A Day and Night in Dauphin, Manitoba

…followed by a Halloween in Grandview.

Home to the Country Music Festival the Canadian National Ukrainian Festival, I’ve been visiting Dauphin ever since I was born, mainly to visit my grandmother and cousins. It was only recently, however, that was able to experience the city for an extended period of time on my own.

Dauphin Beaver

Dauphin Beaver

I’ve gone to the Ukie fest a few times, but never the country fest. Country fest has played host to some of the big acts: Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Big & Rich and others. The Ukie fest primarily highlights music and dance from Canada and Ukraine: Shumka and Rusalka dance ensembles, Haydamaky and Ruslana music groups from Ukraine (and how did I miss Ruslana in SEOUL, SOUTH F’N KOREA?!?!… you can even see her name printed in Korean at the end of the video!!), and even my former groups, Taran and Zrada.

But it was one bright and sunny Saturday morning that my aunt requested that I pick up some things from the store. The task was simple: buckwheat from Nutter’s, refill two water jugs at Health Basics, get some cereal from Extra Foods, and my own goal was to find a new coffee shop named Coffee Creations, which apparently has a phenomenal reuben sandwich. Having heard most of her instructions, I headed out for an adventure thinking, “If I can navigate southeast Asia, how hard can it be to find a few places in a small town like Dauphin?”

First, I wanted to find the water store, Health Basics. I recall my aunt saying something about the store being somewhere around Extra Foods, I just couldn’t remember exactly where. I think she said it was on the way to the Co-op (where one of my cousin’s works.) But guess how many Co-ops I found in Dauphin by the end of that day?


Now for all your Dauphiners reading this, you’re probably thinking, “Steve, you saw Health Basics outside of Extra Foods, right? I mean, you walk out of Extra Foods, turn right into the parking lot to get your car, and it’s right there, you can see it behind the shopping cart holder-thingy. It’s right there!” Well, you’re right.

But I never found Health Basics that day. I did get the water, but it cost me my lunch money, a full $8.

How, Steven? How did you miss it?

Well, you see, the reason is because I’ve always driven my dad’s old cars. Y’know, a Datsun 210B, a Pontiac T1000, a Chevrolet Chevette; cars that don’t have power windows, heat, power locks or… an alarm system.

The Blue Beast

A 1978 Chevrolet Chevette

Well guess what my aunt’s SUV has? All of those features.

So, the reason I didn’t see Health Basics that day is because on my way back to the SUV, while attempting to look like I always drive this vehicle (it’s not like a fresh face in town driving a familiar vehicle would ever draw any suspicion in a small town… never) I couldn’t figure out which button was the “unlock” button so the alarm wouldn’t go off. Studying the key chain for a minute or so, I unlocked the car without incident. If there was one success I had that day, it was not setting of the car alarm. 😀

To make my heart jump even more, right as I started the car a lady approached the window. Thinking, “I’m found out and going to be reported,” I roll down the window only to have her ask for four quarters. Okay, I can do that. And guess what, she didn’t know where Health basics was either.

I did find Nutters (only after I asked inside of Extra Foods) and the infamous Co-op beside it. So far, I had the cereals and buckwheat but I was missing the water and my reuben sandwich (and coffee). The cute lady working at Nutters couldn’t tell me where Health Basics was, but she did guide me to another water store.

By this point all I really wanted to do is grab my morning coffee. Fed up with the water conundrum, I went to the other water store, refilled the jugs and then finally drove to Coffee Creations (which I had no problem finding… it’s right on Main Street.)

Coffee Creations is a very simple place, it’s drive-thru only. On the suggestion of my fellow hired farm help, Rob, I ordered a Reuben sandwich and a Coffee Creations Sludge Cup. What is a Sludge Cup? Brewed coffee with an espresso shot (yes, same same Starbucks’ Redeye). The Reuben was phenomenal (though I really thought they would’ve used cheese from around the area and not processed cheese) and the coffee had me absolutely fucking wired.

Having successfully completed my task list, I drive back to the farm to drive a tractor for eight hours.

Tractor, Beast, Cultivator, Anhydrous Ammonia Tank

The anhydrous rig I drove on the farm.

And then the night out…

Just before ending my farming duties, I got a tour of the Dauphin night life. We went to a wine tasting one Friday night and I even got a phone number! This pretty lady offered to give me a lift back to Winnipeg… but she never answered. 😦

When the wine tasting was over, we went off to prowl the streets of Dauphin: Thunders saloon, “Club Boule” (the Boulevard), and Towers. The first venue a woman got groped (not by me), the second had someone arrested for selling drugs, and the third had strippers and, as I found out the next day, a fight just after we left. Wow.

It is also this night that I met a singer/songwriter whom I neglected to write about in my country music post. Full of witticisms and nice things to say after the wine tasting, I mentioned that she doesn’t look like a singer/songwriter, especially not one who has recorded three albums on her own, travelled Canada, and is a nice, unpretentious person. With an appropriate blank stare, she smiles and says “thank you.” So, if you have the time, want to feel the pain of country music and hear an incredible voice that belies her age, check out Kayla Luky’s website or MySpace. My favourite is “Merry Go Round”, found under the first link.

Saturday had me going out to Grandview, about 30 minutes away from D-town. A Halloween party was going on at the local legion so I accompanied my cousin and her friends. I will give it to this group of folks, they went all out with their costumes. I’m not one for dressing up, but I was informed that bringing a costume would warrant a $5 entrance fee instead of $15. So, my aunt dressed me up as a pimp. How appropriate since I’d arrive in a car full of women (one of them my cousin): one a Greek goddess, another a hippie, and another as a piece of candy corn. I didn’t have a problem with this at all.

Once in Grandview we rendezvoused with some other friends, Kayla Luky and her posse as the characters from the Super Mario Cart game. Though they bought their costumes, I give them complete acknowledgment for colouring paper plates to use as turtle shells and cutting up banana peels to throw at each other. Despite the obvious health hazard their items presented to the party, I thought it was a well thought-out scheme. Not only that, to complement MY costume of being a pimp, one of the other guys I met was dressed up as a woman. Whenever he dropped something I’d scream, “Bitch, why you be dropping shit?!” And thus went the night.

So, in one day and two nights I was able to catch a glimpse of small town night life. The last time I recall such eventful weekends, I was in Korea.


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2 Responses to “A Day and Night in Dauphin, Manitoba”

  1. J. H. Says:

    I’d say you had a pretty typical Dauphin experience! 🙂
    Couple things though, Coffee Creations also takes walk-ups, and the Boulevard Hotel/Bar is commonly called the Bully.
    You’ll have to come back and check out the movie theater when it’s done being built.

    • stevensirski Says:

      I was told that Coffee Creations takes walk ups, but never tried it. It’s novel idea, not one that happens too often with drive thrus. And I can’t wait to see that new movie theatre! It looks great and I love the idea of it being a part of the larger complex.

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