Ace Burpee’s 100 most fascinating Manitobans


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Ace Burpee is usually counting down the hits on his radio show. But at this time of year, the morning man at Virgin Radio is also making his list and checking it twice as part of a countdown of his 100 most fascinating Manitobans.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/12/2012 (3636 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ace Burpee is usually counting down the hits on his radio show. But at this time of year, the morning man at Virgin Radio is also making his list and checking it twice as part of a countdown of his 100 most fascinating Manitobans.

According to Burpee: “I put ton of work into it, and I’ll tell you this much. I had a very tough time actually getting it down to only 100. There were some great stories this year and some incredible people to recognize. Apologies as always for those who are deserving but not on this list.” 

100: Papa George’s: The following people have been to Papa George’s after last call: Pretty much everyone ever.

Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press Archives Ace Burpee

99: Goody: There’s a kid just north of Winnipeg racking up tens of thousands of hits for songs he posts to Youtube. That kid is Goody.

98: George Gershman: One of, if not THE leader in promoting Winnipeg to the world for the past 60 or so years. Was honoured with Winnipeg Tourism’s Lifetime Achievement award this year. He’s a fun dude.

97: Shelley Cook: Great person and the force behind “Missing Manitoba Women” on Facebook.

96: Tracy Spiridakos – Winnipeg actress is the star of NBC TV’s “Revolution”, which if you’re not paying attention, is a monster hit in the USA. Big time.

95: Devon Clunis: Officially sworn in as Winnipeg’s 17th Chief of Police. And I’ve seen him dance at a dinner I was hosting. Solid performer.

94: Mary Kelekis: I’ll never forget the first time my Dad said we would go anywhere I wanted for my birthday supper. I was 6. Without hesitation, I chose C. Kelekis.

93: Chelsea Caldwell: An active human rights champion, Chelsea is current co-chair for the Global College Student Advisory Council working to establish the Winnipeg Chapter of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, and was recently awarded the Sybil Shack Human Rights Youth Award by The Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties. And much more.

92: Ginny Witkowski: A tireless and inspiring United Way speaker who has overcome great odds to become one of the greatest assets and most positive people in our city.


91: Desiree Scott: I normally don’t repeat people on the list. Once in a while, but rarely. Des is an exception. I had her on the list last year for her performance at the FIFA World Cup of Soccer… and she deserves another mention for her heroics with our women’s team in London 2012.

90: Don Finkbeiner: Great ambassador to the world for Manitoba’s north. I’ve seen him in action in Churchill with guests from all over the world, and thanks to people like Don, I guarantee they return home with a great impression of our province.

89: Louise Simbandumwe: The founder of Run for Rights and the head of Asset Building Programs at SEED Winnipeg, Louise is a tireless advocate who just recently received the annual Human Rights Commitment Award of Manitoba.

88: Brett “The Blind Kid” Devloo: Brett started losing his vision via a rare DNA mutation called Lebers hereditary optical neropathy. Now almost completely blind, he still skateboards (he posts videos, he’s good) and has started “The Blind Kid” clothing company in support of a Lebers hereditary optical neropathy. He’s also one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet.

87: Mark Evans: Cancer survivor and one of the most inspiring philanthropists in Winnipeg. This past year I had the pleasure of hosting the National Philanthropy Awards, at which Mark received an award. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room of 1000 after his speech. It’s never about him.

86: Ruth Moody: Local artist added to her Juno win with a 1st place international songwriting prize. The annual contest drew 16,000 entries from around the world… and, interesting fact: this year’s judges include Tom Waits, Jeff Beck, Lucinda Williams, Ozzy Osbourne, John Mayall and Simon Le Bon. Ozzy loves Ruth Moody.


85: Chris Cvetkovic: One of the most community engaged members of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. This past year started Cvet’s Pets, a non-profit supporting Winnipeg Pet Rescue, D’Arcy’s ARC, Quagga Stray Cat Rescue, Manitoba Mutts, and Manitoba Underdogs. Also the 2012 recipient of the 2012 Ed Kotowich ‘Good Guy’ Award, which recognizes a Blue Bomber player for their excellence in combining football ability, team camaraderie and extraordinary effort in the community. It’s the 2nd time he’s received the honour.


84: Tricia Yerex: Founder and organizer of the first Legacy Run for ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease)

83: Tara Davis: A dynamic and creative artist, business women and philanthropist. Most importantly, a crucial & dedicated advocate of mental health, raising awareness, and promoting stigma reduction.


82: KC Adams: Created an amazing piece of art for “Winnipeg Now” at the WAG. Full disclosure, I went back to see it a second time as I missed her message the first time. Look closely. It’s very cool.

81: Franny Gomez: Came to Canada almost 30 years ago, and has spent every year since making the greatest clubhouse sandwich in the country. After years of working in the kitchen, Fran took over as owner of the Wagon Wheel– another iconic restaurant lost this year. For now…

80-78: Cst. Shaun Chornley, Cst, Kevin Gibson, and Sgt. Geordie Mackenzie: All nominated for a “Top Cop” award for their community involvement above and beyond their regular roles as members of the Winnipeg Police Service.

77: Wab Kinew: A brilliant artist and speaker, Wab is also one of the most vocal and engaging voices of #IdleNoMore.

76: John Ford & Rick Shone: They were way ahead of their time in the adventure race game. That’s why they do it better than anyone else. They’ve built their Swamp Donkey Adventure Race into one of the best in the country, and have followed up with Ice Donkey, the Dirty Donkey, and more. Adventure racing is the new black, and these guys bring it.

75: Noel Bernier: Just keeps opening up great restaurants downtown. Hermano’s, Corrientes, and more on the way. Huge promoter of the Exchange District and all it has to offer.

74: Stephen Bobko: One of the most sought-after jobs in the country went to a home town boy. Winnipegger Stephen Bobko is the first store manager of your IKEA.


73: Colleen Furlan: Represented Winnipeg brilliantly on CBC TV’s reality competition show “Over the Rainbow”.

72: Winnipeg Stadium: Not a person, but a fascinating history.

71: Tom Hendry: Winnipeg lost the co-founder of the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre this year. Tom was 83 years of age. He was a starter, a pioneer. He was also invested as an officer of the Order of Canada in 1995.

70: Roddy Seradilla: Was everywhere this summer, on the streets and on social media with his welcome contribution to the Winnipeg food truck scene: Pimp My Rice.


69: Anna Celestrya-Carr: Earned a YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction award for her interactive performance art piece covered with the handprints of men who promise never to use their hands for violence against women.


68: Wayne Davies: Principal of École Selkirk Junior High School, and the driving force behind Guitar Works B.O.S.S. (Building on Student Success). They make hand built electric guitars and use them for charity. I have one. They’re awesome.


67: Chef Mandel Hitzer: Chef at Deer & Almond, voted one of Canada’s 50 best new restaurants. Try his version of eggs Benedict. For dinner. Trust me.

66: Angie Clarke: Provides peer support to those requiring mental health help, and is a valued volunteer with Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba.


65-64: Tannis & Ryan Francis: Have turned the tragic loss of their son into a vehicle to create change and give back to countless environmental and social causes via “Run with Porter”.

63-57: Those Guys: To see “Those Guys” live is to love them. They’re brilliant. I had no idea I was into A cappella until they came along. Dexter Barcellano, Matthew Baron, Ben Campbell, James Campbell, Mike Engstrom, Derek Leenhouts, Simon Miron, and Bernie Pastorin make people happy.

56: Brett Muron: Set a new record for strikeouts in a season in the Manitoba Junior Baseball League. As in, he struck people out. As a pitcher. He didn’t strike out at the dish. Big difference. All this while battling Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura.

55-54-53: Sagkeeng’s Finest: So this past summer I was at an event, and Sagkeeng’s Finest were performed. I introduced them, they performed a couple of numbers… then one of them took the mic. He told the crowd how happy they were to be there and then explained that they had endured a pretty long day as they had been at Canada’s Got Talent auditions since 5 o’clock that morning. They ended up winning the show. They’re awesome. Period.

52: Jeff Fisher: Well, he’s a bunch of things, but as co-founder of Project Echo he’s really starting to make some great things happen.

51: Ellen Pruden: The much loved voice of canola farmers. Great cook. Loves to fish. All around great woman.

50: Jason Syvixay: Passionate and positive promoter of Winnipeg’s downtown and all things good.

49: Peter Martin: The driving force behind Transcona’s 100th anniversary celebrations. He actually paraded around most of the year as a real live Hi Neighbour Sam, which is pretty much awesome. Side note, his father and former Transcona mayor, the great Paul Martin, was recently declared “The Greatest Transconian”. Fact.

48: Janine Hanson: Won our country a silver medal in rowing at the London Olympics in what was one of the greatest races of the games.

47: Jonathon Torchia: Made the first ever Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Half Marathon into an instant contender in the charity run/walk game, and raised an incredible amount of cash for the Heart and Stroke Foundation in the process.


46-45: Mise En Scene: Released perhaps Winnipeg’s album of the year in 2012. “Desire’s Despair” is brilliant. Stef & Jodi make up the band. Two women, big beautiful sound.

44: Jaime Torres: Name the cause, Jaime is there. JDRF, Children’s Rehabilitation Centre, Big Brothers Big Sisters… and on and on. He’s involved.

43: Makoon: Our most famous bear since Winnie. While few could agree what exactly was best for the bear, we all agree that is was one fascinating bear.

42-41: The O’Donovan Family: Ron and Eunice are the creators of Winnipeg Harvest’s “Grow a Row” program. If you’re unfamiliar, plant an extra row of vegetables in your garden, donate them to Winnipeg Harvest in the fall. Boom. Brilliant. The O’Donovan family also received a well deserved Volunteer Manitoba award this past year.

40-39: Bingo and Cole: Nothing better than a “boy who loves his dog” story. This one was big, and it came out of Shilo. The entire world read about 11 year-old Cole’s version of a bucket list created for his dog Bingo.

38: Dave Blatz: One of Steinbach’s finest was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame this past summer.

37: Wilma Derksen: Wilma has shared with all of us her long walk through grief toward forgiveness after her 13-year-old daughter was abducted and murdered.

36: The Winnipeg Goldeyes: They won it all. It had been a while in this town.

35: Wilfred John Chegwin: Posthumouslyinducted to the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame (yes, there is one) this past year for his contributions to farming and his dedication to the town of Shoal Lake. Lived a fascinating life.

34: Addie Miles: U of M women’s hockey player was not only the school’s athlete of the year, but also represented Canada in the World Universiade Games in Turkey and won gold. She goes out as the all-time U of M leading scorer at over a point a game for her career.

33: Esme Claire Keith: Won “Book of the Year” at this year’s Manitoba Book Awards for her first her novel, “Not Being on a Boat”. I read a lot, it’s great.

32: Breanne Siwicki: She broke the national swimming record for her age group in the 400 individual medley by 2.5 seconds. The record she broke was her own.

31: Nils Vik: Brought his relatively newly acquired passion for coffee to downtown Winnipeg in the form of Parlour Coffee. People noticed and appreciated it.

30: Christopher Rampersad: Student body president of Fort Richmond Collegiate who is blessed with brilliant PR skills and hustled his school into the number one spot in the Canada-wide “Finding Undeniable” contest.

29: Phoebe Dykstra: She’s from Balmoral and she’ s a VJ on Much Music. I will say this: I think she’s maybe the best one ever. No question she’s top three all-time on Much.

28: Reese Francey: 11 year-old helped North Winnipeg Nomads win the Football Manitoba Pee Wee championship. Reese has cystic fibrosis. Tough, tough kid.

27: Emily Doer: Her decision to speak out created meaningful dialogue on the subject of Bulimia.

26: Mike Duerksen; The local marriage proposal that went global. Mike live-tweeted his elaborate 12-hour 8 date proposal to his then girlfriend “J”. She said yes.


25-21: The Treble: An exceptional band for one, but also performed 24 shows in a 24-hour span this year. All in support of Winnipeg Harvest. Congratulations to Mark Brusegard, Dana Jerlo, Graeme Woods, Colin McTavish, and Patrick Hansen for a great year.

20: Len Kropioski – The 93-year-old Second World War veteran featured on the big screen saluting during the anthem at Jets games when we used to go to those. Lives in Kenora now, but he grew up on Burrows in Winnipeg. He’s a beauty.

19: Tyler Walsh: Free Press multimedia editor was named one of the top 25 under 35 of the North American newspaper industry. Great guy.


18: Alice, my niece: She was on Dragon’s Den with me, and I’m pretty sure she’s the reason I got a deal.

17: Neville Scarlett: While he awaits a heart transplant, this much loved man was the reason for a fundraising Grey Cup party in November that I hosted and saw first-hand that there are few people more respected and revered as Neville.

16: Chris D: He’s a real person. I invite him to parties, and he shows up. Cool.

15: Rich Pope: Winnipeg dude who kicked for a million dollars on CFL on TSN. He did well. Very well. You could tell he put the work in.

14: Nicole Barry: Co-owner and co-founder of Half Pints Brewery. They make great beer. Period.

13: Ken Opaleke: The heart and soul of West Broadway Youth Outreach. Makes this town a much, much better place.

12: Eric Lin: Brandon boy who won the title of Manitoba’s spelling champ in the Canspell National Spelling Bee. Not the Lin-sanity most of you heard about in 2012, but I like kids who can spell. It still matters.

11 – 9: Johnathan Best, Brody Jackson & Vicki Shae: Wrote and performed “The Official Song of the NHL Lockout”. The Taylor Swift parody has now racked up and incredible 315,000 YouTube views.

8: Kristin Millar: Recent heart transplant recipient who has become an advocate for organ donation.

7: George Heshka: Sisler is a great, great school. The principal is a great, great man named George Heshka, who has now held that title for 32 years. He is loved by thousands.

6: Ashley Schlag: A great person, very much loved, and an exceptional soccer player. Tragically died in August, but her memory and inspiration will live on thanks to her courageous friends, family and community.

5: Joey Johnson: One of our most under-celebrated athletes of all-time. Joey plays wheelchair basketball. Very well. He is, thanks to another gold this past summer in London, a four-time Paralympics medal winner over . One silver, Three gold. Not bad.

4: Muuxi Adam: Somali refugee who escaped from the civil war and its horrible aftermath, and since arriving in Winnipeg in 2004, has worked extensively with immigrant and refugee communities. Is currently a Program Coordinator at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, and is a huge asset to our town.

3-2: Dominic and Abby Maryk: Returned home safely to their mother Emily after 4 years apart. Incredible story.

1: Kris Doubledee: His selfless act of briefly suspending his bus route and giving his shoes to man without went global.

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