Best Of Regina 2012

Best of Regina 2012

City People | Health Care | City Living | City Arts | City Music | Local Media | City Shopping | City Services

The 2012 Best Of Regina was written by Gregory Beatty, James Brotheridge, John Cameron, Paul Dechene, Amber Goodwyn, Shane Hnetka, Aidan Morgan, Katherine Norton, Ashley Rankin, Vanda Schmöckel, Carle Steel, Stephen Whitworth and Roxanna Woloshyn. Thanks to all our readers who voted in the 2012 Best Of Regina and thanks to you, whoever and wherever you are, for reading!

City People

Let’s face it, a city full of cardboard cut-outs or snazzy holograms of its residents would be pretty cool at first, like a full-scale Disney adventure. But after a while you’d start to miss the one thing that makes a city worth living in: the people. Sure, there’d still be a Black Sea Tattoo to visit, but you’d have to do that Memories In Oil-style portrait of your grandma by yourself. Good luck with that.

Best Citizen Activist

Jim Elliott

Say what you like about Jim Elliott’s bid for the mayoralty, he’s helping to get us to talk seriously about the lack of sustainable infrastructure in this town — things like public transportation, bike lanes, and developing an eco-subdivision. Couple that with his commitment to affordable housing, social justice, saving our schools, and heritage conservation, and you’ve got yourself one engaged citizen! Also, his track record strongly suggests that, when this election is over, he won’t be going anywhere. You can bet that he’ll still be givn’er at city council meetings and standing up for the library. In the words of The Roots “someone has to care.” Did I mention he rides his bike absolutely everywhere? Go Jim! /VS

Best Fitness Instructor/Personal Trainer

Tony Burko
Gold’s Gym South,

Personal trainers are the secret habit of highly fitnessed people — a good trainer will help you develop an appropriate exercise program, give you nutrition tips and keep you motivated, and our readers say hell YEAH, that’s what Gold Gym’s Tony Burko does. The buff-as-heck Burko helps Gold Gym’s members keep their eyes on the prize and the focus on their goals. Shocking rumours about his shadowy past as a motocross enthusiast have been unsubstantiated as of press time. But we hear he has a soft spot for cute little dogs. /SW

Best Esthetician

Chelsey Lillijord
Essence Organic & Day Spa, Hotel Saskatchewan 522-7272

When I think of the spa, relaxing aroma-filled treatments like soothing facials and detoxifying body wraps come to mind. But spa trips aren’t always relaxing — especially if you’re there for a deep tissue massage, or worse, a Brazilian wax. And when you’re paying someone to literally tear hair out of your follicles, you want the very best. So, prairie dog readers, you’ve had your say, and you’ve decided Chelsey Lillijord at Essence Day Spa is the best one for the job. You trust her with your “up close and personal” grooming. And that says a lot! /RW

Best Fashion Designer

Dean Renwick
1-1861 Scarth St. 569 2938

Prior to returning to Regina to set up his own studio six or seven years ago, Dean spent 15 years in Los Angeles where he toiled away at Azar Woods to help clothe the rich and famous. From his studio on the F.W. Hill Mall, Dean brings a bit of Hollywood glamour, along with other experiences he’s had on the international fashion circuit, to Regina fashionistas. In addition to his own spiffy threads, Dean has high hopes of seeing more home grown designers in the spotlight, and does his part by mentoring aspiring talent in the city. Stitch by stitch, Dean Renwick is bringing the red carpet to Regina. /AR

Best Women’s Hairstylist

Fran Gilboy
Frank’s Barber Shop, 12 block 15th Ave.

Taking scissors to a woman’s hair is risky business. Most women think they’re going to leave the hair salon looking like Michelle Williams or a Kardashian. Those are some high expectations. I admit it myself. When I was 14 I wanted Jennifer Aniston’s famous side-bang, the one that her character, Rachel, debuted in the final season of Friends. To my dismay, I looked nothing like Rachel! Instead, I had reverted back to my pre-puberty self. Fran, it seems you are a master of your trade. You were able to hang on to your reigning title as Best Women’s Hairstylist from 2011, arguably the most difficult throne to sustain. Speaking of chairs, ladies, hop into Fran’s at Frank’s Barber Shop. She knows exactly what she’s doing, and would have no difficulty with the “Rachel side-bang challenge.” /RW

Best Men’s Hairstylist

Tyler Maurice
Tyler Maurice Hair, 2230 14th Ave. 205-3628

It seems easy… but for that very reason I think it would be extremely difficult to cut men’s hair. Far too many men are walking around with weird haircuts. But have no fear; Tyler Maurice is here. He must know a thing or two about men’s hair, if readers voted him # 1. Plus, he’s been invited to appear on local morning television multiple times and he’s got a great reputation in this city through the best form of promotion — “word of mouth.” You can find him @hairguy_ty on Twitter or at his salon next to Blush Beauty Bar. Just hope he’s not too busy to squeeze you in, now that readers have anointed him Regina’s Best Men’s Hairstylist. /RW

Best Lawyer

Noah Evanchuk
Andrews Benko & Associates, 100-2184 12th Ave. 525-8136

We will know soon whether proposed changes to Saskatchewan’s federal electoral boundaries to create distinct urban seats in Regina and Saskatoon will pass unmolested by Conservative Party forces. They didn’t in 2002. Here’s hoping democracy prevails this time and Noah Evanchuk can gain his rightful place as the MP for the new constituency of Regina-Lewvan. In the meantime, he’ll have to keep slogging away in pursuit of other kinds of justice as the city’s favourite lawyer. And his would-have-been constituents? We’ll just have to satisfy ourselves with our current level of representation from our moribund MP in Palliser. He does send us nice fridge magnets, though. And hey, we get to keep Noah as our lawyer for three more years. /CS

Best Massage Therapist

Elvera Kater
Kater Mobile Massage, 569-8080

A mobile spa that comes to you? Elvera Kater is obviously the product of a genetic experiment combining the best person ever with the second-best person ever. Kater offers massage, reflexology and spa packages for the tired and aching folks of Regina. As far as I know, there’s no greater thing a human being can do than show up at your place and give you a therapeutic massage. The fire department may save your life, but do they knock on your door and rub your shoulders? Wait… don’t answer that. /AM

Best City Councillor

Fred Clipsham

Fred Clipsham has owned this category for as long as I’ve lived in Regina, but his tyrannical reign of “Bestness” is about to end. He is retiring from council, and other competent councillors can breathe a sigh of relief as now they might finally have a shot here. After the October election, Fred will be leaving as this council’s longest-serving member, with six terms in office under his belt. Over that time he has been a champion of environmental and social justice issues — even during times when advocating for such things was a struggle. And, a bit of behind-the-scenes city hall reporter trivia, he’s also the only councillor whose interview transcripts I’ve had to clean up because of his swearing. His towering presence will definitely be missed on council and in Ward Three. And covering city hall will be a much less entertaining job in his absence. /PD

Best MLA

Warren McCall

Warren McCall has been the MLA for Regina Elphinstone since 2001, and is currently the Opposition House Leader. Warren was born and raised in North Central Regina, and he remains committed to his community both through his work in the Legislature and his hands-on involvement with local organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the North Central Community Association. Within the NDP caucus, Warren has the herculean task as Critic for First Nations and Métis Relations of defending the rights of the large First Nations population in his riding and throughout the province. It’s a herculean task both because the government has done so little in this area to actually critique, and the general public indifference to the systematic disregard for aboriginal rights and social well-being that exists in Saskatchewan. So congrats on your win, Warren. /KN

Best MP

Ralph Goodale

As I mentioned in his Best Politician of the Last 10 Years write-up, Regina Wascana constituents are lucky to have a voice as strong as Ralph’s speaking for them in Ottawa. But Ralph also has symbolic importance for many. As the lone non-Conservative MP representing Saskatchewan in the House of Commons, there couldn’t be a better parliamentarian. Whether he’s calling for answers for the Harper government’s increasing pancake stack of controversies or pressuring the Feds on behalf of local interests, he’s just always on the go. I almost anticipate his reactions when I catch wind of the weekly federal muck-up. Ralph will be pissed! There isn’t much great news out there these days on the political front in Canada, but Ralph’s steadfast presence in Ottawa certainly falls into that category. /KN

Best Teacher (K-8)

Joni Darke
Elsie Mironuk Community School

Formerly a Learning Resource Teacher at Elsie Mironuk, Darke accepted a new position with Regina Public Schools this year as a MLPAA Facilitator. What’s a MLPAA Facilitator, you ask? Well, that’s educational short-hand for Mid Level Practical & Applied Arts. In her new position, Darke has been meeting with grade 6-8 staff at elementary schools in Regina with the goal of introducing Practical & Applied Arts into class curricula and developing projects that could be taught in the subjects of Math, Science and Social Studies. If need be, she’s even qualified to conduct safety courses for teachers on the use of power tools. And last year, Darke was one of eight teachers honoured under the Shared Values Recognition Program that promotes respect in the classroom for the different cultural and spiritual traditions of students. So double congrats to her. /GB

Best Teacher (High School)

Dean Vendramin
O’Neill High School

A cursory perusal of tells me that Dean Vendramin is a computer science teacher at O’Neill High School. And what a computer science teacher! “He’s amazing!” reads one review. Another points to how, though strict, Vendramin is always there to help. Teaching is one of those professions that really shouldn’t be considered a job so much as a calling. One’s motivations should be pretty altruistic. And, while you might get paid summers off, there are certainly easier (and better paid) ways to make a living. O’Neill students clearly see something special in Mr. Vendramin. They might even affectionately call him Mr. V. So hat’s off to Mr. Vendramin! Mr. V! /VS

Best U of R Professor

Marc Spooner

Though Marc has become known for his beard, wide smile and NDP candidacy in the last federal election, he’s also one heck of a Prof. Call him Marc, Spooner, or even Spoonman; he’s a welcome presence around town. Whether it’s a campaign event or sitting down to have a pint, it doesn’t take long to recognize Marc as one of Regina’s finest. He may have obtained his PhD in education at the University of Ottawa, but his position in the U of R’s Faculty of Education and his activism in the community have made him one of Regina’s most committed citizens. Marc has spearheaded numerous anti-poverty and homelessness initiatives and has worked extensively with Carmichael Outreach, part of Regina’s thickening fabric of local interest groups committed to improving the quality of life for all Regina citizens. /KN

Best Real Estate Agent

Sean Malcolm
Royal LePage, 3889 Arcola Ave. E 527-0615

Having recently bought a condo through a private sale, I have a fresh appreciation for the work that real estate agents do. Sean’s web site says that he’s “committed to providing you with the best possible real estate experience,” which means that you won’t spend your days babbling over the phone with your bank and your lawyer as tears of panic stain your incorrectly filled out estoppel certificate. Save yourself some stress and do as prairie dog’s readers do: call Sean. /AM

Best Tattoo Artist

Nathan Donahue
Black Sea Tattoo, 1373 Rose St. 347-8288

For just under six years Nathan Donahoe has been sharing his talent and passion for body art with Regina. You may remember him from Rising Sun, but his current haunt is Black Sea Tattoos. Either way, if you know him, then you know he is Regina’s Best Tattoo Artist. A mostly self-taught genius, Nathan approaches each tattoo with respect for the traditions of his trade. But he’s always up for a challenge, and is constantly evolving as an artist with many different techniques and styles under his pen. When asked to describe himself, Nathan says simply, “I can’t imagine doing anything other than tattooing.” Apparently, neither can we. /AR

Best Trade Unionist

Larry Hubich

It’s not an easy time to be a trade unionist. Across North America, long-held and hard-won labour rights are being whittled away by governments with conservative/corporate agendas. In reporting on this slide to the right, I’ve interviewed Hubich, who heads the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, several times and always found his insights into the broader political and economic implications of these policy shifts helpful. In February, the SFL, along with other plaintiffs, scored a major victory when Queen’s Bench Court Justice Dennis Ball declared the Saskatchewan government’s Essential Services legislation unconstitutional. With the government currently engaged in a wide-ranging review of labour legislation, further court battles might well lie ahead. Hopefully, that won’t be the case. But if the government oversteps the bounds of the Constitution and other legal precedents, Hubich will be in the forefront of those defending the interests of labour. And that’s what makes him, in your view, Regina’s Best Trade Unionist. /GB

Best Volunteer

Danielle Gauthier Katz
Regina Humane Society,

A couple of weeks ago, a friend’s elderly dog Amora had to have an operation to remove her eyes. She’s fine now – bumbling around and getting attention like she always did. Amora’s first outing after the operation? To get her hair done by Danielle Gauthier Kratz at Pink Poodle. Amora looks very sweet and is thrilled with her new ‘do. When she’s not making old gals like Amora look great, Gauthier Katz is a volunteer with People for Animals and the Regina Humane Society. It’s always good to have a hairdresser friend, even when you’re behind bars. /CS

Health Care

Only young people and cyborgs can afford to be cavalier about their health care options. For the rest of us — the ones afflicted with aches and persistent rashes and loved ones — access to reliable health care becomes more important with each year. From here on out, you’re on a catabolic slide into decrepitude and adult diaperdom. So it’s important to get a good doctor to ease your descent.

Best Dentist

Dr. Michele Livingstone
Albert Park Dental, 3936 Gordon Rd. 584-8777

A good dentist takes what could be a traumatic experience and, by being personable and calmly professional, turns it into a pleasant one. You don’t want someone brusque and surly poking around your mouth with sharp metal bits. You want someone who makes you feel comfortable enough that you’re willing to do it all again next time you have a check-up due. That’s been Livingstone’s mission in Regina for nearly 20 years, making patients comfortable in her chair, and confident enough to smile once they leave the clinic. /JC

Best Family Doctor

Dr. Imy Ooi
Albert Park Family Medical Centre, South 3992 Albert St. 584-3833

Dr. Ooi is wise, trustworthy and humane. She balances great primary care with a light heart. Want her as your family doctor? Do what I did. Just go to the Albert Park clinic and ask to see her. Go often enough, and voilà!: you have Dr. Ooi as your family doctor. With four million Canadians without a family doctor, it pays to muscle in on the one you want. With Dr. Ooi, be prepared to wait a bit, but she’s worth it. /CS

Best Nurse

Bree Cameron & Linda Thain

Being a nurse means a lot of things, most of them totally out of the patient’s line of sight. They do need good bedside manner, sure. But they also need to be as competent at medical assessment as doctors and as good at dealing with hospital administration as a lawyer. Moreover, a truly good nurse in Saskatchewan knows that part of SUN’s mandate is patient advocacy. As a result, the job is sort of thankless. Most patients just don’t realize exactly how important their nurses are. For Bree Cameron and Linda Thain to have stood out to patients, either their bedside manner is killer, or their patients recognize just how hard the two nurses work for them even when they can’t be seen doing so. /JC

Best Ob/Gyn

Dr. Rashmi Bhargava
Golden Mile Centre 522-2229

Ladies, your relationship with your Ob/Gyn is arguably the most important in your life — well, next to the one you have with your significant other. So, for us women, this is arguably the most significant “Best of Regina” category. We trust our Ob/Gyns to take care down there, and judging by Dr. Bhargava’s performance in this poll, she does just that. She’s not going to surprise you with any scary metal objects or blurt out something like “What the hell is that?!” while you’re laid out on the examination table and freak you out. No, Dr. Bhargava has been doing this little thing called obstetrician/gynecology for a while now. She knows exactly what she’s doing. That’s why she maintains her title as Regina’s #1 Ob/Gyn. /RW

Best Oncologist

Dr. Linda Nilson

If you caught any CFL football last weekend, you doubtlessly noticed that teams took the field with decorative pink accents like gloves and spats on their cleats. It’s an annual promotion that the league does to help raise awareness for different cancers that affect women. As far as health risks in our society go, cancer definitely ranks right up there. And receiving a diagnosis can be a devastating experience for both the patient and their loved ones. On the preventative front, a lot of people have concerns about the impact of pollution and other toxins in our environment. But when it comes to post-diagnosis medical care, a doctor who offers the proper blend of compassion and competence can be a true blessing. For prairie dog readers, Dr. Linda Nilson, who is associated with the Allan Blair Cancer Clinic, is just such a physician. And if you’re a fan of mysteries, you’ll be interested to know that she got a shout-out from Gail Bowen in her latest Joanne Kilbourn book Kaleidoscope. /GB

Best Pediatrician

Dr. B. Datta
1440 14th Ave. 766-6955

It’s not easy to find Dr. Datta’s first name. But surely we all appreciate how this works. Kids dig saying “Dr. Datta,” ya know? Besides being enticingly alliterative, it’s enigmatic. And it’s got a bit of authority behind it. Kids will pay attention to someone with a name like that. And when your child’s health is at stake, you want them paying attention, don’t you? Plus, according to an online review I found, kids think his office is “really funny.” You know how important that is, right? Didn’t you see Patch Adams? Robin Williams, laughter is the best medicine, etc.? It’s a good movie, you should watch it. And you should take your kids to see Dr. Datta. /JC

Best Veterinarian

Dr. Marilyn Sthamann
Lakewood Animal Hospita,l 1151 Lakewood Crt. N 545-6487

Whoa, since when was veterinary homeopathy a thing in Regina? Answer: since at least 1999, when Dr. Marilyn Sthamann started learning veterinary homeopathy. That means we’ve had a homeopathic vet here since 2003, when she got her certification. Sthamann has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 20 years, though, so it’s not like that’s the only service she offers at Lakewood Animal Hospital. If holistic treatment is what’s best for your pet, she’ll let you know. And if old-school veterinary medicine is the best course, same thing. Versatility is good in a vet. After all, everyone’s furry (or scaly, or feathered) friend is a different beast. /JC

City Living

City living, you’ll have a bla-ast. City living, happens so fa-ast. You’ll agree, our festivals rock. You’ll stay out, ‘til ten o’clock. Dogs and cats, pools and gym rats, but uh-oh that city life. Well-uh well-uh well-uh, huh. We’ll tell you more, tell you more.

Best Church/Mosque/Temple

Knox-Metropolitan United Church
2340 Victoria Ave. 525-9128

With its prominent bell tower and dedicated group of bell-ringers who regularly regale Reginans with music following church services, weddings and other special events, Knox-Metropolitan Church is a true Regina landmark. Its profile was heightened somewhat this summer when the city commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Regina Tornado. When the tornado cut a deadly swath through downtown, the church, which was then known as Metropolitan Methodist, took a direct hit. Damage was severe, but parishioners didn’t let the setback deter them; they began raising money to rebuild the church and purchase a new Casavant organ to replace the one destroyed in the tornado. Now, in addition to United Church functions, Knox-Met hosts a variety of community events and organizations from the Rotary Carol Festival and Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry to an annual holiday performance of Handel’s Messiah and A.A. and Gamblers Anonymous meetings. It’s the church’s sense of community that likely endears it to prairie dogreaders. /GB

Best Eco-Friendly Business

Metro Pet Market
1637 Victoria Ave. 352-9663, 3951 Rochdale Blvd. 565-9663

At first blush, Metro Pet Market’s victory in this category might seem incongruous. It’s not like they sell energy efficient appliances or home insulation products. But I know from an interview I did with owners Ross McNabb and Kurt Jensen a few years ago that they pride themselves on running an environmentally responsible shop. To begin with, they don’t sell flesh-and-blood pets. Instead, they encourage people looking for a furry friend to visit the Regina Humane Society or a reputable breeder. Second, they don’t hawk commercial pet foods heavy on filler like corn, wheat, soy or rice that, because they don’t meet the nutritional needs of dogs and cats, cause all sorts of health problems like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. Finally, all the toys they sell are free of plastic, vinyl and latex so there’s no off-gassing — an important consideration when they’re being gnawed on by your pet. /GB

Best Gym

Gold’s Gym
3615 Pasqua St. 545-4653, 358 McCarthy Blvd. N 545-4653,

As much as possible, I try to incorporate exercise into my daily life, be it through walking, cycling or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Does that make me a fitness nut? Hardly, but it does help me keep my weight down and stay reasonably healthy. For those who want to take fitness to the next level, Gold’s Gym is apparently where it’s at. What is it about Gold’s that appeals toprairie dog readers? Well, judging from the promotional video on their website, they have a great assortment of state-of the-art gym equipment. They also have expert staff who can help you devise an exercise program that will help you achieve your fitness goals. If group exercise is your thing, they have all sorts of dance and movement classes to get the blood flowing and muscles burning. And once you’re done your workout, they have amenities like a hydromassage studio, smoothie bar and lounge to help you relax and unwind with fellow fitness buffs. All in all, a solid gold package. /GB

Best Pet Cat

Mine/My cat

I see two ways of looking at this result. First: Regina has a lot of good cats — too many for our readers to pick one. I guess I’m not surprised, though I was kind of hoping someone had a secret, illicit backyard panther. The photo shoot would’ve been fun. But if everyone thinks their cat is the best, well, that’s okay.

The other way of looking at this is that, since the winning vote was “mine”, and since I’m writing this, you all voted for my loveable, senile old cat Henry. Thanks! The old goofball and I appreciate it. By the way, there are lots of great cats looking for homes. Is one of them yours? The Humane Society has lots of photos of adoptable cats at I guess you can adopt a dog, too. If you’re not in a position to give a pet a home but want to help out, they accept donations. /SW

Best Pet Dog


For Ruby, having someone like Kurt Jensen (an owner of Metro Pet Market) as her master is like winning the dog lottery. She’s also lucky in that she’s a rescue dog. Jensen got Ruby, a Staffordshire terrier cross, from the Regina Humane Society three years ago. His best guess is she’s five to seven years old. He’s quite proud of a YouTube video where Steve, one of his two cats, licks Ruby and she lies there hardly moving. He says it’s a nightly ritual, which wouldn’t be surprising. From my short meet with Ruby, I found that she was a beautiful lady and a gentle one to boot. Jensen’s only complaint with Ruby, and it’s a very minor one, is that she’s a little bit too much of a snuggler. “She likes to be in my bubble and she overheats me, especially now that winter’s on its way,” he says. “She takes up more than her share of the bed.” /JB

Best Swimming Pool

Wascana Pool
2211 College Ave. 777-7373

When it comes to getting your stroke on (whether it’s the butterfly or the dog paddle), Wascana Pool is the perfect place to be on those hot Sasky Summer days. The great urban escape is ideal for basking in the sun and holding “splash competitions” off the diving boards. I hear some people even go there at night after the local taverns shut down… weird. Another plus. Instead of a vending machine, there’s an actual snack shop. Whether it’s a hot dog, slushy, Mr. Freeze or bag of chips, Wascana has the best selection of poolside refreshments. SOME pools around these parts don’t even supply Diet Coke. This might seem inconsequential to most, but to me… it’s everything. /AR

Best Non-Profit Organization

People for Animals
PO Box 33066, Regina SK S4T 7X2

Feeding feral cats is a hoot. Once a week you go around in a toxoplasmosis haze in your crazy cat lady wagon doling out kibble and Friskies to top secret feeding stations around the city. Usually, there are no cats to be seen. At a few stations, you hit the pussy jackpot and meet a whole gang of them hanging around like tiny hoodlums waiting for you to leave the food and piss off. What do you get in return? A little brush of nature. If you’re really lucky, you might get a slow blink of acknowledgement from your favourite feral cat. PFA is always looking for volunteers and donations for its feral cat teams, spay and neuter programs, and other activities. Right now, PFA is up to its eyeballs in kittens in need of foster homes. Baby feral cats, delivered right to your door! /CS

Best Regina Festival Or Event

Regina Folk Festival

Sandra Butel and her crew are perennial champs in this category, and for good reason. Since 2000, prairie dog has published the official RFF program guide, and over that time it’s been a joy to watch as the festival has gained traction in Regina and grown from a popular, but somewhat niche, event into a true “highlight of the summer” that it is today. The 2012 festival was no exception. With spellbinding performances from Emmy Lou Harris, the Guthrie Family, Cold Specks, Austra, Mavis Staples, Shad and more, along with pleasingly pleasant weather, the festival attracted throngs of Reginans, both for the ticketed shows at night and the free day-time workshops. RFF 2013 goes Aug. 9-11 in Victoria Park. See you there. /GB

Best Thing That Happened To Regina In The Last 12 Months

Mayor Pat Fiacco Retiring

What gives, Regina? In this very same poll you dubbed Mayor Fiacco the Best Local Hero of the Last Decade! And now you’re happy he isn’t running again? How does that make any sense? You confuse me. Oh wait! You must be happy because you’re so eager to see what The Little Mayor Who Could is going to do next. Maybe you’ve heard about the Italian restaurant he’s opened in the city’s sprawling east end? Does the promise of quality Italian eats really outweigh the need for four more years of Fiacco’s firm hand on the tiller at city hall? Seems a little reckless, if you ask me. But I get it. You always did think with your stomach, Regina. /PD

City Arts

The next time someone proclaims that Regina is a town of Philistines, tell them that a) the Philistines haven’t done much since the dawn of the Iron Age, and b) Regina is home to some of the best art and artists in the country. What, you don’t believe me? Look below and you’ll never again confuse a 21st century Canadian city with a possibly seafaring people who were eventually integrated into Canaanite culture by the 7th century BCE.

Best Artist (New Media)

Turner Prize*

When I hear the term “new media”, pushing of boundaries and operating outside the norm is what comes to mind. That’s definitely where the Turner Prize* resides, very purposeful asterisk and all. Since forming in 2008, the performance and photography-based trio made up of Jason Cawood, Blair Fornwald and John Hampton have conquered this category, thanks to works shown at the Dunlop Gallery, Queer City Cinema and the like. In late November, in fact, they’ll be featured in an exhibition that’s being held to commemorate the Dunlop’s 50th anniversary that will see them present imaginative recreations of exhibitions from each decade of the gallery’s existence. /JB

Best Artist (Traditional Media)

Joe Fafard

In mid-September, I interviewed Joe Fafard about a solo show he was having at a new pop-up commercial gallery on College Ave. organized by his son Joël. During our talk, he noted that it was his first show in Regina since a major retrospective at the MacKenzie Gallery in 2007. He may not have been exhibiting much in Regina in the last few years, but with several prominent commissions like the trio of cows in front of the MacKenzie, a large bronze cow in Hill Tower I, his nearby buffalo sculpture Oskana ka-aseteki on the F.W. Hill Mall, and his installation Mind’s Eye just north of the university by Wascana Lake, his work is constantly in the public eye. And in the last few years he’s had exhibitions in a host of Canadian cities from Vancouver and Calgary to Toronto and Montreal. So your choice is definitely a shrewd one. /GB

Best Ceramicist

Vic Cicansky

Thanks to the groundwork laid by Jack Sures, Marilyn Levine and others in the mid-1960s, Regina has long had a world-class reputation for ceramic art. So the competition was stiff in this category. Represented by the Nouveau Gallery in Regina, Cicansky has been active as a ceramicist in the city since the late ‘60s. A constant theme of his work for most of his career has been gardening. If you swing by the Grow Regina community garden at 3500 Queen St., in fact, you’ll find one of his laser-cut sculptures depicting a gardener digging in the soil with a spade. And fundraising is still ongoing for a project that would see Cicansky design and build a gazebo on the property. /GB

Best Author

Gail Bowen

Gail Bowen is on her 13th book in her Joanne Kilbourn mystery series. Thirteen! By that point you’re either Tom Clancy and you have a tiny sweatshop of writers churning out incomprehensible garbage three times a year so your publisher can slap your name on and hit the bestseller list, or you’re Gail Bowen, who has spent the past 22 years gently steering the maturation of a small set of characters as their lovingly-rendered city of Regina changes around them. Kaleidoscope was published this spring, and after two publicity appearances in Toronto on Oct. 23-24, she’ll be in Calgary Nov. 1-3 for a conference related to the novel. How sweet is that? /JC

Best Art Exhibit

Jack Sures: Tactile Desires
MacKenzie Gallery,

Co-organized with Tom Thomson Gallery in Owen Sound, this retrospective by one of the icons in Regina’s ceramics community ran at the MacKenzie Gallery from Sept. 24, 2011 to Jan. 2, 2012. From there, the show travelled to Owen Sound and Waterloo, and in 2013 there will be additional stops in Brandon and Charlottetown. Born in Winnipeg, Sures studied ceramics in Europe and the Middle East before coming to Regina in 1965 to establish the print-making and ceramics programs at the University of Regina. As an educator, he’s inspired and influenced two generations of clay artists who have studied under him; and as an artist in his own right, he’s crafted a body of work — much of it featuring his signature bandicoot motif — that was richly deserving of your consideration as Best Art Exhibit. /GB

Best Public Art Gallery

MacKenzie Art Gallery
3475 Albert St. 584-4250

The competition in this category is perhaps a little unfair. Of the publicly funded art galleries in Regina, the MacKenzie is the city’s true flagship. The other three — the Dunlop Gallery, Art Gallery of Regina and Neutral Ground — all contribute to the vibrancy of our visual arts community, but they lack the facilities, staff and other resources to truly challenge the MacKenzie’s position as top dog. To attract grant support from the Canada Council for the Arts and other agencies with national mandates, though, the gallery has to compete with flagship galleries in every major city in Canada. It’s that competition that keeps the MacKenzie at the top of its game, permitting it to present thought-provoking exhibitions showcasing work by top-notch local, national and international artists. /GB

Best Commercial Art Gallery

Assiniboia Gallery
2266 Smith St. 522-0997

If you visit the Assiniboia Gallery’s website, you’ll find the catchphrase “Contemporary + Traditional Canadian Art”. For gallery owners Mary and Jeremy Weimer, that’s a wise marketing strategy. When many Reginans are first dipping their toe into the commercial art market, I suspect, their tastes are likely to run to the traditional side of the art spectrum. But as they slide further into the pool of artistic delights that are available out there, their taste almost certainly will broaden to encompass more adventuresome styles of art. By carrying artists who span the range from traditional to more edgy, contemporary work the Assiniboia is perfectly positioned to offer their clients the opportunity to grow as collectors. And that’s what life’s all about, in my mind, growth experiences. So congrats to Mary and Jeremy. /GB

Best Dance Studio


Like other studios in Regina, FadaDance offers instruction in contemporary dance to students in a variety of age ranges from pre-teen to youth to adult. What probably sets them apart from other dance studios, and raises their profile among prairie dog readers so that they are consistent winners in this category, is the work that the three principles behind FadaDance — Fran Gilboy, Heather Cameron and Misty Wensel — do outside the studio. Each year, they’re pretty much fixtures at events like the Regina Folk Festival, Cathedral Village Arts Festival, Canada Day and the Heritage Community Celebration. They also host popular dance parties around the Winter and Summer Solstice, and have presented work at the Globe Theatre as part of the Sandbox Series. By taking it to the street, so to speak, they’ve really made their mark in Regina. So congrats to them. /GB

Best Live Theatre Production

Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story
Globe Theatre,

This play marked the end of the Globe Theatre’s 2011/2012 Main Stage season. Telling the story of the 1950s American musical icon’s life, along with live performances of his songs, Buddy was a huge hit for the Globe, which saw fit to extend its run several times. It was even Gregory “G-Beat” Beatty’s Pick of the Day on Dog Blog on May 23. Most of the comments that the post attracted were of the alternative history “What if Buddy Holly hadn’t died so young?” variety, but one person did take the time to compliment actor Sef Wood for his performance in the lead role. /JB

City Music

Regina residents are nothing but trouble. Most of you insist on buying music for your iThingies or going to concerts at any one of the city’s many venues. Even worse, Regina’s entire tight-pantsed demographic insists on making music. So don’t blame us for the City Music category; you made this happen.

Best Live Music Venue

The Exchange
2431 8th Ave. 780-9494

If you ask touring bands about Regina, many of their experiences begin and end with the Exchange. So in addition to being a great venue for live music, its serves as a cultural ambassador for Regina by way of the slow-rolling, unwashed word-of-mouth chatter that bands engage in with each other as they tour coast to coast. The Exchange wins top spot once again because of its wonderful versatility: with two main rooms, one big, one small, the venue hosts a righteous blend of local, national and international bands and musicians as well as non-musical types alike. Over the past year the Exchange has shined up their Best Venue badge by upgrading the sound system, getting a new paint job and some new floors for us to dance, sweat and spill beer onto.  /AG

Best Bassist

Stephen McLellan

From a former member of the Regina Symphony Orchestra to a current one. Beth Curry, best known at the moment for playing with Belle Plaine, took this category two years in a row. Now, Stephen McLellan takes the honour. He’s the principal bass for the RSO and has been with the symphony since 1979. In addition, he plays in the True Jive Pluckers with your picks for Best Regina Guitarist Jack Semple and Best Rad Dude Eduard Minevich (that’s a category, right?) When it comes to bassists, prairie dog readers evidently prefer ones with class. /JB

Best Drummer

Tristan Helgason

Helgason has endured the break-up or temporary hiatus of bands a few times in Regina. You might remember his powerful skills from legendary Queen City act Ghosts of Modern Man. Molten Lava might be more familiar to you, the bass-and-drums duo that’s perhaps shifted from on-again to off-again status now that Liam Bryant’s skipped town. These days, he’s playing with the Slim City Pickers, a name I originally misheard as the Sin City Pickers. No matter where you’ve seen him, though, you’ll no doubt have noticed the absurd level of talent he brings to his craft. /JB

Best Keyboardist

Jeremy Sauer

As musical partner to Belle Plaine’s Melanie Hankewich, Jeremy Sauer is a true tickler of the ivories. By which I mean his touch is light, and he’s a thrill to experience live — both in Belle Plaine and as part of Rico and the Continos (a.k.a. the house band for the local variety show Red Hot Riot hosted by Jayden Pfeifer). Witness his virtuosity on Belle Plaine’s 2012 album Notes From A Waitress. Though jazz was the dominant flavor on that album, Sauer’s abilities span many genres, and he seems to enjoy mixing it up. It’s the mark of a true lover of music and that comes through loud and clear. A girl could develop a crush. /VS

Best Guitarist

Jack Semple

When Jack Semple won this category last year, prairie dog writer John Cameron wondered in his blurb, “Does anyone know who Jack Semple would endorse for Best Guitarist?” Well, this year you’ve nominated Jack for the number one spot yet again and we went looking for an answer from the man himself. After much consideration, Jack says his own Queen City guitar hero vote would be for Kris Craig, formerly of the soul-funk band Stepchyle. So there you have it! And now we at prairie dog can rest easy. Over the past year, Jack has kept on keepin’ on with his own genre-blending shred style which you hear evidence of on his most recent release In the Blue Light. /AG

Best Singer

Belle Plaine

One of Regina’s true local musical heroines is the wonderful Belle Plaine (a.k.a. Melanie Lynn Hankewich), who can seamlessly shift from roots to country to jazz. And talent aside (as Carle Steel astutely pointed out years ago) “she’s a tomato”. When she launched her debut full-lengthNotes From A Waitress this past January at Artesian, she had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand. Not least because, besides being a chanteuse of the first order, she and her band really swing. Like seriously. With her mainstay band Beth Curry on bass and Jeremy Sauer on keyboards, they’re pretty hard to resist, and it’s clear that prairie dog readers don’t even want to try. /VS

Best DJ

DJ Noor

Among other musical accomplishments, Kuwati-born Syrian-Canadian DJ Noor Mitri has had a weekly set on an Istanbul-based Internet radio station. This fact makes me feel sort of embarrassed. Club music’s not really my scene, but nevertheless we have a bona-fide international-calibre DJ in our midst and I haven’t seen him spin. If you’re in the same boat as I am, and wanna give him a listen, you’re in luck — he has sets posted to Mixcloud so you can check out his kaleidoscopic, buoyant dance mixes for yourself. /JC

Best Hard Rock/Punk/Metal Band


Kleins96 fit into the middle of the above category between “hard rock” and “metal”, although you wouldn’t want to pigeonhole them too much. Oh, they’re definitely a punk band through and through. But the three members –– guitarist Andrew Love, bassist Justin Ludwig and drummer Dylan Ludwig –– make sure they’re bringing different influences to the mix. As they all share lead-vocal duties, they also share a no-tolerance policy for bullshit. Look at their latest release, a split 10” with Hamilton’s Born Wrong that landed them on prairie dog’s cover in July. Songs like “Eucharist” and “Yafa” take on Christian religion and Israeli apartheid respectively. The band may have started back in 2008, but they’ve got some fight in them yet. /JB

Best Indie Band

Rah Rah

I am of the opinion that “indie” refers to both the aesthetic and ethics of an artist. Rah Rah have held this title two years running. The band has come a long way since hand-labeling each copy of their DIY demo album with a felt marker. Their new CD, The Poet’s Dead, was produced by Gus Van Go (The Trews, The Stills) and manufactured in a fancy factory just like on that episode of How It’s Made. Their sound has also evolved over the last five years to incorporate traditional instruments like a bass guitar and less-traditional instruments like a Bloogle Resonator. However, one thing has not changed. When they aren’t on the road “crushing cans” or appearing on MTV you can still find them lending their talents to community events and raising awareness on social issues. Congratulations, Rah Rah, on defending your Best Indie Band title with class. /MD

Best Damn Band, Period

Rah Rah

The honour of Best Damn Band, Period comes with big shoes to fill. Luckily, Rah Rah have a lot of feet. The band, now six members strong (plus touring musicians) are unparalleled in any imaginable criteria by which you could judge this award. Their engaging live show comes complete with high kicks and confetti cannons. Their musicianship is superb — with every member seemingly able to play any instrument they can get their hands on. Oh, and did I mention they have three lead singers? They also have the ability to write songs that are simultaneously infectious and devastatingly honest. Their lyrics detail life in Regina while still offering a universal appeal. At moments there is so much local colour that they call out ex-lovers and local politicians by name. And now with their new album The Poet’s Dead poised to break out internationally, we couldn’t ask for better ambassadors to represent our city. /MD

Best Local Album Released In The Last 12 Months

Belle Plaine Notes From A Waitress

I know you, Regina. You’ve been trying to play it cool, but I can tell you have a full-on crush on this album. Who could blame you? Since Notes From A Waitress came out in January, it has been a favourite on both CBC Saskatchewan and CJTR. And the rest of us have had it on high rotation in our homes and cars for months now. One listen is all you’ll need to know why: lyrically, it’s smart and funny, sad and soulful. Musically, it’s swingy, good humoured, a little salty, with just enough sultry to keep you riveted to your speakers. /VS

Best Concert In The Last 12 Months

Bryan Adams
Brandt Centre

Last June, a shambling Can-rock dinosaur arose from his bed of thousand-dollar bills and rocked Regina’s face off (that’s how Regina’s face went missing, incidentally). Adams played all of his old hits and a few of his more recent ones, topping off the night with “All for Love.” Maybe in 2017, when he next leaves his mansion-sized hyperbaric chamber, he can play at the new roof-ready outdoor stadium. /AM

Local Media

Like bees in a hive, our media are hard at work, gathering the nectar of information and transforming it into the wild honey of journalism. Sometimes someone gets stung, but that’s just the way it is. Meanwhile, the media buzzes tirelessly, feeding their weird little larvae and keeping the hive going, until the day that exhaustion claims their wings, their hearts and their lives. It’s a tough life for reporters.

Best News Reporter

Wayne Mantyka

According to his CTV bio, Wayne Mantyka celebrated his 40th year as a broadcast journalist in 2012. Just think how many changes have occurred in the news biz in that time. Some, like advancements in communications technology that permit journalists to file stories from all over the world, for the better; and others, like declining newsroom budgets and a drift to infotainment at the expense of hard news, for the worse. Throughout it all, Mantyka’s plugged away, interviewing God knows how many people about God knows how many stories. I mean, when he first started out, Richard Nixon was in the freaking White House and Pierre Trudeau was the freaking Prime Minister of Canada. So congrats to him for his long career, and the obvious respect that prairie dog readers have for him as a journalist. /GB

Best Political Reporter

Murray Mandryk

It’s hard to argue with the readers’ choice of Murray Mandryk for Best Political Reporter. He’s been covering Saskatchewan politics for almost 30 years and, in an era of media instability and political polarization, Mandryk’s reliable even-handedness is the gold standard for political journalism in this province. Depending on who or what he’s writing about, he gets called everything from a radical socialist to a right-wing apologist. He’s an institution unto himself. The politicians and policies he writes about come and go, but Mandryk endures. He endures because he’s that good, and he’s that good because he endures. And that gives him a perspective that is sorely lacking in our society today where politicians and the parties they represent are too often focused on a four-year election cycle at the expense of a longer-term vision. /EM

Best Sports Reporter

Lee Jones

According to his bio, Jones was born in England. Had he grown up there, and then moved to Regina to assume his duties at CTV, he might have experienced considerable confusion when first dispatched to cover the city’s most popular sports team — the Saskatchewan Roughriders. But his bio also says he was raised in Alberta, so by the time he arrived here he was presumably well aware of the difference between North American and European-style football — or futball, if you prefer. He probably knew more about curling than cricket too, thus saving himself from even further potential embarrassment. In addition to his CTV duties, Jones works for TSN, covering the local sports beat and serving as a sideline reporter on CFL telecasts from Mosaic Stadium. /GB

Best Radio Host

Sheila Coles

A few years ago, we had a regular Friday gig on the Afternoon Edition where prairie dog editor Stephen Whitworth and Planet S editor Chris Kirkland would stop by the CBC studio in Regina and Saskatoon respectively to chat about stuff that was happening in the two cities that weekend. When Steve was tied up, I would occasionally fill in. One time when I was waiting to go on air, I ended up meeting CBC national news anchor Peter Mansbridge who was in town to speak at some function and promote a book recounting some of the famous interviews he’d done with newsmakers over the years. As far as the national CBC network goes, Peter Mansbridge certainly qualifies as royalty. And the same can be said for Sheila Coles when it comes to CBC Saskatchewan. /GB

Best Weather Person

J.C. Garden 

It’s never easy to follow in the footsteps of a legend. And when he steps in front of the blue screen weather map at CTV’s studio on the eastern outskirts of Regina to do his daily weather report, that’s precisely what J.C. Garden does. The legend I’m speaking of, of course, is Angel Blair née Sombrutzki. Before she left CTV on maternity leave in 2010 she dominated in this category of our annual readers’ poll, winning five or six consecutive times. Faced with the challenge of matching her irrepressible on-camera charm and unparalleled ability to communicate complex meteorological data to viewers, lesser mortals might have wilted. But not J.C. Garden. And now he gets to celebrate his second straight win in this category. /GB

Best Radio Morning Show

The Morning Edition 

If you’re a morning person, you probably need no introduction to CBC Radio’s Morning Edition. If you’re more of a night owl, though, you might not know much about the show. So here’s the skinny. It airs Monday to Friday from 6-8:30 a.m., and is hosted by Sheila Coles. Coreen Larson is the producer, and along with the rest of the CBC crew they offer up a package of news, weather, sports and special features that give listeners a solid grasp on the day’s happenings locally, nationally and internationally. And now the good news — for night owls, anyway. If you just can’t see yourself returning from the land of Nod in time to catch the show you can always visit the CBC website and listen to podcasts of popular segments. How sweet is that? /GB

Best Talk Radio Program

John Gormley Live 

Think you’re cute, don’t ya? Voting for prairie dog’s arch nemesis in the Best Talk Radio Program category. But you know what, I’ve actually been on the Gormley show a couple of times defending the science behind climate change (which is kind of silly, me not being a scientist) and the funny thing is, I like the guy. Even though he’s dead wrong on climate change. Wrong! Wrong! WRONG! And one of these days, I’ll get him to admit it. You will see the light, John. Even if I have to drive you to the Arctic Circle myself and make you watch the ice cap melt. /PD

Best Drive-Time Radio Show

The Afternoon Edition 

Oh, the comforting prairie sound of Craig Lederhouse’s voice on an afternoon drive home from school. After living in another province for most of 2012, something was lacking in my life. I missed my daily drive-home radio program. On The Afternoon Edition, Lederhouse’s team fills us in on the news that may have slipped under our radar during the long workday. Craig finds out what’s happening in Saskatchewan, always keeping the show fun with his refreshing sense of humour. When he is interviewing the movers and the shakers of the province, Craig always asks the questions we want asked — otherwise we’d probably stop listening. We lost Lederhouse to the west coast once. Let’s hope it never happens again. /RW

Best Radio Station


Tell me about the other AM radio stations on the dial. Show me the knob to turn. If it isn’t set on 540 AM (or 102.5 FM) it’s all noise and Gormley to me. CBC Radio One is my connection with my past, my community and my sense of what it means to be a Reginan and a Canadian. CBC has been through tough and tense times in the last few years, and their television programming is as perplexing as ever. But their radio feels like home to me. /AM

Best TV Anchor

Jill Morgan 

What little Regina girl doesn’t want to be Jill Morgan? Besides coveting her perfect news-lady hair, I spent my teen years wanting to read the news just like her some day. Whether on the supper hour show or the late newscast, Jill always delivers. She’s one of the few news anchors that hardly ever stumble over words, something I watch for as a journalism student. Word around town is that she writes and produces a lot of what she says on air and that’s a big deal in the realm of broadcast journalism where many on-air people rely on writers to put a show together. For Jill it’s about more than just the news of the day — she’s got a passion for Regina, and the people who live here. And that shows through the TV screen. /RW

Best TV News


On TV new shows, it’s typically the anchors who get most of the attention. On the CTV supper hour news, that would be Danelle Boivin and Dan McIntosh. And while they’re undoubtedly good at their jobs, they’re not the only reason CTV is a perennial winner in this category. In addition to all the behind-the-scenes personnel like directors, camera operators and teleprompter programmers (assuming such people still exist in a modern TV news studio), there’s also all the assignment editors, reporters and researchers who do the grunt work to bring us the stories that are broadcast each day. It truly is a team operation. And for prairie dog readers, CTV is Regina’s number one TV news team. /GB

Best TV Sports


Global wins this category because these guys just love sports, period. Whether covering the Grey Cup, or high school football, the Global sports team never takes itself too seriously. They don’t just tell us what happened during the game. They go behind the scenes, into the locker rooms, and get the scoop. It’s the background information the Global sports guys dish out, that keeps both the sports fans and the average viewers tuned in. When I jumped provinces to work at Global TV Calgary this year, I found out pretty quickly from the sports team just how big of a legend Warren Woods is. His sports legacy knows no borders, so to speak. And Derek Meyers is doing a darn good job of standing out himself despite the shadow cast by Woodsy. /RW

Best Twitter Feed

Regina Police Service 

Run by crafty genius Kaeli Decelles, the Regina Police twitter feed is everything that a twitter feed should be: entertaining, useful, informative and possibly a sign of the creeping dystopic info-police state that will one day arrest us all for crimes against fun. Mixing police alerts with whimsical retweets and reminders not to drink and drive, @reginapolice gives a personality and a voice to the officers and civilian staff who operate out of the big concrete edifice on Osler St. /AM

Best Leader-Post Writer

Rob Vanstone

This is at least the fourth or fifth year that Rob Vanstone has won this category. Far be it from me to sow seeds of dissension at the headquarters of our esteemed daily in the PostMedia chain, but if I worked another beat like crime, politics, business or entertainment I’d be a little choked. “What about all the hard work I do to keep readers abreast of the latest happenings in my field,” I’d grumble as I pecked away at my keyboard. “Sure, Rob does a great job of covering the Riders, Pats, high school sports and other happenings in the world of sport. And yeah, people in Regina take their sports pretty seriously. So when Rob writes something they don’t like they’re not afraid to voice their displeasure. But it sure would be nice to get some love from prairie dogreaders too. Oh well, maybe next year.” /GB

Best Prairie Dog Writer

Aidan Morgan

Here’s the secret behind Aidan Morgan’s dining column in prairie dog magazine. Every two weeks, just minutes before his deadline, Mr. Morgan cuts up the latest issue of Verb and lets a goat into the room. He gathers up whatever’s left, glues it onto a sheet of paper and hands it in. Then he gets into his rocket ship and flies to the moon and back a few times, going “Wheee!” and making that Brbrbrrrrrr sound with his lips. Actually, Aidan’s just grateful that editor Stephen Whitworth offered him a gig that literally pays him to eat. /AM

Best Local Website Or Blog

I admit it. I’m a student and can’t afford a subscription to the Leader-Post. That’s why I thank my lucky stars every day for the Internet. I probably check the L-P’s website at least five times a day — mostly for local news coverage. The website is pretty easy to navigate. It’s loaded with eye-catching headlines not just from Regina, but from all over the country and sometimes the rest of the world. And that’s probably what the Leader-Post website does best — make you want to read the news. However, when I do pick up a copy of the paper, it makes me wish more of the stories published inside were also posted online. But I get it; there’s a reason for that. Even without all the extra stories the website is still pretty popular. The proof is in the 2,000 plus Facebook “likes” the website has. /RW

Best Overall News Outlet


Periodically, our office gets e-mails from a Toronto-based advocacy group called Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. Headed by Ian Morrison, the organization monitors the state of Canadian broadcasting and serves as a watchdog opposing any government and industry action that it regards as harmful to our national interest. As the standard-bearer of broadcasting in Canada, the CBC is championed vigorously by the Friends. Unfortunately, with the Harper government hell-bent on advancing the interests of private/corporate media, there’s no shortage of issues for the Friends to address. Budgets cuts, deregulation, the possible loss of broadcasting rights to Hockey Night In Canada in 2014 — all threaten the CBC’s viability. And judging by this poll, an enfeebled CBC is not exactly on the wish-list of prairie dog readers. When it comes to news, anyway, they like the CBC just fine. /GB

Biggest News Story Of The Last 12 Months


I keep saying, “That’s it! I’m through! I’m not writing another paragraph about the stadium!” But it keeps pulling me in. Oh, I could be writing about the housing crisis, imminent infrastructure collapse, the record ice melt in the arctic, Dan Harmon getting fired from Community… you know, stuff that matters. Instead, Steve’s having a laugh because he’s making me write about the stadium and what an important story it was this year. And I suppose… grumble-grumble… it was. Why, I remember back in the day when we were talking about how the bill for the wastewater treatment plant upgrade, at $150 million, would be the single biggest infrastructure project the city has ever undertaken. And how council was all, “We won’t skimp on clean water!” But now the wastewater plant looks like pretty small potatoes by comparison. And it’s good to know we aren’t going to skimp on football either. /PD

City Shopping

Here at prairie dog, we make such fantastic sums of money that we literally don’t know what to do with the stuff. Back in the bad old days, we used to just bale it up like hay and feed it to the horses. But with the economy on a roll now that we live in New Saskatchewan, there’s so many more opportunities to spend our hard-earned stash at boutique stores, big box outlets and generic buy huts that we’ve switched back to hay and oats for the horses and started heading out on mega shopping sprees ourselves. Good times!

Best Baby Stuff

Groovy Mama
3206 13th Ave. 347-2229

I’m not a mom, and I don’t plan to be one anytime soon. But I still love dropping by Groovy Mama to shop for the new moms in my life and to find something cool for my awesome baby cousins. With a bright and cheery location tucked inside a cozy purple house, Groovy Mama has everything a new mom might need from baby clothes and highchairs to car seats and breast pumps. Staff members are always friendly and they offer excellent advice rooted in their own personal experiences. Plus, Groovy Mama works to promote environmentally friendly parenting choices like using cloth diapers and buying unisex children’s clothing so you can consume less. No wonder the mamas who shop at this store are so groovy! /RW

Best Bath And Beauty Shop

Bath Goddess
2739 Quance St. 949-2284 3959 Rochdale Blvd. 924-2284

Okay, winter is coming. But don’t be alarmed. I have a solution. Because goodness knows we’re not going to have any NHL hockey games to keep us warm, we officially open the gates for bath season. Bath Goddess is the best spot to scoop everything one might need for an evening hiding from the cold. My personal favourite signature scents are orchard pear and vanilla brown sugar. There’s no fighting the inevitable; it is coming. Best be prepared. /KN

Best Book Store

2625 Gordon Rd. 569-6060

Remember the days of Buzzword Books on 13th Ave. in the Cathedral District? Or even Book & Brier Patch on south Albert? Now that the number of general interest book stores in Regina has been thinned out by the ruthless discipline of the marketplace we can take stock and — oh. Looks like Chapters is pretty much it. Congratulations, Chapters! You get the prize. To be fair, there are plenty of books and magazines on the shelves, and it feels good to relax over at Starbucks and jolt your system with massive doses of caffeine and sugar. And if this poll is any judge, plenty of Reginans continue to enjoy this last bastion of ink-on-paper retail space. /AM

Best Specialty Or Used Book Store

Buy the Book
2718 13th Ave. 924-5051

Oh my god, Buy the Book. If you don’t love going to Buy the Book we cannot be lovers or even friends. It’s that serious. Selection is great (my most recent haul was a “Reverse Dictionary” that’s basically an oblique thesaurus, a massive Nathaniel Hawthorne anthology, and a Fitzgerald story collection that I was reading not five minutes before writing this blurb). Prices are decent, the atmosphere is exactly what you want from a place devoted to the printed word, and it smells like old books (i.e. amazing). It wouldn’t surprise me if they had a store cat. Go buy some damn books now, okay? /JC

Best Comic Shop

Comic Readers (south)
105-2125 11th Ave. 779-0900, 4603 Albert St. 586-1414

Once again, Regina’s south-end Comic Readers was a finalist for best comic shop in Canada at the annual, and eminently prestigious, Shuster Awards. And I’ve been to many a comic shop in the Great White North and can say that Comic Readers is definitely one of the nation’s best comic shops. And Comic Readers even has a second location downtown that is also a fantastic place to buy comics, figurines, art books, DVDs and games. That’s two Canada-class comics retailers in our city at a time when bookstores across North America are shutting their doors while whining about big chains and e-books. Well, Chapters sells comics. And comics are pirated much more than traditional print books. And yet Comic Readers seems to be getting bigger and more awesome every year. Makes you wonder what regular book stores were missing. I’m guessing it’s life-sized cardboard cut-outs of Wil Wheaton. /PD

Best Car Dealership

Capital Ford
1201 Pasqua St. N 543-5410

Let me tell you a bit more about myself, okay? One of my roommates actually works at Capital Ford (this is not how I got this blurb, btw) and even though his work consists of basically one duty, he makes sure he does it with unbelievable care and precision. To summarize: Capital Ford hires people to make it look like their cars have sprung from some divine factory of automotive perfection. No wonder folks respect the dealership. If the staffers whose work is invisible take their job seriously, imagine how diligent the sales personnel and mechanics who deal directly with customers are. /JC

Best Clothing: Kids

Carter’s OshKosh
Southland Mall 585-2455

I remember my first pair of OshKosh overalls. I was six. And my three best friends had the exact same pair and we would all wear them on the same day. Talk about obsessed. Well, I still think the clothes are cute and so are the well-dressed kids on the store’s website. But it’s almost too much. Let’s face it, even though all parents think their kids are cute, the Suri Cruises and Shiloh Jolie-Pitts of the world are few and far between. Still, we can all buy adorable outfits at kids’ clothing stores and pretend. /RW

Best Place To Buy Clothes (Local)

Norwood Clothing Co.
2401-11th Ave. 522-6056

Norwood only opened its doors late last year, but it’s already become a favourite of prairie dogreaders for fashion, camping and biking. Focusing on “classic essentials” is what this shop is all about. The store consists of a collection of simple, yet well established, brands that emerged from nothing less than hard work and a reputation for being well made products: Biltmore bike helmets, Poler camping gear, Herschel bags, Field Notes (agricultural style notebooks) or Levis jeans. Norwood offers the best of the best while maintaining a small town vibe, echoed by the decor of refurbished woods and antiques. There is something to be said for buying the same brands that our parents and grandparents did. Sorta makes you think about hay rides, hot cocoa and homemade chocolate chip cookies. /AR

Best Place To Buy Clothes (Chain)

2135 Prince of Wales Dr. 789-9998

With constant streams of discount designer brands headed your way, Winners one-stop shop is the perfect place to get brand names without breaking the bank. That being said, it can easily turn into a piggy bank buster as many great finds exist. You just have to know when to say “no.” Restraint is key. I suggest choosing one area to tackle per visit, so that you can not only comb the area for the best deal, but also walk out the doors with the capacity to pay your mortgage. Real life true story. /AR

Best Place To Buy Cool Clothes

Coda Clothing
2326 Albert St. 522-2632

Coda is home to more brands than I can actually count. I lost track at 70. With something for everyone, the “brandolog” includes (but is not limited to): Nudie Jeans (mine have lasted for three years), the Hundreds, Matt and Nat, Marshall Artists, Killah, Free People, Alexandra Jewelry, Analog, and Betsey Johnson. They have a wicked website that includes a “Mixtape Monday” with links to sweet tracks. Everybody loves a mixtape, right? Coda is also open every night until nine p.m., which is great because not everybody goes to bed at six p.m. in this city. Tapping the market of youngsters who want sexy threads at all hours of the day, while offering the best selection of brands, has made Coda a fashion staple in the Queen City. /AR

Best Place For Casual Clothes (Women)

2135 Prince of Wales Dr. 789-9998

Women around Regina know that when it comes to a one-of-a-kind find, Winners is the place to go. Unlike men, most women love the thrill of bargain hunting and seem to be willing to dedicate endless hours to this endeavour. Whether it’s a beautiful Steve Madden winter coat, a pair of funky red pumps by Chinese Laundry or top-of-the-line hair products and fragrances, Winners has you covered. Friends tweet and text one another about the latest treasure they have discovered, revealing important information, such as sizes and quantities remaining. This can be a dangerous place on the weekends and consumer targeted holidays. I recommend hitting it up during the evening hours at the beginning of the week. The place is quiet and you are unlikely to have your haired pulled out over a pair of shoes. Not my proudest moment, but it happens. /AR

Best Place For Casual Clothes (Men)

Norwood Clothing Co.
2401-11th Ave. 522-6056

For the most part, men don’t want to spend hours sifting through racks of clothes. They want to go in, pick out their favourites and leave. By limiting their inventory to a select number of crème de la crème brands, Norwood has that dialed in. Need a bike helmet? Biltmore. Need some jeans? Levis. Need a jacket? Penfields. Simple, well-established brands that allow men to put their best foot forward without a marathon shopping experience or mind games… “Gee honey, I don’t know. You sure that’s what you really want?” /AR

Best Business Wear (Women)

2823 Gordon Rd. 584-7332

A great place to buy professional attire for the business woman who needs to handle her business, dammit. Ricki’s selection of A-line skirts, blouses, trousers and suits will make sure the modern business woman gets her “damn!” on while she’s climbing the corporate ladder. Check out the Victoria Square for a Bootlegger/Ricki’s hybrid or the Southland Mall for a strictly Ricki’s experience. /AR

Best Suit Store (Men)

Colin O’Brian Man’s Shoppe
1825 Hamilton St. 584-9300

Dear Men: good suits don’t come cheap. But sooner or later, you’re going to need one. If you’re going for a job interview, a bank loan, a wedding or a funeral, people will look at you askance if you don’t have something approximating a suit — especially if the funeral’s yours. You think those boardshorts and Chip and Pepper shirt from college will save your corpse from judgment? Think again. For those inevitable instances when a suit is required, go down to Colin O’ Brian’s and pick up some formal wear. The guys who work there have a finely tuned sense of what will look good on you, and they’ll steer you in the right direction. If your timing’s right, you can drop in for one of their sales and pick up a nicely tailored outfit for less than the cost of a natural gas barbecue. Pretty smokin’ deal if you ask me. /AM

Best Place To Buy A Bra

Thee Lingerie Shoppe
1858 Hamilton St. 359-3373

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you visit the website for Thee Lingerie Shoppe, you’ll find that quote prominently displayed. And it’s indicative of the understanding the owner and staff have of the intimacy that attaches to undergarments. When a new mother, tired and unsure of her body; or a woman who has lost a breast to cancer and is looking to boost her self-esteem; enters the store, these ladies are there to make sure they leave with a smile on their face. Not an easy task to do. And while their win did come in a category tied to bras, their inventory isn’t restricted to just that. They have a complete line of sleepwear, swimwear, maternity, athletic and even men’s undergarments. The store is closed on Sundays, otherwise you have the option of either popping in or making an appointment for a custom fitting. /AR

Best Dresses/Gowns Formal Wear (Women)

1853 Hamilton St. 546-2246

A dress for all occasions. That’s what NWL promises its clients. Exclusive brands that owner and operator Nadia Williamson carries include Pronovias, La Sposa, It’s My Party and The Cocktail. Nadia can spot style from a mile away, which can perhaps be attributed to her background in Saskatchewan’s besieged film industry — for around 10 years she was a costume designer. Not only does Nadia support the arts, she also helped sponsor last year’s Champagne and Shimmer Fashion Show which raised $17,000 for the Autism Research Center. Fashion for a cause, way to go NWL! No matter the occasion, NWL has THE DRESS for you. /AR

Best Computer Store

Best Buy

Take one part really great staff, one part good selection, two parts abundant suburban parking subsidized by sprawl-friendly property tax regimes and five parts multi-million dollar marketing campaigns, and you have Best Buy — prairie dog readers’ choice as the best place to buy a computer in town. Best Buy has some good deals — a few months ago, a friend picked up a killer Lenovo laptop for a song. That’s a good brand. Best Buy also stocks Asus, which is probably what you should be buying instead of HP (avoid!). And they have a nice little Apple section, too. I’ve shopped, browsed and loitered in Best Buy’s computer aisles more than a few times over the years and I’ll do it again. It’s one of the few reasons I venture into Regina’s bog box badlands. Best Buy is all right. /SW

Best Eyewear

Factory Optical
926 Victoria Ave. 522-6411, 2557 East Quance St. 790-7682, 5556 Rochdale Blvd. 585-1035

Attention, Regina! How do you like being blind? Not very much, I’m guessing. Fortunately we live in a glorious age of corrective eyewear, from clear discs set in wire or plastic frames to actual flimsy lenses that make “contact” with your cornea. Customers know that Factory Optical is the place to go for selecting affordable and attractive frames that loop around your ears and balance on the bridge of your nose. Their two-for-one special is especially attractive. /AM

Best Florist

Wascana Flower Shoppe
333 Victoria Ave. E 522-5243

Five thousand square feet of flowers. I will type that again. FIVE THOUSAND SQUARE FEET OF FLOWERS. Exotic flowers, from Italy, South Africa and other locales. Five thousand square feet of them! Imagine if Wascana Flower Shoppe sold food and beverages too. I’d head there every day and spend my lunch hour surrounded by flowers. They also have a drive-thru window, which is okay I guess. But it’s kind of like driving to the beach, then looking at the ocean from the distant vantage point of the parking lot. Go to Wascana Flower Shoppe and surround yourself with five thousand square feet of flowers today. /JC

Best Furniture Store

Urban 1
1325 Broad St. 779-0119

Sometimes you get tired of sitting on the floor, sleeping in the bathtub and eating off a plate while standing up. For those times, there’s Urban 1, Regina’s home of overwhelmingly chic furniture. Urban 1 claims to be Canada’s largest EQ3 Gallery, so take that, Toronto. I’m going to head down there and buy a living room set as soon as my cats go to their eternal reward. So look out, Urban 1! I’m coming for you at some point in the near to mid future. /AM

Best Hobby Shop

2088 Prince of Wales Dr. 585-9892

When I think of hobbies I think of things like stamp/coin collecting and model building. Judging by my visit to Michaels’ website, though, that’s a decidedly old-school take on hobbies. The store’s motto, after all, is “Where Creativity Happens.” Whether it’s jewellery-making, knitting baking, home decor, holiday decorations or children’s crafts, Michaels has a wide array tools and supplies to help you explore your inner artisan. In addition to their inventory of craft supplies, the store also offers classes in a wide variety of craft techniques from cake decorating and card-making to beading and stitching to hone your skills and help you produce exquisite one-of-a-kind items for your own home or to give as gifts to that special someone. /GB

Best Home Electronics

Best Buy

Take one part massive inventory, two parts the power to leverage economies of scale and 10 parts multi-gazillion dollar marketing and you have the electronics shop juggernaut that prairie dog readers voted Regina’s Best Home Electronics store. I, too have wandered Best Buy’s aisles — coveting all the Warner Bros. DCU animation DVDs, wondering if it’s time to get a new camera, wishing iPods didn’t come in stupid, anemic pastel colours now, admiring home stereos that would make my neighbours kill me and trying to figure out if I can afford a killer new laptop (maybe in 2013). While I’m a little sad that local shops aren’t getting recognition from our readers, the truth is Best Buy is all right. /SW

Best Jewellery Store

Victoria Jewellers
2591 Quance St. E 352-4001

This town has got a lot of jewellery stores, so good on you for coming out on top in this poll Victoria Jewellers! And if my future fiancé happens to be reading this blurb, you have permission to buy my gigantic 24-carat platinum princess-cut, diamond sparkler (more dazzling, ideally, than the one J-Lo’s been sporting on her ring finger lately) at Victoria Jewellers. Anything less, and I won’t accept your proposal. /RW

Best Local Sporting, Cycling, Skiing And Stuff Like That

Fresh Air Experience
532 Victoria Ave. 522-6665

Fresh Air Experience is a haven for sporty outdoors enthusiasts. But for me, the non-sporty outdoors enthusiast, it’s still a go-to. In April 2010, when contemplating a backpacking trip through Europe, I bought a great backpack there. That same day I also purchased an oddly thin camping towel, a flashlight, hiking sandals, yoga pants, a windbreaker and a knife. That’s probably because the staff there were so passionate and excited about adventure that I got just as excited and had to have everything in the store for my “backpacking” trip (I didn’t really backpack through Europe, btw). Anyway, this place is a one-stop, all-the-gear-you-need shop for any adventure you may have your sights set on. P.S. When I checked in with them for this blurb they had some pretty rad bicycles on sale. /RW

Best Pet Store

Metro Pet Market
1637 Victoria Ave. 352-9663, 3951 Rochdale Blvd. 565-9663

When I was talking with Kurt Jensen, co-owner with Ross McNabb of both Metro Pet Market locations, he said they’d recently been to the 2012 Holistic Veterinarian Conference. They go every year, and this year’s edition in Birmingham, Alabama helped reinforce a bit of knowledge they’ve been working with from the start: “Gut health leads to good health,” he says. As a pet store in Regina, they strive to be uncompromising in the quality of what they sell, understanding the importance of the health and happiness of people’s pets. “We don’t even dabble in middle ground. We only carry what we think is the best of the best.”/JB

Best Sex Shop

Love Plus
1810 Broad St. 352-7932

So a while back, I approached Love Plus owner Keith Lee for an interview. He declined, sayingprairie dog was “too crass”. Too crass! I was dumbfounded. Talk about a double standard: every year for Best of Regina, I write my little heart out about Love Plus’s products like the Clitterific Vibrating Jelly glitter dong, 6-Speed Backdoor Rotator, and remote control tiger print panties. Then he unceremoniously dumps me and says I’m crass. Next time you’re there picking up your Triple Orgasm Erection Enhancer, please feel free to defend my honour and put in a good word for prairie dog. That’s no way to treat a lady, or a scrappy alt paper that works tirelessly to help local businesses sell more Waterproof Turbo Strokers, Futurotic Vaginas and P-Rock Prostate Massagers through promotional features like Best of Regina. /CS

Best Shoe Store (Women)

Aldo Shoes
Cornwall Centre 757-2082, Southland Mall 586-8722

There’s nothing I can tell you about Aldo’s fashion sense that Aldo itself can’t explain better in its psychedelic ad copy. On their “Playful Glam” line: “We’ve got a fever dream, and the only cure is more glitter.” Okay… or how about their “Folk Wave” line?’ “This season, bloom in the desert, grow with the mountains, and blow along the highway to some bohemian coast.” Mountains erode, Aldo. They erode. Anyway, prairie dog readers love your shoes. /AM

Best Shoe Store (Men)

Aldo Shoes
Cornwall Centre 757-2082 Southland Mall 586-8722

When it comes to ad copy for their selection of men’s shoes and boots, Aldo is much less florid. Instead of “fever dreams” and “bohemian coasts” you’ll find phrases like “endless versatility,” “rugged look” and “cool and casual.” If you’re a man who likes to spice things up as far as your footwear goes, that news will likely come as a disappointment. But if you take a more conservative approach to what you put on your feet when you get dressed in the morning, as I’m sure most of you do, Aldo’s should be right up your alley. /GB

Best Store For Secondhand Finds

Value Village
1230 Broad St. 522-1228

I have a western-style shirt with a tear-away bib that I bought from Value Village. That shirt has seen some shit. I’m pretty sure a cute woman in every major Canadian city has ripped that shirt open on me, including a burlesque dancer who bummed a cigarette off me in Victoria last year. I wore it in a press photo for one of my bands. I’ve worn it to karaoke, to parties, and God willing I will wear it to somebody’s wedding some day — maybe even my own. Joy envelops me when I wear it. If you shop at Value Village and have found a treasure like that yourself, you know what I’m talking about. /JC

Best Unique Gifts

WP Inside
254 University Park Dr. 586-2929, 5-4621 Rae St. 584-1565

With chain stores, one location is typically the same as the next. If you go to the Wal-Mart Supercentre at Grasslands, it’s not like you’re going to find a radically different selection of grocery products and household goods than at the Wal-Mart Supercentre on Prince of Wales Dr. That’s not the case with WP Inside, though. Not only do co-owners Peter Charles and Barry Wick offer unique lines of jewellery, fashion accessories, personal care items and home and garden accents at their two store locations, each store carries product lines that are exclusive to it alone. So that makes WP Inside doubly unique when it comes to great gift ideas for friends and family. /GB

Best Tattoo Shop

Black Sea Tattoo
1373 Rose St. 347-8288

Nathan Donahoe, Orrin Fleischakker and Julian Williams are the men behind the ink at Black Sea Tattoos — Regina’s newest, and according to prairie dog readers — best tattoo shop. The guys opened Black Sea in May of 2011, after deciding to leave Rising Sun on Albert St. and open a shop of their own. Business is booming these days, and Nathan, Orrin and Julian all have pretty full schedules. So if you are looking to get some work done, I suggest you book now, as time is tight for these three! /AR

Best Locally Owned Shop

Metro Pet Market
1637 Victoria Ave. 352-9663, 3951 Rochdale Blvd. 565-9663

Customers are no doubt attracted by the principles of the folks at Metro Pet Market, but owners Kurt Jensen and Ross McNabb are motivated by more than just what’s good for business. They strive to only bring in the best. They don’t sell pets, instead directing people towards rescue animals. In short, they don’t take pet care lightly, which gives them a leadership role in the city. And it’s a role they take seriously. “It’s a big sense of responsibility,” says Jensen. “We understand the importance of pets in people’s lives and that they are part of the family. Their health is our biggest mandate.” /JB

Best New Store

Norwood Clothing
2401-11th Ave. 522-6056

“Downtown revitalization” has been a buzzword at city hall for several years now. Transforming vision statements, guiding principles and other planning initiatives into concrete policies and substantive improvements in the downtown has been a frustratingly slow process though. The north-west corner of the downtown is in particularly rough shape, and it’s probably an area that a lot of Reginans have lost touch with. But not all Reginans, obviously. Because in addition to winning this category, Norwood Clothing, which opened in late 2011, captured Best Place to Buy Clothing (Local) and Best Place for Casual Clothing (Men). It’s not the only new business that’s opened up in that area lately, either. So if that part of downtown Regina has fallen off your radar, you should recalibrate your GPS and check it out. /GB

City Services

An out-of-town friend once described Regina as “a place where you probably couldn’t get a trampoline and a case of Wild Turkey at four in the morning.” That was 1995. Now Regina is a roaring machine of a city, where trampolines go for peanuts on and people have enough cash to buy their alcohol ahead of time. Also, you can get a good carpet cleaner on short notice, which you’ll need after all that bouncing and bourbon.

Best Accountants

Virtus Group
200-2208 Scarth St. 522-6500

Virtus Group’s partners specialize in pretty much every field you’d care to name, and even a few you probably couldn’t name unless you were familiar with accounting yourself. They sit on boards that range from Regina Crime Stoppers to international accountancy federations, and, by the looks of it, have done good work for the people of Saskatchewan since 1963. After all, independent accounting companies don’t tend to stick around for half a century the way Virtus Group has without making their clients happy. /JC

Best Auto Repair Shop

Kuntz’s Automotive
3435 Hill Ave. 586-4637

In my youth I was trained to work on cars. I broke more engine bolts and snapped more brake lines than I care to remember, and typically spent days messing around trying to install a new fuel pump. Those experiences taught me one thing: working on cars sucks if you don’t have the right tools or a proper place to work. So why not just get someone with all that plus the know-how to fix your car for you? The good readers of prairie dog have continually voted for Kuntz’s Automotive as the best place to get your vehicle fixed so you know it must be awesome. /SH

Best Auto Glass Repair

Speedy Auto Glass
1205 Albert St. N 525-9558, 4525 Albert St. S 337-1020

Sooner or later, whether you’re driving on the Ring Road or one of the many random streets in Regina that are in need of repair, your car will eventually get a chip in the window or worse. True story: back in my youth I was putting a new engine into my truck. Not having the proper equipment, we had the engine on a hoist and proceeded to push the truck underneath it. My father was on top of the engine compartment guiding the engine into position. The engine swung and knocked him into my windshield, cracking it into a magnificent spider pattern that made driving impossible. Sadly, this wasn’t the first time my father had a fall like that. There was also the time he fell through a glass table. Anyway, Speedy Auto Glass has earned your Best of Regina vote for fixing stone chips and replacing windshields damaged by random accidents like mine. /SH

Best Hair Salon

Shear Escape Salon & Spa
4221A Albert St. 949-0599

Hmmm. I believe I was assigned this blurb as a hint. I’m notorious for only getting my hair cut once a year and I think that it might be time for another haircut. While prairie dog editor Steve is just jealous because I have more hair than him, my regular job boss wants me to look more professional. As an incentive/humiliation he’s placed a Luke Skywalker bobble head doll from the first Star Wars film by the till where I work and tells people that we have the same hairstyle. Shear Escape cuts men’s hair as well as women’s, and also does facials, waxing, hand care, foot care, and more. Hair cut aside, that’s not anything I could see myself doing, but I’m sure lots of people would be interested in their expertise. /SH

Best Day Spa

Essence Organic Hair and Day Spa 
Hotel Saskatchewan 522-7272

What I like about this spa is that it is continually evolving. The day a business opens its doors shouldn’t mark the day it ceases to improve. In addition to expanding their spa services, Essence has also transitioned into an organic spa, where you can now get your hair done by some of the city’s best stylists. This spa is perfect for winter staycations, a real necessity for any Reginan masochistic enough to remain in the city for the entire winter. Imagine leaving the spa after a day of pampering, dropping into Koko Patisserie for some of their oh-so-worth-the-pounds macaroons, and waltzing up to a private hotel suite without a breath of winter air. /KN

Best Bank Branch

TD Victoria Square
Victoria Square Mall 780-0360

As far as ambience goes, malls typically leave a lot to be desired. So for TD Victoria Square to come out on top as Best Bank Branch in our readers’ poll they must have all their financial ducks in order. My dad spent his entire working life as a banker — not with the TD, it was a rival bank. But I know from the long hours he spent meeting with clients during the business day, and the many hours he spent at night and on the weekend doing the paperwork necessary to make sure all the dollar signs and decimal points added up, that banking is not an easy profession to be in. Yeah, on a macro-scale, banks are pretty intimidating institutions. But when it comes to banking at the branch level, it’s all about customer service. And in the minds of prairie dog readers, TD Victoria Square is top dog. /GB

Best Financial Planners

Investors Group
100-2365 Albert St. 757-3511

I have next month’s rent hidden in a book, money from my band’s last gig tucked inside a roll of duct tape in my tool drawer, and the top e-mail in my inbox has the subject line “Having issues trying to pay your bills?” which is like, how did it know? So yeah, I don’t really have my act together when it comes to money. Hmm… maybe I should contact Investors Group, and grant them permission to use this blurb as an endorsement of their financial expertise in exchange for showing me how to invest my money instead of stashing it around my house like a squirrel with a day job? /JC

Best Mortgage Broker

Carrie Cardinal
220-408 Broad St. 721-HOME (4663)

Aside from having a delightfully alliterative name straight out of a Kirby comic or a Sorkin TV show, Carrie Cardinal is also a three-time Best of Regina winner. Cardinal has been offering assistance to homeowners and home hopefuls for the last 11 years. Testimonials on her site demonstrate that she brings passion and dedication to her job, ensuring that customers receive thorough, personalized service. Why didn’t I go through Carrie Cardinal when my wife and I bought our condo? /AM

Best Insurance Agents

Knight Archer
512 Victoria Ave. E 569-2288

Getting stuff insured can be a challenging experience, to say nothing of trying to file an insurance claim. So when you find an insurance company that meets your needs, it’s a real blessing. Forprairie dog readers, the staff at Knight-Archer Insurance, which is co-owned by former Regina mayor Doug Archer, fit the bill. That’s borne out by their A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, which hasn’t had a closed complaint at either the Vic East or Craven location in at least three years. So when you’re looking to protect you and your family from potential disaster — natural, and otherwise — Knight-Archer Insurance would seem to be a good bet. /JC

Best Carpet Cleaner

Cleanrite Carpet Cleaning

Carpets suck to clean. You spill something or your pet does something foul to it; you either have to get down and scrub it out or rip out the carpet and put in laminate flooring — which is a little drastic. There is a third option, though. You could get it cleaned professionally. Cleanrite Carpet Cleaning is certified under the IICRC (Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification). That’s important, because if you don’t use an IICRC certified company it could void the warranty on your carpet. Who knew? Apparently there are now quite a few carpet cleaning companies that are IICRC certified, but Cleanrite was the first. /SH

Best Electrician

Cathedral Electric

It’s really tough trying to decide what electrician to call when you need one. Shocking really, but the Electric section in Yellow Pages is a good nine pages long. You’ve got about two pages of simple listings, and another seven of display ads. I just happen to need an electrician. See, I’m building a garage and if you can believe it, I need power so my automatic garage door opener works. I thought about just running an extension cord out of the back of the house but somehow I don’t think that will fly. If prairie dog readers think Cathedral Electric is the best, then perhaps I should give them a call. /SH

Best Flooring

Carpet Superstore
2425 Park St. 522-2355

Carpet Superstore has it all — carpet, laminate, hardwood, vinyl, tile and area rugs. And let’s face it, as far as indispensible household amenities go, flooring is pretty much essential. Back in pioneer days when everyone lived in sod huts, it might have been okay to get by with a dirt floor. But that’s so 19th century. The modern home (and home owner) demand more. And if you choose your flooring wisely, it can really tie the furniture and decorative accents in a room together nicely. /SH

Best Plumber

Litzenberger Plumbing & Heating

People just used to call plumbers for water-related problems like fixing sinks and unclogging toilets. Nowadays, they not only handle all your regular plumbing needs but much, much more. Litzenberger Plumbing & Heating can do basic plumbing repairs, plus tackle heating and air conditioning, water softeners, water heaters, boiler service and repairs, sewer line inspections, tree root cutting and even converting propane BBQs to natural gas. If you’ve never cooked with natural gas and only used propane you are missing out. Not only can you cook food faster and hotter, you will also never have to worry about running out of gas in the middle of the family BBQ. It’s the best way to BBQ. /SH

Best Realtors

RE/MAX Crown Real Estate Regina 
2350 2nd Ave. 791-7666, 234 University Park Dr. 789-7666

“Hey, where’s RE/MAX?” you say, looking around in confusion. “Don’t you know?” I respond, stabbing my finger in the air. “They’re… Up Above The Crowd.” Just at that moment, the RE/MAX balloon appears overhead carrying a realtor/balloonist and a nervous couple on the hunt for a new home. “They don’t even use that slogan anymore!” you say, but it’s too late. The balloon has already floated away in search of another listing to check out.* But don’t worry; with over 75 dedicated agents to choose from, RE/MAX is one of Regina’s largest and most trusted realtors, so there will be another balloon along shortly. /AM

*Obviously, this isn’t a true story.

Best Travel Agents

CAA Travel
200 Albert St. 791-4444, 4528 Albert St. 791-4400, 2510 Quance St. E 791-4333

With all the advances in online technology in recent years, travel agent is one of those professions that you’d think would be on the verge of becoming obsolete. But that’s not the case, says Don Johnston, vice-president of travel services at CAA.

Yes, the Internet has permitted consumers and sellers of travel services to hook up directly without going through the middle man of a travel agent. But Johnston, who has been in the travel business for 43 years, says the future for travel agents is still bright.

To begin with, travel and tourism play a much larger role in people’s lives today than they did a generation or two ago. “It wasn’t that many years ago that you’d have a conversation with a friend or whatever and they’d say that they’d never flown before,” Johnston says. “Now, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t flown somewhere before. So travel is much more a part of our daily life.

“As well, the variety of trips has really grown. We used to sell quite simple trips. There’d be the flight and the hotel, probably. Now, it’s very common for people to book river cruises in Vietnam and trips to the Arctic, the Antarctic, the Amazon. In fact, we do groups to these exotic places; there’s so many people who want to go.”

It’s one thing to book a flight online to fly to another Canadian city. But when you’re looking to book a tour with a company halfway around the world, it can be a great source of comfort to deal with a travel agent. “That’s a big part of the value we provide to consumers,” says Johnston. “We know the product, we know the supplier, and we’re the buffer between the client and the supplier before, during and after the trip to ensure that everything goes the way it should.

“If you book over the Internet, though, and the [vendor] goes out of business, or doesn’t provide what they said they would, you’re on your own.”

And being on your own in a strange country is rarely a fun experience. To avoid that predicament,prairie dog readers recommend CAA Travel. /GB

Best Commercial Photographers

Kiriako Iatridis
1515 6th Ave. 757-1777

This guy has a portfolio to rival any major photographer. You’ve probably seen his photos in ads around the city — from models in back-bending poses to local business teams staring back at you. Whether it’s his commercial work or his more artistic endeavours, Kiriako’s pictures are pretty eye-popping. He is also part of an unofficial team of innovators who are developing Regina’s growing fashion scene. With his camera in hand, Kiriako has collaborated on special local projects like Discovered, an event that raises money for charity while launching the careers of aspiring models. Without a doubt, if I had my own business and needed some advertising photos, Kiriako is the guy I’d be calling up. /RW

Best Contractor To Call In A Catastrophe (Fires, Floods, Storms & Other Disasters)

Restorex Disaster Restoration
1465 McDonald St. 522-3350

Disasters suck. And your house is susceptible to all sorts of disasters, both natural and um… otherwise. Floods, fire, sewer backup and other domestic catastrophes leave one heck of a mess and the cleanup is massive. I’ve lived my entire life in Saskatchewan and I can’t recall this province ever having as much flooding as it’s had in the last few years. As for sewer clean up, I’ve seen that up close and man you don’t even want to know what’s floating around in your once pristine basement. Restorex will clean it all up for you and they have a 24 hour emergency service. Also Restorex is IICRC certified, which I’ve only just learned about [see my Carpet Cleaning blurb] and now I look for that when I’m hiring a contractor. /SH