Best of Saskatoon 2016

Best of Saskatoon 2016


Welcome to Planet S’ 2016 Best Of Saskatoon handbook and instruction manual. Inside you’ll find the complete results of the latest edition of our annual reader poll determining Saskatoon’s best people, places, shops, services and more. In September and October, Planet S readers selected their preferred candidates from an online multiple-choice ballot featuring the top nominees from a write-in round. Winners were those individuals, businesses, organizations and areas receiving the most votes.

Just the Big List of Winners


Best Festival

SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival

Runners-up Folkfest (2nd), Taste of Saskatchewan (3rd), PotashCorp Fringe Festival (4th),  Mosofest (5th).

The SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival is a perennial point of pride for Saskatonians, and has come to mark the beginning of summer for many of us. Every year it features big-name national and international acts on the main stage, and offers free events so that everybody can enjoy amazing musical talent. But the festival’s impact isn’t just limited to music. Deb Rathgeber, who has volunteered with the festival for 10 years (at least), says she’s inspired by the people involved. “I love Jazz fest because of the people I get to work with, and the people new and old I meet each year. It’s always the best way I start my summers.” /Lisa Johnson

Best Place To Make Friends

University of Saskatchewan

Runners-up Saskatoon Farmers’ Market (2nd), Saskatoon Leisure Centres (3rd), Pokémon Lures (4th), The Library (5th).

My, aren’t you a respectable lot! No lurking in sketchy bars, dark alleys and other proverbial dens of inequity to meet new people. No sirree, your top pick for forging friendships is Saskatoon’s most hallowed institution of learning and erudition — the University of Saskatchewan! I suppose the campus does offer an attractive range of options for hooking up and solidifying personal bonds from the bookish and scholarly to the sporty, boozy and outright fun. Your other picks are all pretty wholesome too. And Facebook didn’t even survive the nomination round! Imagine that. /Gregory Beatty

Best Place To Meet Singles

University Of Saskatchewan

Runners-up Dog Park (2nd), Grocery Store (3rd), Saskatoon Pride Festival (4th), The Library (5th).

Okay, I call bullshit on this one. I can accept you regard the University of Saskatchewan as the Best Place to Make Friends. But Best Place To Meet Singles too? I mean, come on. Saskatoon has all sorts of bars, nightclubs and other mingling spots for unattached people looking to meet for sexual and other romantic shenanigans. And what about Tinder/Grindr? Yes, I know the campus has a bar. And a damn fine one too, with shows by top Canadian bands intermixed with DJ dance nights. It also has plenty of coffeeshops and snack-style spaces where singles can suss each other out. And a huge population of youngish females and males pursuing various academic paths who might be amenable to mutually consensual engagement… okay, maybe our voters aren’t bullshitting us. Still, you’d think Tinder/Grindr would’ve cracked the top five. /Gregory Beatty

Best Saskatoon Pet Peeve

Bad Drivers

Runners-up Mayor Don Atchison (2nd), Potholes (3rd), Road Construction (4th), Not Enough Public Transit (5th).

My perspective on this issue is informed by my status as a cyclist. In that regard, I’m mostly concerned with keeping myself safe. Call me selfish if you want. But when you’re competing for space with multi-ton vehicles whizzing around you at 50 km/h you don’t really have a choice. Crunch the numbers via Sir Isaac Newton’s handy-dandy Second Law of Motion (Force = Mass x Acceleration) and you’ll quickly realize that when a cyclist collides with a motor vehicle it’s pretty much a life and death situation. Do I encounter bad drivers? Yes, of course I do. But in the course of my travels I also see plenty of bonehead moves by cyclists and pedestrians too. And I think we’d all do ourselves a huge favour if we all made a greater effort to learn and obey the rules of the road. /Gregory Beatty

Best Thing That Happened To Saskatoon In The Last 12 Months

Saskatchewan Rush

Runners-up Charlie Clark Running For Mayor (2nd), Garth Brooks (3rd), Bike Lanes (4th), Victoria Bridge Demolition (5th).

When the Saskatchewan Rush started play last season, I contacted the National Lacrosse League headquarters to get some publicity photos for Planet S’s 14 Days section. The office is in New York, and within hours I had an e-mail back with four high-rez shots. Talk about service! In their final season in Edmonton before transferring to Saskatoon the Rush won the NLL championship, so it was no surprise they were competitive in their first year here. But to do as well as they did, both at the gate and on the field, where they captured their second straight title with a two-game sweep of the Buffalo Bandits was an amazing story that one day will entitle them to enshrinement in Saskatchewan’s Sports Hall of Fame. For now, though, the Rush will have to settle for this honour. Oh yeah, and on Dec. 16 the Rush are hosting the Calgary Roughnecks in a charity holiday fundraiser. /Gregory Beatty


Best City Councillor

Charlie Clark

Runners-up Darren Hill (2nd), Mairin Loewen (3rd), Troy Davies (4th), Zach Jeffries (5th).

Are the deafening “Charlie! Charlie!” chants at his victory party still ringing in his ears, I wonder? On Oct. 26, he took the top political job after an exciting three-way election battle for mayor. A longstanding progressive voice on council, Clark represents the hopeful hoard’s biggest dreams for the city. And, lest we forget, he has so many other things going for him. I mean, look at that heroic jawline! I would compare him to Jaime Lannister of the popular torture-franchise Game of Thrones (who, we all know, slew the Mad King). But Charlie has two hands, nobody’s blood was spilled, and I’m pretty sure there was no incest involved. The only question left is: given the totally left-field Hollywood endorsement from Zach Galifanakis on election day, will we see His Worship appear on Between Two Ferns? Crazy, happy dreams do come true, sometimes. /Lisa Johnson

Best MLA

Ken Cheveldayoff
1106A Central Ave. 306-651-7100

Runners-up Cam Broten (2nd), Cathy Sproule (3rd), David Forbes (4th), Gord Wyant (5th).

I wouldn’t hang the “last one standing” tag on your pick for Best Saskatoon MLA. But with all the retirements and relegations in Saskatchewan Party ranks over the last few years, Ken Cheveldayoff (who represents Saskatoon Silver Springs) is a veteran presence in Brad Wall’s cabinet. With the boom a distant memory, and some hardcore racial tension and economic hardship out there, the days ahead won’t be easy for the government — and the Saskatchewan people, for that matter. Following last April’s election, the premier appointed Cheveldayoff Minister of Parks, Culture & Recreation. The four-term MLA obviously enjoys your confidence too. So congrats to him and his family. /Gregory Beatty

Best MP

None Of Them

Runners-up Sheri Benson (2nd), Kelly Block (3rd), Kevin Waugh (4th).

We have a new winner in this category! Last year, “They All Stink” took the crown. This year, “None of Them” claimed “Best of” honours. I understand the frustration. Politics, as a profession, needs an overhaul. But as individuals, I’m sure most MPs do yeoperson work in Ottawa and at the constituency level to fulfill their function in our representative democracy. Lord knows, I wouldn’t want to sit through a bunch of committee meetings and dry House of Commons debates. But MPs do. Although in this instance, I’m going to have to exercise my “authoritah” in Cartman-speak and DQ the third runner-up. Kelly Block used to represent a Saskatoon riding, but she represents Carlton Trail-Eagle Creek now. While that riding borders Saskatoon, it’s not really part of the city proper, so out she goes! /Gregory Beatty

Best Saskatchewan Polytechnic Instructor

Heather Musgrove

Runners-up Kevin Wesaquate (2nd), Suzanne Toombs (3rd), Dana Begg (4th), Bernice Ruf (5th).

What makes a good teacher? If you believe all of the typo-laden reviews on, you might think it boils down to “hotness”, or a general aversion to assigning challenging work. Anyone with a lick of sense knows that in reality the best teachers inspire their students to learn, and that means facing the inevitable frustrations with their chins up. This year, Planet S voters chose Heather Musgrove as best Sask. Polytech instructor. So what can we learn from her? “A good teacher has a sense of humour, doesn’t take themselves too seriously, and knows that kids ‘learn what they do’,” says Musgrove. Her advice to new teachers stepping up to the chalk board for the first time, is that things get better: “There’s life after your first year teaching.” /Lisa Johnson

Best Small Business Owner

Jeff Wickstrom
Broadway Shoe Repair 638 Broadway Ave. 306-652-4399

Runners-up Kimberly Parent, Saskatoon Salsa Dance Co. (2nd), Chris Woods, Woods Body Goods (3rd), Michaela Michael, Hazlewood (4th), Kristina Derrick, STRAY Model Management (5th).

In a consumption-driven world focused on selling as much cheap plastic child-manufactured shit as possible, there’s something charmingly anachronistic about Jeff Wickstrom and Broadway Shoe Repair. He sells shoes that are built to last a lifetime. He takes time to chat up his customers about all kinds of stuff — not just leather wax and insoles. At the right angle, he looks a bit like Errol Flynn with glasses, sans mustache (but I bet he could grow a sweet Parisian). Oh, and when he’s working on shoes, he wears an apron that looks like it came right out of the blacksmith shop in Boomtown. /Lisa Johnson

Best U of S Professor

Rachel Loewen Walker
Women And Gender Studies

Runners-up Alison Norlen, Art Department (2nd), David McGrane, Political Studies (3rd), Greg Poelzer, School of Environment and Sustainability (4th), Damien Lee, Indigenous Studies (5th).

This year’s best university professor is Rachel Loewen Walker. She’s one of many professors whose unrecognized work should be given a big trophy. A trophy made of gold, drizzled with champagne, stuffed with hundred dollar bills and wrapped with diamond necklaces. Alas, those kinds of rewards are reserved for the douchiest Donald Trumps of the world. As the director of OUTSaskatoon, Rachel works tirelessly in the community. She’s not hiding out in an ivory tower, afraid to put her book-learning into action. She’s too busy making a meaningful difference in the lives of a lot of people. That kind of dedication shouldn’t go unnoticed. But too often it does. So we’re pleased she snagged this award.  /Lisa Johnson


Best Alternative/Holistic Practitioner

Mark Hoe
315 20th St. E. 306-382-4507

Runners-up Kirby Criddle (2nd), Angela Lindberg (3rd), Rikki MacKenzie (4th), Neil Barber (5th).

Readers voted Mark Hoe Saskatoon’s Best Alternative/Holistic Practitioner. Hoe, a registered member of the Canadian Society Of Homeopaths, is praised online as an effective healer who has helped sufferers of allergies, headaches and migranes, eczema, pneumonia and whooping cough. Whooping cough? WHY THE HELL DO YOU GUYS HAVE WHOOPING COUGH? There’s a vaccine for that! Go get your goddamn immunizations up-to-date! And then, if you’re looking for alternative health care — which some people report excellent experiences with — consider Mark Hoe, or one of the runners-up Planet S readers voted for! /Stephen Whitworth

Best Dentist

Carman Rabuka
Broadway Dental Group 302-626 Broadway Ave. 306-664-9994

Runners-up Holly Dunlop (2nd), Nina Moe (3rd), Charles Britton (4th), Atul Dhir (5th).

This isn’t the first time Planet S voters picked Carman Rabuka as Saskatoon’s Best Dentist. Interestingly, he’s a dentist who also plays the cello — or maybe he’s a cellist who also plays with teeth? Either way, Rabuka is a professional. He’s practiced dentistry for many years and has spent over a dozen years as a cellist with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. Both take patience and a high level of skill and dedication. Rabuka’s patients say he’s the kind of dentist who makes you forget why you were ever afraid of dentists. He possesses a calm, good-natured demeanor, is extremely knowledgeable, and stays on top of the latest technology and dental practices. It’s not uncommon to hear his patients say he’s the best dentist they’ve ever had. Congratulations Carman Rabuka! /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Family Doctor

Lee Old
Lenore Centre Medical Clinic 4-123 Lenore Dr. 306-242-7200

Runners-up Aaron Friggstad (2nd), Larissa Pawluck (3rd), Leanne Helfrich (4th), Corina Getz (5th).

Lee Old’s win here is only one way you can tell she has a legion of fans and loyal patients. If you read comments from online doctor-rating sites, you’ll be able to see dozens of glowing reviews from patients ranging from those who have seen her only once or twice to those who have been under her care for many years. Her compassion, skill and knowledge are mentioned frequently, while others point out her patience and the fact that she takes time and actually listens to her patients rather than moving them through her office like an assembly line. Many say she makes you feel calm and comfortable, whether it’s during a routine exam or something as stressful as childbirth. Those are exactly the qualities people look for in a doctor, so it’s no surprise our voters picked Lee Old as Saskatoon’s Best Family Doctor. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Massage Therapist

Brittany Chyz
Just For You Day Spa 2414D 8th ST E 306.955.7546

Runners-up Kyla Korte, Massage Addict (2nd), Chanda Chabot, Chanda Massage Therapy And Reflexology (3rd), Lana Kraft, Paull Chiropractic And Massage (4th), Cynthia Blanchette, Robi Massage (5th).

Any Myers-Briggs nerds out there? As any student of that classic personality test knows, INFJs don’t mess around. INFJs change the world and help their fellow humans, creating meaning along the way.

So when an INFJ becomes a massage therapist, stress and sore muscles don’t stand a chance.

On that note, meet Brittany Chyz — an INFJ on a massage crusade who’s been rocking this vocation since she was a teenager. You’ll find her at Just For You Day Spa.

“We see a lot of athletes, ranging from people training for marathons to people who are competing in sports,” says Brittany. “We address restrictions in their body that can basically help them in their sports career, whatever that may be. If they’re having a lot of spasms or issues with their legs and they’re trying to compete or run marathons, we address these issues and get their body back on track healing itself — and that way they can perform the best they can when they’re competing.”

Brittany is also interested in working with animals. “I’d love to volunteer at the SPCA or New Hope Dog Rescue and work with the animals that need it the most. And dogs that have been rescued, they need it more than anyone else.”

What about cats? “I’d love to. I’m a huge animal lover. I have no preference. I’d work on either, as long as they cooperate. You can definitely feel their energy change real quick, and I’m sure they would scratch me or something if I’m doing something wrong.” /Stephen Whitworth

Best Veterinarian

Haider Elbermani
Prairieland Veterinary Clinic 118-110 Ruth St. E. 306-242-5637

Runners-up Altina Wickstrom, Acadia Veterinary Clinic (2nd), Theresa Chu, All About Cats and Dogs (3rd), Elizabeth Griebel, Lawson Heights Animal Hospital (4th), Terri Chotowetz, Cumberland Veterinary Clinic (5th).

Most compassionate in the city.” “Best vet I have used in years.” “A vet with a kind heart who truly wants to help animals.” “I wouldn’t trust my pet with anyone else.” “I couldn’t imagine a more caring, compassionate and committed veterinarian.” These are only a few of the glowing comments I pulled from online reviews about Haider Elbermani. If you check out the clinic’s Facebook page, you’ll see posts with helpful tips and information as well as cute and funny animal videos. It’s obvious this is a veterinarian and a clinic that really love animals and enjoy what they do. I’m pleased to see the clinic now treats exotic animals. I know from experience with my pet snakes Lola, Tigger and Issy that it’s not easy to find a vet with experience in treating exotic pets. Congratulations to Haider Elbermani for being named Saskatoon’s Best Veterinarian! /Carolyn Rebeyka


Best News Outlet Overall


Runners-up CTV (2nd), Global (3rd), 650 CKOM (4th), Saskatoon StarPhoenix (5th).

After years of nickel and dime (and sometimes even loonie) size cuts, the CBC received a shot in the arm in March’s federal budget when the Liberals promised to invest an extra $675 million through 2021. It was part of $1.9 billion in cultural spending the government intends to roll out. Lots of Canadians are probably pissed about that. But there’s lots too, I’m pretty sure, who give the move two thumbs up. Which isn’t to diminish the work being done by all the private media outlets out there (such as the runners-up in this category). But in an increasingly corporate/globalized world, a well-funded public broadcaster is a huge plus for Canadians. /Gregory Beatty

Best News Website Or Blog

CBC Saskatoon

Runners-up Saskatoon StarPhoenix (2nd), Global Saskatoon (3rd), CTV Saskatoon (4th), 650 CKOM (5th).

How much longer print will be around is anyone’s guess. Since I work for a print publication, I hope a way will be found to keep it alive. But there’s no doubt that when it comes to breaking news, the web offers an undeniable advantage — with the caveat that media can’t get so caught up in the rush to break a story that they end up getting key details wrong. CBC just celebrated its 80th anniversary as a broadcast network, so it’s definitely got chops in the news biz. And if you miss a favourite TV or radio program, you can go online and watch/listen to it at your convenience. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can even dip into the comments on different stories. Although I warn you, they often make for dismaying reading. /Gregory Beatty

Best Radio Host(s)

Rob & Shauna (C95)

Runners-up Shack, Watson & Whitney, Rock 102 (2nd), Brendan Flaherty, CFCR (3rd), Leisha Grebinski, CBC (4th), Stacie & Joel, 96.3 Cruz FM (5th).

Shauna and Rob host the morning show on C95 which runs Monday to Friday from 6-10 a.m. Assuming the people who voted them Saskatoon’s Best Radio Host(s) keep regular hours, that means that they essentially wake up to the duo — not to mention take a morning leak, eat breakfast, shower, brush their teeth, get dressed, maybe even squeeze in a quickie — okay, don’t want to get carried away here. But the point remains that when people tune into a radio show they’re inviting the hosts into their lives. And for Planet S voters, Shauna and Rob are their favourite radio guests. /Gregory Beatty

Best Radio Station


Runners-up 92.9 The Bull (2nd), CFCR (3rd), CBC Radio 1 (4th), 96.3 Cruz FM (5th).

According to Wikipedia, C95’s oscillated in recent years between “hot adult contemporary” and “contemporary hit” radio. When I checked in early November, C95’s entry also stated it “broadcasts Daniel Powter” every day. When I clicked the link I learned Daniel Powter is a B.C. singer-songwriter who overcame dyslexia to record four studio albums with Warner and EMI from 2000-14. It’s a heart-warming story for sure, but I’ve never heard of Powter. So that made me wonder if maybe C95’s Wikipedia page had been hacked, or if it really does play a Powter tune every day — perhaps to promote dyslexia awareness. Subsequent Googling failed to yield any further info, so I can’t confirm or deny whether it’s true. Sorry. /Gregory Beatty

Best Reporter (Print, Broadcast Or Web)

Jennifer Jellicoe

Runners-up Angelina Irinici, CTV (2nd), Charles Hamilton, Saskatoon StarPhoenix (3rd), Devin Heroux, CBC (4th), David Shield, CBC (5th).

Probably the most famous female journalist with a name/byline involving alliteration is Lois Lane. She wasn’t a flesh-and-blood human, of course, but a fictional creation of Superman writer Jerry Siegel and illustrator Joe Shuster to provide the “Man of Steel” with a love interest and his alter-ego Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent with a feisty foil to tease and torment him. Oh yeah, and when a story was breaking, it was usually Lois who got the scoop for the Daily Planets’ cantankerous editor Perry White. Initials aside, and dispensing with the love interest for Superman part too, that describes Jennifer Jellicoe to a tee. And it earned her the nod as Saskatoon’s Best Reporter. /Gregory Beatty

Best Sports Reporter

Wray Morrison
650 CKOM

Runners-up Ryan Flaherty, Global (2nd), Pat McKay, CTV (3rd), Kevin Mitchell, Saskatoon StarPhoenix (4th), Stu Gooden, CTV (5th).

Kevin Waugh used a multi-decade stint as a Saskatoon sports reporter as a springboard to a seat in the House of Commons as a Conservative MP. I don’t know what Wray’s politics are, but he’s been a presence on the Saskatoon sports scene since the mid-1980s — first on TV, and later as a TSN bureau reporter before moving to CKOM as Sports Director in 2006. That pedigree matches up pretty good with Waugh’s, and he’s got an actual ex-MP on staff at NewsTalk to consult with (in the person of John Gormley) should he one day decide to toss his hat in the ring. Of course, after his big W here, Wray’s pretty much reached the pinnacle of electoral success. So really, why bother? /Gregory Beatty

Best TV Anchor

Lisa Dutton

Runners-up Rob MacDonald, CTV (2nd), Chantel Saunders, CTV (3rd), Stephanie Massicotte, CTV (4th), Jeremy Dodge, CTV (5th).

I’ve seen both Anchorman movies. And Network too, where Peter Finch (as Howard Beale) loses it on air and rages at the world’s injustices. “Weekend Update” was always a favourite segment on Saturday Night Live, too, and I’ve actually met CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge. So yeah, when it comes to your choice for Best TV anchor, I have a solid grasp of what life is like for Global’s Lisa Dutton both on and off set. To begin with, she obviously has great hair. That’s a must. As is a healthy tolerance for scotch, a willingness to duke it out with rival news teams for rating supremacy, and a snazzy catchphrase that keep viewers coming back for more. So congrats to Lisa on her win here. /Gregory Beatty

Best TV News Coverage


Runners-up Global (2nd), CBC (3rd), Shaw TV (4th).

CTV is a perennial winner in this category. What sets it apart from the competition? It could be a pile of things, I suppose. And it’s not like the other stations don’t have their fans. So they’re doing a lot of things right too. Still, CTV keeps coming out on top. First off, it has two solid anchors in Rob MacDonald and Chantel Saunders. It also boasts your picks for Best Reporter (Jennifer Jellicoe) and Weather Person (Jeff Rogstad). In addition to its city coverage, CTV also airs programs such as Farmgate and Indigenous Circle which offer information on rural and Indigenous issues. For Planet S voters, it adds up to a winning combination. /Gregory Beatty

Best TV Sports Coverage


Runners-up CBC (2nd), Global (3rd), Shaw TV (4th).

The biggest local sports story since we last convened for Best of Saskatoon 2015 was the Saskatchewan Rush’s NLL title run. Entranced by the party atmosphere at SaskTel Centre, and the Rush’s winning ways on the field, Saskatonians rallied behind the team big-time. Elsewhere in this feature, in fact, Planet S voters declared the Rush the BEST thing to happen in the city in the last 12 months. That’s high praise. As is CTV’s win in this category, as while TSN and Sportsnet do a decent job of covering sports at the national/international level, coverage of the local sports scene is important too. And CTV is tops in our voters’ books. /Gregory Beatty

Best Weather Person

Jeff Rogstad

Runners-up Peter Quinlan, Global (2nd), Mike Ciona, CTV (3rd).

As a higher-up at Planet S I have access to “Best of” results for our sister mag Prairie Dog in Regina. And I find it passing strange how in the Bridge City the weather beat is dominated by men, while in the Queen City female forecasters dominate. Down south, Global’s Tiffany Lizée took home the hardware as Regina’s Best Weather Person, with CTV’s Kahla Buchanan and CBC’s Christy Climenhaga finishing second and third. Here, though, it’s a regular sausage-party — with CTV’s Jeff Rogstad getting the nod ahead of Peter Quinlan (Global) and Mike Ciona (CTV). In Pop culture terms, it’s like Saskatoon is Bachelor/The Hangover while Regina is Bachlorette/Bridesmaids. It just seems weird, is all. /Gregory Beatty

Biggest Saskatoon News Story in 2016

Playful Paws Malfunction

Runners-up Saskatchewan Rush (2nd), Gordie Howe (3rd), Civic Election (4th), Garth Brooks (5th).

Wouldn’t it be nice if voters had required me to talk about the super exciting, championship drive of a kick-ass lacrosse team playing its first season in Saskatchewan? Instead, voters put the Playful Paws disaster on top. It was just heartbreaking all around, and few of us want to revisit one of the grisliest news story of the year. In September, 14 dogs died of heat exhaustion at the Saskatoon kennel when an upstairs heating unit malfunctioned. Hopefully, we can take comfort that lessons were learned and something like this will never, ever happen again. Reports that electrical issues were repaired and safeguards added are perhaps the only silver lining here. /Lisa Johnson


Best Art Show

Crossing Paths With Sailor Dan: Photographs by Matthew Kruchak
Void Gallery 312 Ave. B South 306-850-6545

Runners-up Bodies: Chad Coombs, Rouge Gallery (2nd), Scavengers and Outcasts, Saskatchewan Craft Council (3rd), Immersive Spaces, BAM/AKA Gallery (4th), Royal Ceremonial Tapestry, Saskatchewan Craft Council (5th).

Sailor Dan is a familiar downtown personality who can often be seen on street corners selling his nautically-themed drawings. As his name implies, he typically dresses as a sailor and is in his 60s age-wise. When Matthew Kruchak moved to Saskatoon, he heard about Sailor Dan. Then one day he ran into him at a downtown coffeeshop and snapped a photograph. Other random encounters followed, as did other photos, and it ultimately resulted in this exhibition which ran at Void Gallery last May. I didn’t see the show myself, but it sounds like a wonderful project. And it earned your nod as Best Saskatoon Art Show. So congrats to Kruchak and Sailor Dan. /Gregory Beatty

Best Artist

Chad Coombs

Runners-up Hugo Alvarado (2nd), Andie Nicole Palynchuk (3rd), Kevin Wesaquate (4th), Darrell Bell (5th).

Chad is represented by Rouge Gallery. Photography is his principal medium, and he cites New York fashion/portrait photographer Richard Avedon as an early influence. If you visit his website, you’ll see that he wears the influence proudly — with perhaps some Man Ray and Helmut Newton mixed in as far as his interest in the body, sexuality and surrealist imagery goes. Of course, those photographers all established their reps in the pre-digital era. Combs is in his mid-30s, so is well versed in digital technology, but he also works with Polaroid and film which offers added depth to his practice. Congrats to him on his three-peat as Best Artist. /Gregory Beatty

Best Commercial Art Gallery

Rouge Gallery
245 3rd Ave. S. 306-227-4140

Runners-up Saskatchewan Craft Council Gallery (2nd), Art Placement (3rd), Void Gallery (4th), Darrell Bell Gallery (5th).

In addition to all the art on display, Rouge Gallery has a funky space in the historic Glengarry Building. For voters, it’s a winning combination. Founded by Wanda Underhill, and run by her and daughter Claire, Rouge specializes in contemporary art from established and emerging artists in such media as painting, photography and sculpture. As dealers, the Underhills offer advice to individual and corporate clients on acquiring art and building collections. Afraid to commit to a new purchase without having a chance to see how it works in your home or office? Don’t sweat it. Rouge has an “on approval” purchase option that allows you live with the art for a time before making a final decision. /Gregory Beatty

Best Live Theatre Production

Mary Poppins
Persephone Theatre 100 Spadina Cres. E. 306-384-7727

Runners-up Playing With Fire: The Theo Fleury Story, Persephone Theatre (2nd), Julius Caesar, Shakespeare On The Saskatchewan (3rd), Dear Johnny Deere, Persephone Theatre (4th), Globe Theatre’s Million Dollar Quartet, Broadway Theatre (5th).

I have a vague memory as a kid of being recruited by a neighbourhood girl to play Michael Banks in a backyard production of Mary Poppins she was mounting. I don’t know how the hell that happened, as I’ve never been interested in acting. But she had a major crush on the Disney musical and somehow convinced me to participate. She even had scripts for us, although being a reluctant thespian I didn’t put a ton of effort learning my lines, so had to rely a fair bit on prompts from her to pull off the performance. This production, I’m sure, which ran at Persephone Theatre last spring, was infinitely superior. In its review, the Star-Phoenix called it “fragilistic fun”, and Planet S voters obviously agreed. In a pretty happening theatre town, it earned your nod as Best Live Theatre Production. /Gregory Beatty

Best Public Art Gallery

424 20th St. W. 306-652-5502

Runners-up Remai Modern (2nd), Frances Morrison Library (3rd).

Once Remai Modern opens next year, it will dominate this category for all eternity. Still, this is a unique award, as you can never have too many quality public galleries. Spaces like those above, and others such as AKA, Wanuskewin Heritage Park, and the Kenderdine/Snelgrove at the University of Saskatchewan, provide artists, curators and the public with diverse options to exhibit and appreciate art. History-wise, Paved arose from a 2003 amalgamation of The Photographers’ Gallery and Video Verite. As that pedigree implies, it focuses on video, film and photography. On display until Dec. 10 is Tar Sands: Approaching an Anthropocentric Site. The show documents a trip artist Ernst Logar made to northern Alberta to study the social and environmental impact of the oil industry. /Gregory Beatty


Best Band

One Bad Son

Runners-up Close Talker (2nd), Shooting Guns (3rd), BellaDonnas & The Temp (4th), Friends Of Foes (5th).

There’s a lesson here for every boy or girl who wants to be a professional musician when they grow up. I saw One Bad Son at a battle of the bands when I was in my early twenties (many, many years ago). Back then, these guys blew their competition out of the water for doing all the right things, and it had everything to do with their behavior before they got on stage — even though, as a crowd-judged event, they obviously delivered in that regard. They were on time for sound check, professional, nice to people, and well-practiced. More recently, these guys have blown up, opening for Def Leppard and Judas Priest, among other rock star successes. Write that down, kids. /Lisa Johnson

Best Concert

Garth Brooks
SaskTel Centre

Runners-up The Who, SaskTel Centre (2nd), Tegan And Sara, TCU Place (3rd), Big Boi, Bessborough Gardens (4th), Lee Fields, Capitol Music Club (5th).

Garth Brooks’ June appearance in Saskatoon wasn’t really a concert as much as a one-man jubilee. To meet demand, the best-selling solo album artist in the U.S. (he’s second in total sales only to The Beatles) played six shows in four days. Brooks is an unstoppable crowd pleaser, isn’t afraid to play the hits (some over 25 years old) over and over again, and still lights a fire on stage. It’s difficult to imagine anybody (short of Pope Francis opening for Beyoncé) exciting such a frenzied crowd in Saskatoon. Would anybody be surprised if he sold out another blow-out six-concert festival again next year? /Lisa Johnson

Best DJ

DJ Anchor

Runners-up DJ Charlie Hustle (2nd), The Gaff (3rd), DJ Haywire (4th), DJ Arioso (5th).

When Planet S voters want to get the party started they turn to DJ Anchor. Yeah, I know the handle seems a little oxymoronic. I mean, the whole raison d’etre for DJs is to get people up and dancing. “Anchor” is a little more oblique than a handle like DJ Wallflower or DJ Drunk White Guy Dancing*, I suppose, but it still doesn’t inspire thoughts of mega booty-shaking. But DJ Anchor still got voted #1 so he obviously knows his tunes. In fact, when I visited his website I learned he’d just signed a three-year contract to be the Saskatchewan Rush’s official DJ. So congrats to him for that. He also has a New Year’s Eve gig with Codie Prevost at Prairieland Park if you want to see him in action. /Gregory Beatty

*Google it, you’ll get nearly two million hits.

Best Live Music Venue

Amigos Cantina
806 Dufferin Ave. 306-652-4912

Runners-up Capitol Music Club (2nd), Buds On Broadway (3rd), The Bassment (4th), Broadway Theatre (5th).

Instead of me waxing poetic about the virtues of Amigos Cantina as a live music venue, why don’t you check it out for yourself? Here’s some of the gigs that are coming down the pike in the next while: Destroyer with Kacy & Clayton (Nov. 11). Chixdiggit’s 25th anniversary show with Isotopes (Nov. 12). Firing at the Sky with The Mordrakes (Nov. 18). PUP with Meat Wave and Chastity (Nov. 26). Duotang with The Garrys (Dec. 3.). Not bad, eh? Throw in a top-notch Tex-Mex kitchen, and you’re guaranteed to have a good time. After all, Amigos did win Best Restaurant To Have a Party in our Best of Food & Drink last spring. /Gregory Beatty


Best Solo Act

Kirby Criddle

Runners-up Anna Haverstock (2nd), Brock Andrews (3rd), Economics (4th), ACHEE (5th).

I’ve been pestering Kirby Criddle for a few months to do a My Music. The column involves a person picking six songs and offering a few thoughts on why they’re special to them. It’s not an easy column to do, as music is an important signifier of our identity, and people naturally want to make sure the songs they select offer a reasonable snapshot of their tastes. But you’re limited to six tunes, so you inevitably have to make some tough choices. I knew Kirby was a Saskatoon singer-songwriter, and thought it might be interesting to have her do a My Music. Judging from your votes in this category, I was right. Hopefully we’ll get it done at some point. /Gregory Beatty


Best Adult Store

For Lovers Only
250 Idylwyld Dr. N. 306-934-2100 #5 415 Circle Dr. E. 306-343-5600

Runners-up Positive Passions (2nd), Lil’ Devil (3rd).

If you happen to be single, or otherwise interested in spicing up the solo aspect of whatever sex life you might have, I don’t think For Lovers Only would refuse to serve you. Yeah, I know the store name does seem a little exclusionary vis-à-vis singletons. And it does say on their website that their target market is couples. But the strategy there, I think, is to ensure the store is as welcoming as possible to both women and men to help couples maximize intimacy and pleasure in their relationships. The first For Lovers Only franchise in western Canada opened in 1986, and they’ve been going strong ever since. And this year, they got our voters’ nod as Best Adult Store. /Gregory Beatty

Best Car Dealership (New Vehicles)

Ens Auto
627 Brand Court 306-653-5611

Runners-up SMP: Saskatoon Motor Products (2nd), Meidl Honda (3rd), Auto Clearing Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (4th), Mainway Mazda (5th).

Why did our readers pick Ens Auto as Saskatoon’s Best New Car Dealership? After months of investigation and a hard-hitting phone interview with Ens Auto’s Justin Hunt, I’ve developed a three-part hypothesis:

1.) Ens Auto has great people 2.) who sell an excellent product 3.) and our readers like that.

“Honestly, I’d say the biggest part of [our success] is we have a veteran staff,” says Justin. “Most dealerships have high turnover. We don’t. We have a lot of the same guys who’ve been here for 10, 20 years. If you don’t have good people, you’re not going to have quality customer experiences. We’re open and honest about things, which is why people refer their friends and family members and we win awards like this.”

As for the product? He says it’s terrific. “Toyota, plain and simple, builds the best vehicles. We hold the best resale value for multiple classes of vehicles, and the lowest cost of maintenance over 10 years — Lexus [Toyota’s luxury car division] and Toyota are one and two.”

There’s also the not-small matter of Toyota’s commitment to greener technologies. With cars like the Prius, Camry and RAV4 hybrids, the company is taking steps toward a post-petroleum future. “Toyota’s been in the hybrid game pretty much longer than anybody else,” says Justin.

Looks like Planet S readers picked a good one here. /Stephen Whitworth


Best Car Dealership (Used Vehicles)

Ens Auto
627 Brand Court 306-653-5611

Runners-up Sherwood Chevrolet (2nd), Wheaton GMC Buick Cadillac (3rd), Mainway Mazda (4th), Cars ’R’ Us (5th).

It’s irrefutable*: Ens Auto has the best people and the best new vehicles. And I’ve just received word Planet S readers also voted Ens as Saskatoon’s Best Used Car dealership. This could be important information for people like my friend Paul, who’s pondering trading up from his 1997 rust warrior. Hi Paul! What do you think? There’s a sweet 2013, one-owner Highlander hybrid available at Ens right now! I know you’ll make the right call, Paul. /Stephen Whitworth

*See Best New Car Dealership, above.

Best Eyewear

3301 22nd St. W. 306-683-4374 407 1st Ave. N. 306-652-4374 2325 Preston Ave. S. 306-477-7776

Runners-up Point Optical (2nd), Family Focus Eyecare (3rd), Optika Eclectic Eyewear (4th), Vista Eyecare (5th).

I know from chatting with the owner of a downtown optical shop I’m neighbours with that eye-care specialists have an annual convention in Las Vegas. Now I know what you’re thinking: Convention + Vegas = PARTAY! I’m not going to deny that some shenanigans likely take place, but serious stuff gets discussed too. One issue that was flagged recently, apparently, was the potential harmful effects of compact fluorescent lights. They emit more UV light than old-school bulbs, and there are indications it’s leading to ocular problems such as macular degeneration. Not to be alarmist. But it’s an example of how eye-care specialists like FYidoctors can help keep your peepers healthy. /Gregory Beatty

Best Florist

Bill’s House Of Flowers
712 Broadway Ave. 306-242-8809

Runners-up Blossoms Living (2nd), Serendipity Flowers And Stuff (3rd), Michelle’s Flowers (4th), Jane’s Floral Dreams (5th).

I don’t have the names of the participating florists, but AKA Artist Run Centre has an interesting project underway involving Montreal artist Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay. Á fleurer is inspired by a legendary interaction between French writer Colette (1873-1954) and her Swiss publisher. He would send her weekly bouquets, and she would respond with a floral essay. The essays were eventually published in 1949, and what Ramsay’s done is reverse the process. Until Dec. 3, he’ll be sending periodic letters to Saskatoon florists and having them respond with bouquets that will be displayed in the gallery. So check it out if you get a chance. And congrats to Bill’s House of Flowers on winning this year’s “run for the roses” as Saskatoon’s Best Florist. /Gregory Beatty

Best Head Shop

B.O.B. Headquarters
733 Broadway Ave. 306-477-4262

Runners-up The Joint (2nd), Jupiter (3rd), Skunk Funk (4th).

What does B.O.B. stand for, you ask? Buy Our Bongs? Blunt Or Bust? Best Of Bud? Well, I’m not going to answer that question. Instead, I’m going to talk about cannabis legalization. The federal Liberals are supposedly committed to it, but right now it’s a mess. As Postmedia recently noted in a multi-day feature, arrest rates for possession vary markedly depending on where you live. In enlightened areas, such as Vancouver, the rate is virtually zero. In non-enlightened areas, such as Saskatchewan, it’s much higher — and the charges are more severe too. I’m no constitutional scholar, but that seems to contravene a core tenet of the Charter of Rights & Freedoms that Canadians are guaranteed equal treatment under the law. That’s bullshit, and it needs to stop. /Gregory Beatty

Best Local Furniture Store

Village Green Furniture & Appliances
308 20th St. W. 306-665-0102

Runners-up Furniture World (2nd), Anthology Home Collection (3rd), Metric Design Centre (4th), Green Ark Collected Home (5th).

In addition to being respectable [see Best Place To Make Friends] you’re also a thrifty lot! How else to explain Village Green Furniture & Appliances win in this category? Founded in 1972 by four Manitoba women as a fundraising strategy for the Mennonite Central Committee, Village Green specializes in secondhand furniture and related housewares. Antiques are part of the business too, and they might well be high end items. But most of their inventory probably falls into the thrift category. And thrift is something our “throw-away” society desperately needs more of to reduce environmental waste and celebrate skilled craftpersonship. Good choice everyone! /Gregory Beatty

Best Local Home Décor And Furnishings

Anthology Home Collection
126 20th St. W. 306-955-3115

Runners-up Metric Design Centre (2nd), Green Ark Collected Home (3rd), Atmosphere Interior Design (4th), Area (5th).

While joined at the hip in this category, “Décor” and “Furnishings” are two distinct animals. Yes, they obviously work together in a home to define the living space. So they need to complement each other in colour, size, texture and whatnot. But they serve different functions. Furniture is the core stuff you sit, sleep, eat, drink and work on. It’s generally substantial, built to last, and therefore expensive. Décor, though, is more of an accent thing. You can still spend a fair bit of coin, but you can also spice up a room with modest tweaks — as long as you know what you’re doing. And in the minds of Planet S voters, Anthology Home Collection obviously does. /Gregory Beatty

Best Local Home Electronics

OTV Technologies
2915b Faithful Ave. 306-374-0607

Runners-up Krazy Kiley’s (2nd), Audio Warehouse (3rd), SuReInnoVations (4th).

If you visit OTV Technologies’ website you’ll be greeted by thumbnail photos of feature products plus a breakdown of the store’s inventory. Starting from the top, the tabs read: OTV Computer Systems, More Computer Systems, Yet More Computer Systems — okay, I’m joking with that one. Third on the list is Computer Parts, then comes Displays & Accessories; Audio, Cable & Cable Accessories; Keyboards, Mice & Controllers; Slide Rules & Abacuses — okay, I’m joking with that one too. As you can tell, OTV is all about the technology of today and the future. And it earned them your vote as Best Local Home Electronics store. /Gregory Beatty

Best Pet Supply Store

Early’s Farm & Garden Centre
502 51st St. E. 306-931-1995 2615 Lorne St. 306-931-1982

Runners-up Critters Pet Health Store (2nd), Cowtown (3rd), Petland (4th), Pet Planet (5th).

Pet supply stores face a challenge that retailers in pretty much every other sector (except maybe infant care) don’t. Their customer in a transactional sense is human, but their true client is the dog, cat, bird, reptile, fish, hamster or other animal that the person is buying food, toys and other pet care products for. And those pets, of course, can’t talk. So they can’t give staff the type of feedback that customers typically give to help select the right product. At least, that’s what I imagine working at a pet supply store like Early’s Farm & Garden Centre would be like. Unless you were Dr. Doolittle, then it would be no biggie. /Gregory Beatty


Best Store For Secondhand Finds (Not Clothes)

Value Village
2115 Faithful Ave. 306-688-6161  302 Cope Lane 306-955-8702

Runners-up Habitat For Humanity ReStore (2nd), Village Green Furniture And Appliances (3rd), Hazlewood (4th), The Salvation Army Thrift Store (5th).

Looks like Planet S voters are a thrifty, creative and environmentally conscious group because they sure know their secondhand stores with plenty of great nominations here. Two locations, each with massive floor space, allow Value Village to display a huge amount of merchandise. You name it and you can probably find it — from home décor and kitchenware to books and electronics. It’s great place for those starting out or struggling with cash flow, as well as those looking for blankets for the cottage or a vintage cup and saucer to add to a friend’s collection. More and more people are jumping on the thrifting bandwagon. So get with the cool kids and check out Value Village today! /Carolyn Rebeyka


Best Vape Shop

Vapor Jedi
#3 415 Circle Dr. E.

Runners-up Heavy Jam Vapor Supply (2nd), Vape World Emporium (3rd), Vapor Wolf E-Cigarettes And Accessories (4th), Bridge City Vapor Co. (5th).

The winner in this category should perhaps have an asterisk attached. As faithful readers know, a lot of people in Planet S’ orbit, be they editors, designers or contributors, have a high nerd quotient. That probably extends to a chunk of our voters too, which could perhaps explain the results in this category. I mean, it doesn’t get any more nerdtastic than Vapor Jedi, conjuring up images of iconic Star Wars figures such as Luke Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenobi. Our voters would naturally be attracted to that out of force of habit, whether they vaped or not. But I’m sure Vapor Jedi is a popular retail option for non-nerds too. They wouldn’t have won otherwise, as the nerd vote can only carry you so far. /Gregory Beatty


Best Cabinets

Superior Cabinets
747 46th St. W. 306-667-6600

Runners-up Metric Design Centre (2nd), Pristine Kitchens (3rd), Centennial 360 (4th), Redl Cabinetry (5th).

Having just endured three elections in little more than a year, not to mention the ugly debacle south of the border, it’s refreshing to talk about cabinets in a non-political sense for a change. What sets Superior apart from its competitors?  If you visit its website you’ll see the five-step process it goes through to deliver your “dream” kitchen. No, check that. It’s more of a four-step process, starting with planning, then moving through design, construction and installation. The fifth step, which is enjoying the magic that’s been wrought in your kitchen, is up to you. Although by providing post-installation service, and a limited lifetime warranty for the original purchaser, Superior plays a role there too. So I guess it is a five-step process. /Gregory Beatty

Best Electrical

Centennial 360
710 51st St. E. 306-986-3246

Runners-up W Hunter Electrical (2nd), Ross Electric (3rd), Fulford Electric (4th), Assertive Electric (5th).

Are you needing to upgrade your electrical panel? Rewire your whole house or the new addition or basement reno? Install dimmer switches? Upgrade your receptacles? Install whole-house surge protection? Have no idea what any or all of these terms mean? Well, then give Centennial 360 a call and their professional electricians will help you out. These are not jobs for the home handyman, or something you should get your “helpful” brother-in-law to do. You need an expert, someone with training and experience. Whether your home is older or brand new, Centennial 360 can repair or install the electrical systems you need to keep you and your family comfortable and safe. Take a tip from our voters — there are plenty of good reasons they voted Centennial 360 as Best Electrical in the city. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Flooring

Beehive Flooring
317 Ave. C. S. 306-244-4774

Runners-up Braid Flooring (2nd), Western Carpet One (3rd), AC Flooring (4th), GT Flooring (5th).

Wow, you learn something new every day! I didn’t even know beehives had floors. I just pictured them as a mass of honeycomb where worker bees and drones go about their business in service of the hive queen and the thousands of larvae she produces through her eggs. Turns out I was mistaken. Not only do beehives have floors. They also, if our voters are to be believed, have the best floors in Saskatoon. So hats off to the city’s local bee population. This is indeed a prestigious honour that calls for an extra helping of royal jelly… what’s that? Beehive Flooring isn’t owned and operated by bees? It’s actually a human-owned company that’s served Saskatoon since 1916, providing their customers with quality flooring options to suit their style, durability requirements and budget? Well then, congrats to them! /Gregory Beatty

Best Home Builders

North Prairie Developments

Runners-up Ehrenburg Homes (2nd), Decora Homes (3rd), Maison Fine Homes (4th), Daytona Homes (5th).

Family owned and operated, Northern Prairie Developments has been in business since 1987. In that time, they’ve built over 2500 houses. Of course, they didn’t get voted Best House Builders. The title they snagged was Best Home Builders, and as a well-known idiom holds: “a house is not a home.” In truth, it’s up to the people who inhabit a dwelling, along with their friends and family, to do the work necessary to make it a home. But through their lifelong love for Saskatchewan, appreciation for topnotch design, superior craftpersonship and quality customer service, North Prairie Developments do their part to transform the houses they build into homes. /Gregory Beatty


Best HVAC Company

Centennial 360
710 51st St. 306-986-3246

Runners-up Furnaceguys (2nd), Ball And Sons (3rd), Innovative Heating And Cooling (4th), K&L Heating And Cooling (5th).

“HVAC”, for the non-Mike Holmeses and Nicole Curtises out there, stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning. If you lived in a place like Bangkok (with an annual mean temp of 28 degrees C), you could probably dispense with the “H” part of the HVAC equation. Similarly, if you lived in the Arctic you could get by without the AC part. But in Saskatchewan, as we all know, our climate ranges from broiling heat in the summer to frigid cold in the winter, so we need all four letters in the acronym to lead a comfortable existence. And for Planet S voters, Centennial 360 is their go-to HVAC company. /Gregory Beatty

Best Landscaping

Little Rock

Runners-up Vision Landscape And Design (2nd), Yardape (3rd), Strongback Company (4th), DDIY Property Maintenance & Renos (5th).

As mentioned elsewhere in this feature, I live in a downtown condo. What’s more, the building is on a pedestrian mall, with a paved parking lot on the back end. So yeah, I’m sadly lacking in the yard and garden department. Not entirely lacking, mind you, as my third floor unit does have three window boxes. Even so, I still can’t see myself giving Little Rock a call. I’m sure they’d do a fine job landscaping them. But, I mean, they’re just window boxes. For anyone who’s got serious yard and garden capacity, though, you can never go wrong in consulting with a professional to ensure you’re getting maximum enjoyment out of your space. And Little Rock has our voters’ stamp of approval. /Gregory Beatty

Best Mortgage Broker

Sarah Schiess
The Mortgage Group 1-888-244-6059

Runners-up Tyler Hildebrand (2nd), Ryan Mollberg (3rd), Shawna MacDonald (4th), Chris Kolinski (5th).

Last month, the federal Liberals introduced new rules to “stress test” prospective home purchasers to ensure they wouldn’t be at risk of defaulting on their mortgage should interest rates jump a couple of points from the insanely low levels they’ve been at since the 2008-09 crash (to 4.64 per cent for a five-year term, to be precise). Over-heated housing markets in Toronto and Vancouver were the major concern, but the rules apply across Canada, so that makes it all the more important that when you’re in the market for a home you secure the best deal possible. And by consulting with professionals like Sarah Schiess, that’s guaranteed. /Gregory Beatty

Best Plumber

Gregg’s Home Services
503 51st St. E. 306-373-4664

Runners-up Centennial 360 (2nd), Perfection Plumbing (3rd), Innovative Heating And Cooling (4th), Action Plumbing (5th).

Usually when you need a plumber, it’s an emergency. I speak from experience! I also speak from experience when I say our voters made a solid choice when they picked Gregg’s Home Services as this year’s Best Plumber. Gregg’s has saved me on a few occasions when the plumbing gremlins invaded my house and I needed an expert to diagnose the problem and recommend and implement the proper solution. Their technicians are quick, knowledgeable and efficient. And, maybe best of all — they always show up on time! Gregg’s has been in business for almost 30 years, all the while building a solid reputation for their services and products. Their goal is to be the company of choice for Saskatoon and area and according to our voters they’ve been successful at doing that. /Carolyn Rebeyka


Best Real Estate Agent

Lacy Watson
LacyKindra Realtors  250 1820 8th St. E. 306-227-9479

Runners-up Travis Quiring (2nd), Cathy Teichroeb (3rd), Mercina Kokkas (4th).

Lacy Watson is a six-time Best of Saskatoon winner and one-half of Remax’s dynamic LacyKindra duo.

“I love that I get to work with many different types of people every day,” says Lacy, a friendly and humble Saskatchewanian originally from Hodgeville, near Swift Current. “People are making their biggest investment. It’s nice to be a part of that. I love just holding their hands through the whole process.”

Lacy works with Kindra Sowden. If one is away, the other is there to help their clients. “Our clients always know they’ll be in good hands, because they kind of know us as one, really,” says Lacy.

So what’s the home-buying scene in Saskatoon like these days? Is it changing? “It’s turned to a little bit more of a buyer’s market,” says Lacy. “There’s tons of room to make a really smart purchase.

“You know, it’s a great city,” Lacy says. “My husband and I call it a great home base. It’s a great place to raise your children and summers are beautiful. We like to cycle around the river. There’s the Jazz and Fringe festivals. Restaurants are getting better. There’s tons of life to it. I think it’s a great place for people to call home.

“Besides the weather. That’s not my biggest thrill,” she says. “I have to show houses in minus-40.” /Stephen Whitworth

Best Real Estate Company

Century 21 Fusion
210-310 Wellman Lane 306-653-8222

Runners-up Realty Executives (2nd), Royal LePage Hallmark (3rd), LacyKindra (4th), Royal LePageVidorra (5th).

Whether it’s a house, condo, side-by-side, duplex or President Trump-proof underground apocalypse bunker, buying a home is a big deal for the humans of Saskatoon. Planet S voters, a savvy bunch surely cognizant of the perils of our times, voted Century 21 Fusion as the Bridge City’s best real estate company. Looking to purchase a cool pad, nurturing nest or fortified shelter? Consider taking our voters’ advice and giving Century 21 a call. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Yard & Garden Store

Dutch Growers
685 Reid Rd. 306-249-1222

Runners-up Early’s Farm & Garden Centre (2nd), Wilson’s Greenhouse (3rd), Garden Architecture (4th), Lee Valley (5th).

For several years now, I’ve grown flowers from seed in three third floor window boxes. My condo faces west, so I have decent mid-to-late afternoon sun, and have enjoyed some horticultural success. But I’ve also endured mega-failures — like this summer, when several days of insane winds pulled all my seedlings out by the roots. And it just occurred to me that if I wanted to improve my odds next summer, I could boogie down to Dutch Growers and pick up some bedding plants. That way, they’d have a fighting chance to remain rooted and eventually blossom into beautiful window boxes — which would earn me major props from the downtown crowd for my gardening acumen. Yeah, I just might do that. /Gregory Beatty


Best Boutique Fashion Store

122 2nd Ave. N. 306-975-1529

Runners-up White Dhalia (2nd), Sandbox In The City (3rd), Two Fifty Two Boutique (4th), Tryst Boutique  (5th).

In olden days, snake oil salesmen used to promote different tonics as being “the cure for what ails you.” I suppose if you’re one of those unfortunate souls who’s lacking in fashion sense, Tonic might be the cure for what ails you. Like most boutiques, Tonic offers the latest in contemporary fashion and accessories. But it also features reworked vintage fashion for clients who want to make a unique statement while also respecting the three Rs of environmental sustainability — Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Tonic even caters to out-of-towners through its online boutique Farminista, and holds special events such as “meet the designer” nights to build bonds between designers and clients. So congrats to owner Rox and her staff. /Gregory Beatty

Best Men’s Business Wear

144 2nd Ave. S. 306-242-8808

Runners-up Moores (2nd), Anthony’s Fashion (3rd), Elwood Flynn For Men (4th), RW & CO. (5th).

Caswells has been selling suits to Saskatonians since 1911. That’s 105 years of style, people. They know what they’re doing. The store carries an international range of menswear from companies like Toronto’s Dagr, England’s 7 Downie St. and Germany’s Haupt, and lots more. Whether you’re looking for full suits, dress shirts, jackets, denim, ties or shoes, you’ll find elegant and comfortable clothing that will help you stand out in the business world. Check ’em out! /Stephen Whitworth


Best Men’s Casual Clothes

Banjo Outpost
124 2nd Ave. N. 306-382-7678

Runners-up Manhattan Casuals (2nd), Anthony’s Fashion (3rd), Ultimo Euromoda (4th), David’s Distinctive Men’s Apparel (5th).

When I think of “banjo” my mind conjures up the image of a plaid-shirted, denim-panted person (cowboy boots optional) sitting on a stool strumming/plucking out a folksy bluegrass tune. On the fashion spectrum, that’s probably about as casual as it gets. Banjo Outpost, I think it’s fair to say, caters to a bit more sophisticated crowd. On their website, they even have product lines for Blazers & Trousers and Button-Up Shirts. But that’s the magic of this category. Casual fashion encompasses a wide array looks and occasions. And for Planet S voters, Banjo Outpost is music to their ears.  /Gregory Beatty

Best Men’s Shoes

Traxx Footwear
23-2105 8th St. E. 306-956-2272

Runners-up Broadway Shoe Repair (2nd), Foster’s Shoes (3rd), Elwood Flynn For Men (4th), Durand’s (5th).

I’ve been going through a shoe crisis lately. Outside of winter wear, and rubber boots I use when it’s wet out, I have a single pair of street shoes. I’m a dedicated walker, so shoes are important to me, both from a functional and style perspective. Four years ago I found a pair I absolutely love. But after trodding the sidewalks of the city for four summers my shoes are done. Repairing them isn’t an option as they have gum soles, and they’ve eroded down to the underlay on the heel and ball area. If I could clone them, I would. But I can’t. So I’ve been searching high and low for a replacement pair — so far with zero luck. But on your recommendation, I think I might just have an answer to my dilemma. /Gregory Beatty

Best Store For Secondhand Clothes

Plato’s Closet
415 115th St. E. 306-974-3900

Runners-up Value Village (2nd), Better Off Duds (3rd), Hazlewood (4th), Stasia Boutique (5th).

Thift store shopping is as sacred to simple-livin’ folk like me as Sunday morning church service is to the religious. You need to be serious, caffeinated, willing to devote some of your precious weekend time, stoic — and, in my case, oh-so-patient for the right size. Although when your favourite thrift store is as classy and curated as Plato’s Closet it’s a jazzed-up kind of service — like a Sister Act performance, where everybody pours in to church to clap their hands and sway from side to side. Except for Halloween, of course, when any sense of decorum or spiritual serenity goes out the window. /Lisa Johnson

Best Women’s Business Wear

White Dhalia
142 2nd Ave. N. 306-249-4447 685 Reid Ave. 306-249-1222

Runners-up Ricki’s (2nd), RW & CO. (3rd), Sandbox In The City (4th), Olson + Burke (5th).

If you’re a metal fan, you’ve probably heard of The Black Dahlia Murder. The band took its name from a 1947 L.A. homicide that remains unsolved to this day. Lurid, I know, and probably a bit off topic as far as saluting your choice for Best Women’s Business Wear. So I’ll switch gears and note that White Dhalia is affiliated with Dutch Growers, and offers over two dozen brands of clothing, footwear, jewellery, handbags and other accessories. That’s important, because while business attire for men is pretty straightforward, women have more freedom in how they choose to dress. That’s great, but it also presents challenges. By having a range of brands to choose from, plus trained stylists to offer advice, White Dhalia helps women navigate the ins and out of the business world. /Gregory Beatty

Best Women’s Casual Clothes

122 2nd Ave. N. 306-975-1529

Runners-up White Dhalia (2nd), Maurices (3rd), Better Off Duds (4th), Tryst Boutique (5th).

Tonic is a shop, but its inventory is so smartly curated that just browsing is like a visit to a fashion museum. It’s a stroll you’ll want to take unless you hate shopping — in which case, why are you even reading this? Tonic’s bohemian/hippy/retro dresses, tops, ponchos, rompers, coats, scarves and other thingies are all gorgeous and stylish and awesome, and if you’re a person who likes women’s clothes you should check this place out. Me? I’m not a wearer of women’s clothes but I know a good store when I see it. Head down to 122 2nd Ave. N or Internet yourself over to the website today. Our voters’ say Tonic is the best, and their story checks out. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Women’s Shoes

Traxx Footwear
23-2105 8th St. E. 306-956-2272

Runners-up Swank Shoe Lounge (2nd), Broadway Shoe Repair (3rd), Durand’s (4th), Modern Sole (5th).

Traxx Footwear is a dangerous place. You see, it’s the cause of many mysterious disappearances — the disappearing chunks of past and future paychecks, vanishing closet space and far too many lost hours in a day. Whether you visit the store or spend time shopping online, you’ll quickly fall in love with Traxx’s incredible selection of footwear and accessories including a comprehensive collection of designer lines to suit every style and occasion. You can find casual and fashion shoes and boots as well as CSA approved styles for the workplace at this family owned and operated business. People far and wide know Traxx is THE place for shoes, so it’s fitting that they’ve been crowned Best Women’s Shoes in Saskatoon. /Carolyn Rebeyka


Best Day Spa

Just For You Day Spa
2414D 8th St. E. 306-955-7546

Runners-up Edgewater (2nd), Beverly Ashdown (3rd), Paramount Day Spa (4th), Damara Day Spa (5th).

With locations in Saskatoon, Regina and Lloydminster, Just For You is becoming a Saskatchewan day spa institution. And while I don’t know if there’s a “Best of Lloydminster” readers’ poll out there, I can confirm JFY won this year’s Best Day Spa award in Regina too. Not a surprise — all the Just For You locations are luxurious escapes from the sometimes oppressive outside world, with serene décor and professional therapeutic, wellness and esthetic services. Wanna treat yo’self? Just For You is just what it says it is. /Stephen Whitworth



Best Esthetician

Blaze Wylde
Cliptomania 300 3rd Ave. S. 306-668-6611

Runners-up Jasmine Dick, The Lemon Tree Salon And Studio (2nd), Gisele Sieben, Just For You Day Spa (3rd), Katie Martin, Pretty Little Things (4th), Lori Pressacco, R3Salon And Spa (5th).

Blaze Wylde is Cliptomania’s resident empress of eyebrows, master of make-up, monarch of moustaches and colonel of colour correction, among many other applicably alliterative titles. And holy poodle poop, Blaze sounds great — check out this excerpt from her bio, from Cliptomania’s web page: “We can pretty much guarantee she will always bring unconventional/inappropriate clothing and conversation to your appointment and you’ll love it.” Well yeah, sure as shit sounds like it! Sign my movembery ass up. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Hair Salon

300 3rd Ave. S. 306-668-6611

Runners-up The Lemon Tree Salon and Studio (2nd), Chop Chop Salon (3rd), Salon Hush (4th), Revamp Salon Company (5th).

Let’s keep this simple — here’s five reasons Cliptomania rules: 1.) Kris Hautzinger’s funky, alternative shop is a fizzing temple to follicular creativity staffed by rock stars who will help you look awesome; 2.) it uses organic hair and beauty products, which is terrific for people with allergies and sensitive hair and skin; 3.) it’s got a fun $5 charity event Sunday Nov. 15 at PiNK (69 24th St. E.) that raises money for Dress For Success and you should totally go; 4.) a mid-October Facebook post showed a photo of the shop’s washroom chalk sign, which read, “Fun (and true) fact: Cliptomania used to be a funeral home so there’s definitely dead people watching you pee! Happy Halloween!”; and finally 5.) Boh the Shop Dog/CEO, a.k.a. “the cutest little dude ever”. My kind of salon! /Stephen Whitworth

Best Men’s Hairstylist

Keith Bastian
Chop Chop Salon #5 606 22nd St. W. 306-477-0663

Runners-up Angela Luther, Tommy Gun’s Original Barbershop at Blairmore (2nd), Alexandra Dorval, Salon Hush (3rd), Presley Bray, The Lemon Tree Salon And Studio (4th), Zennovia Belak, Revamp Salon Company (5th).

Once again, Keith Bastian is Planet S voters’ choice for Saskatoon’s Best Men’s Hairstylist, which sure as heck seems to me like a good way to celebrate his six years at Chop Chop Salon.

Readers have given Keith the stylist awards five times now. So if you’re a man with hair who hasn’t yet been Bastianized, get on that! Keith’s good! He’s been a hair instructor and he marks journeyman hairstyle exams, which makes him a pro’s pro.

I asked if Keith had anything to add. He’s enjoying living in this new golden age of barbering.

“Men are starting to care about how they look,” says Keith. “That’s what people notice first — I see your hair, and your shoes. If you’ve got good hair and shoes, you take care of yourself.”

So get yourself a pair of nice loafers or dress boots (avoid runners) and haul your head to Chop Chop. Keith will handle the rest. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Piercing Shop

Tantrix Body Art
107 3rd Ave. N. 306-384-5454

Runners-up Schmatta (2nd), ON2U Body Piercing And Tattoos (3rd), Soma Studio (4th), Alchemy Clothing & Salon (5th).

Are you thinking about getting a piercing but you’ve been holding off until you know who Planet S voters recommended this year? Delay no longer: our magazine’s people picked Tantrix Body Art as Saskatoon’s best shop to get ringed, hooped, studded and otherwise embellished. Just make sure that you bring fancy, official government-type I.D. along on your appointment or they’ll have to turn you away. You’ll be sad, they’ll be sad, I’ll be sad, everyone will be sad. Happy is better! /Stephen Whitworth


Best Tattoo Artist

Jesse Zabos
Young Guns Tattoo 635 Ave. H S. 306-242-7665

Runners-up Michael Lauen, Tantrix Body Art (2nd), Mike Thompson-Hill, Trantrix Body Art (3rd), Alfred Delgado-Lopez, Salon Hush (4th), Roger Nikki, Soma Studio (5th).

Jesse Zabos is a back-to-back winner Best of Saskatoon. Our voters’ favourite purveyor of illustrated body art took home Best Tattoo Artist in 2015 too. How did this award-winning tat-champ get his start?

“I’ve always just loved the way tattoos look and I was always an artist when I was a kid,” Jesse says. “Comic books were my start and then I quickly came into tattoo magazines. I just started drawing tattoos out of the magazine ’cause I liked them, and giving them to the kids at school with a sharpie marker, and it just kind of evolved into getting my own machine when I was 18 and tattooing my friends until I got good.

“Then I got a job in a shop, and I’ve been drawing ever since,” says Jesse.

Jesse — who posts tons of work on Instagram as @zabbydabs — is a versatile artist who likes a variety of subject matter. “We can do portraits, comic books, old school, new school, you know, really bright, colourful tattoos, or just black and grey shaded animal portraits,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed animal tattoos quite a bit over the last couple of years. I don’t like to stick to one thing.” /Stephen Whitworth


Best Tattoo Shop

Tantrix Body Art
107 3rd Ave. N. 306-384-5454

Runners-up Young Guns Tattoo (2nd), Ink Addiction (3rd), Rites Of Passage (4th), Soma Studio (5th).

Tantrix has been bringing people and ink together since 2002. The 10-person studio specializes in bright, colourful, custom tattoos as well as piercings. More awesomely, Tantrix regularly raises money for children and animal charities including Saskatoon Parrot Rescue, various dog rescues and even baby raccoon rehabilitation. A recent tattoo-athon raised $3,000 for the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s orphan animals project, which cares for elephants and rhinos. A 2010 event, Tattoo For The Turtles, collected more than $10,000 for Florida’s Turtle Hospital, which helped sea turtles injured in the BP Deepwater Horizon spill.

“Everything’s fun,” says Tantrix’s Leanne Thompson-Hill. “The guys have to agree to it, and that’s why animals generally win out, but we do a lot for children too.”

Follow Tantrix on Facebook to find out about future fund-raisers and stay up-to-date on their latest, greatest work. /Stephen Whitworth

Best Women’s Hairstylist

Keith Bastian
Chop Chop Salon #5 606 22nd St. W. 306-477-0663

Runners-up Christian Leigh, Cliptomania (2nd), Paige Gelowitz, The Lemon Tree Salon And Studio (3rd), Alexandra Dorval, Salon Hush (4th), Zennovia Belak, Revamp Salon Company (5th).

We’ve established that Chop Chop Salon’s Keith Bastian is Saskatoon’s Best Men’s Hairstylist. But who’s the city’s Best Women’s Hairstylist?

Oh hang on, it’s Keith again. Let’s hear what our winner has to say. “I love what I do,” says Keith. “Your clients are your friends — they’re close to you. You don’t let just anyone touch the top of your head. Do you know what I mean? If someone’s sitting in your chair, you have to make them feel relaxed while you’re rubbing their head.”

Along with cuts, colours, styles and considerate head-touching, Keith can keep a secret, which is good for his clients, who tell him things they don’t tell anyone else. I asked Keith to reveal a good scandal. “They’re still together! That’s all I can say,” he says.

Any final thoughts? “There’s nothing worse than a woman with a bad haircut,” says Keith. “You’d think a woman scorned, but really, if you cut their hair badly you’ll never hear the end of it because they’ll tell everybody. So if you’re going to make it in this business you genuinely have to be really good at what you do.” /Stephen Whitworth


Best Bicycle Store

Bike Doctor
623 Main St. E. 306-664-8555

Runners-up Doug’s Spokes ’N’ Sport (2nd), Bike Universe (3rd), Outtabounds (4th), Bruce’s Cycle Works (5th).

If you read my Best Pet Peeve, Best Gym, Best Yoga Studio or Best NEW Locally Owned Business (Broadway) blurbs, you’ll know I’m a dedicated (and kind of militant, I guess) cyclist. So I’m naturally a big fan of cycling shops and the culture they spawn and nurture. World-wide, the Netherlands is the top cycling nation. According to recent stats, fully 27-per cent of all trips there are taken via bike. Next best is Denmark with 18-per cent, and Germany with nine-per cent. Next to those cycling nirvanas, Saskatoon and most Canadian cities probably qualify as cycling hell. But the culture is changing, and cycling shops such as Bike Doctor are on the front lines. If you’re thinking of dropping by in the next while, note that with construction ongoing at its Main St. location it’s got a pop-up shop at 810 Broadway Ave. /Gregory Beatty

Best Curling Club

Nutana Curling Club
2002 Arlington Ave. 306-374-2422

Runners-up Granite Curling Club (2nd), Sutherland Curling Club (3rd), CN Curling Club (4th).

When I was in grade 10 my family moved from Saskatoon to Kindersley in west-central Saskatchewan. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but one positive from the time I spent there is I started to curl. I’d always had an interest in the sport from watching it on TV, but had never picked up a broom and slipped on a slider myself. Once I did, I found I enjoyed it. Three years in a row, in fact, I hooked up with some guys and headed into Saskatoon for a big bonspiel the Nutana Curling Club used to host for boys and girls high school teams during spring break. We always had a blast, and finished in the prizes twice too. Curling isn’t as popular now as it was then, sadly, but many people still enjoy hitting the ice. And when Planet S voters do, Nutana is their top club. /Gregory Beatty

Best Golf Course

The Willows Golf & Country Club
382 Cartwright St. 306-956-1100

Runners-up Holiday Park Golf Course (2nd), Dakota Dunes Golf Links (3rd), Riverside Country Club (4th), The Legends Golf Club (5th).

If you’ve played The Willows Golf & Country Club before, you’re acquainted with its charms. If you haven’t, the course, and a companion residential development, opened in 2004. It has 36 holes, so you can switch things up visit to visit. Each hole has four tees, too, so it offers a fair test for golfers of all skill levels. Lying in wait for errant shots are silica bunkers and multiple water hazards, including two signature holes featuring island/peninsula greens. It’s got a sweet clubhouse too, with a well-equipped pro shop and top-notch eatery called Il Salici Ristorante. /Gregory Beatty

Best Gym

Motion Fitness
320 Shillington Cres. 306-975-1003

Runners-up Goodlife Fitness (2nd), Freedom Functional Fitness (3rd), Fitness Focus (4th), Bridge City Fitness (5th).

As much as possible, I try to incorporate exercise into my daily life through walking, cycling and taking the stairs instead of riding the elevator. Does that make me a fitness nut? Hardly. But it does help me keep my weight down and stay reasonably healthy. For those who want to take fitness to the next level, Motion Fitness is where it’s at in Saskatoon. What is it about Motion Fitness that appeals to Planet S voters? Well, I’m not a mind reader, so I can’t answer that question. But if you check the website you’ll learn about all the different training programs, equipment and facilities it has available to help you reach your fitness goals. /Gregory Beatty

Best Martial Arts School

Scheer’s Martial Arts
Boychuk Dr. & Hwy #16 306-664-3677

Runners-up Okami (2nd), Momentum Martial Arts (3rd), Diekema Martial Arts (4th), Way Of The Dragon (5th).

When you visit Scheer’s website, you’re met with the following greeting: “Welcome to Scheer’s Martial Arts, Saskatoon’s Premier Training facility offering the best in Functional Self Defense, Strength and Fitness!” If you delve deeper, you’ll learn they offer programs for all age groups and skill levels in such disciplines as Zen Combat System, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing. Scheer’s also holds special seminars with guest instructors including MMA fighters. So congrats to Scheer’s. /Gregory Beatty

Best Place To Play Pool

Snooker Shack
3421 8th St. E. 306-374-2100

Runners-up Pacific Billiards (2nd), Capitol Music Club (3rd), The Hose And Hydrant (4th), Vangelis (5th).

Every once in a while, when a pint or two makes me lopsided and cross-eyed enough to get lucky with the cue, I come ever-so-close to winning a game of pool. But for the most part, I’m not skilled enough to hold down a table for very long. And in this town, you can only ignore that loonie on the table’s edge for so long before somebody just starts racking up your balls and calling you “partner.” Luckily, the Snooker Shack, dedicated as it is to having a ton of available tables, serving pub food and reeling you in with specials, is the ultimate billiards bar for losing schlubs like me who don’t want to be challenged. Not to mention the voting populace of pool sharks who probably don’t want to wait for my unending game to be won. /Lisa Johnson


Best Sporting Goods

Al Anderson’s Source For Sports
208 Ave. B S. 306-652-9412

Runners-up Cabela’s (2nd), Brainsport (3rd), EB’s Source For Adventure (4th), Olympian Sports (5th).

If you visit the Al Anderson’s Source For Sports website you’ll learn that “Source For Sports” got its start in southwestern Ontario in the 1960s and now boasts over 150 stores across Canada. It functions as a national-buying group, so that gives it clout to secure the best price possible for its customers from sports equipment manufacturers. “Source For Sports” isn’t your standard chain or big box store, though. Instead, the stores are all owned by independent retailers. Typically, those retailers have roots in their communities, so they can craft their store’s product selection to meet their customers’ particular sports needs. For Planet S voters, that’s obviously a winning formula. /Gregory Beatty

Best Yoga Studio

Moksha Yoga
619 1st Ave. N. 306-649-2424

Runners-up One Yoga (2nd), Hot Yoga On 20th (3rd), Ground Yoga (4th), Yerrama Yoga Sanctuary (5th).

I don’t do yoga now, but could see myself getting into it down the road. Right now I rely on walking, reasonably hardcore cycling and stairs (lots of stairs) to stay fit. I don’t really feel a need for meditation in my life either, as writing for a living kind of provides me with Zen-like satisfaction. But down the road some of that stuff will start to be a struggle. And I totally respect yoga as a great way to stay fit, flexible and centred. It’s just not for me right now, is all. But for Planet S voters who are practitioners, Moksha Yoga is their pick as top studio. /Gregory Beatty



Best Auto Body Repair

Kavia Auto Body
90 33rd St. E. 306-242-2733

Runners-up Parr Auto Body (2nd), Mark’s AutoBody (3rd), Collision Plus (4th), Bridge City Collision (5th).

Kavia Auto Body actually started in Africa 45 years ago and moved to Europe before coming to Saskatoon in 1983. Since then, they’ve built a solid reputation for excellence and quality in repairing domestic and imported vehicles. Over the years, their focus moved from auto body restoration to collision repair services, and they take pride in helping customers return their vehicles to pre-accident condition or better. They’re also proud of their customer service and pleased to use quality green technology, demonstrating that they’re a company that cares about the environment and their customers’ needs. If you have a few dings due to a small accident or if your vehicle has more serious damage, our voters say you can rely on Kavia to make things right. /Carolyn Rebeyka


Best Auto Repair

Avalon Auto Service
2601 Broadway Ave. 306-343-9551

Runners-up Glenwood Auto Service (2nd), Value Tire (3rd), Canadiana Automotive (4th), Parktown Auto (5th).

If you were to ask the average Saskatonian what their five most nerve-wracking consumer transactions were, I’m pretty sure taking their car to get repaired/serviced would be one of them. Back in the old analog days you had a fighting chance, with a bit of monkeying around on your part, of having a reasonable grasp of your vehicle’s inner workings. Now that everything’s computerized, though, you’re pretty much at the mercy of the repair shop when it comes to getting your vehicle’s boo-boos and owies fixed so you can enjoy trouble-free driving. At least, that’s the way I feel. And unless our voters are all a bunch vehicle Einsteins, I imagine that’s the way they feel too. But Avalon is a name they obviously trust, as it’s a nine-time winner in this category. /Gregory Beatty


Best Bank Branch

2808 8th St. E.

Runners-up TD Canada Trust, 8th St. (2nd), CIBC, 8th St. (3rd), BMO, Market Mall (4th), TD Canada Trust, Attridge Dr. (5th).

My dad spent his entire working life as a banker. Not with Royal Bank, but another big bank that shall remain nameless — although as a hint, it has more letters in its acronym than RBC. He spent his business days meeting with clients, and many hours after that and on weekends doing the paperwork necessary to ensure all the dollar signs and decimal points added up. So I know banking is not an easy profession. On a macro scale, banks, with their mega-billions of dollars of assets, are intimidating institutions. But when it comes to banking at the branch level, it’s all about client service. My dad understood that. And judging by Planet S voters, RBC’s 8th St. E branch does too. /Gregory Beatty

Best Credit Union Branch

Affinity Credit Union
2201 8th St. E.

Runners-up Affinity Credit Union, Broadway (2nd), Conexus Credit Union, 8th St. (3rd), Affinity Credit Union, Westview (4th), TCU Financial Group, Ludlow (5th).

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses recently surveyed 11,000 small business owners and asked them to rank financial institutions on four criteria involving fees, service and management. Summarizing its findings in a report called “The Battle of the Banks” CFIB found that credit unions outperformed banks. Too often with the Toronto-based big banks, the CFIB stated, small business owners felt like a number as those institutions increasingly shift their focus to uber-wealthy clients. Credit unions, conversely, have a strong local management presence, and that gave small business owners confidence they were getting a fair shake. And for Planet S voters, Affinity Credit Union at 8th & Preston is the top performer. /Gregory Beatty


Best Insurance Agents

Galon Insurance
909 3rd Ave. N. 306-244 7000 2–820B 51st St. E. 306-244-3000

Runners-up Cherry Insurance (2nd), Hoffman Kool (3rd), Al Hattie Insurance (4th), Rayner Agencies (5th).

Galon Insurance was established in Saskatchewan in 1963, and opened its first office in downtown Saskatoon in 1988, more recently expanding to a second location in the north end. Through the years, the family-owned business has maintained a proud legacy by holding true to the vision of offering customers peace of mind and ease in handling their insurance needs. In addition to the friendly and helpful staff at both offices, Galon Insurance now provides a full range of online services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, allowing customers to access information and a variety of services at their convenience. When it comes to advice, products and services to insure the things we hold most dear, it’s no wonder Galon Insurance is our voters’ choice as Best Insurance Agents. /Carolyn Rebeyka


Best Lawyer

Tara Chornoby
300-3333 8th St. E. 306-384-4181

Runners-up Michael Derbowka (2nd), Lisa Watson (3rd), Beau Atkins (4th), Ivan Bergerman (5th).

Lawyers have a bad rep in our society. “Shyster”, “mouthpiece” and “ambulance-chaser” are only three of the pejorative terms that have been coined to describe these practitioners of one of the blackest arts yet devised by humanity — LAW. But consider the alternative, which in my mind is LAWLESSNESS where people rob and murder and otherwise violate the legal rights of others with impunity if they have the power and desire to do so. Far better, in my mind, to set up a system of well-reasoned and hopefully just principles to govern our interaction with each other. And lawyers, along with judges, legal scholars, and legislators are a vital part of that. For Planet S voters, Tara Chornoby is Saskatoon’s top mouth — uh, lawyer. /Gregory Beatty

Best Printing Services

Saskatoon Fastprint
2938 Millar Ave. 306-244-3988

Runners-up ProPrint (2nd), Mr Print (3rd), PGI Printers (4th), XL Print & Design (5th).

I’ve worked in print most of my adult life, but have never actually seen the inside of any of the plants that have taken the words I’ve typed on my computer and turned them into a flesh and blood — okay, that’s a little too melodramatic. It’s not like the magazine I end up holding in my hands at the end of the whole shebang is alive. But it does have a tangible presence that words and pictures on a screen lack (no offense to our online readership). Only a handful of western Canadian companies print on the scale we require at Planet S, but for our voters Saskatoon Fastprint is their go-to shop for annual reports, posters, calendars, business cards, letterheads and other commercial and professional print needs. /Gregory Beatty


Best Professional Photographer

Tammy Zdunich
Boehmer Photography 306-230-5275

Runners-up Erin Crooks Photography (2nd), Joi Photography (3rd), Mark Tiu (4th), Scarlet Rain Photography (5th).

There was quite a race in this category. Yes sir, it was a real “photo finish”. (Ha-ha!) You’d think with digital cameras, photography would be in eclipse as an art form. Back in the old days, when people used actual film, which came in 24-shot rolls, and you had to pay handsomely to develop, taking pictures was serious business — and on important occasions such as weddings, graduations and family portraits, best left to professionals. Even today, though, investing in a quality photographer when you’re looking to document a special moment in your life is still a wise investment. And when Planet S voters are looking to do that their top pick is Tammy Zdunich. /Gregory Beatty

Best Travel Agents

CAA Saskatchewan
150 1 Ave. S. 306-688-3737 3110 8th St. E. 306-688-3770

Runners-up Uniglobe Carefree Travel (2nd), Ixtapa Travel (3rd), Flight Centre (4th), Jubilee Travel (5th).

With advances in online technology, travel agent is another profession you’d think would be going the way of the Dodo. When it comes to simple trips involving direct flights between large cities and stays at major hotels that’s perhaps true. But with adventure tourism on the rise, and people travelling to all sorts of exotic destinations from the Arctic to Antarctica and everywhere in between, travel agents can offer a degree of security to clients that everything a vendor might promise on a website actually lives up to expectations. By doing that, they help ensure that a once-in-a-lifetime adventure doesn’t turn into a once-in-a-lifetime nightmare. And for Planet S voters, CAA Saskatchewan is their go-to travel agent. /Gregory Beatty


Best Locally Owned Business (Broadway)

The Better Good
714 Broadway Ave. 306-242-4663

Runners-up Brainsport (2nd), Vinyl Diner (3rd), rydeyxe (4th), Revamp Salon Company (5th).

A bunch of do-gooders trying to change the world one molecule at a time, near as I can figger. You go to their website, and the first thing you see is a photo-shopped picture of a bunny on a bicycle with a solar panel strapped to its back. A cute yellow chick is riding shotgun on the back fender, with a juicy red tomato [organic, no doubt] in the front basket, and a beaming sunflower with a bee about to descend to pollinate it. I mean, give me a freaking break! Then if you scroll down you’ll see links to free yoga classes, backyard beekeeping, Earth building workshops (whatever those are!), backyard chicken coops and other commie pinko stuff. They even include a shout-out to this left-wing rag for their wins in past “Best of” contests. Again, I reiterate, give me a FREAKING BREAK! /Gregory Beatty

Best NEW Locally Owned Business (Broadway)

705 Broadway Ave. 306-477-7933

Runners-up Hell Razor Barbershop (2nd), LifeCycle Spin Studio (3rd), Crystal Life Designs (4th).

I haven’t been on a plane for over six years. So I’m honestly not up on the growing trend of using the Nav Canada airport code as shorthand for the city it serves. But one thing I am up on is cycling. I’m a dedicated three-seasoner, but don’t do winter because of all the snow, ice and cold. That’s where rydeyxe comes in. It’s an indoor cycling studio, so it gives you the option of remaining active as a cyclist in the winter — which in Saskatchewan can sometimes stretch from early November to late March. Or maybe you’re done playing “Road Warrior” no matter what the season in our vehicle-laden city but want to keep cycling. rydeyxe’s got you covered, with group classes and nice cycling ambiance to boot. /Gregory Beatty


Best Kept Secret (Broadway)

Vinyl Diner
628 Broadway Ave. 306-244-7640

Runners-up Turning The Tide (2nd), Steephill Co-Op (3rd), Avalon Auto Service (4th), Saskatchewan Craft Council Gallery (5th).

Vinyl Diner’s name shouldn’t be taken literally, of course, as the only things that are capable of ingesting vinyl are certain strains of bacteria. What our voters can do with vinyl, though, is slap it on a turntable and dial up the volume. Records aren’t the only product on the shelves at Vinyl Diner, it also sells CDs. But vinyl is central to the store’s inventory. Friendly and knowledgeable staff are a big part of the equation too. As any music fan knows, one of the great joys of fandom is being able to share your favourite artists with others and learn about their latest discoveries. And when you can do that through the classic art form of the record album, all the better. /Gregory Beatty

Best Locally Owned Business (Downtown)

122 2nd Ave. N. 306-975-1529

Runners-up Tantrix Body Art (2nd), Swank Shoe Lounge (3rd), Unreal City (4th), White Dhalia (5th).

Tonic, a popular clothing store in downtown Saskatoon, has been a fixture in the community for several years after setting up shop during the beginning of the downtown revitalization initiative. Tonic has earned a stellar reputation among its customers and the downtown business community alike. The store’s inviting layout and cozy vibes make you feel like you stepped into your most stylish friend’s closet, encouraging you to take your time to find the perfect fit. With a well-stocked range of reputable and popular brands, Tonic’s staff will help you find something that’s both affordable and stylish, no matter what the occasion — not that you need an occasion to visit Saskatoon’s Best Locally Owned Downtown Business. /Meagan Rankin


Best Kept Secret (Downtown)

Art Placement
228 3rd Ave. S 306-664-3385

Runners-up Unreal City (2nd), Back Then And Again Jewellery Boutique (3rd), Underground Trends (4th), Creative Compliments (5th).

Art Placement is pretty much one-stop-shopping for artists and art lovers. First off, it has a great stock of supplies. Professional artists are on-staff too, so they can provide advice on what will do the trick for artists of all ages and skill levels. Art Placement also does prep work, so once the art is in the tank so to speak staff can mount and frame it so it’s ready to hang. Speaking of hanging, Art Placement also has a gallery where it presents exhibitions. It’s a member of the Saskatchewan Professional Art Gallery Association and Art Dealers Association of Canada, so you know you’re getting quality art at a fair price. All-in-all, Art Placement sounds like a great place to visit. And it earned your nod as the Downtown’s Best Kept Secret. /Gregory Beatty

Best Locally Owned Business (East Side)

Dutch Growers
685 Reid Rd. 306-249-1222

Runners-up SaskMade Marketplace (2nd), Amazing Stories (3rd), Just For You Day Spa (4th), Two Fifty Two Boutique (5th).

There was a time several years ago when I thought Dutch Growers, in business for over 50 years, was all about plants. Boy, was I wrong! Sure, they’re well-stocked in that department. But the store contains an explosion of other awesome goodies including home décor, clothing, accessories, jewellery, snack foods, toys and more. There’s no such thing as a quick trip to Dutch Growers — be prepared to spend several hours in sensory overload with all of the things to see, hear, touch, smell and taste. And there’s always an interesting workshop or seminar to attend, whether it’s lessons on decorating your Xmas tree, growing a herb garden, arranging flowers or planting succulents. Creative and fun activities are an important part of the business as well, such as the annual pumpkin maze that’s always a delight for the kids. /Carolyn Rebeyka

Best Kept Secret (East Side)

SaskMade Marketplace
1621 8th St. E. 306-955-1832

Runners-up Move N Soar (2nd), Modern Sole (3rd), Vista Eyecare (4th), Tech Box (5th).

I’m not sure why we’re publishing the winners’ names in these Best Kept Secret categories. What’s the point of a secret if everyone’s in on it? Nonetheless, I’m happy to announce that one of my favourite stores is the East Side winner. This Saskatchewan company has partnered with local farmers, processors and artisans to provide a huge array of unique food and non-food products. Their vision involves building bridges between consumers and producers to promote sustainable development. To help people understand the journey from farm to fork, they provide information about farm production and the processes involved in bringing high-quality products to the consumer. Staff are friendly and knowledgeable too, whether you’re looking for a specific item, or need help assembling a gift-basket for a special occasion. /Carolyn Rebeyka


Best Locally Owned Business (North End/West Side)

Lucky Bastard Distillers
814 47th St. E. 306-979-7280

Runners-up Better Off Duds (2nd), MainStage Urban Clothing (3rd), Metric Design Centre (4th), Centennial 360 (5th).

Lucky Bastard made headlines last December when news surfaced of its struggle with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office to trademark its name. Not surprising, CIPO has guidelines around what names can (and can’t) be trademarked. That makes sense, I suppose. Say someone wanted to trademark M************ B**********. Do we really need that? But Lucky Bastard as a pejorative term is pretty antiquated. Yes, back in the day it was a grave insult to be called a “bastard” as that implied you’d been born out of wedlock. But we’re much more open to different models of family life now. So “bastard” just doesn’t carry the same heft. It’s like calling someone a “scallywag” or “rapscallion”. So if it hasn’t already, I think CIPO should lighten up. /Gregory Beatty

Best Kept Secret (North End/West Side)

Lucky Bastard Distillers
814 47th St. E. 306-979-7280

Runners-up Wanuskewin Heritage Park (2nd), Better Off Duds (3rd), Whimsey (4th), Metric Design Centre (5th).

I ranted about Lucky Bastard’s name above. Now, I’m going to rant about its product selection which ranges from whiskey and vodka to rum, gin, liqueurs and bitters. Lucky Bastard doesn’t just deliver standard takes on these classic ethanol delivery systems. No sir. It works with local suppliers to source saskatoon and haskap berries, rhubarb, dill pickle, pumpkin and other spices/ingredients to give their products a unique prairie flavour. In addition to its sales operation, Lucky Bastard also hosts public and private tours (which include free samples for people looking to get their drink on). All in all, sounds like a neat place to visit. /Gregory Beatty

Best Locally Owned Business (Riversdale)

Hardpressed Print Studio
224 20th St. W. 306-384-5488

Runners-up Garden Architecture And Design (2nd), Bike Universe (3rd), Twig and Squirrel’s Wild Goods (4th), Hazlewood (5th).

Creative types often get dismissed in our consumer/capitalist society for being an impractical lot who don’t contribute much in the way of economic vitality. That perception, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth. You don’t need to look any further than your pick for Best Locally Owned Business in Riversdale for proof of that. Visit Hardpressed Print Studio’s website, and you’ll see all sorts of stylish t-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, slouchies and other apparel adorned with various symbols and designs that celebrate Saskatoon and the province as a whole. Hell, it even gives a shout-out or two to our rival to the south — the Queen City. And through the work Hardpressed does, it contributes to the local economy while also enhancing the city’s visual landscape. So congrats to it. /Gregory Beatty

Best NEW Locally Owned Business (Riversdale)

120 20th St. W. 306-979-9922

Runners-up Glitch Gifts (2nd), Wildflower Home & Botanical (3rd).

Hazlewood celebrated its one-year anniversary on Sept. 17. Michaela Michael is the owner, and the shop specializes in vintage fashion (along with antique housewares, apothecaries and some contemporary local designs). Years ago, I interviewed a designer about a show of vintage fashion she was presenting. We talked about where she sourced her clothing, the unique qualities she valued in vintage garments, and the process she went through to modify them to give them a contemporary look. That was many moons ago, so I can’t remember much of what she said, but the interview did inspire a healthy respect for vintage fashion in me. So congrats to Michaela for her win here, and good luck to her in her sophomore season with Hazlewood. /Gregory Beatty

Best Kept Secret (Riversdale)

Village Green Furniture & Appliances
308 20th St. W. 306-665-0102

Runners-up Glitch Gifts (2nd), Hazlewood (3rd), Void Gallery (4th), Avalon Auto Detailing (5th).

If Village Green Furniture & Appliances is, in fact, the best kept secret in Riversdale, I suspect that won’t be the case much longer. Not after it’s win here, and its second triumph as Saskatoon’s Best Local Furniture Store. I don’t really have much to add from my first blurb, other than to mention again the value of thrift shopping in our society. Not only are you hopefully scoring great bargains when you buy at Village Green, you’re also reducing your consumer impact on the environment, and helping keep alive stylish furniture and other household goods from earlier design eras. /Gregory Beatty



The Best Of Saskatoon was edited by Gregory Beatty, who will receive a medal as well as extensive treatment for Post-Traumatic Best Of Saskatoon Disorder (PTBOSD). Additional writing was provided by Lisa Johnson, Meagan Rankin, Carolyn Rebeyka and Stephen Whitworth. Chris Morin was eaten by trolls and unable to participate. He sends his regrets.

Additional services were provided by Heath Mulligan, Louise Buckmaster and publisher Terry Morash. Our compliments to the hard-working and patient folk at Estevan Web Printing, who, it should be said, are spectacularly intelligent, good-looking human beings. Rarrr.

In some cases the conclusions of Best Of Saskatoon may differ from those of a particular reader. If you are unhappy with any Best Of Saskatoon 2016 winners, well, did you vote? Did you? No? Well then quit complaining. Oh, you did? Well, your horse lost. That’s democracy. Don Atchison doesn’t like it, either. Better luck next year!