Sheldon Birnie

Sheldon Birnie

Community Journalist

Sheldon Birnie is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. The author of Missing Like Teeth: An Oral History of Winnipeg Underground Rock (1990-2001), his writing has appeared in journals and online platforms across Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. A husband and father of two young children, Sheldon enjoys playing guitar and rec hockey when he can find the time.

Email him at sheldon.birnie@canstarnews.com

Call him at 204-697-7112

Recent articles of Sheldon Birnie

Much ado in Elmwood this August

Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Preview

Much ado in Elmwood this August

Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Friday, Jul. 29, 2022

ELMWOOD

August is bound to be busy in Elmwood.

The Glenelm Neighbourhood Association has a number of activities planned before school resumes.

“It feels good to be sort of back to a semblance of normal,” said GeNA co-chair Michel Durand-Wood. “As long as there were gathering restrictions, our only option was to not have the event. So it’s nice to be able to gather again as a neighbourhood.”

Friday, Jul. 29, 2022

Meandering Music will take place the evening of Sat., Aug. 13 at five homes throughout Glenelm.

Holiday spirit alive and well in July

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Preview

Holiday spirit alive and well in July

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

ELMWOOD

A lot of folks in the Elmwood area are going to find themselves on Santa’s ‘nice’ list this holiday season.

Area residents and those who commute along Nairn Avenue have likely noticed a friendly Santa — known as ‘Santa on Nairn’ greeting passersby with a smile and seasonal attire. On July 3, vandals knocked St. Nick off his stand at 641 Nairn Ave. and smashed him to pieces.

“He was dressed in Canada Day garb and Canada flags and all that,” said Richard Holm, who curates Santa on Nairn’s attire with his wife, Nicole. “He was irreparable.”

Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

Nicole and Richard Holm are the caretakers of Santa on Nairn Ave. The iconic East Elmwood statue, located at 491 Nairn Ave., was recently vandalized beyond repair. However, a grassroots GoFundMe campaign has replaced the statue and covered costs of installing security cameras to keep an eye on Saint Nick.

Kilcona Park’s Harbour View in need of major revamp

By Sheldon Birnie 4 minute read Preview

Kilcona Park’s Harbour View in need of major revamp

By Sheldon Birnie 4 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

NORTH KILDONAN

TRANSCONA

Kilcona Park is one of Winnipeg’s four regional parks and Harbour View was its crown jewel.

But lately some residents have found Harbour View more of an eyesore than a point of pride.

Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

Lately, some residents have found Kilcona Park’s Harbour View to be more of an eyesore than a point of pride.

Elmwood Giants ‘drive for five’ still alive in playoffs

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 2 minute read Preview

Elmwood Giants ‘drive for five’ still alive in playoffs

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 2 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

ELMWOOD

ST. BONIFACE

With the Manitoba Junior Baseball League regular season wrapped up, the Elmwood Giants’ drive-for-five was still alive heading into playoffs.

Elmwood, which has won the provincial title for the past four years in a row, finished the regular season on top of the eight-team league, going 21-3. Defence and pitching were key to the team’s success.

Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

ELMWOOD

ST. BONIFACE

With the Manitoba Junior Baseball League regular season wrapped up, the Elmwood Giants’ drive-for-five was still alive heading into playoffs.

Elmwood, which has won the provincial title for the past four years in a row, finished the regular season on top of the eight-team league, going 21-3. Defence and pitching were key to the team’s success.

Kilcona Park’s Harbour View in need of major revamp

By Sheldon Birnie 4 minute read Preview

Kilcona Park’s Harbour View in need of major revamp

By Sheldon Birnie 4 minute read Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

NORTH KILDONAN

TRANSCONA

Kilcona Park is one of Winnipeg’s four regional parks and Harbour View was its crown jewel.

But lately some residents have found Harbour View more of an eyesore than a point of pride.

Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

Lately, some residents have found Kilcona Park’s Harbour View to be more of an eyesore than a point of pride.

Holiday spirit alive and well in July

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Preview

Holiday spirit alive and well in July

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

ELMWOOD

A lot of folks in the Elmwood area are going to find themselves on Santa’s ‘nice’ list this holiday season.

Area residents and those who commute along Nairn Avenue have likely noticed a friendly Santa — known as ‘Santa on Nairn’ greeting passersby with a smile and seasonal attire. On July 3, vandals knocked St. Nick off his stand at 641 Nairn Ave. and smashed him to pieces.

“He was dressed in Canada Day garb and Canada flags and all that,” said Richard Holm, who curates Santa on Nairn’s attire with his wife, Nicole. “He was irreparable.”

Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

Nicole and Richard Holm are the caretakers of Santa on Nairn Ave. The iconic East Elmwood statue, located at 641 Nairn Ave., was recently vandalized beyond repair. However, a grassroots GoFundMe campaign has replaced the statue and covered costs of installing security cameras to keep an eye on Saint Nick.

Elmwood Giants ‘drive for five’ still alive in playoffs

By Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Preview

Elmwood Giants ‘drive for five’ still alive in playoffs

By Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

ELMWOOD

ST. BONIFACE

With the Manitoba Junior Baseball League regular season wrapped up, the Elmwood Giants’ drive-for-five was still alive heading into playoffs.

Elmwood, which has won the provincial title for the past four years in a row, finished the regular season on top of the eight-team league, going 21-3. Defence and pitching were key to the team’s success.

Friday, Jul. 22, 2022

ELMWOOD

ST. BONIFACE

With the Manitoba Junior Baseball League regular season wrapped up, the Elmwood Giants’ drive-for-five was still alive heading into playoffs.

Elmwood, which has won the provincial title for the past four years in a row, finished the regular season on top of the eight-team league, going 21-3. Defence and pitching were key to the team’s success.

Plenty to do this summer at Transcona Museum

By Sheldon Birnie 4 minute read Preview

Plenty to do this summer at Transcona Museum

By Sheldon Birnie 4 minute read Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

TRANSCONA

Summer days are just packed in the Park City, thanks in no small part to the Transcona Museum.

Kicking things off, the museum continues its Get on Board capital campaign to pay for a permanent structure for the historic CN 2747 engine. A raffle is being held, the winner of which will take home a custom firepit and grill, manufactured by Murdoch MacKay Collegiate metal arts students, a firepit tool, and a Get on Board T-shirt.

“It looks amazing,” noted curator Alanna Horejda, adding that the Get on Board logo and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers logo have been incorporated into the firepit’s design. “It’s got a great grill on it, too.”

Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

The winner the Transcona Museum’s Get on Board raffle will take home a custom firepit and grill, manufactured by Murdoch MacKay Collegiate metal arts students, a firepit tool, and a Get on Board t-shirt.

No objection at recent ESP public hearings

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 2 minute read Preview

No objection at recent ESP public hearings

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 2 minute read Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

EAST ST PAUL

East St. Paul municipal council held a planning meeting on June 28.

Among other general business, three public hearings were held. The first, for a conditional use application for 2978 Birds Hill Rd., to allow for an animal shelter, was approved. No objections to the application were heard, though one resident registered for information.

Council heard a variance application for 732 Wallace Ave. to increase maximum area of detached garage by about 100-square-feet, to a total of 945-square-feet. The old garage, built nearly 50 years ago, was damaged by excessive snowfall this past winter and the owner is looking to rebuild using the same footprint. With no objections, the application was approved.

Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

EAST ST PAUL

East St. Paul municipal council held a planning meeting on June 28.

Among other general business, three public hearings were held. The first, for a conditional use application for 2978 Birds Hill Rd., to allow for an animal shelter, was approved. No objections to the application were heard, though one resident registered for information.

Council heard a variance application for 732 Wallace Ave. to increase maximum area of detached garage by about 100-square-feet, to a total of 945-square-feet. The old garage, built nearly 50 years ago, was damaged by excessive snowfall this past winter and the owner is looking to rebuild using the same footprint. With no objections, the application was approved.

Klassen’s Walk of Fame star to hang at Gateway

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Preview

Klassen’s Walk of Fame star to hang at Gateway

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

EAST KILDONAN

If you have a dream, don’t be afraid to chase it. That’s the message Cindy Klassen wants to pass on to the next generation.

On July 11, Canada’s Walk of Fame honoured six-time Olympic medallist and four-time world speedskating champion Cindy Klassen with a hometown ceremony commemorating her 2019 induction into the Walk of Fame. The event took place before dozens of family, friends, and well-wishers — including mentor and fellow Olympic speed skater Susan Auch, Mayor Brian Bowman, and singer Steve Bell — in the Concert Room at the Hotel Fort Garry.

“Coming home for an event like this really reminds me how privileged I am,” Klassen, who grew up in East Kildonan, said. “I’m so proud that this is where I’m from. This is a city and province of such exceptional people, and I know a big part of that lies in the sense of community and the encouragement and support that anyone who has spent a little time here would feel.”

Friday, Jul. 15, 2022

Cindy Klassen, joined on stage by her daughter Phoebe, received a hometown star from Canada’s Walk of Fame on July 11. The star will be installed at Gateway Recreation Centre (1717 Gateway Rd.) where Klassen played youth hockey growing up.

REC grads travel to Vienna for nuclear conference

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Preview

REC grads travel to Vienna for nuclear conference

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 12, 2022

NORTH KILDONAN

Two River East Collegiate alumnae recently travelled to Vienna as part of their ongoing work towards nuclear disarmament.

In June, Rooj Ali and Sarah Rohleder travelled with Senator Marilou McPhedran to the First Meeting of States Parties of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which took place June 21 to 23 in Vienna, Austria.

“It was an amazing experience,” Rohleder said. “There were events focused on multiple perspectives from across the world, multiple disciplines, and the intersections with gender, climate change and other points.”

Tuesday, Jul. 12, 2022

(From left) Tuva Krogh Widskjold, Rooj Ali, and Jaume Puigpinós presenting at a workshop on the ICan cities appeal in Vienna, Austria for the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in June.

Local artist exploring new horizons in latest exhibit

By Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Preview

Local artist exploring new horizons in latest exhibit

By Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Friday, Jul. 8, 2022

TRANSCONA

For local artist Laura Gross, process is key.

Gross’s latest show, Evolution: Iterative Mind, opens on July 14 and runs through July 26 at cre8ery gallery (125 Adelaide St.). The work collected in the show spans the last two years, with a focus on abstract colours and textures.

“Right after my last show, my work found a new niche,” Gross said. “I discovered new ways to play with texture and colour. There’s lots to look at on a small canvas.”

Friday, Jul. 8, 2022

Honeycomb Mask by Laura Gross is included in her new exhibit, Evolution: Iterative Mind.

Local community theatre group producing 25th show

By Sheldon Birnie 3 minute read Preview

Local community theatre group producing 25th show

By Sheldon Birnie 3 minute read Friday, Jul. 8, 2022

It’s been nearly three years since the North Kildonan Community Players have taken the stage. But summer’s here and the time is right for the local community theatre company’s 25th production.

On Thurs., July 14, the North Kildonan Community Players will take to the John Hirsch Maintstage at the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival to produce the Canadian debut of Stephen Dolginoff’s musical Monster Makers.

“We’re very, very excited to be back on stage in front of a live audience,” said Laurie Fischer, actor, director, and co-founder of North Kildonan Community Players. “Not only are we back and doing our 25th production, but that we’re doing a Canadian premiere.”

Written in 2015, Fischer came across Monster Makers, which he describes as “a monstrously funny musical”, in 2016. Initially, NKCP had been slated to perform the show at the 2020 Fringe, which was cancelled owing to COVID-19.

Friday, Jul. 8, 2022

The cast of the North Kildonan Community Players’ production of Monster Makers, (from left): Jordan Phillips,Pamela Roz, Richard Smith, Alana Penner, and Laurie Fischer.

School supply drive ongoing

Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 2 minute read Preview

School supply drive ongoing

Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 2 minute read Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

NORTH KILDONAN

TRANSCONA

EAST ELMWOOD

ST. VITAL

Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

Joanne Berry and Mary Garroni, family and community development co-ordinators with the Donwood Family Resource Centre, are looking for donations of new or gently used backpacks, shoes, and water bottles for kids in the centre’s breakfast and lunch program.

Kopp wins McWhinney Award, scholarship

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Preview

Kopp wins McWhinney Award, scholarship

By Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

east kildonan

Jzraelyne Kopp has always been sporty. So when an opportunity to play football came along, she ran with it.

The play paid off. Kopp, who just graduated from Miles Macdonell Collegiate, won this year’s Glenn (Keeper) McWhinney Perseverance Award. The award is presented annually to a graduating Buckeyes football player in honour of the late Canadian Football League great, who made his home in the area.

“I was super honoured to receive it,” Kopp said.

Monday, Jul. 4, 2022

Jeff McWhinney (left) presented Jzraelyne Kopp with the Glenn McWhinney Award on June 28. The award, which includes a scholarship, is presented annually to a graduating student from Miles Macdonell Collegiate.

Plans approved for Habitat build on Pandora Avenue

Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Preview

Plans approved for Habitat build on Pandora Avenue

Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Thursday, Jun. 30, 2022

The East Kildonan-Transcona community committee met briefly on June 20, approving a handful of planned new developments in the area.

A public hearing was held regarding a subdivision, rezoning, and variance application for 597-599 Washington Ave. The owner wishes to consolidate the properties in order to build a 22-unit affordable housing complex. With nobody registered in opposition to the project, Coun. Jason Schreyer (Elmwood-East Kildonan) noted the project was a welcome one, particularly in an area that is historically industrial.

Plans were also approved for 55 units of housing at 900 Pandora Ave. West. When the project was seeking subdivision, rezoning, and variances in the fall of 2021, a number of neighbours expressed opposition to the project. Sandy Hopkins, CEO for Habitat for Humanity Manitoba, the developer of the site, told the committee that concerns raised in those meetings had been addressed in the design, including additional fencing for privacy and exceeding the city’s requirement for new plants and trees on the site.

“We’re hoping to build a beautiful development,” Hopkins noted. “The homes will be highly energy efficient, no carbon emissions from homes once they are built. They are very much in line with what the City of Winnipeg is trying to do with regards to emissions.”

Thursday, Jun. 30, 2022

Plans were approved for a 55-unit development at 700 Pandora Ave. West at the East Kildonan-Transcona community committee’s June 20 meeting.

Local students awarded Kiwanis scholarships

Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Preview

Local students awarded Kiwanis scholarships

Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

EAST KILDONAN

A handful of northeast Winnipeg students have been rewarded for giving back to their community.

On June 16, the Kiwanis Club of East Kildonan president Mario Colonnelli presented scholarships to graduating students who have been active in local Kiwanis Key Clubs during their high school years. Miles Macdonell Collegiate’s Pyper Motuz and Taylor Keen and River East Collegiate’s Cynthia Serda are recipients of 2022 Kiwanis Club of East Kildonan Scholarships.

Additionally, Meaghan K. Rohleder, president of River East’s Key Club, was awarded the Kiwanis Club of East Kildonan Mel Osborne Youth Scholarship, which is presented to a student with a long history of involvement with Kiwanis. Before becoming involved with River East’s Key Club, she was active with Builders and Kids clubs. Last year, her sister Sarah Rohleder, who was co-president of the River East club, won the same award.

Friday, Jun. 24, 2022

Kiwanis Club of East Kildonan president Mario Colonnelli (left) presents River East Collegiate Key Club president Meaghan K. Rohleder with the Mel Osborne Youth Scholarship on June 16.

Playground project completed at Sun Valley School

Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Preview

Playground project completed at Sun Valley School

Sheldon Birnie 2 minute read Monday, Jun. 20, 2022

It has been a decade or more in the making, but Sun Valley School is now home to a large new outdoor playground and learning area.

The project is the second phase of the Sun Valley Parent Advisory Council’s playground improvement project.

“We tackled the play structure area first, improved and added on to it, and we made a significant investment into drainage,” said project manager Maura Champagne, whose six children all attended the school. “Sun Valley was always a swamp.”

At that time, a master plan for the grounds, which are mostly owned by the City of Winnipeg, was drawn up.

Monday, Jun. 20, 2022

On June 10, Sun Valley School officially opened its new playground.

Donwood South celebrates 40th anniversary

Sheldon Birnie 3 minute read Preview

Donwood South celebrates 40th anniversary

Sheldon Birnie 3 minute read Monday, Jun. 20, 2022

NORTH KILDONAN

Home is where the heart is.

For the past 40 years, thousands of northeast Winnipeg seniors have called Donwood South home. On June 14, the independent seniors’ living centre celebrated its 40th anniversary. Over 30 residents attended, many of whom have called Donwood South home for over 20 years.

“My grandma lived here,” Carlyle Petkau, operations manager of the building, told the crowd in his opening remarks. “I’m thankful for Donwood South for 40 years of affordable living.”

Monday, Jun. 20, 2022

Donwood Manor board chair John Janzen spoke to residents at Donwood South (1245 Henderson Hwy.) on June 14 during a celebration of the building’s 40th anniversary.

Buckeyes win ringette championship

Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Preview

Buckeyes win ringette championship

Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Friday, Jun. 17, 2022

SHELDON BIRNIE

STAFF REPORTER

EAST KILDONAN

Miles Macdonell Collegiate has another championship banner to hang in its halls.

Friday, Jun. 17, 2022

Miles Macdonell Collegiate’s ringette team won Ringette Manitoba’s high school championship on June 5.

The hard road

Sheldon Birnie 3 minute read Preview

The hard road

Sheldon Birnie 3 minute read Friday, Jun. 17, 2022

Robb Nash knows a thing or two about life and death.

“Pre-COVID, one in five teens had considered suicide,” said the St. Vital-based rock singer and mental health advocate, whose latest record This Is War, was released June 10 by Warner Music Canada. “And this last couple years have been hell on people’s mental health. It’s heartbreaking. We’re bombarded with stuff. Now that I get to share these stories, we want people to know that there’s hope out there.”

Over 12 years ago, Nash was in a car crash that nearly killed him. As he recovered, physically, he became severely depressed.

“Frankly, I did not want to be alive,” he said. “I was an athlete; my identity was lost, and that brought me to a very dark place for two-and-a-half years. Men in this society can feel like talking about our feelings or struggles is weak, so I kept it inside. One day, I picked up the guitar and started my entire journey into music to tell my story.”

Friday, Jun. 17, 2022

St. Vital’s Robb Nash released his new rock record This Is War on June 10.

The song remains

Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 4 minute read Preview

The song remains

Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 4 minute read Monday, Jun. 13, 2022

NORTH KILDONAN

It’s always been about the music.

On June 2 and 3, the River East Collegiate Jazz Orchestra performed concerts for family, friends, staff and fellow students — the band’s first concerts since the COVID-19 pandemic shut live performances down in March 2020. Comprised of classic jazz numbers from the likes of Duke Ellington, to contemporary, full band renditions of hit songs by Adele and Taylor Swift, the performances also featured the premiere of Midnight Melodies, an original composition from Grade 12 student Kayly Nim.

“It is completely different than any song I’ve written before,” Nim said. “It expresses my personal side I don’t show a lot.”

Monday, Jun. 13, 2022

Nathan Unger plays lead tenor sax on a Duke Ellington number during a year-end performance from the River East Collegiate Jazz Orchestra on June 2.

Transcona Scouts Hall needs a renovation

Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Preview

Transcona Scouts Hall needs a renovation

Sheldon Birnie STAFF REPORTER 3 minute read Monday, Jun. 13, 2022

TRANSCONA

A local community space is in dire need of some community support.

In 2018, the Transcona Scout Hall replaced its aging roof. The following year, the City of Winnipeg, which owns the space at 110 Winona St., inspected the building, discovering asbestos insulation throughout the hall.

“That wasn’t surprising,” said Ian Martens, president of the Transcona Scout Hall Association and a Hawkeye with the local Beavers club, who is spearheading a campaign to raise funds to remediate and renovate the hall, which was built in the 1950s. “The challenge was we weren’t able to use the building until we got rid of it.”

Monday, Jun. 13, 2022

Ian Martens, president of the Transcona Scout Hall Association and a Hawkeye with the local Beavers club, in the Transcona Scouts Hall. The hall, located at 110 Winona St., is undergoing a complete renovation inside, following extensive asbestos remediation. The association is hoping to raise between $60,000 and $80,000 to pay for repairs.

River East boys golf team finishes third at provincials

Sheldon Birnie 1 minute read Preview

River East boys golf team finishes third at provincials

Sheldon Birnie 1 minute read Friday, Jun. 10, 2022

NORTH KILDONAN

Anyway you slice it, River East Collegiate’s boys golf team had a strong showing at the recent provincial tournament.

The team, made up of players Cash McNabb, Austin Boge, Ryan Pellaers, and Brayden Boge and coached by Marty Grubert, finished third on May 27 at Minnewasta Golf & Country Club in Morden, Man., shooting a collective 252. St. Paul’s finished first, shooting 223, while Dauphin Regional shot 238 to finish second.

“It was a very scrambled season,” admitted coach Marty Grubert. “We hadn’t had (high school) golf for two years. But we had some range time and some time at Rossmere.”

Friday, Jun. 10, 2022

The River East Collegiate boys golf team recently finished third in the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association’s provincial tournament. Pictured, from left: coach Marty Grubert, Ryan Pellaers, Austin Boge, Cash McNabb, and Brayden Boge.