Best of Regina 2013

Prairie Dog's 2013 Best of Regina

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

Thank you! Thirty-five hundred engaged citizens cast nearly 90,000 votes to make this our most popular Best of Regina ever! You guys rock. Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone who works hard every day to make Regina the best damn city it can be. Look for Prairie Dog’s Best of Food reader poll next spring!

This spectacular, 20,000 word-long (Yup, really. Yikes!) Best Of Regina was written by a gallant band of singing chipmunks over pints in their favourite Regina bars, pubs and opium dens. If you see Greg Beatty, James Brotheridge, John Cameron, Paul Dechene, Amber Goodwyn, Shane Hnetka, Aidan Morgan, Rick Pollard, Ashley Rankin, Vanda Schmöckel or Stephen Whitworth, give ’em a high five and buy ’em a beer for their herculean efforts celebrating Regina’s best people, artists, stores and services. Okay, maybe not Whitworth. That guy’s a lazy putz. Photography is by Darrol Hofmeister unless otherwise stated. Darrol is awesome, but he’s not really a beer guy. He’ll drink pretty much any girlie drink, though.

Best Of Regina 2013 was edited by Beatty and Whitworth, copy-edited by Lois-Anna Kaminski (she’ll take a pear Magners, please), designed by Paul “Awesome” Klassen (Newcastle Brown) and published by Terry Morash (boring Keith’s). It’s a production of Prairie Dog, a.k.a. Regina’s Only Alternative. Accept no substitutes.

ARTS & MUSIC

BEST PUBLIC ART GALLERY

MACKENZIE ART GALLERY
3475 Albert St. 306-584-4250
mackenzieartgallery.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Dunlop Art Gallery (2nd), Neutral Ground (3rd), Art Gallery of Regina (4th)

What better way to round off a special year at the MacKenzie than with a nod from Prairie Dog readers for being the best public art gallery in the city? The MacKenzie is Regina’s flagship art institution, and 2013 marked the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1953. Originally located at the College Ave. campus of the University of Regina, the gallery now operates out of a state-of-the-art facility on south Albert St. with eight exhibition spaces totaling 24,000 sq. ft. along with a conservation lab, storage vault, learning centre, 185-seat theatre and gift shop showcasing work by Saskatchewan artisans. Drop by before Jan. 12 and you’ll have an opportunity to see the super exhibition 7: Professional Native Indian Artists Inc. Curated by Michelle LaVallee, it features work by seven pioneer First Nations artists including Daphne Odjig, Norval Morrisseau and Alex Janvier. Once it closes here, 7 will tour to Winnipeg, Kelowna and two locations in Ontario. /GB

BEST COMMERCIAL ART GALLERY

MYSTERIA GALLERY
2706 13th Ave. 306-522-0080
mysteria.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Assiniboia Gallery (2nd), Slate Fine Art Gallery (3rd), Nouveau Gallery (4th)

You really have to hand it to Marlo Gebhardt and Chad Jacklin, the people behind Mysteria Gallery. They’re not just entrepreneurs, they’re bona fide social conveners. They’ve turned a short stretch on Cathedral’s main drag into a go-to destination for lovers of fine and performing art (between the gallery and their other going concern, Artesian, the renovated church-cum-concert hall kitty-corner on 13th Ave.). You run into a lot of locals here, and Mysteria is local to the core, showcasing work by Saskatchewan artists like Holly Fay, Heather Cline, David Garneau, Marsha Kennedy and Martha Cole. The gift shop on the main floor features fine ceramics, as well as jewelry by Regina designer Melody Armstrong and others. Together, Mysteria’s two enterprises are a great gateway to the city’s most walkable neighbourhood.
/VS

BEST ART SHOW

HOW WE FILLED THE VAULT: SIXTY YEARS OF COLLECTING
MacKenzie Art Gallery
3475 Albert St. 306-584-4250
mackenzieartgallery.ca

RUNNERS-UP: South on 6 by Kelcie De Wildt (Hague Gallery) (2nd)

To celebrate the MacKenzie’s diamond anniversary, curatorial staff put together this exhibition tracing the evolution of the gallery’s permanent collection from an initial bequest of art and antiquities by gallery namesake Regina lawyer Norman MacKenzie (1869-1936). Once the gallery was established in 1953, it began to expand its permanent collection through donations of art from collectors and artists along with purchases from artists and dealers. Housed in an environmentally controlled vault, the collection now stands at over 4,000 works — 300 of which were on display in How We Filled the Vault. The exhibition ran from April 27-Sept. 1, and when my family was in town this summer we spent a delightful afternoon checking it out. The range of work selected by the curators offered a great snapshot of the diversity of art production that’s occurred in Saskatchewan and the broader art world over the MacKenzie’s 60-year history. /GB

BEST DANCE STUDIO

FadaDance

FADADANCE
1951 Toronto St. 306-527-9837
fadadance.ca

RUNNERS-UP: New Dance Horizons (2nd), Martin School of Dance (3rd), Dance Plus (4th)

Scroll down to the bottom of FadaDance’s website and there’s a line that reads, “Creative energy embodied.” That’s a perfect description of the group. The core members –– Heather Cameron, Fran Gilboy and Misty Wensel –– are lively individuals, onstage and off. Since 2004, the troupe has received accolades for their fun, energetic and accesible dance performances. The spirit has transferred to the dance studio. FadaDance has classes for kids as young as age three, getting dancers in touch with their creative energies early. “We’re interested in creating really diverse dancers… artists rather than practitioners of a rigid form,” Wensel said in a recent QC cover story. If this win is any indication, it’s a goal that Regina dancers and dance fans heartily endorse. /JB

BEST PLAY

THE WIZARD OF OZ
Globe Theatre
1801 Scarth St. 306-525-6400
globetheatrelive.com

RUNNERS-UP: Rider Girl (Artesian) (2nd), Pride & Prejudice (Globe Theatre) (3rd), The Drowsy Chaperone (Globe Theatre) (4th), I, Claudia (Globe Theatre) (5th)

The Globe’s main stage offers a decent variety of work. The 2012-13 season covered the gamut from a faithful adaptation of a Jane Austen classic (Pride and Prejudice) to an adventurous one-person mask work (I, Claudia) to a hilariously bawdy musical (The Drowsy Chaperone). Year in, year out, the holiday show is always a recognizable property designed to please a big, varied audience. And the 2012-13 offering, The Wizard of Oz, evidently did just that, topping this poll for Best Play. The production design was stellar with a great, charismatic cast. Tess Degenstein especially shone as Glinda the Good Witch, among other roles she played in the production.

For many, the Globe Theatre’s annual holiday show is a highlight of the year, and The Wizard of Oz was precisely that. This year’s production, Sleeping Beauty, has some big (ruby red) slippers to fill. /JB

BEST COMEDIAN/IMPROVISER

JAYDEN PFEIFER

RUNNERS-UP: Amy Matysio (2nd), Judy Wensel (3rd), Colby Richardson (4th)

A lot of people have already pointed this out, but there’s something inherently funny about Regina — particularly its name. But what about the city itself? Is Regina funny? “Yeah, it is actually,” says Jayden Pfeifer, the local improv king who performs regularly with Combat Improv and hosts the wildly popular live variety show Red Hot Riot. “We turn out some very funny people, and some very high quality improvisers.” Need proof? Just take a look at the other nominees on the list. From Amy Matysio’s terminally inappropriate Saysha (InSayshable) to Colby Richardson (Combat Improv) and Judy Wensel (Shangri-La), Regina’s improv scene has turned out some serious talent that can roll with the unexpected — which is a key element to performing comedy.

“In all my experience in improvisation, what I’ve learned is that an audience doesn’t necessarily want me to be funny. They want me to surprise them,” says Pfeifer. After all, if you’re anticipating the joke, you’ve probably already heard it. Laughter is an organic response. You can’t fake real laughter, which is perhaps what makes improv such a thrill for audiences and performers alike.

“I think finding the moment as it happens, and not planning it out is what makes it fun,” says Pfeifer. /VS

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE

THE EXCHANGE
2431 8th Ave. 306-780-9494
culturalexchange.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Artful Dodger (2nd), Artesian on 13th (3rd)

The best music venues function as incubators for the scene, man. They’re the places where musical memories are made, and the Exchange looms large in the minds of Reginans for this very reason. Whether you’re a local stoner rock outfit playing the Club side of the venue, a fan checking out some touring metal dudes in the big room, or a party-goer dancing it up at FadaDance’s annual holiday party, the Exchange sets the scene for the festivities. Very cool highlight: its two rooms allow for small scale and mid-sized shows to go down at the same time. This fortuitous pairing allows for some fruitful, um, “exchanges”. For example, when Montreal’s UBT played the big room, the band kept wandering into the Club to check out some local bands in between sets. It’s that type of diversity in musical genres and scale of events that keeps Regina in love with the place. /AG

BEST BAND

RAH RAH
rahrahband.com

RUNNERS-UP: Indigo Joseph (2nd), Library Voices (3rd), Government Town (4th)

Being a crotchety Scene Veteran type, I’m more than willing to bore anyone within earshot by reminiscing about the days when Rah Rah were a scrappy three-piece playing goofy, carefree slashed-up pop songs. These days, their lineup has grown to a muscular six, and their songs are more lithe and smooth-edged, so the only thing my Abe Simpson-style anecdotes prove is that some things don’t change: Rah Rah’s chummy, exuberant attitude toward playing their folk-inflected pop-rock makes them as compelling and fun a band to watch now as it did back in the Songs for Pasquala days. And with their new record The Poet’s Dead garnering a Polaris long-list nod, they’re set to pick up even more fans eager as I am to talk other people’s ears off about having had the pleasure of seeing them back when. /JC

BEST SOLO ACT

BELLE PLAINE
belleplainemusic.com

RUNNERS-UP: Andy Shauf (2nd), Julia McDougall (3rd), Tyler Gilbert (4th), Bob Evans (5th)

She’s no stranger in her adopted city. However, formalities must be observed. Belle Plaine is the performing name of Melanie Lynn Hankewich. Hankewich was born on a farm near the village of Fosston in east-central Saskatchewan. Since moving to Regina she’s become the belle of the Queen City’s musical ball. A steady fixture in the Regina Folk Festival lineup and a bud to many of the city’s jazziest acts (e.g. The Lazy MKs), Ms. Plaine makes it, ahem, plain that she’s a musical force to be reckoned with. Her musical versatility, talent, stage charisma and chutzpah (girl tours and plays a lot!) makes her one hard-working artist — and one who deserves all the Best of Regina love our readers have shown her. Her first full-length, Notes From A Waitress, was released in January of 2012, and her legions of fans can’t wait for a follow-up. And mark Dec. 28 on your calendars — Belle Plaine will be performing that night at the Artesian as part of the 13th Ave. Records Rendezvous. /AG

BEST ALBUM RELEASED IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS

RAH RAH: THE POET’S DEAD
hiddenpony.ca

RUNNERS-UP: The Bearer of Bad News (Andy Shauf) (2nd), Self-Titled (Government Town) (3rd), OK Murphy (Tyler Gilbert) (4th)

The first thing I thought when I heard The Poet’s Dead was that Rah Rah finally sounded on record the way they do live. Not that their previous albums didn’t do the songs and the band justice, but there was something ineffable about seeing the band in action that’s finally burst through on their Hidden Pony debut. Drums boom, guitars crunch with visceral impact, strings and synths smooth the whole thing out like a taut bed sheet. I could talk about the songs I love on the record for hours (the roaring post-punk of “20s”, the lilting stomp of “Prairie Girl”, the joyous Krisisms of “Run”) but I’ll let my iTunes do the talking: the only 2012 record I’ve listened to more was Ladyhawk’s No Can Do. Of course, the next Rah Rah record’s going to be even better — it always is. But how they’re going to manage that is already blowing my mind. /JC

BEST CONCERT

PAUL MCCARTNEY
Mosaic Stadium

RUNNERS-UP: Leonard Cohen (2nd), Government Town (3rd)

It’s more than a little absurd that no one from Prairie Dog attended what our readers flagged as the best concert in Regina in the last year — which explains, in part, how I ended up with this blurb assignment. I certainly remember all the Facebook posts friends of mine who went to the Aug. 14 concert did. For hours, their comments and photos dominated my newsfeed. The set-list confirms what a crowd-pleaser the concert was — 39 songs in total, with 23 of them from the Beatles catalogue and most of the rest from Wings. I particularly wish I could have been there for the best James Bond theme of all time, “Live and Let Die”. It also would have been cool to hear Beatles standards like “Let It Be”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “Paperback Writer”, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and, of course, “Hey Jude”. Oh well, my loss, their gain. Although afterwards, one of my friends insisted they still considered Sir Paul their third favourite Beatle. /RP

BEST FESTIVAL

REGINA FOLK FESTIVAL
reginafolkfestival.com

RUNNERS-UP: Cathedral Village Arts Festival (2nd), Mosaic: A Festival of Cultures (3rd), Craven Country Music Festival (4th), Gateway Festival (Bengough) (5th)

Chalk up another killer year for the Regina Folk Festival, which ran Aug. 9-11 in Victoria Park, and had a lineup that blew crowds away. But with acts such as Feist, Bahamas, Charles Bradley and Loreena McKennitt, such away-blowing is a given. The free daytime stages were incredible and one of them — a Sunday afternoon concert with Neko Case, Rosanne Cash, Hayden and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, was otherfuckingworldly. Toss in Sask. acts like Rah Rah and Saskatoon’s Close Talker, and beer and food, and crafts, and after-parties, and BEER, and you have one hell of a festival. /SW

CITY LIVING

BEST PUBLIC EVENT

REGINA FARMERS’ MARKET
reginafarmersmarket.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Rider Games (2nd), Cathedral Village Arts Festival (3rd), Regina Folk Festival (4th), Mosaic: A Festival of Cultures (5th)

Every now and then I run into Ada Bennett, the Regina Farmers’ Market’s manager. From what she tells me, 2013 has been the market’s most successful year. They have more booths than ever, with some really exciting additions such as a mushroom vendor, Orange Boot Bakery and Last Mountain Distillery (to name three that are particularly appealing for me), and the City Square Plaza has turned out to be a fantastic location for them. They’ve experimented with Thursday night markets in the summer and that’s also been a huge success, so you can expect to see more of those in 2014. And they’ve expanded now to the University of Regina and are holding regular markets in the Students’ Union Multipurpose Room.

During the summer, when I would go downtown on a Saturday, touring about the Farmers’ Market would be one of the highlights of my week. And now that autumn’s here and they’ve moved into the Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre, they’re closer to my home and thus even more convenient.

It’s amazing to see the Farmers’ Market grow so much since I moved here. It’s become one of my favourite things to do in Regina. /PD

BEST CITY LANDMARK

WASCANA PARK
wascana.sk.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Wascana Lake (2nd), Saskatchewan Legislative Building (3rd), Victoria Park (4th), City Square Plaza (5th)

It might seem petty to question the status of Wascana Park as a city “landmark”. But for the record, I think of landmarks, in an urban context anyway, as being buildings or other notable attractions. But Prairie Dog readers are always right, and it’s definitely true that Reginans love their park. People from all corners of the city go there to walk their dogs, play with their kids, ride their bikes, or jog around the lake while listening to their iPods. Wascana Park is the heart of our community. Many of Regina’s signature events take place there, including the Canada Day fireworks, dragon boat races and the RSO’s Symphony Under the Sky. And the park is home to some of the city’s truly iconic buildings, including the Legislature, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and the University of Regina’s College Avenue Campus.

The place is a triumph of human ingenuity. The best nature could come up with, after all, was a creek surrounded by a swamp. And look at it now! /RP

BEST PUBLIC SCHOOL

CAMPBELL COLLEGIATE
102 Massey Rd. 306-523-3250
campbellcollegiate.rbe.sk.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Connaught School (2nd), Winston Knoll Collegiate (3rd), Sheldon Williams Collegiate (4th), Massey School (5th)

This fall Campbell celebrated its 50th year of educating some of Regina’s finest citizens — yours truly included. Campbell is Regina’s largest high school (with approximately 1,500 kids) and it offers French immersion as well as the International Baccalaureate program, which pushes students to excel and maximize their learning opportunities. The school also has a top-notch jazz ensemble and performing arts program. The athletic department isn’t too shabby either — the Campbell cheer team have been provincial champs six out of the last seven years, and the Tartans football team took the provincial championship for the 2010-2011 season.

The students and administration aren’t the school’s only assets. The teaching staff at Campbell has always been excellent — keeping things fresh, innovative and as exciting as possible. One in particular who will be remembered forever by his students is the beloved Christopher Helliwell, who passed away this fall. The eccentric science teacher will go down in history for his wild ways and interesting teaching methods, i.e. setting small fires and stabbing himself in the leg with a pair of scissors (both accidentally). Anything flew in his class, and it’s because of people like Mr. Helliwell that Campbell is Regina’s Best Public School. /AR

BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO REGINA IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS

SUMMER

RUNNERS-UP: Juno Awards (2nd), Paul McCartney Concert (3rd), Stadium Approval (4th), Wastewater Treatment Plant Referendum (5th)

It’s telling that Prairie Dog readers voted for something that other places seem to do better than Regina, or at least enjoy in greater abundance. But scarcity increases the value of anything, and that apparently includes sunshine, warmth and the opportunity to walk through Wascana Park in a T-shirt and shorts or sit out on one of our city’s bar or restaurant patios and have a drink or meal without freezing. Thanks to last year’s bleak, never-ending, soul-sucking winter, summer outshone the Juno Awards, the Paul McCartney concert and even city council’s approval of a new stadium in the hearts of Regina residents. Perhaps this outpouring of affection from Prairie Dog readers will make summer re-think its plans for next year, and it will arrive earlier and stay later. We can only hope. /RP

HEALTH CARE

BEST DENTIST

DRS. BARRY AND ALLISON MANG
450 2550 15th Ave. 306-359-6661

RUNNERS-UP: Dr. Kelly Rusteika (2nd), Dr. Kevin Soltys (3rd), Dr. Stefan Piche (4th)

We have joint winners in this category: Barry and Allison Mang of Cityview Dental. They’re a father-and-daughter team. Barry has been practising for 45 years and Allison for 11. I guess you could call them a Regina institution. And word on the street is they’re fantastic dentists and a lot of people go to them with problems that couldn’t be solved at other clinics. They’re the kind of dentists that inspire people to say, “Wow, I used to be terrified to go to the dentist but now I don’t mind at all.” But beyond just being able to get your teeth taken care of by compassionate, consummate professionals, there’s another reason to check out Cityview Dental: they have an incredible collection of Saskatchewan art. Adorning their walls are works by Wilf Perrault, Allen Sapp, Darlene Hay, Hana Mrazova and many more. So you can drop in for the oral health and stay for the culture — or vice versa. Either way, if you’re like me you’re probably overdue for a checkup. So if you’re looking for a dentist, give the Mangs a call. /PD

BEST FAMILY DOCTOR

DR. SALLY MAHOOD
1621 Albert St. 306-766-0444

RUNNERS-UP: Dr. Egware (2nd), Dr. Michel (3rd)

Dr. Mahood works out of the Department of Family Medicine at Regina General Hospital. Patients love her not just for her work as a family doctor but for her work in obstetrics. Just think, there are people in Regina who’ve had her as their doctor since before they were born. Mahood is also an associate professor in the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine where she researches women’s reproductive healthcare, family medicine and interactions between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry. On top of all that, she’s a member of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the National Abortion Federation. And if you’re a student of Saskatchewan history, you might recognize her last name as her mom was also a doctor. Margaret Mahood was instrumental in the fight for medicare in Saskatchewan.

Basically, in Dr. Sally Mahood, you get the whole package: a physician who cares about her patients and works hard to keep them healthy, a teacher who’s educating the next generation of family doctors, and a doctor with a social conscience who’s working to make this province and this country a better place to live. /PD

BEST NURSE

NICOLE ROBERTSON

RUNNERS-UP: Jennifer Graf (2nd), Linda Thain (3rd)

To write this blurb, I googled Nicole Robertson’s name and discovered she’s a registered nurse in Regina General Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. In other words, she has one of the five most important jobs in the city. I respect her already. I also discovered a Leader-Post feature on her about how she’s been speaking out against the deplorable parking situation for staff at the RGH. Now, those of you who’ve read some of my city hall bloviations on Dog Blog know that I tend to be fairly dismissive of people’s parking complaints. What I may not have mentioned before though is that I don’t feel that way where the General Hospital is concerned. It’s long past time that the provincial government footed the bill for a hospital parkade. And the city needs to provide faster transit connections to the hospital. As Robertson pointed out in the L-P article, there are 758 RGH employees on the parking wait list. Often, she added, she parks at meters. But because of the nature of her job, she can’t keep running out to plug coins into them. So while she’s hard at work KEEPING BABIES ALIVE!, she runs the risk of receiving multiple parking tickets per shift. That’s shameful and clearly a sign that something has to change. On her Twitter feed Robertson joked that if she won this category she’d stop complaining about parking. I hope she doesn’t. The province, city and health region really need to start listening to her. /PD

BEST VETERINARIAN

DR. MARILYN STHAMANN
Lakewood Animal Hospital
1151 Lakewood Court N. 306-545-6487

RUNNERS-UP: Dr. Laura McDonald (Animal Clinic of Regina) (2nd), Dr. Tracy Fisher (Albert North Vet Clinic) (3rd), Dr. Steven Kruzeniski (Animal Clinic of Regina) (4th)

Year after year, Best of Regina poll after Best of Regina poll, Dr. Marilyn Sthamann takes home the hardware for best veterinarian. Truly, her dominance in this category is unrivalled — except for maybe Ralph Goodale’s annual cakewalk in the Best MP category. The primary reason, I suspect — aside from her reputedly warm manner in handling people’s injured or otherwise insalubrious critters — is Lakewood’s focus on educating families on providing a healthy lifestyle for their pets. As well, the hospital’s practice includes homeopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic services. Veterinary homeopathy requires a caring, balanced and attentive approach to your pet’s health. If you take your pet to Dr. Sthamann for care, she may end up knowing your pet even better than you. /AM

BEST WALK-IN CLINIC

BROAD STREET MEDICAL CLINIC
2210 Broad St. 306-781-8080

RUNNERS-UP: Victoria East Medical Clinic (2nd), Stapleford Medical Clinic (3rd), Care & Cure Medical Clinic (4th)

One of the scarier moments of my life happened at this clinic when I fainted in the lobby in April 2010 and was rushed to emergency by the staff. Then there was the time I suffered projectile blood loss from my thumb after putting my hand through some glass. These days, I visit regularly for far more mundane Vitamin B12 injections and checkups. And it all started with a walk-in visit in 2008! I’ve always found the staff and doctors at this clinic to be helpful, professional and comforting when I’ve been faced with any medical situation, major or minor. Which is good because I’m sometimes an angst-ridden neurotic about my health. (I bet you’d be neurotic too if you’d seen blood spurt out of your thumb like Old Faithful!) The fact that they’re centrally located and open evenings until 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 4 p.m. doesn’t hurt either. Just remember they don’t accept appointments for evenings and weekends: it’s first-come, first-served. /RP

LOCAL MEDIA

BEST REPORTER (PRINT)

ROB VANSTONE
LEADER-POST
leaderpost.com

RUNNERS-UP: Murray Mandryk (Leader-Post) (2nd), Ashley Martin (QC/Leader-Post) (3rd), Emma Graney (Leader-Post) (4th)

Sports enthusiasts have long sung Rob Vanstone’s praises for his coverage and analysis of the sports scene in Saskatchewan — particularly the Riders (of whom he is clearly an ardent fan), but also his coverage of the Rams and Pats and his insightful column writing. Vanstone has a lot of experience to draw on, having been on the L-P’s sports team since 1987. I’ve met a number of young people over the past couple of years who truly look up to him as a sports journalist to emulate. Up-and-coming writer Jonathan Hamelin first approached Vanstone when he was still in high school with dreams of becoming a sports writer. “When I first met Rob, he told me, ‘It is not about being a great journalist. It is about wanting to become one,’” he recalls. “With his dedication to his craft and willingness to help the next generation, Vanstone has clearly become a great journalist.” Sounds like a winner to me. /VS

BEST REPORTER (BROADCAST)

WAYNE MANTYKA
CTV
regina.ctvnews.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Stefani Langenegger (CBC Sask) (2nd), Morgan Campbell (CTV Regina) (3rd), Geoff Leo (CBC Sask) (4th)

Wayne Mantyka has been a fixture in Saskatchewan media for over 40 years. He’s worked for CTV Regina since 1975 and has covered everything from the city beat to the courts to provincial politics. I’ve had dealings with him in the past, and he’s easily the most amiable reporter I’ve ever met. His technique at media scrums is interesting to observe. While other reporters shout out questions and crowd in on public figures, Mantyka prefers to hold back, biding his time and moving in when other reporters are packing up to chat quietly with newsmakers, hoping to get some tidbit that other reporters may have missed. Indeed, he’s often late for news conferences, a fact that drives communications staffers and his fellow reporters crazy. But CTV is the highest-rated newscast in the city so no one is going to deny him a quote. As a personal aside, the man loves his muffins. He’s known to troll news events for free baked goods and ask for a drink to wash them down. But it never affects what goes on the air. He’ll scarf down a complimentary cruller, and then run a story without the spin you hoped for — like a true pro. /RP

BEST POLITICAL REPORTER

MURRAY MANDRYK
LEADER-POST
leaderpost.com

RUNNERS-UP: Stefani Langenegger (CBC Sask) (2nd), Patrick Book (NewsTalk 980 CJME) (3rd)

When we think of newspaper columnists, we tend to focus on the content of what they write — the opinions they express, the angle they bring to an issue. Often the writing itself gets overlooked, but with Murray Mandryk’s columns it really shouldn’t. The guy is a serious craftsman who can turn out a mighty fine sentence. His columns are always crisp and coherent. They seem effortless. It’s the kind of newspaper writing I admire. Also, his Twitter feed is one of the funniest in Regina. When city hall announced they’d reached an agreement with the Rural Municipality of Sherwood over annexation plans, Mandryk tweeted, “I was skeptical when Mayor Fougere sent Dennis Rodman into the RM to broker a deal but I guess it worked.” Dammit, I wish I’d written that line. Regina is very lucky to have a writer of his calibre covering provincial and local politics — especially considering he really didn’t have to go into the whole writing game. Seriously, with a last name like that, the guy could’ve had a brilliant career as a magician. Think about that the next time you read one of his columns, Regina. We have a fantastic political columnist at our local daily… but at what cost?!? /PD

BEST WEATHER PERSON

J.C. GARDEN
CTV
regina.ctvnews.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Rustie Dean (Global Regina) (2nd), Sabeen Ahmad (CBC Sask) (3rd), Tiffany Lizee (Global Regina) (4th), Carey Smith (CTV Regina) (5th)

Viewers often feel like they have a personal relationship with their TV weather person. It’s what makes it one of the most thankless jobs in media. They’re the one who has to tell viewers that it’s going to snow on their wedding day, or that the rain is going to continue through the weekend while they’re out at the lake. It’s like being the proverbial messenger that everyone wants to shoot. Fortunately for J.C. Garden, he’s such an amiable guy that Prairie Dog readers are willing to forgive him when he’s the bearer of bad news. Garden also has experience as a journalist that goes beyond the weather, and has won several awards for feature reporting. Now that he’s been named Best Weather Person by Prairie Dog readers for the third straight year, maybe he’ll repay the kindness by forecasting (accurately) a mercifully late and short winter. How about it, J.C.? /RP

BEST RADIO HOST(S)

SHEILA COLES
CBC Radio
cbc.ca/sask

RUNNERS-UP: CC, Lorie and Buzz (Z99) (2nd), Evan Baran (104.9 The Wolf) (3rd), Colleen & Woody (Jack FM) (4th), Craig Lederhouse (CBC Sask: The Afternoon Edition) (5th)

Since transitioning from my vampire hours night job as a bartender to a day job building things from honest-to-God wood out in the Creeks, I’ve spent a lot of mornings listening to Sheila Coles. I frankly can’t imagine  anything else on my morning commute. Music is all right, but the Morning Edition mixes music in with its interviews and other features, news reports and banter between host Sheila Coles and her CBC colleagues. Sheila Coles is, of course, the star around which all of it orbits, and she pulls it all together into a cohesive whole: whether she’s tugging at the more fascinating (or, occasionally, galling) threads of one of Geoff Leo’s investigative pieces or catching Mayor Fougere off-balance when grilling him about a controversial residential development (March 19, 2013, Google it!), she makes The Morning Edition compelling, must-listen Saskatchewan radio. /JC

BEST TALK RADIO PROGRAM

JOHN GORMLEY LIVE
NEWSTALK 980 CJME
cjme.com

RUNNERS-UP: The Morning Edition (CBC Radio) (2nd), The Afternoon Edition (CBC Radio) (3rd), Blue Sky (CBC Radio) (4th)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Me and Dechene got loaded and figured it’d be funny to let John do his own write-up. One drunken e-mail later and… oops, he accepted. Guess it’s the Prairie Dog version of beer goggles. And with that, here’s John Gormley.
/Stephen Whitworth

To the readers of Prairie Dog, please accept my sincerest thanks for voting John Gormley Live Regina’s Best Talk Radio Program. I truly appreciate your support and am humbled. And coming from me that’s saying something — the humble part!

The nominated CBC shows are very good radio, hosted and produced by great people. I would say these nice things about the CBC even if I hadn’t won by splitting their votes.

Winning Prairie Dog’s “Best Of” is really cool. But do you know what’s almost better than winning?  It’s the certain knowledge that Stephen Whitworth and Paul Dechene — my favourite Marxist, er, independent, progressive journalists — had to count the ballots and then, through gritted teeth, announce the win. Today, I’m happier than a Senator on payday.  More excited than Whitworth and Dechene looking at semi-naked pictures of David Suzuki. It’s that good.

In addition to my radio show, heard every weekday morning from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on 980 CJME, I write the occasional book. In fact, I have a new book coming out for Christmas. After the 2010 Canadian bestseller Left Out: Saskatchewan’s NDP and the Relentless Pursuit of Mediocrity, this book is a “best of” collection of more than a dozen years of my newspaper columns. It’s called The Gormley Papers: I’m Right and You Know It and I’ve promised Prairie Dog the first review copy. I think they’re actually going to like some of it, to the perpetual puzzlement of Whitworth and Dechene. On other parts, though, like the chapter on global warming and related modern-day apocalyptica, I expect a less nuanced review.

Prairie Dog remains — cue editorial staff eye-roll and lip sync — my “favourite scrappy little left-wing tabloid.” Yes, really. Keep up the struggle. /John Gormley

BEST RADIO STATION

Z99
z99.com

RUNNERS-UP: CBC Radio 1 (2nd), CBC Radio 2 (3rd), 94.5 Jack FM (4th)

My son is two years old and he likes to play with our clock radio. He’ll turn it on and start twisting the dial until he lands on some music that strikes his toddler fancy. Invariably, he finds his musical sweet spot on Z99. Avril Lavigne, Miley Cyrus, Macklemore, Robin <shudder> Thicke, he loves it all. The cheesier and poppier the better. I won’t kid you and say that you’re my favourite radio station, Z99. But you are my son’s. And, seriously, watching him dance to Katy Perry makes my day every single time. Thanks for that. /PD

BEST TV ANCHOR

JILL MORGAN
CBC
cbc.ca/sask

RUNNERS-UP: Costa Maragos (CBC) (2nd), Dan McIntosh (CTV) (3rd), Lindsay Dunn (CTV) (4th)

A good anchor is personable, direct, quick on their feet, and able to deliver the news with the right amount of gravitas. A sense of humour helps too. When Jill Morgan moved over to CBC Saskatchewan to anchor the supper hour newscast after 12 years at Global, she had some big shoes to fill. As we all well remember, longtime local favourite Costa Maragos held that post for 23 years (retiring last March). He’s not even anchoring anymore, and he still won second place! Morgan has done a stand-up job since taking the reins, and as our readers agree, she’s number one in their books. So welcome to the top spot, Jill Morgan, and congratulations! Here’s to many more years of telling it to us like it is. /VS

BEST TV NEWS

CTV
regina.ctvnews.ca

RUNNERS-UP: CBC Saskatchewan (2nd), Global Regina (3rd)

It takes a talented team to pull together a top-notch news broadcast, and according to Prairie Dog readers, CTV Regina is the best in the city. Molly Thomas, Lindsay Dunn, Chris Hodges and Carey Smith kick off the day’s news coverage on CTV Morning Live. That’s followed by CTV News at Noon with Danelle Boivin and weather forecaster J.C. Garden. Boivin’s back for CTV News at Six with co-anchor Dan McIntosh, Garden and sports reporter Lee Jones. Then there’s new recruits Michele Gerwing and Darrell Romuld, and all the hard-working reporters and people behind the scenes who strive to keep things fresh. CTV Regina’s coverage of local politics, culture, sports and weather keep Reginans in the know, and Prairie Dog readers clearly appreciate the effort. /VS

BEST TV SPORTS

CTV
regina.ctvnews.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Global Regina (2nd), CBC Saskatchewan (3rd)

As I may have mentioned before, I’m no sports buff. I know that I live in a place where sports makes up a big part of local culture, but when a Rider game is on, I generally keep a low profile (it’s a terrific time to go grocery shopping, actually). It’s nothing personal. It’s just that, unless it’s tennis or swimming, I have no idea what’s going on. Luckily for Regina, I don’t have anything to do with covering sports. Nope, better to leave that to the experts at CTV Regina who have been doing a cracker-jack job covering everything from the Riders to the Regina Rams, the Pats, the University of Regina Cougars and a whole lot more. They’ve been on top of their game for a while. Last year, CTV’s Lee Jones won Prairie Dog’s award for Best Sports Reporter.

In recent months I’ve re-considered my situation, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I can no longer ignore popular sports and continue to call myself an engaged member of the community. In fact, I’ve decided I’m going to learn the rules of football, and when I do, you can bet I’ll be tuning in to CTV’s coverage. I hear they’re the best. /VS

BEST TWITTER FEED

REGINA POLICE SERVICE
@REGINAPOLICE

RUNNERS-UP: Taron Cochrane @taroncochrane (2nd), Lindsay Dunn @LindsayDunnCTV (3rd), Emma Graney @emma_graney (4th), Murray Mandryk@MMandryk (5th)

I crowd-sourced this blurb by asking Regina’s little corner of the Twitter-verse why people dig the @reginapolice feed. Within the first 45 minutes I heard a lot of great things: “It broke the wall of expectation by being human and funny,” says Elan Morgan (@schmutzie). “It’s a means of information for me. When someone goes missing, information on crime and stuff. That’s it for me,” says De-tona Walsh (@iamdwalsh). “They are impartial, witty, prompt, and don’t tweet with an attitude like the majority of the independent and MS media do,” says Steven Wilson (@SMWilsonWriter). “Informative, non-biased reports on Regina crime and other local events. Opportunity for quick and easy feedback,” says David Wirth (@BritIronRider). “They are interesting and I like the Wednesday ‘guess the fine’ game. I like keeping in touch with events too,” says Sandra Joy (@favel_s). “It strikes a good balance between informative and humorous,” says Natasha Frehlich (@natashaaf). “They give great insight into everyday police work (ride-along live tweeting) and they answer questions,” says Colleen (@BJellybean). Thanks for the help with the blurb everybody! #YQRRocks! /PD

BEST PRAIRIE DOG WRITER

PAUL DECHENE

RUNNERS-UP: Aidan Morgan (2nd), Stephen Whitworth (3rd)

One question I sometimes get is, “How can you bear to go to all those council meetings?” People seem to assume it’s a brain-numbing, soul-crushing experience to show up at city hall once or twice a month and take notes on all the goings on. But it’s not. At least I don’t think it is. I won’t kid you, it’s no Joss Whedon Avengers-sequel thrill ride. It’s more season two of Game Of Thrones crossed with Super Friends (the Wonder Twins years). Or as I’ve said to Whitworth more than once, “Think The Office with a touch of Manimal-style intrigue.” And by that I mean city hall has been pretty darn exciting this year. Come to think of it, many of you reading this probably know that already because there’s a decent chance you’ve either been following one or more of the big issues of 2013 or you’ve actually been out to a council meeting or five. And considering how council attendance has been through the roof lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s both. There’s been nights when the gallery is spilling out of Henry Baker Hall. I’ve never seen interest in city council like that.

Anyway, I’m rambling because I’m pretty embarrassed to be writing my own Best Prairie Dog Writer blurb. But it’s some kind of cruel tradition that Whitworth dreamed up so… . I’m going to end this where I probably should have started by thanking everybody who reads Prairie Dog. We have amazing readers which is proved time and again by the calibre of comments we get on the blog, and by the people who take the time to let us know they’ve been enjoying our coverage. Invariably, they’re the smart people who seem to really care about Regina. So thanks everybody. I really appreciate this. You’re awesome. /PD

BEST LOCAL NEWS BLOG/WEBSITE

CBC SASKATCHEWAN
cbc.ca/sask

RUNNERS-UP: Leader-Post (leaderpost.com) (2nd), News Talk CJME (newstalk980.com) (3rd), 620 CKRM (620ckrm.com) (4th)

Dirty blogging secret: whenever I’m culling morning news for a Dog Blog Six in the Morning post, the first tab I open is CBC Saskatchewan’s website. While there’s things I’m not fond of (CBC’s penchant for not naming other publications, the lack of bylines for their online news which makes it impossible to follow certain reporters on specific beats), Mother Corp’s Saskatchewan bureau makes great use of CBC National’s powerful infrastructure. Stories are up-to-date and thorough, with easy-to-find links to previous stories that provide valuable context and plenty of infographics and digital media content. Most mornings, there’s honestly more information than I know what to do with — much more than you might find scanning the front page of a newspaper. With the volume of news on CBC Sask’s “front page”, you can find interesting, important stories from across the province immediately where it might take some serious 8 a.m. digging on other platforms. Thanks for making aggregation a lot easier on me, CBC Saskatchewan! /JC

BIGGEST NEWS STORY

WASTE WATER REFERENDUM

RUNNERS-UP: Stadium (2nd), Regina Civic Election (3rd)

When Regina Water Watch started gathering signatures to force a referendum on council’s plan to build our wastewater treatment facility with a public-private partnership, I didn’t think things would explode the way they did. I knew the issue was important, but considering all the other major issues our city is grappling with — a housing crisis spurred by the worst vacancy rate in the country, a crime rate that’s the second worst in the country (and the worst based on crime severity), conflicts with the Rural Municipality of Sherwood over development plans, a massive investment of public funds in a football stadium — I didn’t think a question over who’s going to handle our poop would become the issue of 2013. Shows you what I know.

The fight over the wastewater P3 was more bitterly fought and at times more acrimonious than last year’s municipal election. The debates were better attended. The opinions on both sides were louder and more strident. But the funny thing is, as I write this blurb, Toronto is exploding over revelations around mayor Rob Ford’s substance abuse problems. And not too long ago, the mayor of Montreal was forced to resign due to allegations of corruption. I think it’s something to be proud of that our city council’s big challenge this year has a been a nerdy policy issue, and that our citizens spent the summer poring over the comparative economic merits of differing procurement methods and not the booze-fueled antics of our mayor on YouTube. The wastewater referendum may have divided Regina but at least it never became a hot topic on Gawker. /PD

PEOPLE

BEST CITIZEN ACTIVIST

MARC SPOONER

RUNNERS-UP: Jim Holmes (2nd), Jenn Bergen (3rd), Florence Stratton (4th)

Marc Spooner has earned a reputation as a passionate advocate for affordable housing and other measures to tackle homelessness. He’s also been a fierce critic of the Saskatchewan government’s plan to implement standardized testing in schools. Instead of what he calls the “factory model of education,” he promotes a vision of education centred on the needs of the child.

And he rejects the notion that a single visionary can drive social change on his or her own, describing community activism as a collective endeavour.

“I’m in total awe to be grouped with these other nominees,” he says without a hint of false modesty. “I don’t see my contributions as being more than theirs. To be singled out this way is a great honour. But the real honour is to work with people with that commitment and that passion.

“[Activism] is all our responsibility,” he adds. “It’s a failure of us as a community that homelessness happens, for example, especially when we have the money, the knowledge and the administrative capacity to prevent it. And it’s our collective responsibility to remedy it.”

Spooner, who also won Best University of Regina Professor, argues that singling out individuals for recognition can lead to the false sense that there’s a champion who will do all the work, allowing the rest of us to sit back when we should be stepping up. He also notes that social change does not always happen in the public arena. “Sometimes it’s the less visible, grassroots, community-level work that will get us the change we need,” he says.

Recent setbacks like the wastewater plant referendum have been discouraging for many Regina progressives. But Spooner remains optimistic.

“It’s important to be critical but hopeful,” he says. “Too much cynicism can become an excuse not to act.” /RP

BEST FITNESS INSTRUCTOR/PERSONAL TRAINER

COLIN HALL
Bodhi Tree Yoga
3104B 13th Ave. 306-552-9642
bodhitreeyoga.com

RUNNERS-UP: Jenna Leib (Level 10 Fitness) (2nd), Darci Anderson (Flux Regina) (3rd)

We divvy up these Best Of blurbs by reading through a list of categories and writers claim whichever ones they know something about or are interested in. When we got to this category, I initially passed because I’ve never had a fitness instructor or personal trainer. Then Steve mentioned the winner was Colin Hall of Bodhi Tree Yoga and I was like, “Holy crap. I totally know Colin. Our daughters are in the same grade at Connaught. He’s awesome!”

So while I bring no personal experience to this category beyond knowing the winner, I imagine if I was to ever sign on with a fitness instructor or personal trainer, Colin would be my first choice. He’s a funny, laid-back guy — and he can be kinda sarcastic too, which would be an absolute requirement for anyone charged with getting me fit. Frankly, it’s no surprise that everyone I know who’s taken a yoga class from Colin raves about how good he is. And that helps explain why Bodhi Tree has become such a success. Their school in Cathedral is thriving, and they recently opened a second location downtown: Bodhi Tree Hot Yoga. So if you’re like me (slovenly, out-of-shape and about as flexible as a two-by-four) and, unlike me, you’re considering taking up yoga, give Colin a call at Bodhi Tree. /PD

BEST ESTHETICIAN

APRIL LINDENBACH
Fleur’t Studios
2120 College Ave. 306-545-7373
fleurt.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Krystal Koffler (Xstasy Esthetics) (2nd), Tania Rice (Certified Esthetics) (3rd)

April Lindenbach is one of the great people who, during the course of Best of Regina voting, reached out to her clients and asked for their support. “I am so eternally grateful and blessed to have such a wonderful client base that believes in me,” she wrote at the time. She has plenty to give back, as everyone who voted for her knows. Lindenbach and her salon, Fleur’t, are dedicated to getting people in touch with their bodies. She said as much when she was talking with Fine Lifestyles Regina earlier this year. “I want women to know more about their skin. People get intimidated by the beauty industry, there is so much out there. Beauty can be as simple as you need it to be.”

The message has been received. In May, Fleur’t moved to a new, bigger location and also took on a new esthetician, Dayna Wilkins, to meet demand. /JB

BEST WOMEN’S HAIRSTYLIST

FRAN GILBOY
Frank’s Barber Shop
15th Ave. & Montreal St.

RUNNERS-UP: Janelle Mazurkewich (Salon 306) (2nd), Kristina Hallwas (Salon 306) (3rd), Nicole Dumelie (Salon 306) (4th)

You don’t expect to find a woman’s hairstylist at a place called Frank’s Barber Shop, which sort of sounds like a place where men with moustaches administer no-nonsense cuts and straight razor shaves to other men with moustaches. Instead, the magical Fran Gilboy works there, touching up roots and taking names. She’s won the Best of Regina title in 2012 and 2011, so whatever she’s doing (which I assume is cutting women’s hair) is working. A good stylist is part magician, part politician and part salesperson, able to bring out the best in people and forming lasting relationships with their clients. And in the minds of Prairie Dog readers, Gilboy — who’s also a member of Best Of Regina winner FadaDance — succeeds on all counts. /AM

BEST MEN’S HAIRSTYLIST

CRAIG ZAMONSKY
Ragged Ass Barbers
2124 Robinson St.
306-565-2729
raggedassbarbers.com

RUNNERS-UP: Fran Gilboy (Frank’s Barber Shop) (2nd), Levi Carleton (Iron Beauty) (3rd)

I owe Prairie Dog editor Stephen Whitworth an apology. He assigned me to pay a visit to Craig  at his old-school walk-in barbershop, and I didn’t get it done. Hear me out, though: I have an excuse. See, along with being a great stylist (I’ve had him cut my hair several times, and as someone with luxurious, immaculate locks, I can vouch), Craig is well-trained in the classic art of the s-t-r-a-i-g-h-t r-a-z-o-r s-h-a-v-e. That’s right: he’s an expert at wielding a sharpened blade, along with a brush and some shaving cream, and delivering an invigorating grooming experience for the hirsute male. I was supposed to get him to shave my face. But I can’t bring myself to do it, for the sole reason that I’ve heard such good things about his straight-razor skills that I’ve decided that before I get my first straight-razor shave I need to get rid of my beard and I’m just not ready to commit yet. Your first time ought to be special, you know? /JC

BEST LAWYER

NOAH EVANCHUK
100-2184 12th Ave. 306-525-8136
evanchuklaw.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Marc Kelly (2nd), Courtney Keith (3rd), Dirk Silversides (4th)

Noah Evanchuk offers a range of legal services including criminal defense, wills and estate planning, power of attorney agreements, health care directives and real estate law. But it’s     probably his willingness to defend those on the margin, including clients on social assistance or with mental health challenges, that has earned him the trust and respect of Prairie Dog readers in the last four Best of Regina polls. Either that, or you all think he looks dashing in those lawyerly robes.

Evanchuk’s passionate advocacy on behalf of the mentally ill and the socially disadvantaged informs both his legal practice and his volunteer work with the Regina Free Legal Clinic operated by the Salvation Army. He believes in equal access to justice for all Saskatchewan people, and is an ardent champion of “judicare” to ensure all Canadians have access to a basic standard of legal services. Recently he announced his plans to run for the NDP in the new urban-only riding of Regina-Lewvan in the next federal election in 2015. /RP

BEST MASSAGE THERAPIST

JOSH APPERLEY
2352 Smith St. 306-737-6114
joshapperleymassagetherapy.com

RUNNERS-UP: Christie Langen (2nd), Jennifer Collins (3rd)

Every year the Regina Folk Festival offers massage services for artists backstage. One of the talented therapists this past year? Josh Apperley. I don’t know who he had his hands all over but, hypothetically at least, if he’s good enough for Hayden or Neko Case, he’s good enough for you, right? Plenty of you no doubt already agree. Apperley is an independent massage therapist operating out of a space on Smith Street just north of College Avenue. A graduate of the Western College of Remedial Massage Therapy, Apperley is in the process of growing his business but, with reasonable hours and a friendly demeanor, that shouldn’t prove to a problem. /JB

BEST CITY COUNCILLOR

SHAWN FRASER (WARD 3)
306-551-5030
shawnfraser.ca

RUNNERS-UP: None of the Above (2nd), Mike O’Donnell (3rd)

Shawn Fraser first attracted public attention during his tenure as Executive Director of Carmichael Outreach, when he became a leading voice for greater public investment in affordable housing in our city. When he ran for City Council in 2012, he attracted attention again for his thoughtful opposition to the proposed stadium project and his clever campaign, which showcased prominent community leaders and their contributions to Ward 3. It was the smartest way of profiling endorsements I’ve ever seen, and it helped propel Fraser to victory in a field that included other progressive candidates like Eric Anderson, Shirley Dixon and Susan Birley. In the past year, Fraser has distinguished himself on a number of issues, most recently his 10 Days of Transit project which led to some good recommendations for improving our transit system.

Fraser surprised many Prairie Dog readers when he supported the wastewater treatment plant P3. Still, he stands out on a visionless City Council that seems to believe people will only invest or build in Regina if residents surrender their right to decide what kind of city they want to live in. /RP

BEST MLA

TRENT WOTHERSPOON
www.ndpcaucus.sk.ca/wotherspoon

RUNNERS-UP: Warren McCall (2nd), Mark Docherty (3rd)

Trent Wotherspoon was first elected MLA for Regina Rosemont in 2007 and was re-elected in 2011. When former leader Dwain Lingenfelter stepped down he ran for the NDP leadership and showed pure class in his loss to fellow MLA and friend Cam Broten. He’s since been appointed Deputy Leader by Broten — a team described as the NDP’s “dynamic duo”. He currently bats for the NDP as the critic for Education, Municipal Relations, Urban Affairs, Finance, Economy and the Global Transportation Hub.

Wotherspoon has a number of passions, but his first love is education. He has a Bachelor of Education degree and has taken graduate studies in Education Administration and undergrad courses in Business Admin. During his time with the Public School Board, he pioneered many programs such as the creation of an adult education campus, a vocational adaptation program for students with special needs, and a nationally recognized youth justice program for young offenders of “highest risk”. He also did addictions and behavioural counselling at Ranch Ehrlo.

Wotherspoon’s resolve remains strong in the face of the Saskatchewan government’s mishandling of education policy. He recently proposed a private member’s bill calling for transparency in the government’s planned P3 school-building initiative. I’m confident that Regina’s favourite MLA is the right person to defend the integrity of education in the province. Go Trent. /AR

BEST MP

RALPH GOODALE
310 University Park Dr. 306-585-2202
ralphgoodale.ca

RUNNERS-UP: None of the Above (2nd), Andrew Scheer (3rd)

Ralph Goodale has been a fixture in Saskatchewan politics for decades, including a single term as an MP in the 1970s and seven consecutive terms beginning in 1993. He’s also considered to be a “big deal” in national political circles, having served as a minister in numerous federal Liberal government portfolios including Finance from 2003-05. Currently, the Regina Wascana MP is Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

I can’t personally vouch for Goodale’s casework on behalf of constituents, but I can attest to his presence at community events. The man gets around! And this September he single-handedly saved Davin (a tiny hamlet 40 km south-east of Regina) from destruction at the hands of the evil Conservatives. Okay, not literally. But when a statistical anomaly stemming from the Harper government’s dumb decision to eliminate the mandatory long-form census resulted in Davin being wiped from the map, Goodale was quick to protest to Stats Canada and have the hamlet restored.

It’s worth noting that Goodale is the only MP who outperformed “none of the above”. Seriously, what does it say about Regina’s three Conservative MPs that Prairie Dog readers would rather have no representation at all? /RP & GB

BEST AMATEUR ATHLETE

MARK MCMORRIS
markmcmorris.com

RUNNERS-UP: Stacey Shand (2nd), Marc Mueller (3rd)

Totally rad choice, Prairie Dog dudes and dudettes! McMorris, or McLovin as he’s known on the circuit, is a world-class snowboarder. Backed by two of the biggest names in the sport (Red Bull and Burton Snowboards) he’s the reigning two-time Winter X-Games champ in the slopestyle event. Under the tutelage of Norwegian snowboarding legend Terje Haakonsen, McMorris is apparently the first person to ever complete a backside triple cork 1440. I don’t know what that means either, but if you watch video of him and his fellow “big air” competitors in action, you can’t help but be impressed. Equally remarkable is the fact McMorris reached the pinnacle of his sport at such a young age (he turns 20 on Dec. 9), and that he did it while growing up in a flat-as-a-pancake province like Saskatchewan. Slopestyle snowboarding will debut at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and McMorris is a gold medal favourite. So expect to hear a lot more about him in the weeks and months to come. /GB

BEST REGINA PAT

MORGAN KLIMCHUK

RUNNERS-UP: Dyson Stevenson (2nd), Chandler Stephenson (3rd)

I went to Morgan Klimchuk’s Twitter feed as soon as I found out he won Best Regina Pat. (@morganklimchuk, if you’re interested in following him.) Scrolling through, it was tough to find something that wasn’t at least tangentially related to hockey. Among the tweets was a picture of a world championship ring he won in an under-18 tournament in Sochi, Russia in April. That’s just one of the many accomplishments the 5’11” 185 pound left winger has. Klimchuk broke in with the Pats during the 2010-11 season, playing five games that year. In the next two seasons, he earned progressively more ice time with his strong play — recording 18 goals and 18 assists in 2011-12, and 36 goals and 40 assists in 2012-13. It’s no surprise, then, that in the 2013 draft he was a first round pick for his hometown Calgary Flames.

“He was a real focused kid from the day we selected him in the bantam draft,” Pats GM Chad Lang told CJME at the time. “He knew what he wanted to achieve personally and today he was rewarded for his effort.” In other words, don’t expect his Twitter feed to go off hockey any time soon. /JB

BEST SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDER

WESTON DRESSLER

RUNNERS-UP: Kory Sheets (2nd), Chris Getzlaf (3rd), Darian Durant (4th), Geroy Simon (5th)

It was a clean sweep for the offence as far as the finalists for Best Saskatchewan Roughrider — which is somewhat surprising considering that for a good chunk of the season the unit performed inconsistently while the defence led the league in a number of statistical categories. Still, it’s hard to argue with your selection of six-year veteran Weston Dressler as the Green & White’s top player. Despite being bothered by a shoulder injury for several games mid-season, the pint-sized dynamo recorded 70 receptions for 1,011 yards and nine TDs. He also returned nine punts for 100 yards and had five rushes for 26 yards. Like his teammate, first runner-up Kory Sheets was a force to be reckoned with on offence despite missing some games to injury — rushing for 1,598 yards on 287 carries and scoring 12 TDs, while also recording 264 yards on 37 receptions. Here’s hoping the talented twosome get to showcase their talents in the Grey Cup on home turf on Nov. 24.
/GB

BEST TEACHER (K-8)

MATT BRESCIANI
Deshaye School Grade 7/8
brescianisblurbs.blogspot.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Adrienne Sklar (2nd), Markus Rubrecht (3rd), Shianne Crichlow (4th)

“I am teaching more than curriculum — I am teaching children,” says Matt Bresiani. “I need to understand my students and develop a student/teacher relationship with them that fosters a positive learning environment.”

It’s tough sending kids off to school, trusting them to the protection of strangers in over-crowded classrooms where teachers enjoy less and less support. Bresciani, who comes from a family of teachers, is a middle years teacher at Deshaye who tackles today’s education obstacles by being fresh and innovative in his classroom. As the above quote demonstrates, he believes that it’s his job to teach children in a way that they can learn, rather than forcing them to learn the way that he teaches. Check out his blog where he even provides a daily entry called “What We Learned Today”, detailing the day in class and outlining upcoming tests and school events.

Bresciani goes above and beyond the call of duty. His passion and dedication make certain that children gain knowledge from his lessons, not just homework and grades. /AR

BEST TEACHER (HIGH SCHOOL)

KRIS DUECK
Luther College

RUNNERS-UP: Kristin Exner (2nd), Samantha Taylor (3rd), Dave Hambleton (4th), Dean Vendramin (5th)

I don’t know about you, but when I was in high school, I got the distinct impression that a lot of my teachers just didn’t want to be there. I can’t say I blame them. We were awful. But there are some who I still remember fondly. They kept us in line, but treated us like the burgeoning young adults that we were — as people worthy of respect, and capable of holding real responsibility. More than that, they showed us the potential in ourselves that many of us couldn’t see at the time. Good high school teachers are worth their weight in gold. Which is why I think it’s nice that we have this category. It’s a way to send out a little appreciation for those who inspire and motivate this country’s future citizens. Kris Dueck is one of them. He teaches history and drama at Luther College, and is obviously committed to creating a stimulating, challenging, and inclusive environment for his students — Prairie Dog readers wouldn’t have voted him number one otherwise! Congratulations Mr. Dueck, and keep on fighting the good fight. /VS

BEST U OF R PROFESSOR

MARC SPOONER

RUNNERS-UP: James Pitsula (2nd), Michelle Stewart (3rd), David deMontigny (4th)

Education professor Marc Spooner is a big advocate of the “unbounded” classroom. “Learning is not divorced from the community in which it operates,” he says. “Any space is an educational space, not just the bricks and mortar at the U of R.” Spooner’s view of education as a public good has led him to give numerous talks in restaurants, bars, hotel ballrooms and even Victoria Park. As a result, he’s become one of the best known members of the University of Regina’s faculty, and a multiple winner of the title Best U of R Professor in Prairie Dog’s annual readers’ poll (he also reluctantly accepted this year’s Best Citizen Activist award). Spooner believes that education should be about liberation instead of indoctrination. He says that while there is a link between literacy and liberation, simply passing on knowledge is not enough. “I want my students to be able to function in the world we have. But I also want them to have the agency to imagine and build a better world in the future.” /RP

BEST REAL ESTATE AGENT

SEAN MALCOLM
Royal Lepage Realty
3889 Arcola Ave. E. 306-527-0615
malcolmhomes.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Penny Milton (2nd), Brin Werrett (3rd)

“In life I realized if you want something bad enough, you could achieve it, if you put everything you had into it,” says Sean Malcolm. “Even if I lost, I knew I tried my best. So I guess in a way I still won. I look at life the same way.”

Wise words from Regina’s best realtor.

Malcolm, who’s only been practising for seven years, attributes his success to hard work, high standards for himself and long days — he works 24/7 alongside his wife Melanie Robertson, who recently teamed up with him. This dynamic partnership might be the John Steed and Emma Peel of the city’s real estate scene.

Malcolm is a very positive person. Once he sets his mind to something, it will be done. Good old-fashioned hard work and honesty have paved the path to success for this young realtor. /AR

BEST STYLIN’ REGINAN

DEAN RENWICK
deanrenwickdesignstudio.com

RUNNERS-UP:  Neil McDonald (2nd), Courtney Pederson (3rd), Lorena Valentina Leal (4th)

Apologies to all the lovely hula-hooping cowboy baristas and local arts enthusiasts in the crowd, but it’s bound to be difficult to usurp an established fashion designer when it comes to style. As Regina strives to raise its sartorial profile, local fashion entrepreneurs are leading the charge (note that up-and-coming designer Courtney Pederson is a runner-up in this category). Dean Renwick is known for his red-carpet-ready haute-couture gowns, but it’s his personal style and playful take on menswear that make him a winner in the eyes of our readers who raised him to the dizzying heights of Best Stylin’ Reginan. In the words of the legendary French designer Coco Chanel, “Fashion fades; only style remains the same.” /AG

BEST TATTOO ARTIST

TERRY OH
1320 St. John St. 306-352-7546
terryoh.com

RUNNERS-UP: Sean Treble (2nd), Nathan Donahoe (3rd), Corey Radons (4th), Scott Unsworth (5th)

I’ve never had the stones to get a tattoo, but I’ve always admired the artistry involved. On the right human canvass, I think tattoo art can be sexy as hell. Terry Oh has been tattooing for over seven years. He attributes his popularity with Prairie Dog readers to the working relationship he enjoys with his customers.

“My customers come in with an idea but it’s up to me to make it tattooable,” he says.

When you check out Oh’s online portfolio, you realize that’s no small feat. There are many different body types, skin tones and textures. But Oh has become a master at creating extremely colourful and elaborate designs ranging from sentimental portraits of Mom and Dad to whimsical characters like Captain Jack Sparrow to macabre depictions of decaying faces, blood and skulls.

I liked the tattoos of Frankenstein best. Do people who choose this design, I wonder, want to make a statement about how when we deviate from societal expectations we’re seen as monsters? Or do they pick it because it looks totally rad? I vote for the latter. /RP

BEST UNSUCCESSFUL CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR IN THE 2012 CIVIC ELECTION

MARIAN DONNELLY

RUNNERS-UP: Meka Okochi (2nd), Chad Novak (3rd), Jim Elliott (4th), Charles Wiebe (5th)

“Unsuccessful” is not a word I associate with Marian Donnelly. Crusading for the arts is not an easy task, and Donnelly has celebrated many victories. In recent years, she’s received the Mayor’s Arts and Business Award for Innovation, two YWCA Women of Distinction nominations, and two Best Arts & Culture Mastermind nods in Prairie Dog.

During her tenure as executive director of SaskMusic, we saw the birth of the Flatland Music Festival, Flatland Music Series, and Prairie Music Week (which grew into the Western Canadian Music Awards and BreakOut West). The latter event in particular has been instrumental (pun intended) in opening countless doors for young Saskatchewan musicians.

Donnelly has also established grassroots programs which serve as empowering tools to young artists. As a sessional lecturer in Arts Administration at the University of Regina, she piloted a program in Creative Entrepreneurship. In 2008 she formed Inner Circle Management, a consulting service available to a variety of arts and community organizations.

As if that weren’t enough, in the interest of revitalizing downtown Regina she spearheaded the establishment of Creative City Centre in 2011. Located on the top two floors of the historic Engineers Building at 1843 Hamilton St., CCC serves as a small multi-purpose art collective and has been host to over 150 events since it opened.

Needless to say, her contributions to the preservation of arts and culture have been invaluable and Donnelly is highly regarded throughout Canada. Too bad more Reginans didn’t recognize her dedication and resourcefulness in last fall’s election. /AR

BEST VOLUNTEER

JEFF “REDBEARD” CORBETT

RUNNERS-UP: Linda Mackenzie (2nd), Danielle Gauthier Kratz (3rd)

Most of you know Jeff from his long-running Monday radio show Redbeard’s Blues on CJTR. While he’s logged plenty of volunteer hours on the community station’s airwaves, off air he’s been active too as a vocal and visible advocate for live music and the arts in general. In recent years he’s organized dozens of benefit shows at Bushwakker’s, McNally’s, the Exchange and other locations in Regina. Local bands generously volunteer their time, and proceeds go to CJTR or one of a number of worthwhile charities that Redbeard’s raised money for over the years. This isn’t the first time he’s been recognized for his volunteer work in 2013. In April he won a Mayor’s Arts and Business Award, in part for his tireless activism on behalf of Regina’s community radio station. Wanna congratulate him in person? Next time you’re out at a concert, just look for the fellow with a red beard who everyone’s glad to see. Congrats, Jeff. You deserve it! /JC

SERVICES

BEST GYM

YMCA
2400 13th Ave. 306-757-9622
5939 Rochdale Blvd. 306-757-9622
www.regina.ymca.ca

RUNNERS-UP: University of Regina Fitness Centre (2nd), Gold’s Gym (3rd), Flux CrossFit (4th)

I’ve been the kind of guy who works out regularly (see: 2012) and I’ve been a lazy schmuck (see: 2013). It’s okay — I know the friendly people at the YMCA don’t judge me for being a failure this year. Maybe it’s because they’re nice, or maybe it’s because they’re just too busy. Besides great exercise facilities and fitness classes at both Regina locations, the YMCA has programs, programs and more programs. What kind of programs? Childcare and youth classes! Day camps! Gymnasiums! Pools for swimming! Massage for de-aching! A convenient place to vote in hotly contested wastewater treatment plant referendums!

The downtown YMCA even has a Prairie Dog stand, so you can pick up this magnificent publication when it hits the streets every two weeks. Just another reason “Y” (HAR HAR!) the YMCA is terrific. /SW

BEST ACCOUNTANT

SANDRA JACKSON
(CGA PROF CORP)
2222 13th Ave. 306-757-3261
sandrajacksoncga.com

RUNNERS-UP: Senger Kaufmann (CMA Prof Corp) (2nd), Pharos Business Integration (3rd)

We’ve come a long way since prehistoric times when our capacity to count was limited to using our fingers and making notches in a piece of wood or bone. Now we have sophisticated computer programs that help us keep track of personal income, business revenue, expenses, depreciation, deductions and whatnot. For accountants like Prairie Dog reader favourite Sandra Jackson, number-crunching is certainly one aspect of the service she provides. But modern accountants do much more than that. If you visit Jackson’s website (and oh I did), you’ll find that she also has the expertise to help you manage your financial affairs prudently as an individual or business to maximize your wealth and profitably.

And if you do end up being tapped by Revenue Canada or another government agency for an audit, she can ensure that your records are in order so that you don’t run afoul of the law and face a hefty fine or stint in the hoosegow. And no one likes the hoosegow! /GB

BEST AUTO REPAIR SHOP

KUNTZ’S AUTOMOTIVE
3435 Hill Ave. 306-586-4637

RUNNERS-UP: Bennett Dunlop Ford (2nd), Driven Automotive (3rd), Kinetic Auto Service (4th), Auto Lab (5th)

Since 1992 the guys at Kuntz Automotive have offered honest work at honest prices for all your vehicle repair needs. Located in the heart of Lakeview, Kuntz supports the community that surrounds it. Every used car I’ve ever bought has gone down to Kuntz so the guys can check it out. Father and son sometimes have differing opinions on what needs to be done, but they are always looking out for their customers’ best interests. In the world of chains, box stores and other manifestations of Big Business, it’s nice to know that a piece of small-town Saskatchewan is alive and well on Hill Avenue. /AR

BEST AUTO GLASS REPAIR

NOVUS AUTO GLASS
260 Albert St. 306-525-6444
novusregina.com

RUNNERS-UP: Queen City Glass (2nd), Fast Glass (3rd), Hepting Glass Centre (4th)

My brother spent years working at a local car rental agency, and of all the windshield repair places he dealt with he loved Novus Auto Glass the most. For simple cracks and chips they can send a person out to wherever you are if you can’t make it to their shop or you’re just lazy. For bigger jobs it’s better for everyone concerned to just go there. Trying to replace a windshield in a parking lot just doesn’t work logistically. They also have a huge, 200-plus collection of diecast cars for sale in their showroom. They’re all 1:18 scale and are awesome. My brother gave me The Last Of The V8 Interceptors as my X-mas gift one year (if you don’t know Mad Max, I feel sorry for you). It’s freaking amazing. It even comes with Mad Max’s dog.

Novus is a great place to fix your windshield and buy diecast cars — who knew? Well, Prairie Dog readers apparently did. /SH

BEST DAY SPA

ESSENCE ORGANIC HAIR & DAY SPA
2125 Victoria Ave. 306-522-7272
essenceorganicspa.com

RUNNERS-UP: Soma Salon & Spa (2nd), Jane’s Skin Care & Day Spa (3rd), Fleur’t Studios (4th)

Housed in the mightily classy Hotel Saskatchewan, Essence Organic Hair & Day Spa is Regina’s answer for pampered grooming. The spa offers a wide array of world-class treatments and experiences for guests to indulge in, including hot stone massage, micro-pigmentation and classic manis and pedis. The website alone is a salve for the overworked and seasonally affected guy or gal: their services include a range of “Beauty Rituals”, “Body Bar” options, and “Spa Journeys”. I’m personally intrigued by the “Curly Gurls” salon cuts as well as the “A Taste of Essence” spa package, which concludes with a light dessert. Yum! Essence has special occasions and groups covered too, with services tailored to expectant mothers, brides-to-be, gentlemen, couples and other groups looking to share a special spa experience. /AG

BEST HAIR SALON

Salon 306

SALON 306
4041 Albert St. 306-347-3306

RUNNERS-UP: Frank’s Barber Shop (2nd), Saving Grace (3rd), Perimeters Studio (4th), Il Biondo (5th)

Here’s some behind-the-scenes Best of Regina intrigue for you. Basically, the baldest guy at the magazine assigned this category to the second baldest guy. Is this a sly inside joke? A nod towards the shared experience of facing the mirror alone with a set of clippers and a forlorn expression? Why else would he decide that the best man for this job is someone who will never, ever need the services of a hair salon? Whatever the case may be, Salon 306 usurped the top spot in this category from the 2012 winner Shear Escape Salon, whose punning title couldn’t help them this year. Aside from cutting the hair of the non-follically challenged, Salon 306 also does hairpieces and extensions… hmmn, maybe the assigner of this blurb and the assignee should swing by there sometime and check it out. You know, for awesomeness. /AM

BEST BANK BRANCH

RBC GOLDEN MILE
3816 Albert St. 306-780-2691
rbcroyalbank.com

RUNNERS-UP: CIBC (Downtown) (2nd), TD Canada Trust (Victoria Square Mall) (3rd), TD Canada Trust (Downtown) (4th), TD Canada Trust (Rochdale) (5th)

In this age of online banking you still need to deal with real people sometimes. And the Royal Bank of Canada’s Golden Mile branch has been voted by you as Regina’s best bank branch. I’ve actually experienced their great service first hand. As a loyal RBC customer I suddenly found myself without a working bank card. It seems that my information had been compromised — well, me and a whole bunch of other clients (it happens more and more frequently — I blame the Russian mafia). Anyway, I went into an extremely busy RBC Golden Mile branch and they were fast, friendly and I got a new card (with a new password) before I knew it. And RBC can do many other things besides replace debit cards. So congrats to them for the great human touch they provide for their clients. /SH

BEST FINANCIAL PLANNERS

RBC FINANCIAL SERVICES
Any RBC branch location 1-800-769-2511
rbcroyalbank.com

RUNNERS-UP:  Investors Group Financial (2nd)

I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t done enough to plan for my eventual retirement. Heck, I haven’t done enough financial planning period. It’s not that I haven’t done some, but I really should start being more forward thinking. And according to the Prairie Dog readers, the best people around for financial planning are the good people at RBC. With the services they offer you can prepare for your golden years, or just map out a strategy to purchase a really expensive car or house. From newbies to the Regina equivalent of Warren Buffet, RBC has the tools you need to realize your financial goals from RRSPs to mutual funds, stocks, bonds, ETFs, RESPs, TFSAs and GICs. What does all that mean? I haven’t a clue. But then, that’s what a financial planner is for. Maybe I should give them a call and finally start investing. /SH

BEST MORTGAGE BROKER

SKOTT ENNS (TMG THE MORTGAGE GROUP)
206-4303 Albert St. 306-201-6500
skottenns.com

RUNNERS-UP: Jackson Middleton (The Kilted Broker) (2nd), Carrie Cardinal (3rd)

I’m a new homeowner, and holy home inspection Batman!, there’s a lot of red tape and financial stuff to work out when buying property. Gone are the days of wagonning-up as a settler to your 160 acres of [stolen First Nations] land granted under the Dominion Lands Act. Nowadays it’s all about fixed and variable mortgage rates, down payments and possession dates. Thankfully there are special folks in the world like Skott Enns of The Mortgage Group who are schooled in the arcane arts of home financing and who know how to do the math better than us plebs. Enns is to a potential homeowner what a helicopter would have been to a shipwrecked Titanic survivor: a ray of hope in a nightmare situation. /AG

BEST INSURANCE COMPANY

KNIGHT ARCHER INSURANCE
512 Victoria Ave. E. 306-569-2288
4147 Rochdale Blvd. 306-525-8888
knightarcher.com

RUNNERS-UP: Galon Insurance (2nd), Campbell & Haliburton Insurance (3rd), Schultz Gareau Insurance (4th), HK Insurance (5th)

Insurance is one of those painful necessities in life, much like writing a will or getting a root canal. It forces you to think about everything that might go horribly wrong, and because of that some people place insurance brokers in the same category as lawyers and politicians. Knight Archer is one of Regina’s most well established insurance companies, having operated for more than 30 years. They employ 22 brokers, and do everything from issuing motor vehicle licences to offering home (including tenant and condominium packages), auto, business, health and travel insurance, along with something called sports insurance. For the record, that doesn’t pay you cash for losing the big game because you suck as an athlete. And, of course, they offer life insurance — the one investment that’s guaranteed to pay out someday, albeit for a beneficiary other than you. Another plus: they provide service in 13 different languages. So they’re venerable, yes, but also in touch with the changing fabric of our city. All in all, Knight Archer is a great place to go when you want to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. /RP

BEST ELECTRICIAN

CATHEDRAL ELECTRIC
306-530-9438

RUNNERS-UP: Alliance Energy Ltd. (2nd), Watts Electric (3rd)

Not too long ago, we decided to change the light fixture in our bedroom. I read the instructions that came with our new hanging lamp, watched a YouTube video on how to install it, and got to work. But once I had our old fixture removed I looked up in horror to find that we had an octopus of multi-coloured wires hanging from our ceiling. “That wasn’t in the YouTube video,” I thought. I also discovered that an outlet on the other side of the room was suddenly no longer working. Disconcerting. I tried hooking up the light using various configurations of wires but only managed to blow the fuse a few times. I needed a professional. Fortunately, I noticed a Cathedral Electric van parked in our neighbourhood and decided to give them a call. They were able to come by the next day. They were friendly and professional and had my light mounted and outlet working in less than half an hour. And at no point did they make me feel like a doofus for not being able to do something simple like hook up a light fixture. The Cathedral Electric card is still on my fridge, and I’ll call them whenever I need electrical work done. They’re a great bunch of guys. /PD

BEST FLOORING

END OF THE ROLL
2410 Victoria Ave. E. 306-585-7655
endoftheroll.com

RUNNERS-UP: Fiorante Floors (2nd), Carpet Superstores (3rd)

A friend of a friend had a jam room in his last house, and may or may not have cribbed some carpet from End of the Roll’s dumpster to provide some makeshift sound insulation. I may or may not have thought to myself that even the stuff they huck out in the dumpster is, well, nice carpeting. It probably looks much better on a floor than on a wall. And, heck, since they won this category, I’m going to venture a guess that I’ve probably seen and felt and maybe even admired their flooring in the homes of friends and relatives without even realizing it. A crappy carpet is something you can’t shut up about, but not once have I heard anyone say, “Ugh, End of the Roll.” Truly, they are one of the unsung heroes of a pleasant, homey domicile. /JC

BEST PLUMBER

TOWN & COUNTRY PLUMBING & HEATING
1450 S. Railway 306-352-4328
tccomfort.com

RUNNERS-UP: Litzenberger Plumbing & Heating (2nd), Douglas Plumbing & Heating (3rd)

Guess who our family got our fancy, high efficiency furnace from? That’s right, this year’s winner for best plumber: Town & Country Plumbing & Heating. And you know why we thought to hire them? Because back when we were looking for a new furnace, I checked the Best Plumber category in Prairie Dog’s Best of Regina feature and Town & Country had won that year too. So I gave them a call. They didn’t disappoint. They did stellar work and we love the furnace. Now I give them a call for every clogged drain or toilet installation disaster. Seriously, I’m completely useless at home improvements. Good thing Town & Country has been able to bail me out when things go awry. /PD

BEST REAL ESTATE COMPANY

CENTURY 21
420 Albert St. 306-789-1222
4535 Rochdale Blvd. 306-789-1222
century21.ca

RUNNERS-UP: RE/Max (2nd), Royal LePage Regina Realty (3rd)

Realtors are MLS made flesh. One moment you’re dreaming of owning a parcel of God’s good green earth and searching the realty website for a gem of a home. The next you’re calling a realtor — and suddenly you’re swept into a maelstrom of visits to houses that are listed for sale and, if you’re fortunate enough to find something in your price range that you like, making the biggest financial decision of your life. Luckily, there are realtors like those at Century 21 out there to guide you on this journey through Middle Earth like benevolent, all-knowing Gandalfs. Good realtors are the exact type of tenacious, hard-working folk you want representing you in the property game whether you’re buying or selling a home. The people of Regina have spoken, and Century 21 are the best. /AG

BEST TRAVEL AGENTS

CAA TRAVEL
4528 Albert St. 306-791-4400
2510 Quance St. E 306-791-4333
200 Albert St. 306-791-4444
caask.ca/travel

RUNNERS-UP: Marlin Travel (2nd), Carlson Wagonlit Travel (3rd), Uniglobe Action Travel (4th)

Part of the lure of travel is the sense of adventure it provides. But for most people, there are limits on how much adventure they want to experience. At the very least, they want assurances that the essentials like travel arrangements and accommodations are taken care of. That’s why people go to a travel agent: for a sense of certainty. There isn’t much out there in the world of travel that says “certainty” more than CAA. The 100-year-old non-profit has three locations in Regina staffed by experienced folks able to get you where you want to go. They’ve also got a whole lot of packages you can choose from if you don’t have something in mind already. These include far-off vacations, destination weddings, a minimum of two different bus tours to Branson and “adventure travel” — which conjures up images of that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where they jump out of the plane in a raft. /JB

BEST CONTRACTOR TO CALL IN A CATASTROPHE

RESTOREX
1465 McDonald St. 306-522-3350
restorexsask.com

RUNNERS-UP: Walnut Construction (2nd), Stubbs’ Construction (3rd)

With winter knocking at the door and the possibility of another season of heavy snowfall looming, Regina homeowners have valid cause for concern about the safety of their properties. Fortunately, Restorex is available to help with all your home disaster needs. Whether it’s fire, smoke, water or ice damage, Restorex employees are certified and fully prepared to deal with your calamity. Restorex deals with all the headaches (including the insurance providers) until your casa is back to its former glory. They have a 24-hour emergency line, and locations in Melville, Moose Jaw and Yorkton as well to better serve those in need. Home catastrophes and renos can be emotionally taxing, so it’s nice to have experienced pros on your side. Like the pros at Restorex. /AR

CITY SHOPPING

BEST ADULT STORE

Industrial Luv

INDUSTRIAL LUV
1933 8th Ave. 306-522-4542
industrialuv.com

RUNNERS-UP: Love Plus (2nd)

I’m not above judging a sex shop by its name, and Industrial Luv speaks to the late ’90s young person in me who hearted Nine Inch Nails and cutesy femme culture in equal measure. Beyond my own psychological profile and the gleefulness of this sex shop’s name, Industrial Luv has you covered (and bound, and stuffed, and tickled) when it comes to sexy toys, accessories, supplies and outfits. Some of the company’s bonus features include weekly Wednesday “Hump Day” giveaway offers and home parties, which are great if you’re looking for an exciting way to spend an evening in with friends. Industrial Luv has a brick-and-mortar store one can walk (or slink) into, but it also hosts a thriving web business for customers who prefer discretion. So do check out their website for a full listing of their stock. /AG

BEST BABY STUFF

GROOVY MAMA
3206 13th Ave. 306-347-2229
groovymama.net

RUNNERS-UP: Crocus and Ivy (2nd), Hello Baby (3rd), Precious Earth (4th)

My family has outgrown Groovy Mama, but back when our son was first born, it was invaluable. They offer high quality, ethically produced items ranging from toys to books to diapers and baby lotion. I bought one of my favourite baby slings there. But even though we don’t need diapers or breast pumps around the house anymore, I still appreciate all the social activism and community building that owner-operator Leslie Charlton and the Groovy Mama team are involved in. One of their key projects is to refurbish old cloth diapers and donate packs to low-income families who would otherwise have difficulty affording them. Groovy Mama has also put their name behind efforts to keep small community schools open in Regina and they’ve spoken out against the Harper government’s cuts to the arts. Beyond that, their little purple shop is a lovely addition to the Cathedral neighbourhood. In the spring and summer, Charlton and her family tend a lush garden in the small plot in front of the store. And at Christmas, they put together an elaborate, animated window display. Those are the kinds of things that bespeak a deep commitment to making their community better. That’s why Groovy Mama isn’t just a business that supports parents through the baby years, it’s one of those locally owned businesses that make Regina great. /PD

BEST CAR DEALERSHIP

TAYLOR TOYOTA
655 Broad St. 306-569-8777
taylortoyota.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Regina Honda (2nd), Bennett Dunlop Ford (3rd), Capital GMC (4th), Capital Ford Lincoln (5th)

Taylor Automotive Group general manager Dale Kane attributes the vote of confidence from Prairie Dog readers to the dealership’s employees. “They understand that the Taylor focus is to make sure that our customers are satisfied, that we meet their expectations, and even go beyond them. That’s a part of their training and what we do every day. And it works.” Kane has worked for Taylor Automotive for 25 years, and there are a number of employees who have worked there even longer than him. Most of the managers have been there for 10 or more years. The ability to retain employees for a long period of time speaks well of Taylor Automotive as a place to work. It also speaks to the depth of knowledge and experience those employees have. Businesses looking for long-term success would be well-advised to follow Taylor’s example. /RP

BEST CLOTHING (KIDS)

CARTER’S OSHKOSH
4610 Gordon Rd. 306-585-2455
carteroshkosh.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Crocus and Ivy (2nd), Joe Fresh at Superstore (3rd), The Children’s Place (4th), Kids Trading Company (5th)

As someone who is several steps removed from being a kid-owner, I must say that when I visited the Carter’s/OshKosh website I found the selection of infant and children’s clothing, sleepwear and accessories on display awe-inspiring. It’s not that I don’t have contact with kids. Through my two sisters’ valiant efforts I have four nephews and two nieces. When it comes to Christmas and birthday gifts for them, though, I typically go the corrupt politician route and just stuff some cash in an envelope and leave the shopping to the experts — the kids themselves. And for pre-schoolers and tweens (and their parents), Carter’s/OshKosh is definitely a primo shopping destination. Since its win in this category last year, the store has moved from Southland Mall to a new location in Grasslands where it doubtlessly has even more great product lines to tempt budding fashionistas and kids in general. /GB

BEST PLACE TO BUY CLOTHES (LOCAL)

CODA CLOTHING & SHOES
2326 Albert St. 306-522-2632
codaclothing.com

RUNNERS-UP: Uforia Muse (2nd), Seed Sustainable Style (3rd), Queen V Fashion House (4th)

Coda began with the goal of bringing quality fashion to Regina so that its fashion-forward residents would no longer be forced to leave the city to outsource their fashion needs. Coda not only keeps the town fashionable, it also uses fashion to support the community. Twice a year Coda gives back by hosting Coda Hits the Runway, a fashion show whose proceeds go to support the MS Society. Coda has also partnered with students at the University of Regina several times for charitable events, and even donated sneakers to the Carmichael Outreach Centre. Coda is the best local store because it supports the locals that support them. /AR

BEST PLACE TO BUY COOL CLOTHES

CODA CLOTHING & SHOES
2326 Albert St. 306-522-2632
codaclothing.com

RUNNERS-UP: Uforia Muse (2nd), Madame Yes (3rd), Seed Sustainable Style (4th), Queen V Fashion House (5th)

Coda is “cool” because it’s current. The store is open longer than normal retail hours so you can go in and grab a last-minute outfit any day of the week (as long as it’s before 9 p.m.). The store keeps up to date on the latest threads and has  a sizable brand catalogue: Nudie, Brixton, Herschel, Billionaire Boys Club, 22 Fresh, and many more. They also have an active blog with a focus on fashion, and a top-notch selection of jewelry, hats and shoes: easily the best in the city. The store is so popular it’s expanded with a new shop called Cade Style Lounge (located at 4035 Albert St). Cade is the new home to the women’s collection, while Coda downtown will showcase the men’s collection. There’s even plans in the works for a new sneaker shop called Apartment 3B. COOL. /AR

BEST PLACE FOR CASUAL CLOTHES (WOMEN)

WINNERS
2135 Prince of Wales Dr. 306-789-9998
winners.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Stella and Sway Boutique (2nd), Uforia Muse (3rd), Coda Clothing & Shoes (4th), Queen V Fashion House (5th)

As much as I love a bargain, I tend to look at Winners the way I look at Value Village. Just like the sun doesn’t shine every day, you can’t win every time you go there. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you’d want whatever it is you’re holding up on its hanger at the regular, retail price. If not, it’s best to walk away. It’s too easy to walk out with an armload of stuff you don’t need (and won’t wear) just because it’s cheap. Every once in a while, though, you can really hit the jackpot. I tend to have my best Winners experiences in their underclothing and hosiery departments. For example, ladies can pick up Calvin Klein and Wacoal bras at deep discounts. I recently spied a lovely dove grey lace soft cup Calvin Klein bra (that, alas, wasn’t my size) for $10. You know how much you’d pay for that same bra retail? $40. You can’t beat that deal with a stick! /VS

BEST PLACE FOR CASUAL CLOTHES (MEN)

CODA CLOTHING & SHOES
2326 Albert St. 306-522-2632
codaclothing.com

RUNNERS-UP: Old Navy (2nd), Norwood (3rd)

Well, it’s official: the central Regina location of Coda is now strictly a men’s wear store. It’s also the numero uno retailer for dudes, and it’s easy to see why. Coda carries bro-friendly brands such as Levis, Brixton and Penfield: brands that encompass function, comfort and style. Coda knows that men love old reliable pieces that they can run in and grab without the hassle of trying things on and figuring out what works. Let’s face it, guys are harder on their clothes than ladies (generally). They want clothes that won’t wear out after a year of active living and sketchy laundering. And that’s exactly what Coda provides. Oh, and one more thing. There’s a bar next door, because after all that hard work shopping, what guy wouldn’t want a beer? /AR

BEST BUSINESS WEAR (WOMEN)

RICKI’S
Southland Mall 306-584-7332
4540 Gordon Rd. 306-522-3377
Northgate Shopping Centre 306-949-1688
Cornwall Centre 306-522-3316
Victoria Square Mall 306-789-2299
rickis.com

RUNNERS-UP: Stella & Sway Boutique (2nd), The Bay (3rd)

Okay. Okay. So I don’t have a grown-up job (when I’m not writing blurbs for Best Of Regina, I’m slinging pints in the service industry). But if I did have a grown-up job, I would definitely hit up Ricki’s for my work wear needs. The clothes are made with real women in mind: women who have different body types that don’t fit the fashion model ideal. Shopping for clothes (especially pants) can be a traumatic experience for women that often ends with them drowning their sorrows in frozen yogurt. Sigh. Thankfully, Ricki’s understands this, and has clearly done their research. Their “fit to flatter” concept involves selections of pants that are categorized to flatter different body types and come in four different lengths (30, 32, 34 and 36). THIS IS AMAZING. Certain styles of these pants also have built in paneling that shape and smooth trouble zones. They call them the “Miracle Pant”. Bye bye muffin top! Also, I should mention the tights. Ricki’s is the only place that has figured out tights. They have a great selection of comfortable tights that hold their shape and don’t snag. Oh, and most of the clothing is machine washable. BAM! Ricki’s rocks. /AR

BEST SUIT STORE (MEN)

COLIN O’ BRIAN MAN’S SHOPPE
1825 Hamilton St. 306-584-9300
colinobrian.com

RUNNERS-UP: Moores (2nd), Trinos Menswear (3rd), Tip Top Tailors Southland (4th), Oliver’s Menswear (5th)

Colin O’Brian Man’s Shoppe is my favourite menswear store. The guys who work there remember your name and go above and beyond to make you look good. They haven’t figured out a way to make me tall, but if Strellson or Bugatti came up with a magical tallening suit, they’d notify me immediately and talk me into emptying my bank account to buy it. To be honest, they’re so good at selling me clothes that I generally avoid 18 block Hamilton. On slow days, I think the staff actually watch for me. “He’ll be back,” they say, rubbing their hands gleefully together. And now that it’s November and freaking cold I just might be because I need a new pair of gloves. And maybe a pocket square. /AM

BEST DRESSES/GOWNS FORMAL WEAR (WOMEN)

NWL CONTEMPORARY DRESSES
1853 Hamilton St. 306-546-2246
nwlfashion.com

RUNNERS-UP: Muse Uforia (2nd), Dean Renwick Design Studio (3rd)

Regina isn’t what I’d call a very dressy town. And yet, it’s surprising how many events are billed as “galas”. I’ve seen student film screenings, Christmas curling parties, and arts fundraisers all described as “galas”. Then you show up and count off the number of young men standing around in Rider jerseys. Hopefully Regina’s steadfast dedication to casual dressing will prove to be no match for Nadia Williams of NWL. She first set up shop on Hamilton St. in 2006, and has since moved her spacious showroom onto the main floor of the lovely refurbished Leader building. NWL has raised the bar for formal dressing in the city, offering a nicely curated selection of beautifully made frocks — both fanciful and minimal — for weddings, cocktail parties, awards shows (some of the cast from Corner Gas shopped there pre-awards season), high school proms, and, yes, galas. You can peruse the racks for offerings by La Sposa, Justin Alexander, Bari Jay, Blush Prom, Disney’s Forever Enchanted, and others. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are preferred to ensure a better shopping experience. Well, aren’t you fancy? /VS

BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP

ComicReaders

COMICREADERS (DOWNTOWN)
105-2125 11th Ave. 306-779-0900
comicreadersregina.wordpress.com

RUNNERS-UP: Tramps (2nd), ComicReaders (South) (3rd)

Full disclosure: I’m a long-time customer. My tastes are what some geeks would consider to be sadly mainstream. But staff and management have never given me attitude for buying far too much New 52 and not enough alternative stuff. Instead, they’ve shown respect for my unabashed love for Batman, Demon Knights or Green Arrow (even when the creative teams on those books haven’t done the same) and alerted me to new titles by creators they know to be favourites.

More importantly, they get the fundamentals right. If you have a file at ComicReaders, you get the titles you asked for consistently. If you’re looking for fellow gamers who share your interests, this store is the place to be most weekends. If you want to find obscure graphic novels, trade paperbacks or a Mr. Spock action figure, they’re here.

And if you want to introduce a kid in your life to the wonders of graphic storytelling, you can find presents that are interesting and age-appropriate. I bought Jill Thompson’s Scary Godmother at this store a few years ago for my best friend’s son and I consider it one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever given. You can even meet local creators, like Elaine Will, a Saskatoon artist who visited the store on Nov. 7 to talk about her graphic novel describing her experiences with mental illness. All in all, Chad Boudreau and the staff at ComicReaders downtown offer a first-rate geek experience for comic aficionados young and old. /RP

BEST COMPUTER STORE

BEST BUY
2125 Prince of Wales Dr. 306-546-0100
bestbuy.ca

RUNNERS-UP: OTV Technologies (2nd), FACT Computers (3rd), PC Place (4th), RCE (5th)

Prairie Dog readers aren’t as hippy as some think. When it comes to major purchases like a new iPad or desktop, you look for the type of selection and bargain pricing that only a big chain can deliver. And Best Buy certainly delivers that. For those of you who roll old-school, you can find a huge selection of desktops. If you prefer to show off your computer geek cool, you can go miniature with the latest tablets. If you want to take a book to the beach on your winter getaway and can’t decide what you want to read, you can cram your library into an e-book reader. You can also find laptops, and all the latest accessories, including keyboards and mice. There’s also printers, scanners, faxes and multimedia devices. And if your computer needs repairs or just a tune up, or you need help setting up a wireless network, the store’s resident computer experts, the Geek Squad, can help. /RP

BEST EYEWEAR

FACTORY OPTICAL
926 Victoria Ave. 306-522-6411
factoryoptical.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Northgate Optical (2nd), The Spectrum Eye Centre (3rd), EyecandyOptiks (4th), EYES (5th)

The math behind a Factory Optical win in this category isn’t hard to figure. They’ve been around longer than pretty much any other eyewear store in Regina. They started out here in 1983, in fact, which means they’re celebrating their 30th anniversary this year — which is longer than I’ve been alive, if you’re curious. Initially, they were a wholesale manufacturer of prescription lenses for optometrists and opticians. Within a few years they’d branched out into retail and now have “superstores” in Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria in addition to Regina. The “factory” part of the name isn’t for show –– they do stuff big. Whether you’re in the market for prescription glasses, sunglasses, contact lenses or safety glasses, they’ve got thousands of frames to choose from. As if that wasn’t enough, they’ve got competitive prices, too, and are famous for their two-for-one offer where they provide two designer eyewear products for the price of one. Talk about a sweet deal. /JB

BEST FLORIST

WASCANA FLOWER SHOPPE
333 Victoria Ave E. 306-522-5243
wascanaflowers.com

RUNNERS-UP: Gale’s Florist (2nd), Regina Florist (3rd), Fresh & Green Flowers (4th), The Flower Hut (5th)

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they find themselves needing to send flowers. So many occasions in life call for them: birthdays, new babies, deaths, new loves, old loves, and wishes for good health. “I love it,” says Wascana Flower Shoppe’s owner Petra Janssen. “I’m there for the people in the good times and the bad.” The flower business is in her blood — her family owned Wascana Greenhouses and Nurseries for 33 years. Janssen sends out 50-75 deliveries per day and does 400 weddings a year. I’ve worked in the flower business, and I’m here to tell you, that’s a monumental amount of work! It’s beautiful work, though. On the day I called, Janssen had some gorgeous things in stock — spider mums, bird of paradise, lilies, roses. And, just in time for the upcoming holiday season, amaryllis! If you’ve never had one, you should really treat yourself to one of these stunners. It’s clear, listening to Janssen speak, that after a lifetime working with flowers she’s still smitten. “This is the dream flower shop,” she sighs. “It’s 5,000 square feet of spectacular.” /VS

BEST FURNITURE STORE

URBANE EQ3
1325 Broad St. 306-779-0119
urbane.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Leon’s (2nd), The Brick (3rd)

Urbane EQ3 is the product of 30 years of hard work. It began in 1984 as Works of Art Furniture, and morphed into what we now know as Urbane EQ3. Owners Todd Fry and Brian Manz keep it in the family with a tight-knit crew of talented folks who, for the most part, have been in or around the business since it began. The team works hard to bring interior design style to Regina, popularizing many prominent Canadian brands such as Umbra, Amisco and, of course, EQ3. Urbane was the first store to carry the EQ3 line, which is based in Winnipeg and is now the top furniture line in Canada and an international brand. They even have a store on the Caribbean island of Aruba. Urbane is the number one independently owned retailer of the EQ3 line. There are a slew of places that sell furniture in Regina, but when you walk into Urbane, it’s clear that you are being sold style. Urbane is at the top of its class. /AR

BEST HOME ELECTRONICS

BEST BUY
2125 Prince of Wales Dr. 306-546-0100
bestbuy.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Audio Warehouse (2nd), Visions Electronics (3rd), Harry’s Hi-Fi (4th), Radio Centre (5th)

I haven’t bought a flat screen TV yet, but when I do it will probably be at Best Buy. The selection is fantastic and the prices are competitive. Best of all, a big purchase like that helps you rack up those Reward Zone points and qualify for gift certificates. Even Prairie Dog readers love their loyalty programs. Best Buy carries more than 40 brands of home electronics. In this age of corporate consolidation, it’s actually reassuring to see that there are still that many brands in the marketplace — as long as you don’t look too closely at who owns who. This is a store that unabashedly caters to Regina geeks. They named their computer support team the Geek Squad, after all, fulfilling every adolescent geek’s dream of becoming a superhero. Members of the Gamers Club earn double the Reward Zone points. And on Nov. 5 the store opened at midnight to give hardcore gamers the first chance to play Call of Duty: Ghosts. /RP

BEST JEWELRY STORE

HILLBERG & BERK
hillbergandberk.com

RUNNERS-UP: Victoria Jewellers (2nd), Argento Jewellery & Accessories (3rd), Ben Moss Jewellers (4th)

By now you’ve probably already heard about local jewellery designer Rachel Mielke’s brooch, which was presented by Saskatchewan’s Lt-Governor Vaughn Schofield to Queen Elizabeth II in mid-October. That brooch, made of tourmaline, diamonds and pearl, is worth about $15,000. While you might not have deep enough pockets for something so elaborate, there are many other perfectly lovely things to choose from at Hillberg & Berk. Mielke got her start in business in 2007, after winning on CBC’s Dragon’s Den and partnering with Brett Wilson. Over the past few years she has built a reputation for creating beautiful pieces of jewelry in light-catching materials. Her work can be found across Western Canada, and locally at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Marbella Clothing and NWL. /VS

BEST SPORTING/CYCLING/SKIING, ETC.

DUTCH CYCLE
1336 Lorne St. 306-522-0484
dutchcycle.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Fresh Air Experience (2nd), Western Cycle (3rd), Sport Chek (4th), Big Sky Cycles (5th)

Of the five in-office denizens at Prairie Dog, two are enthusiastic three-season cyclists. I don’t know if the same ratio extends to our readers, but with the coverage we give to environmental issues and sustainable urban living I wouldn’t be surprised if it did. So if our readers say that Dutch Cycle is tops in this category, it’s a recommendation worth heeding. And it’s one I can vouch for first-hand. I’m one of the aforementioned Prairie Dog cyclists, and the last bike I purchased came from Dutch Cycle. That was eight years ago, and with periodic visits to Dutch for maintenance and minor tire repairs, it’s still going strong. In addition to selling top-line bicycles for off-road, racing and city use, Dutch also stocks clothing and other accessories to help maximize your cycling experience. So whether you’re a newbie or the Regina equivalent of Brit superstar cyclist Bradley Wiggins, the folks at Dutch Cycle will steer you straight. /GB

BEST PET STORE

METRO PET MARKET
3951 Rochdale Blvd. 306-352-9663
1637 Victoria Ave. 306-565-9663
metropetmarket.ca

RUNNERS-UP: PetSmart (2nd), Pawsitively Purrfect (3rd), Petland (4th), Pat’s Pets (5th)

When I finally moved out of my parents’ home last year, I kept mentally running over the list of my new place’s selling points: proximity to bars, to banks, to grocery stores, to Victoria Park, and so on. Then, in late September, we adopted a kitten, and I got to add one more bullet point to my home’s already abundant list of positives: proximity to Metro Pet Market. The downtown location is two blocks from my house, which has enabled me to barely lift a finger in order to spoil my little dude rotten. Every time I roll in, there’s a new kind of raw or tinned food (super convenient!), a new toy or treat, or some other thing that, along with the friendly and helpful staff (and their great memory for pets and their owners), make my life as a cat dad easier. It saves me time and energy best spent on the little things, like watching with goo-goo eyes as my kitten scratches my furniture to shit. Aww. /JC

BEST EXOTIC PET STORE

Prairie Aquatics

PRAIRIE AQUATICS & EXOTICS
942 Park St. 306-757-9443
aquaticsandexotics.ca

RUNNERS-UP: Pat’s Pets & Supplies (2nd), PetSmart (3rd)

When I was a little kid I loved pet stores full of aquariums, terrariums and other miscellariums. By the time I was 12, I had my first pet lizard — a handsome green anole. In my 20s I finally got around to buying my first (and far from last) snake — a sweetheart albino Cal king named Fred who never bit anyone and lived almost two decades.

I still love pet shops. For nerd-children and the nerdults we become, exotic pet stores are some of the greatest places on earth. Keeping furred, finned, feathered and foot-less friends is an honourable way to appreciate the amazing animals we share this planet with, and a good exotic pet store educates the public about the joys of earth’s lesser-loved creatures and helps keepers keep their critters healthy.

I’m really glad Regina has places like Prairie Aquatics & Exotics that are committed to sharing the wonder of exotic animals, from placid bearded dragons to rambunctious tegus to friendly corn snakes and malevolent, hissing and wildly entertaining diadem rat snakes. My only question for Stuart, Dan, Glenda and the rest of the P.A.E. crew: can you talk my arachnophobic publisher into letting me keep an office tarantula? Because Prairie Dog totally needs one. I can give you his direct line. /SW

BEST SHOE STORE (WOMEN)

ALDO
Cornwall Centre 306-757-2082
Southland Mall 306-586-8722
aldoshoes.com

RUNNERS-UP: Zoe’s Boutique (2nd), Iannone’s (3rd), Lusso Shoe Lounge (4th)

Last year when I wrote this entry, I focused on the psychedelic ad copy on the Aldo web site. Fortunately for my sanity, the Aldo marketing team has dialed down on the eye-melting graphics and febrile prose. Instead, they’re displaying attractive and decently priced women’s shoes, boots and sandals — not built to last, perhaps, but certainly good for a season or two of winter or summer wear. Aldo is good for more than just shoes. You can pick up sunglasses, handbags and other pretty good accessories there. It’s also great for impromptu silent staring contests with the girl behind the counter. You know you’re winning when the cops show up./AM

BEST SHOE STORE (MEN)

ALDO
Cornwall Centre 306-757-2082
Southland Mall 306-586-8722
aldoshoes.com

RUNNERS-UP: Foster’s Shoes (2nd), Zoe’s Boutique (3rd)

Everyone knows that our long history of patriarchy in Western society has resulted in a pretty lousy deal for women — except when it comes to shoes. Whereas women get to luxuriate in a mind-bogglingly diverse array of styles and colours, men’s shoes are relentlessly boring in most outlets, with white sneakers on the sporty end of the fashion scale and black leather walking shoes on the formal end. Aldo’s men’s shoes run the gamut this year from the understated elegance of Esmeraldas to the sporty practicality of Bowkers (lace-up sneakers with a gnarly black-and-white pattern). You can also pick up a pair of rugged boots called Trujillo, which are presumably not named after the murderous Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. Oh, and you can also get sandals! In the event you feel like showing off your toes this winter. Never surrender. /AM

BEST STORE FOR SECONDHAND FINDS

VALUE VILLAGE
1230 Broad St.
306-522-1228
valuevillage.com

RUNNERS-UP: Rhoda’s Elegance Again (2nd), Regina Antique Mall (3rd), Salvation Army (4th), Echo Bella Boutique (5th)

Look, I don’t get the chance to write the words “erotic Korean shot glass” very often, so hear me out: Value Village is my number one source for erotic Korean shot glasses — or at least it was for the one erotic Korean shot glass I own. It’s a little ceramic guy, clearly meant for sipping on soju, and it has an illustration of two Korean ladies, nude as hell, feeling on each other. Over the years, I’ve bought a whole whack of stuff at Value Village: everything from work jeans to jackets I’ve worn through several autumns to the badass Gang of Four shirt hanging out in my closet with the cast-off Pilsner promo tees I found on my last visit, not to mention inexpensive glass ashtrays that you can’t find in many other places these days and sundry last-minute Halloween costumes scavenged from various sections. But, I mean, come on: an erotic Korean shot glass. What greater recommendation can I give? /JC

BEST UNIQUE GIFTS

WP INSIDE
#5 – 4621 Rae St. 306-584-1565
254 University Park Dr. 306-586-2929
wpinside.com

RUNNERS-UP: Crocus and Ivy (2nd), Paper Umbrella (3rd), Anex Interiors (4th), Tatanka Boutique (5th)

Plenty of local businesses do great and flourish in a single location, serving and satisfying their customers wonderfully. But when a local business grows to multiple locations and builds on their initial success, that’s a sign of a true champ. So it is with WP Inside. They started back in 1992 with a garden centre and expanded to a second retail outlet in 2002. They’ve built a fan base with their mix of home decor, fine art and garden products, all tied together by the shared aesthetic of owners Peter Charles and Barry Wick. They’re continuing to grow today, as their University Park Dr. location has been joined by a satellite store next door. With a focus on jewellery and accessories, eLAN by WP is another step in Charles and Wick’s growing empire. /JB

BEST TATTOO SHOP

BLACK SEA TATTOO
1373 Rose St. 306-347-8288
blackseatattoos.com

RUNNERS-UP: Planet Caravan (2nd), In the Flesh (3rd), Ace of Swords (4th), Tattoo Caravan (5th)

Remember the days when tattoos were disreputable little squiggles of pierced hearts and women with googly-eye boobs? Now the squiggles are elaborate artworks and women are wearing ink on their bodies instead of just being ink on someone else’s body. I have no tattoo stories to tell you myself, other than the time I challenged Twitter to draw me a tattoo-worthy picture of Hall & Oates fighting a Balrog. To my terror and dismay, someone rose to the challenge and I subsequently backed out on the agreement. Long story reduced to 144 words, tattoos are halfway respectable but still respectably badass. And if you’re going to go out and straddle that line between the lamestream and the awesome, put yourself in the able hands of Orrin, Julian or Brennen. Ask for a Celtic cross! Or one of those armbands of thorns! Ah, you suck. /AM

BEST LOCALLY OWNED SHOP

DESSART SWEETS
3036 13th Ave. 306-522-2663
dessartsweets.com

RUNNERS-UP: Metro Pet Market (2nd), Paper Umbrella (3rd), Sawchyn Guitars (4th), Queen V Fashion House (5th), Seed Sustainable Style (6th), The Broom Closet (7th)

Dessart Sweets is my personal red Kryptonite. Even brief exposure can overwhelm my self-control and turn me into a ravenous sugarholic. That said, the store is a delight. You can revisit childhood favourites like Love Hearts, Razzles, Giant Rockets, candy cigarettes, sours, candy necklaces, pink candy popcorn, jawbreakers and Jelly Bellies, relive your angsty teenage years with Michael Jackson bubble gum cards, or discover rare British, Dutch or German confections like Turkish Delight, Paper Money, and a mindboggling variety of Mentos candies. There are even exotic varieties of M & Ms like raspberry (who knew?) and bacon frosting to decorate cookies and cakes. And in the summer, the store has some of the best ice cream in the city, with flavours such as butter pecan, root beer, pina colada and licorice. You can even combine your love of art and charity by buying one of the store’s signature Joe Fafard chocolate cows. /RP

BEST NEW STORE

BATH AND BODY WORKS
2102 11th Ave. 306-757-1886
bathandbodyworks.com

RUNNERS-UP: Lululemon (2nd), Cabela’s (3rd), The Broom Closet (4th)

It doesn’t seem so long ago that whenever a new chain arrived in Regina to get shoppers all excited it was located in the city’s runaway east end. The Cornwall Centre’s been pulling their weight in that department lately, though, bringing in the likes of Lululemon and now Bath and Body Works — Regina’s Best New Store according to Prairie Dog readers. The company started in out in New Albany, Ohio in 1990, and has grown from those relatively humble beginnings to over 1,600 shops with annual revenue in excess of $2.5 billion. In the last five years Bath and Body Works has expanded into Canada, starting with the acquisition of La Senza in 2008. When the store opened in Cornwall Centre in March 2013, the marketing manager for the company told Metro, “We always got feedback from our customers, ‘When are you coming to Saskatchewan? When are you opening here?”

Bath and Body Works almost looks like a candy shop, filled with bright colours and numerous products — shower gels, lotions, fragrance mists, perfumes and the like — that people can use to pamper themselves. I like it. /JB