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Feeling good in Enterprise
John Leskiw finds refuge from go, go, go of city life

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, Sept 24, 2012

Some people like the big city, some people like small-town life. You can put John Leskiw II firmly in the latter group.

NNSL photo/graphic

John Leskiw II, who would like to open a restaurant in Enterprise, discusses the idea while sitting in a restaurant in Hay River. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

About seven years ago, Leskiw arrived in Enterprise to help his elderly mother and he has been there ever since with no plans to move.

"I can't see myself leaving to be honest with you. I really can't," he said.

Leskiw is originally from Winnipeg, but arrived in Enterprise from Minneapolis, where he was working in the computer field.

"I've always loved small towns," he said. "I hated Minneapolis something horrible. You wouldn't believe it."

Leskiw explained he enjoys the comfortable, laid-back routine of a community such as Enterprise, which has a population of about 95.

"I mean, in the big city, it's always go, go, go," he added.

Leskiw, 55, said Enterprise is what he was looking for in a place to live

"You just feel better inside," he said. "You don't feel that pressure all the time, you don't feel that stress. It's just a nice, relaxed atmosphere. It's brought my blood pressure down, if nothing else. Seriously, it's quite a bit down."

An example of how Leskiw has fit into Enterprise is the fact he has been on the community's council for five of his seven years in the hamlet.

In fact, he has even run twice to become mayor, although he doesn't plan to do that again.

"I started to realize that I probably have more power as a councillor than as a mayor because the mayor can't do anything without council's approval," he explained.

The councillor said he got involved in municipal politics because of the potential he sees in the community, largely because of its location on Highway 1.

"I don't want to build a metropolis, but I would like to see a little bit of growth," he said. "Right now, the only reason we're attracting any residents is the price of land."

Many of those people work in Hay River, 38 km away, or elsewhere, but he wants work created for residents in Enterprise.

For the past several years, Leskiw has been trying to open up a restaurant in Enterprise, and is hoping that may finally happen by the spring.

"There is a need for a way station, so to speak, or a rest stop in Enterprise," he said. "It is an ideal location."

Leskiw has already spent a year working on a business plan for a restaurant and has been seeking funding.

In fact, he has already managed a restaurant in Enterprise. He started as a cook at the Junction Cafe and went on to run that business for a couple of years, until the owner closed it about three years ago.

In all, Leskiw has worked as a cook on and off for close to 10 years, starting in Winnipeg when he was a teenager and was hired by a hotel as a dishwasher.

"There was a dispute between the kitchen staff and the management, so most of the kitchen staff walked off, and 'Congratulations, you're promoted,'" he recalled.

Leskiw said he loves working in restaurants because of the interaction with customers and the opportunity to train people.

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