Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sorry, Glenelm neighbours... THE SECRET IS OUT

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My favourite place is my neighbourhood. Nestled under the canopy of elm trees in Elmwood, Glenelm is a hidden jewel in the often-maligned inner city. These regal trees insulate us from so many of the problems plaguing the rest of the city.

This gem is bordered by Henderson Highway on the east, Roxy Park (officially known as Elmwood Park) on the north, the Red River on the west, and Elmwood Cemetery on south. I have lived in this neighbourhood more than 30 years and there is not another part of the city where I would like to live! In fact, I believe my neighbours will be angry with me for divulging this secret.

It is a neighbourhood where people might not know your name, but they certainly know your dog's. And if they don't know your dog's name, they know your partner or kids. So you might be someone's mother or wife. Better yet, in this neighbourhood, one is often known by the former owner of the home.

In the three homes I lived in (yes three within the same area) I have lived in the Gibson's house, the taxi driver's house, and the house with people with the four naughty sons!

History is very important in this area. On my street alone, I know of seven second-generation homeowners; that is, the ownership of the some passed from parents to child. I cannot think of a better testament to a great community.

This area is quite eclectic, too. It is the area of choice for the people who live here. Many who live here choose to do so, and could easily afford and fit into other more prestigious areas of our city. We have factory labourers, surgeons, artists, professors, engineers, architects, firefighters all living side by side.

This area has all one needs with only a walk or bike ride away. Have your hair cut, have a massage, fill a prescription, and pick up a gyro.

Take a bike ride and you can go to two libraries and major grocery stores. A short bus trip takes you downtown. Even U of M is only an hour away by bus, and that was before rapid transit. To drive from here takes just as long, and you need to deal with parking.

Roxy Park is a wonderful green space for people of all ages and walks of life. When my kids were young, many a long summer day was spent in the park at the wading pool. Pack up your snacks and kids, take a couple of extra kids, and you are set for the day!

On a recent walk, one could witness children playing on the structure, cyclists on their way through, dog walkers chatting, dragonflies frolicking in the sky and someone having a nap on a park bench. On occasion, you might even observe an amorous couple under the bushes!

Other parks in the area include Hespeler Park and Clara Hughes Recreation Park (formerly Kelvin Community Centre). A little further away, but worth the trip, is St. John's Park, and Bronx Park.

Kids still skateboard, rollerblade and play hockey on our street. They respectfully move their nets whenever traffic goes by, and resume their game as quickly as possible. Neighbours will sit on their steps and shed a tear with you over a partner's illness, or the leaving of adult children for their homes in other parts of the world. Where else would a neighbour drop a sympathy card in your mailbox after you take your elderly dog to the vet one last time? Only in Glenelm! Where else could you wander across one neighbour's yard to scavenge some herbs from the garden in the next yard over, or drop some compost material in their bin because yours is too full? Where else could you hear young men saying they needed to be sure to bring their rubber boots home from the cottage, because they might be needed to sandbag -- and they don't even live on the river? And where else could people drive up to load up their vehicles with used sandbags after the flood, and they ask: is it worth it? Absolutely! Seeing Canada geese and wood ducks swimming through your flooded garage: priceless!

There, the secret is out! Glenelm is my favourite place!

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 13, 2013 A1

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