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The Emma G Days… a tribute to taking a chance!

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Once upon a time there was a young lass, who had a crazy notion to run a late night vegetarian café! So she gathered her friends and friends of friends, they pooled their meagre resources, wrangled a Student Business Loan… And voilà!  “Emma G’s Deluxe Eatery” was born 25 years ago!

It was a moment in time. Most of us were around 19 years old, we were fearless of failure, didn’t actually care about making money, just wanted a home for aspiring artists, musicians, writers, students and sundry misfits.



As I couldn’t say it better, here is Ed Janzen‘s description :

Emma G's Deluxe Eatery

Emma G’s Deluxe Eatery

Emma G’s Deluxe Eatery began in Winnipeg at 352 Cumberland Avenue in 1989 and closed in 1991.

In reality, however, it began earlier than that, as a component of Ragpickers Antifashion Emporium, then run by Jan Picard.
The version that I knew started in 1989. Its founding members were Tara Wiebe, Malcolm Rogge, Katherine Hellner, Paul Lawrence, David Lawrence, Mike Chell, Carissa Hickling, Sandra Kucas and Cherylynne Muchnyk (not sure if I got that last spelling quite right…).
Over its existence, the membership changed a little, and its closing lineup was: Tara, Malli, Kathy, Paul, Dave, Mira, Richard and myself, Ed. I think that accounts for everyone.
For those who didn’t know it, Emma G’s relatively brief life could obscure a socially and culturally dense, intense moment in the history of Winnipeg’s subculture. Certainly no one who ever worked in the place would say otherwise.

Emma Gs Opening Poster (1989)

In my own recollection, working at Emma’s was a continual whirl: cooking, serving patrons, musical jams, dealing with weirdos and freaks (customers), the Grateful Dead, washing dishes, live shows, poetry readings, puppet theatre, amazing conversations, totally stupid conversations, parties, food-buying trips, more musical jams, all manner of intoxicants, more Grateful Dead, mopping floors, and bad coffee flavoured with cinnamon, which at that period in Winnipeg’s history was actually *good* coffee, because Winnipeg did not yet know what good coffee really meant (nor did we, but people liked it).

For my own part, as a launching pad for my own personal, social, musical and business life … well, fuck it, I can’t even *imagine* being the person I am today without Emma G’s. God bless its memory!!

I too cannot imagine being who I am today without the Emma G chapter!

And when Emma G’s closed its doors, our company “Zadruzan” (intended to mean Community) opened new doors – reincarnating itself as a home on Balmoral Street known as “The Collective.”

The fabulous creative folks who remain in Winnipeg organized a 25th anniversary celebration, supported from near and afar… and many travelled from all over to join.

That was my plan too! When I said ‘yes’ to the latest Jakarta project, requested the last week of April ‘off’ to zip (32 hours traveling is zipping??) back to Winnipeg. Then came the fateful and infuriating busted ankle debacle, effectively busting all plans!

With the joys of our virtual connected world, the morning of April 27, I awoke bleary-eyed at an absurd hour to Skype video chat with the last lingering lot of what was clearly a fabulous celebration!

So this post is a tribute to all the mad schemes that lead to something remarkable, even for a brief flash of time!

Panorama image from Emma G's 25th reunion (Photo: Angela Heck)

360′ image of the jam circle at Emma G’s 25th reunion (Photo: Angela Heck)

What is the craziest thing you ever did that had a lasting impact?

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  1. sueslaght says:

    I tried rock climbing which lead to a 15 year passion for a sport I never would have dreamed of liking. Open the door to possibilities i say. 🙂

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