Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman

Reporter

Ben Waldman appreciates a good story. Here’s his.

Ben was born in Winnipeg in 1995 to parents who inspired in him a love of learning, a sense of curiosity, and above all, a commitment to do the right thing. It took until he wrote the previous sentence for him to realize it, but in retrospect, a career in journalism has always made perfect sense.

Raised on McAdam Avenue, he could be seen drawing cartoons, doing silly impersonations, shooting — and occasionally swishing — jump shots in the back lane, and playing soccer for the Sinclair Park Falcons with a huge chip on his shoulder.

His education came from school, but he learned most of what he needed to know about the world at Camp Massad, where he spent nine summers as a camper and five as a counsellor. At camp, Ben channeled his creative energy, writing epic plays with his friends, discovering the value of schtick, and learning a lesson that his mom — an early childhood educator — would have appreciated: there is more to every kid, and therefore every person, than what shows on the surface.

That idea is a driving force in Ben’s idea of journalism, and he put it into practice at Ryerson University’s School of Journalism, from which he graduated in 2018 with the gold medal and a number of other awards his classmates deserved more.

While a student at Ryerson, he wrote and edited for The Eyeopener and was a managing editor for the Ryerson Review of Journalism. He sent three clips of his work in The Eyeopener to the Winnipeg Free Press in November 2016, leading to his first internship at his hometown paper.

The next two summers, he interned again. In September 2018, he began a year-long freelancing journey, publishing work in Maclean’s, Chatelaine, Toronto Life, Sharp Magazine, the United Church Observer, and the Globe and Mail, while also writing local news and long-form journalism for the Free Press.

In October 2019, he joined the Free Press full time.

That’s his story. He’s sticking to it.

Recent articles of Ben Waldman

New ‘luxury affordable’ rental units snapped up in Osborne Village

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Preview

New ‘luxury affordable’ rental units snapped up in Osborne Village

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Yesterday at 3:00 AM CDT

Move-in week at Paragon Living’s latest Osborne Village apartment project will feel a little like orientation week at a university dormitory.

That’s because in a span of three days in September, tenants will move into each of the Bell Avenue building’s 50 units, filling the property with residents at a rate even Paragon president Nigel Furgus didn’t quite anticipate.

Furgus, whose company has developed 200 apartment units in Winnipeg over the past two and a half years, said the reception for the “luxury affordable” units — which start at $1,150 and include access to an on-site gym, outdoor dog run, underground heated parkade and free high-speed internet — was startling.

The company began marketing the units in February following two years of development and construction. By May, with four months to go until the ribbon-cutting, 90 per cent of the units had already been leased.

Yesterday at 3:00 AM CDT

SUPPLIED

The new Bell Avenue building includes ‘luxury affordable’ units which start at $1,150 and include access to an on-site gym, indoor dog run, underground heated parkade and free high-speed internet.

New BIPOC theatre company Out From Under the Rug makes debut at PTE

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Preview

New BIPOC theatre company Out From Under the Rug makes debut at PTE

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

Bastard. The word triggers an automatic response in whoever hears it spoken. It can be a stinging, destructive insult, an offbeat catchphrase meant to signal disappointment, or a noun that hits the ear and rings loud and clear, with an echo. When something doesn’t quite fit, or juts out like a broken toe, it’s called bastard-sized. If it doesn’t conform, a bastard is what it is. It’s an outlier in a world of insiders.

Another thing that word does is grab your attention. And that’s exactly what Sophie Smith-Dostmohamed wanted to do when the 23-year-old Winnipeg playwright chose those seven letters as the title for the first play produced by the Out From Under the Rug Theatre Collective, running until Monday at Prairie Theatre Exchange.

Bastards are hard to ignore, and so too should be Out From Under the Rug. A new collective made up entirely of BIPOC creatives, all of whom are at the nascent stages of their careers, the group’s members are putting themselves — their racial backgrounds, their queerness, their experiences navigating an industry and world which often ignores those identities — at the heart of their work.

Those experiences are rich, and Smith-Dostmohamed, who is of mixed settler and Yemeni descent, said they are defined as much by difficulty and loss as they are by the satisfaction of finding community and discovering oneself. “I think a lot of the time, we talk about intergenerational trauma, and the way it runs through us from our ancestors,” said Smith-Dostmohamed, who uses they/them pronouns. “But intergenerational trauma can’t exist without intergenerational joy, and this sense of community that still exists in us even though we sometimes feel a longing for home. It’s important to remember we have that choice too.”

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Out From Under the Rug’s actor and playwright Sophie Smith-Dostmohamed and director Matthew Paris-Irvine don’t want to wait to tell vibrant young stories.

Organizers pull plug on upcoming Current Festival

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Preview

Organizers pull plug on upcoming Current Festival

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

A new Winnipeg music and culture festival announced its cancellation Monday morning, mere days before the event was set to begin.

With four days until the music started and drinks were poured at the first-ever Current Festival, organizers announced Monday the Winnipeg event was axed, owing to low ticket sales.

The festival was set to run from Aug. 12-14 at The Forks. With a lineup of all-local artists including Begonia, Royal Canoe, William Prince, the Bros. Landreth, and Super Duty Toughwork, among others, it was billed as a summer festival with “less camping, more chandeliers and cocktails — more sparkle!” Organizers seemed to face an uphill battle from the get-go, postponing scheduled events in both 2020 and 2021 and laying off staff in the pandemic’s early stages before going all-in on 2022.

“Ticket sales for a new festival are crucial, and we know that Winnipeg is a city of last-minute decision makers,” a post made on the festival’s Instagram read Monday morning. “We waited as long as we could to get an uptick in sales, but they didn’t materialize, and the event is no longer viable.”

Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

Supplied

Fireside Design Build is creating the top-drawer space for VIP ticketholders. ‘It’s a fun opportunity to flex our creative muscles,’ says company co-owner Jaclyn Wiebe.

Post-pandemic doldrums continue to grip Graham Avenue

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Preview

Post-pandemic doldrums continue to grip Graham Avenue

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

Step into the time machine, and set the destination: Graham Avenue at Edmonton Street. Set the chronological target: summer 2019. Flick the switch, sit back and arrive in the past. Open the door, and what do you see?

An independent soup shop. A local place where you can get your favourite painting framed. A bridal boutique. An international, corporate coffee shop.

Hop back in, return to the present, and what you’ll see where you just stood is a building filled with emptiness: a soup shop gone cold, a bridal boutique that called it off, a former framer and a café that lost its steam.

For the better part of the pandemic, the main floor of retail space at 389 Graham Ave. has been unoccupied. CKLY Fashion moved on in 2019; Sana Soup House and Second Cup did the same in 2020; Pictures-Frames & More was the last holdout before moving all operations to its St. Matthews Avenue location in July 2021, cutting the lease short and paying out the difference.

Monday, Aug. 8, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Equbazgi and Kahsay will open Dan’s Café and Lounge in the former Second Cup space, offering coffee, desserts, sandwiches and soups.

Rainbow Resource Centre to develop LGBTTQ+ seniors’ housing in West Broadway

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Preview

Rainbow Resource Centre to develop LGBTTQ+ seniors’ housing in West Broadway

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

The Rainbow Resource Centre, the longest-running organization of its kind in Canada, is preparing to develop a 21-unit apartment complex in West Broadway for LGBTTQ+ seniors.

After several years of discussion — decades, according to executive director Noreen Mian — the resource centre decided to pursue the idea more seriously last year. The centre partnered with the Westminster Housing Society in its purchase of the property at 545 Broadway, a large parcel which includes Wilson House, a 118-year-old building that once served as a base of operations for Klinic Community Health Centre.

That building is municipally protected, so the proposed development — a four-storey residential complex and community hub the centre has tentatively named A Place of Pride — is imagined to be constructed to the west of the house, on the other side of an Indigenous healing garden which is already being tended to by a local elder.

Mian said the “deeply affordable” complex will likely be the first of its kind in Canada; other seniors’ housing has called itself affirming of LGBTTQ+ identity, but this project will be exclusively for LGBTTQ+ seniors, with an aim to provide a safe space for a group which can face discrimination in their late-in-life homes.

Monday, Jul. 25, 2022

SUPPLIED

A rendering of the ‘deeply affordable’ Rainbow Resource Centre in West Broadway

Free Press has been on the beat for a century and a half, and counting

Ben Waldman 7 minute read Preview

Free Press has been on the beat for a century and a half, and counting

Ben Waldman 7 minute read Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

Thousands of people, but only one wearing a straitjacket.

February 1923. Thirty feet in the air, hoisted up by his ankles. Head facing down. Dangling from a beam. Swaying like a pendulum. Thirty feet above the crowd. One false move, and he would land on his head and crush his skull. One misplaced wriggle, or one errant motion, and he could have plummeted right then and right there to his death. The world’s greatest escape artist, flattened on a Winnipeg sidewalk.

Imagine the copy in the next day’s newspaper:

HOUDINI DIES: ESCAPE ARTIST FALLS FROM FREE PRESS BUILDING

Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

Free Press composing room (Winnipeg Free Press Archives)

Halifax-based company acquires multiple city apartment buildings, pledging improved security, quality of life

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Preview

Halifax-based company acquires multiple city apartment buildings, pledging improved security, quality of life

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Monday, Jul. 18, 2022

Vida Living, a Halifax-based company, dipped its toes into Winnipeg’s apartment rental world early in the pandemic, purchasing one complex on Maryland Street and one on Ellice Avenue in December 2020.

A year and a half later, the company is diving in head-first.

Vida recently purchased eight apartment blocks spread across the city from Winnipeg-based Thorwin Properties, mostly in West Broadway and the Spence neighbourhood, for an investment of about $18 million.

The company now owns and manages 240 units in the city, with a total of $22 million invested already, says founder and CEO Ron Lovett.

Monday, Jul. 18, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
The Frederickton apartments at 579 Broadway is one of eight buildings recently purchased by the Halifax-based Vida Living. The Company now owns 240 units in the city, and is looking at adding another 150 more.

Temporary theatres set up shop in vacant Portage Place storefronts during fringe festival

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Preview

Temporary theatres set up shop in vacant Portage Place storefronts during fringe festival

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Monday, Jul. 18, 2022

Matthew Evan Havens is delivering an hour-long monologue about royalty, war, magic and love, not far from where the blouses used to hang.

His stage is in what was most recently a women’s clothing shop on the second floor of Portage Place, a level of the downtown mall with more than half of its units empty, advertised to be leased.

All the maxi dresses are gone.

But for at least two weeks, two of the empty storefronts — one a former Suzy Shier shop, the other a Stitches outlet that perished in the pandemic — have tenants, though what they’re selling isn’t made of polyester and isn’t in direct competition with the Ardene or Dollarama down the hall.

Monday, Jul. 18, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Theatre goers head towards Venue #4 of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival for a Friday afternoon showing of Write, Rewrite, Repeat. The festival has turned two empty stores at Portage Place into theatre venues.

Artist hopes to transform Winnipeg’s back lanes, one mural at a time

Ben Waldman 6 minute read Preview

Artist hopes to transform Winnipeg’s back lanes, one mural at a time

Ben Waldman 6 minute read Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

Nereo Zorro was crouched down in front of a Spence neighbourhood garage last week, with a can of spray paint in his hand, when a man approached him and asked a question tinged with a touch of suspicion: what exactly are you doing?

Zorro understood the man’s concern: most garage doors and fences along the alleyway, pockmarked with potholes, had at least a trace of unwanted graffiti. But the 36-year-old artist, who looks about half his age, took a moment to explain himself as he sprayed the colours of a red fox onto the metal door.

He was asked to paint this.

Zorro, a chosen last name which coincidentally means fox in Spanish, was born and raised in Winnipeg, and his first home was a stone’s throw away on Furby Street. A skilled muralist, in recent years, Zorro began examining his old stomping grounds, more particularly, its back lanes.

Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Nereo Zorro’s mural behind 500 Langside St.

Winnipeg Folk Festival founder remembered with tributes in song

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Preview

Winnipeg Folk Festival founder remembered with tributes in song

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Monday, Jul. 11, 2022

An indisputable fact: the Winnipeg Folk Festival would not exist without Mitch Podolak’s contributions.

In 1974, he and a group of likeminded people — ie: socialists, communists and hippies — wanted to start a music and culture festival in a great big field to spread the good word of folk on the strength of taut banjo strings. Quickly, the fledgling organizers ran into an all-too-familiar problem: bureaucratic inertia.

The city wouldn’t say yes to backing the festival unless the province did the same. And when there was some dilly-dallying at the legislature, in Podolak’s son Leonard’s telling, his father did some reconnaissance.

Monday, Jul. 11, 2022

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Gangstagrass, Trio Svin and Tall Tall Trees perform on the Snowberry Field Stage Sunday at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.

Real estate investors drawn to industrial, office markets in ’Saskaboom’

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Preview

Real estate investors drawn to industrial, office markets in ’Saskaboom’

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Monday, Jul. 11, 2022

A leading Winnipeg real estate asset management firm is expanding outside the province for the first time, targeting a future in the Land of the Living Skies: Saskatchewan.

MMI Asset Management president and CEO Martin McGarry said that while investment opportunities in Manitoba continue to exist, our nearest western neighbour was ripe for the picking when it came to industrial and office markets, which make up the bulk of MMI’s million square-foot portfolio here.

“There was a recent article in the Western Investor which called it a Saskaboom,” McGarry said in a phone call with the Free Press. The article referred to a highly competitive suburban office market in Saskatoon, with significant availability for investments in the city’s core office sector, where “double-digit vacancies” have created opportunities, which were in part spurred by the instability inherent to the pandemic.

“Whenever there’s upheaval in the market, there’s always opportunity to acquire and redevelop, though probably not to build anything new,” said McGarry, who also acts as the CEO of Cushman & Wakefield, and said the asset company has been eyeing Saskatchewan for a while.

Monday, Jul. 11, 2022

ETHAN CAIRNS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
MMI Asset Management president and CEO Martin McGarry says Saskatchewan is ripe for the picking when it comes to investment opportunities in the industrial and office markets.

Interlake artists’ Slo-Toons are whimsical little works on wood

Ben Waldman 9 minute read Preview

Interlake artists’ Slo-Toons are whimsical little works on wood

Ben Waldman 9 minute read Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

Shaun Morin and Mélanie Rocan live in a present bursting with the past. Their kitchen shelves are lined with cookie jars in the shapes of walruses or lambs, alongside bottles once filled with sodas that haven’t been made since before the couple was born. Little knicknacks, everywhere.

With their young daughter, Eloise, the artists would rather watch Peter Falk solve a case on Columbo than sit through whatever Netflix is pushing. They like what they like and they aren’t afraid to show it.

At their property, just past Camp Morton in the Interlake, the couple has built what can only be described as a residential wonderland. On every square centimetre is the welcoming imprint of whimsy, and an invitation to return to the innocence of youth. There is a handmade ring-toss game, a giant cutout of Spider-Man, and on the wall of one of several outbuildings, a hand-painted wooden Woody Woodpecker: you can almost hear the Heh-heh-heh-HEH-heh.

Morin and Rocan are serious artists. They’ve both had success in the prestigious RBC Painting Competiton, enjoyed exhibitions at galleries both local and national, and are graduates of the University of Manitoba’s School of Art, where Rocan was an instructor.

Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Shaun Morin and Mélanie Rocan are the artists behind Slo-Toons, works on wood that nod to pop-culture icons.

Economic downturn forced Refinery District to adapt

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Preview

Economic downturn forced Refinery District to adapt

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

Business in the Refinery District, a new residential development in the city’s south end, is finally booming.

Fifteen years ago, Hopewell Development Corp. bought the land — between Pembina Highway, Bishop Grandin Boulevard, Waverley Street and Chevrier Boulevard — for about $12 million, with aims to turn the 138-acre property into a commercial and box retail area akin to the Kenaston Commons. But after the recession of 2008 and with the retail plan looking grim, the idea shifted and the company moved toward a plan where residential real estate was key.

That took time and a considerable investment by the developer. New roadways, full servicing and the removal of truckload after truckload of lime mud, a non-toxic residue left behind by the land’s previous user — the Manitoba Sugar Co. — cost more than $60 million, and took two to three years, Hopewell’s chief operating officer Blair Rafoss said.

“It was a big risk to do as much as we did,” Rafoss said. But it was a necessary one: without those investments, the land was a hard sell to would-be developers, and Rafoss said the company had to set “the best mouse trap possible” for those interested parties.

Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

RAYMOND S.C. WAN ARCHITECT
’Everything is on the table,’ says Blair Rafoss, chief operating officer for Hopewell, which created the Refinery District 15 years ago. ‘High-end restaurants, local restaurateurs, a boutique grocery pharmacy, hair or nail salons. It would be nice to find a little brewpub.’

Lively stories in new memoir from Queen, Princess riverboats owner

Ben Waldman 10 minute read Preview

Lively stories in new memoir from Queen, Princess riverboats owner

Ben Waldman 10 minute read Thursday, Jun. 30, 2022

A lot of men get old and retire and buy themselves a little boat as a reward. When Steve Hawchuk was 32, he bought not one, but two, massive cruise ships.

It was 1969. He was working a solid job for a concrete company, but when his brother told him the Paddlewheel Queen and Paddlewheel Princess were for sale, Hawchuk had trouble thinking of a reason to say no. He loved the river. He didn’t like his job that much. He liked, and still likes, his brother, who would become his business partner.

Hawchuk said yes, and before long, he was a riverboat captain, ferrying down the Red River guests both ordinary — the elderly Mrs. Hildebrand, who boarded each Saturday — and cartoonishly extraordinary.

“Col. Sanders was very nice,” Hawchuk says. The Kentucky Fried Chicken man looked just like he did on the bucket when he strutted aboard in 1977: white suit, white hair, white Fu Manchu.

Thursday, Jun. 30, 2022

JEFF DE BOOY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Fin- Paddlewheel River Rouge Tours Loosing Out Due To High Waters, Low Tourism- G.M., Captain Steve Hawchuk in front of the Paddlewheel Princess (Kirbyson story). September 10th/2001.

Towne Cinema 8 to go dark in ‘temporary closure’

Ben Waldman 3 minute read Preview

Towne Cinema 8 to go dark in ‘temporary closure’

Ben Waldman 3 minute read Thursday, Jun. 30, 2022

Downtown Winnipeg movie theatre Towne Cinema 8 will close next week for an indefinite intermission.

Patrons and employees were informed Thursday the long-running theatre would go dark July 7 — triggering worries the area was about to lose its sole multiplex.  

A spokesperson for owner Landmark Cinemas of Canada insisted, however, the Towne 8 would not be closing its doors for good.

“This is a temporary closure,” the spokesperson said in an email to the Free Press. “We are experiencing staffing challenges at our (Landmark Cinemas 8) Grant Park location and needed to reallocate resources to that location.”

Thursday, Jun. 30, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
The Towne 8 was the first standalone multiplex in the city, showing movies on its eight large screens.

Last developable property on Waterfront Drive now up for grabs

Ben Waldman 3 minute read Preview

Last developable property on Waterfront Drive now up for grabs

Ben Waldman 3 minute read Monday, Jun. 27, 2022

CentreVenture Development Corporation is accepting proposals for a parcel of land on Waterfront Drive, the final developable property on the downtown Winnipeg roadway which has grown from an idea into a reputable neighbourhood over the past two decades.

The 10,885 square-foot parcel is located at the intersection of Waterfront Drive and Heaton Avenue, and is currently being marketed to developers through a newly released request-for-proposals.

Angela Mathieson, the president and CEO of CentreVenture, said the property represented a milestone for the corporation, which operates at an arms-length from the city to market properties which were underutilized. In the early 2000s, she said, that’s exactly what the surplus lands which soon became Waterfront Drive was.

There was very little active business and even less residential opportunity in the area, but in 2000, the city moved forward with plans to develop and expand the area into a proper neighbourhood. “Not a lot was happening,” Mathieson said. An initial investment of $9 million came from the three levels of government to develop the drive.

Monday, Jun. 27, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
CentreVenture Dev. Corp. is marketing a parcel of land at the intersection of Waterfront Drive and Heaton Avenue.

Film finds the beauty in mould, decay, ooze and desiccation

Ben Waldman 6 minute read Preview

Film finds the beauty in mould, decay, ooze and desiccation

Ben Waldman 6 minute read Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

Nathan Enns was driving around east of the city, on the prowl for roadkill to give to his friends.

He spotted a few small rodents, and what looked like the remains of a deer carcass, and gave them a call. The roadside detritus wasn’t an unsolicited gift: Anna Sigrithur and Joel Penner asked for it.

They make movies, and for their latest short film project, they needed an array of natural, organic props: watermelons, berries, fish, oranges, cabbage, corn, leaves, sourdough, kiwi, dead birds — the usual. Whatever was dead, the filmmakers wanted to watch get deader, and whatever was still fresh, they wanted to watch dress itself up in a feather boa of fuzzy mould: they wanted to watch everything turn to mush.

But rotting takes time, something at a premium in a short film, so Penner, whose previous work includes capturing flowers wilting (“I love watching them decay,” he says) sped up the clock: using time-lapse photography, he documented processes most people would rather avoid seeing – desiccation, shrivelling and rot.

Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

TYLER FUNK PHOTOAnna Sigrithur and Joel Penner became friends because, as Penner says, "we both enjoyed gross and nasty things."

Gimli International Film Festival to host 70 films, from around the world

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Preview

Gimli International Film Festival to host 70 films, from around the world

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

Over 70 movies from around the world are visiting Manitoba this July to be screened at the Gimli International Film Festival.

There are films from Sweden, Japan, Finland, Chad, India, South Africa, Iceland, the U.S. and Norway, and of course a healthy contingent of Canadian content, with several Manitoba-made and produced films scheduled to roll across the screen from July 20-24.

As the programmers announced the list Thursday afternoon at the Fort Garry Hotel, they almost got tired, because there is simply so much to see, including Canadian coming-of-age dramas (Scarborough, Wildhood, Islands), a Cannes-winning black comedy (The Worst Person in the World), an Oscar-nominated documentary (Flee), and an extensive program of shorts.

And yes, executive director Alan Wong says, the free films on the beach — with a giant screen plunked into Lake Winnipeg — are back too.

Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

supplied
The Gimli International Film Festival beach screenings will include the Tom Hanks classic Castaway, the Ang Li-directed Oscar winner Life of Pi, the musical Mamma Mia,and the Hawaiian extraterrestrial family film Lilo and Stitch.

A Hindi-speaking comedian walks into a bar…

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Preview

A Hindi-speaking comedian walks into a bar…

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Thursday, Jun. 23, 2022

The first jokes Rajat Kashyap told on stage were in Hindi. He was a young man living in Delhi, with an off-kilter sense of humour, and after some gentle encouragement from friends, he decided to stand up in front of a pub full of strangers and see whether he would die of embarrassment or revel in adoration.

He told “hack” jokes about being an engineer, and other “surface level” topics, but the audience ate it up. “I had a really good set, but the next time, I bombed horribly,” says Kashyap, 30. “I wondered how I could be so beloved one day and hated the next.”

The life of a comedian.

It was a good early lesson for Kashyap: stand-up is tough work. And he decided to make it somewhat tougher when he left India for Montreal, where he got a master’s degree in information studies from McGill University: he would perform not in Hindi, but in English, in the province of Quebec. Bonne chance!

Thursday, Jun. 23, 2022

JESSICA LEE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Rajat Kashyap hopes to see more faces like his in audiences and on stage in comedy clubs in Canada.

Gentleman’s Guide puts a musical, satirical spin on class warfare

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Preview

Gentleman’s Guide puts a musical, satirical spin on class warfare

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2022

How far would you go to get what you want?

This ethical question forms the core of much pop culture, and in turn, much of our daily lives. Would you tell a white lie to get ahead at work? Transform your persona completely to impress a crush? Would you kill several relatives to acquire a vast fortune?

“I might think about how to spend the money,” says Donna Fletcher, the co-founder of Winnipeg theatre company Dry Cold Productions. “But I don’t think I’d consider bumping people off.”

That’s where she and Monty Navarro differ.

Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2022

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press
There are shades of Mr. Bean, Monty Python, Sondheim and Gilbert & Sullivan throughout the 24-song A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.

Solar-powered, self-sustaining, water-cycling, carbon-saving house for sale

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Preview

Solar-powered, self-sustaining, water-cycling, carbon-saving house for sale

Ben Waldman 5 minute read Monday, Jun. 20, 2022

Kim Chase sleeps in an Earthship. Do you?

It sounds like something drawn from the mind of Gene Roddenberry, or Jules Verne, but it is not science fiction. It is real, and it is somewhat spectacular: a solar-powered, self-sustaining, water-cycling, carbon-saving, Hydro-bill-rescuing house that doesn’t look or function anything like yours or your neighbours’.

The house is an 1800-square-foot bungalow, with slanted windows lining the entire south side, forming an atrium connected to each room while creating a constant source of light and energy for the terrestrial beings living inside. “Earthship” is a good name for it, and two years ago, Chase became its captain.

“I used to live in Wolseley, as all good granola groupies do,” said Chase, a group benefits professional who was looking for a change of scenery as retirement loomed in the distance.

Monday, Jun. 20, 2022

The Earthship is built into the ground with sustainability as its focus in Clandeboye. Its current owner, Kim Chase, is planning on moving out soon to relocate closer to family in Alberta. (Ethan Cairns / Winnipeg Free Press)

Winnipeg art world makes its COVID comeback

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Preview

Winnipeg art world makes its COVID comeback

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Friday, Jun. 17, 2022

Chicken was served and honours doled out Thursday at the Fort Garry Hotel, where a crowd of luminaries gathered for the annual Winnipeg Arts Council Awards, presented during the Mayor’s Luncheon for the Arts.

Susan Lamberd was excited to see so many artists and people she admired all in the same room.

“You see Mayor Bowman, and you see the police chief, and all of these dignitaries,” says Lamberd, nominated for a Making a Difference Award for her work with Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba. “It felt a little bit intimidating.”

Lamberd likely wasn’t the only one feeling excited and a wee bit out of practice when it comes to attending galas: Thursday’s event was the first iteration since 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the arts community the luncheon celebrates was thrown into disarray.

Friday, Jun. 17, 2022

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Susan Lamberd speaks after winning the 2022 Making a Difference Award for her work with Arts AccessAbility Network Manitoba.

Projecting ghost signs in new light

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Preview

Projecting ghost signs in new light

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Thursday, Jun. 16, 2022

The existence of ghosts is uncertain. Ghost signs? Those are real. In Winnipeg’s Exchange District, they’re easy to spot: fading advertisements for faded firms, splashed across century-old buildings in paint that isn’t quite ready to disappear just yet — unfinished business for finished businesses.

At 281 McDermot Ave., three ghost signs refuse to go to the grave, and Matt Cohen and Craig Winslow refuse to let them.

On Friday night, the duo will flick on a set of projectors to illuminate the huge ads in what they call the world’s first permanent ghost sign installation, overlooking Old Market Square each night from sunset until midnight. Grim reaper be damned.

Thursday, Jun. 16, 2022

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
At 281 McDermot Ave., three ghost signs refuse to go to the grave.

Chai Folk Ensemble comes back to life

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Preview

Chai Folk Ensemble comes back to life

Ben Waldman 4 minute read Thursday, Jun. 16, 2022

The Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble has appointed a pair of new artistic directors: Jesse Popeski and Sarah Sommer.

Neither are strangers to the ensemble, which has been singing, playing, and dancing to Jewish and Israeli music for crowds in the city and around the world since its founding in 1964. A renowned guitarist on the local music scene, Popeski joined the Chai orchestra in 2015 and eventually became the group’s music director.

“It all started because they needed a guitarist,” says the recent graduate of the University of Manitoba’s faculty of music, who says he was the first member of his family to become a musician, let alone to join and one day lead a Jewish folk ensemble.

Not so for Sommer, a vocalist, music educator and choral director who was named for her late grandmother, Sarah Sommer, the organization’s namesake, founder, and, although she didn’t have an official title, its first artistic director.

Thursday, Jun. 16, 2022

The Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble has appointed a pair of new artistic directors: Jesse Popeski and Sarah Sommer.

Neither are strangers to the ensemble, which has been singing, playing, and dancing to Jewish and Israeli music for crowds in the city and around the world since its founding in 1964. A renowned guitarist on the local music scene, Popeski joined the Chai orchestra in 2015 and eventually became the group’s music director.

“It all started because they needed a guitarist,” says the recent graduate of the University of Manitoba’s faculty of music, who says he was the first member of his family to become a musician, let alone to join and one day lead a Jewish folk ensemble.

Not so for Sommer, a vocalist, music educator and choral director who was named for her late grandmother, Sarah Sommer, the organization’s namesake, founder, and, although she didn’t have an official title, its first artistic director.