Monday, June 13, 2011

The Wolseley Project - in the beginning

So while it's no secret that I love living in the North End, it's also no secret that it wasn't exactly my first choice of neighbourhood to take up residence.

Like many a quasi-hippie and hippie alike, I love Wolseley. Home St. in particular, oh the beauty of all that brick! The majestic old homes and the beautiful large trees combined with the quaint neighbourhood shops and places to nosh (pulling Sherbrook into the mix for that in particular, never sure who claims Sherbrook, Wolseley or West Broadway...). My only complaints about Wolseley would be the small personal greenspaces (for the most part) and lack of parking (I love my cars). Oh, and the crazy environmentally-conscious folks who make it so that Wolseley is the breeding centre for every Winnipeg mosquito, making the walks down the beautiful tree-lined streets a back (and arms, legs, face, everything really) slapping good time.

Since Wolseley wasn't in the cards for me financially, I always assumed I'd end up in "fake Wolseley" aka, the West End. My options for the West End likely involved a lovely but small bungalow that would have been bursting at the seams with my endless collections of vintage treasures. But then I found my little gem of a place in the North End. Baffled that no one else wanted a 1400+ sq ft. beautiful 1920's house with 10" oak baseboards, a master bedroom with a walk-in closet and ensuite (plus 3 other bedrooms), hardwood floors and a DISHWASHER (ok, so I'm easily wooed) I put in my offer for less than half of the going West End rate at the time, and never looked back.

That doesn't mean that I don't still love Wolseley.  25-30 years ago, no one wanted to live in Wolseley either (or so I'm told, I mean, I was in elementary school, not checking up on Winnipeg real estate). The big beautiful houses were frequently run down, some of them were even, gasp, rooming houses, and you could pick them up for a comparative song compared to the bright and shiny 'burbs.

I like to think the North End is at that point right now, slowly transforming itself into an eclectic and diverse neighbourhood that will nurture its residents. One day, I can say I was in on the ground floor. Sure, not quite as valuable as buying into Microsoft or some other stock before it hit big, but in the intangible category, a pretty big score.

I spent most of Friday evening working on what I've dubbed The Wolseley Project. In addition to my regular obsessive maintaining of the boulevard and my ridiculous quantity of plants all over my steps, I decided it was time for some flower love in the boulevard,just like you see all over Wolseley. Now, the slightly more normal thing is to have some perennials and bring some height and drama, but I'm more of a "splash of colour" sort of girl, so I went for bedding plants, plus they're a bit more instant gratification than perennials. I've got orange and yellow and purple flowers and the reactions we got (big thanks to the roommate for help putting them in!) while planting them in was cautiously positive. One neighbour jokingly asked with whom he should place his bets on how long it would last. Well, I'm pleased to say, that if he had bet 3 nights or less, he would have lost.

 Yes, that's how I'm going to have to measure it, on a day by day basis, but that doesn't make it any less of a success for every day that they survive. Similar to the theory that kids won't tag a mural as quickly as they would a blank wall, my theory (and reinforced by the community members who've seen it so far, kids and adults alike) is that the people here appreciate people investing in their community and will treat it with respect, because those flowers are there for everyone to enjoy. Now, do murals sometimes get tagged? Yup. Will someone destroy the flowers? Maybe. Stay tuned for the progress of The Wolseley Project - here's hoping the next picture will be big strong healthy flowers with lots of blooms!


  1. This looks just lovely, and my fingers are crossed for you that it stays that way. I don't think I've ever noticed a neat pie-shaped corner boulevard like that... very cool!

  2. I was going to dig up some perennials and bring them over. Let me know if you want them Winnipeg Girl.

  3. i came over here from another winnipeg blog and have been reading for a while.. thanks for loving the north end!
    i linked you over on my blog so i remember to read.

  4. Thanks ladies (too funny, ladies only comment about the flower project!)

    Thanks for the offers of perennials, I might see if I can rope someone in to digging up around the boulevard trees for that one, the corner gets too much gravel on it in the winter to sustain perennials I think.

    Update after 7 nights: one flower missing I think, another that died of natural causes, and a shoe print in the dirt with a very resilient flower in the middle.