Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Who's most worthy of Walk?

Tribute to famous Manitobans still an admirable idea, despite missed opportunity to share Juno spotlight

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Former Let's Make a Deal host Monty Hall, seen here in 2003 with a couple of RCMP officers, would be an obvious choice for induction into the Manitoba Walk of Fame.

JEFF DE BOOY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Former Let's Make a Deal host Monty Hall, seen here in 2003 with a couple of RCMP officers, would be an obvious choice for induction into the Manitoba Walk of Fame. Photo Store

How many of us would like to have our names bronzed and placed on a public sidewalk for everyone to walk on, forever?

Eventually, that will happen to the most famous of us who were born, got our start or made our reputations here.

Late last fall, largely lost in other news at the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ's annual general meeting, was a budget item that approved $185,000 for what will be known as the Manitoba Walk of Fame.

It's an admirable, some would say long-overdue, salute of our human heritage in a public way.

I know we already have a version, the Citizens Walk of Fame in Assiniboine Park, but as magnificent and worthy as it is, it serves as a catch-all, with a business and political elite feel about it.

And it's a bit of a hike from Portage and Main.

This proposed tribute would be in the heart of the city -- close by the MTS Centre in the sports, hospitality and entertainment District -- and be a star-studded sidewalk celebration devoted largely to our most accomplished people in the arts, entertainment and sports.

The BIZ has described it more generally as "a permanent place of tribute and recognition for Manitoba achievement." But what hasn't been mentioned is the original target date for this pride-driven project.

More than a year ago, I was told -- in hushed and confidential tones -- the people behind the proposed Walk of Fame wanted to have it in the ground for the Juno Awards.

Oops.

The Junos would have been the ideal occasion and setting to launch the initiative, given the national spotlight that could have shone on the celebration of our most famous folks in the arts. Having missed that opportunity, the Downtown BIZ is now saying the Walk of Fame's opening would have been lost in all the Juno hoopla.

Whatever.

What matters most is that one day -- sooner rather than later, we hope -- there will be a Manitoba Walk of Fame.

"Rest assured," Downtown BIZ managing director Jason Syvixay said via email this week, "we are working quite diligently to make this important project a reality."

OK, so now who decides who belongs on the Walk? And who is going to be first, or among the first, to be honoured?

I don't know. I don't know if the Downtown BIZ even knows. If they do, they're not saying. But maybe we -- you and me -- can help them decide.

Who would you like to see as the first inductee?

I'd like to see three to start: one from the arts, one from sports and maybe another from the catch-all cultural category.

Of course, there are a few obvious candidates.

Monty Hall, for example.

He's the elder statesman of such honours, having already had his name embedded in the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Canada Walk of Fame and the California Walk of Stars.

Hall, or Halparin as he was born, is best known as the host of the TV game show Let's Make a Deal, and for his humanitarian work for children, which earned him an Order of Canada.

He'll turn 93 in August, so time also makes it important for him to be among the first to be honoured in his hometown.

After Monty Hall, you pick 'em.

Who's your first choice? Or first three choices?

How about rockers Neil Young, Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings or Tom Cochrane? They're already in Canada's Walk of Fame.

Maybe your preference is Olympians: Cindy Klassen, Clara Hughes, Jennifer Jones or Jonathan Toews.

Or Miriam Toews, or her late fellow authors, Margaret Laurence, Gabrielle Roy and Carol Shields? How about ballerina Evelyn Hart; comedian David Steinberg; actors Adam Beach and Len Cariou; filmmaker Guy Maddin, or perhaps the late media visionary, Marshall McLuhan.

The lists go on.

I just hope when it happens, the mayor of the day remembers to make sure at least one downtown sidewalk is kept snow-free in winter.

Or even spring.

On second thought, maybe the Downtown BIZ should consider a different approach; something that doesn't need plowing.

How about a Manitoba Wall of Fame?

After all, keeping any downtown sidewalk free of snow is too much to ask, even a sidewalk in honour of the most celebrated among us.

Now, tell me this so we can all tell the Downtown BIZ. Should it be Wall of Fame or Walk of Fame?

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

 

Who do you think should be the first person honoured on a Manitoba Walk of Fame? Join the conversation in the comments below.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 3, 2014 B1

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