Inc. They do incredible work with technology far out of my league, but I know it looks great. Nothing seems impossible.

    15: Josh Mathews: Made it to the 5th round of the Canspell National Spelling Bee. The 12-year-old from Bairdmore Elementary did us proud.

    14: Mama Cutsworth: A DJ, and a great one. Can also make soup if need be.

    13: Maria Aragon: I spoke with her on the radio the day her cover of "Born This Way" was mentioned in a Tweet from Lady Gaga. She was cool and chill and humble. 45 million Youtube views. A GAP commercial. Singing the anthem at one of Manny Pacquiao’s fights. She’s still the same.

    12: Craig Heisinger: It’s all about paying your dues. First making the NHL as assistant equipment manager for the original Jets, he now has "director of hockey operations and assistant general manager" on his business card.

    11: Celeste Brunel: Creates some amazing photographic arts pieces. Winner of the arts category at this years Future Leaders of Manitoba awards.

    10: Albert Diamond Cohen: This year Winnipeg lost Albert Cohen, one the greatest community builders/philanthropists our city has ever seen. He lived a simply fascinating life. He started with very little, excelled in business with Gendis Inc., wrote several books, gave back in historic fashion to his community, is a member of the Order of Canada, is in the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, and holds three Canadian speedskating records. A one of a kind type of man.

    9 - 8: Glenn & Lisa Tinley: Jet books, Winnipeg Men and Winnipeg Women magazine... they continue to produce quality.

    7: Harry Black: Continues to be the driving force behind Pan-Am Boxing club. One of a kind.

    6: Rana Bokhari: With sheer will and hustle, responds to the needs of the world - be it flooding or famine - and organizes events all on her own to help - and motivates others to do the same.

    5: Rebekah Enns: Rebekah initiated a gay-straight alliance group at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate in Winnipeg. The Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Manitoba Human Rights Commission named Rebekah 2011’s Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award - which recognizes a person or group of people under 25 years old who has promoted respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms within Manitoba.

    4 -3: Barbara & Clarence Nepinak: From Pine Creek First Nation, they run the Summer Bear Dance Troupe who are brilliant and enjoyed around the world.

    2: Earl Cook: For 23 years, perhaps hockey’s biggest fan battled fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, Tourette syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, osteogenic sarcoma — a cancerous bone tumor... and did it all with a smile. I remember seeing a feature on him on The National and was pleased that the rest of the country could share in his spirit and love of the game. Detroit Red Wings coach and good friend of Earl’s said of his passing ""he had an unbelievable spirit that allowed him to battle through a long list of challenges that most of us are fortunate to never know. He served as a fantastic role model for myself and our team. He may have passed today, but with the way he lived his life, he never allowed this disease to beat him."

    1: Mark Chipman: It wasn’t just what he did in bringing back the Jets, it’s how it did it. All class and as humble as can be. It just made the entire story that much better.