Some of Transcona’s unsung heroes heard some sweet melodies at the Hi Neighbour Festival on May 31.
A total of six local residents received recognition as the festival launched its salute to good neighbours at the 49th edition of the event.
Emil Werestiuk has lived on Kildare Avenue East for 44 of those years after moving in from Middlebro, Man., where his father worked in forestry.
The Rainy River, Ont. product worked in the construction business, and plowed the back lanes during heavy snowfall with his Case W8 loader for approximately 30 years.
"(It was) me being brave on a loader at two o’clock in the morning — I’d do some lots, do my back lane, and keep on going," he said, estimating the back lane took him approximately 25 minutes to complete. "I did a lot better job than most places in the city had done."
Werestiuk, who will turn 68 later this month, no longer has the loader, as he is now retired, but he has assisted neighbour Margaret Keillor in recent years.
Another winner, Peter Kwiatek, considers his award to be a family one. The 38-year-old Kildare Avenue West resident was nominated by Brenda Fontaine, who noted that he and his family have helped her with chores ranging from snow shovelling to cooking after her husband, Gene, passed away last year.
Kwiatek said the work is all part of being a good citizen, something he and wife Leah hope to pass along to children Kaynen, Zak, and Brody.
"We pride ourselves on being friendly and neighbourly," said the lifetime Transcona resident. "We hope our kids keep on that spirit."
Meanwhile, Bond Street resident Carla Blowatt said Nick Paley will use his snowblower on her sidewalks as well as his own, will help her with various household projects, and once, even gave a furry friend a proper burial.
"There was a dead bunny in the back lane. Animals are very close to my heart and it broke my heart," she said. "I didn’t to see it run over by any other vehicles, so I sent Nick a text and when I got back from work, he had taken the bunny."
Paley said he’s actively involved in his parish at St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, often helping out with church events.
Organizers said one of the main reasons for holding the contest was to shine a light on some hard workers in the community who might have previously been unnoticed. Though initially intended to be a one-time event, there are now plans to return the contest in 2014.
Darcy Robert, Phillip Marion, and Mike Martel were the three other winners. All winners received a plaque and a $100 cheque from sponsor Goodfellow and Goodfellow Real Estate.