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(l-r): Steven SaperSilver, Ed Calnitsky, Sherwood Sharfe, Jeffrey Block

By BERNIE BELLAN Normally, this wouldn’t be the kind of story we’d be writing about in The Jewish Post & News (although Myron Love occasionally writes about something that would be considered a business story).

But, when an email came into our inbox on April 9, I was intrigued by its content. The email came from Calnitsky Associate Architects. Since I know Ed Calnitsky, I decided to read the email (which is something more often than not I don’t do if I think an email is not relevant to our newspaper).
In it, the email described a groundbreaking that was to take place the next day, April 10, in Transcona, for a new Best Western Hotel. So, what’s so special about that, you might ask yourself?

Well, as I read on, I was fascinated to read how many of the key individuals who would be associated with the groundbreaking were Jewish, starting with the project developer – and future owner of the hotel, Sherwood Sharfe. The architect is the aforesaid Ed Calnitsky, and the project manager for the company doing the construction, Bird Construction, is Steven SaperSilver.
Not only do I know Ed and Steven, when I attended the groundbreaking ceremony, I also saw Jeffrey Block, who owns an engineering consulting company. I asked Jeffrey what role he’s playing in the construction of the hotel, and he told me that his company is undertaking “geotechnical engineering and materials testing services.”

Oh – and I couldn’t help but notice that the hotel is going to be built on land adjacent to Vickar Mitsubishi and Vickar Community Chevrolet. Knowing that Sherwood Sharfe is also the son-in-law of the late Ed Vickar, it wasn’t too hard for me to figure out that there was an added Vickar element to this project. So, when I also saw Larry Vickar at the ceremony – and asked him whether it was Vickar-owned land on which the hotel was being built, I wasn’t surprised to hear Larry say “yes”.
It’s neither here nor there that there are so many Jewish names associated with this project; it’s more a coincidence than anything, I suppose. But it is a testament to the confidence that members of the business community are showing in Winnipeg these days – including someone like Sherwood Sharfe, who has been involved in many construction projects over the years.

Not only is Sherwood (whose wife Elaine is a talented children’s books author in her own right) showing great confidence in Winnipeg, I also met his older brother, Lorne (who looks much younger than the bearded Sherwood, by the way), at the groundbreaking, along with Lorne’s son, Adam. Lorne told me that he and Adam have been involved in some major recent land-acquisition projects in Winnipeg, including an 80-unit project in Headingley known as Deer Pointe, along with a 20-unit project in Charleswood.

Adam told me that he’s also started his own house construction company. I invited him to come to one of our Jewish Business Network meetings at the Rady JCC. Many of the individuals who have been attending, I told him, are also involved in some aspect of construction in Winnipeg.
As for the hotel itself, the Best Western Hotel that is to be built will be the first “Premier” Best Western Hotel in Manitoba. It will be six stories and have 141 guest rooms, including a “Prime Minister’s Suite”.
According to the press release accompanying the email from Calnitsky Associates, “The Best Western Premier Hotel will feature a beautifully appointed lobby, lounge and breakfast area as a well as a main floor business centre, meeting rooms, and media room. Amenities will also include a state-of-the-art fitness centre, pool, hot tub, and water slide.”

In his remarks at the groundbreaking, Sherwood Sharfe paid homage to his Winnipeg roots, explaining that his family moved to Winnipeg from Saskatoon when he was 13. Sharfe proceeded to obtain his university education here, culminating in his receiving his law degree from the University of Manitoba, before moving back to Saskatoon where he has pursued a very successful business career.
“In all my travels,” Sharfe noted, “I’ve always said I was from Winnipeg.”
He told a funny anecdote about how former Winnipeggers always recognize one another. One time, Sharfe explained, he was in an airport when he was talking with someone who asked him where he was from.
“I told him that I was from the north end,” Sharfe said. “He said, ‘Oh, you’re from Winnipeg, too!’ “
“My roots and my life are still in Winnipeg,” Sharfe said proudly.
Mayor Brian Bowman was also at the groundbreaking (not wearing anything more than his suit on a chilly April day. I thought to myself, “If a real Jewish mother were here, she would be admonishing him for not wearing a coat.”)

Bowman singled out the Sharfe family for its members’ ongoing contributions to Winnipeg, acknowledging that “the Sharfes are a family of builders: Sherwood, Lorne, Adam, and Cheryl (Lorne’s wife).”
The Premier Best Western Hotel is slated to open 15 months from now, Sherwood Sharfe stated. All that it needs to make it complete is a Shabbes elevator and a mikvah.

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