Reid reads his flash fiction 1:36
Reid reads his flash fiction 1:36
This is a hand painted glass slide taken in 1915 of the rail side of the Dauphin Train Station. The station, built in 1912 by Canadian Northern Railways, has been gloriously preserved and houses offices and the Dauphin Rail Museum. Watch my short video of Dauphin’s train station.
Slide images like this were created by the Department of Immigration and Colonization in Ottawa and used to attract European immigrants to Canada.
École Provencher’s history extends back to the earliest Catholic school in the Red River settlement. About 1818, the first missionary in the region, Father (later Bishop) Provencher (below), used his chapel as a
school where he taught boys the four Rs: reading, writing, ‘rithmetic and religion. In 1844, the Grey Nuns assumed responsibility for the school. Ten years later, Father Taché asked the Brothers of Christian Schools to take over the boys’ education in the bishop’s residence while the girls attended school in the Grey Nuns’ Convent.
In 1886, the Oblate Order, who had taken over from the Brothers in
1860, erected a fine Colonial Revival style two-storey wood frame school (below) with an unusual open arcade entrance and stairway
under a peaked roof. The hipped roof of the school sported a lovely cupola featuring another open arcade, a substantial pinnacle and a school bell. This school, teaching bilingual courses, was located in a wooded area at Taché and Provencher. It shares its genesis with St. Boniface College.
When the Grey Nuns resumed instruction of the boys in 1886, the school’s name changed to l’Academie Provencher. The Schools’ Act of 1890, brought in by the provincial Greenway government, created one school system administered by a Board of Education with its own minister. After this, the Grey Nuns handed jurisdiction over to the St. Boniface School Board. In 1899, Bishop Langevin invited the Brothers of the Marianist Order to staff the school.
The Marianist Brothers offered excellent education and a variety of extra-curricular programs including a cinema club, savings bank, bowling and school newspaper.
In 1906, the School Board constructed a school at the site where École Provencher stands today on Avenue de la Cathedrale. It was a modest three-storey brick and limestone building, featuring an entry tower surmounted with an elegant ogee roof. The central 12-room portion of the current building is the original 1906 section (above). Note the students working in the school garden.
Built in 1912, the west wing doubled the size of the school to 25 rooms. In this picture (above) the 1906 central section with 12 rooms is on the left. The west wing, on the right, added in 1912, doubled the size of the school. Here you see the original roofline with cresting and dormers and the original tower topped with ogee roof.
In this picture (above) taken between 1912 and 1924 you can see the original structure (far left) with the west wing (centre) added on.
The first principal of the new school was Father Joseph Fink (left), whose portrait hangs in the school hallway. Popular and progressive, Father Fink initiated a horticultural project using garden plots in front of the building.
To this end, on the third floor, two of the classrooms have large multi-paned skylights, now covered over by the metal roof. Originally, these two rooms were used to grow bedding plants and seedlings for the school garden. The skylights created a greenhouse effect in the rooms so students could learn about horticulture. They would have been very bright rooms with four big windows plus the skylight in each.
The basement of the school had shops for teaching industrial arts. Dating back to 1911 this could be the earliest shop class taught in Winnipeg. By 1915, the school offered a complete high school curriculum.
There is a large third-floor gymnasium in the east wing that once was used as classrooms. It is noticeable from the outside by the bricked-in windows (right). A row of elms was planted along the front of the school in 1909. Some remain today.
In the middle of the night on January 4, 1923 École Provencher caught fire (below). By noon just a gutted shell remained. The St. Boniface School Division lost their offices, which were located in the school. The Board quickly rebuilt. The school we see today opened January 14, 1924, a year and ten days after the fire.
Post-fire, the school increased in size with the addition of the east wing. The tower lost its crowning roof; the roofline lost some of its pitch and its dormers, replaced with a tall plain parapet above a tiered cornice.
I should mention the difference in the building’s coloration in my pictures. École Provencher celebrated its centennial year in 2006. In the spring, there were tours of the school, displays and tents for special events. One of the major plans and a most fitting centennial project was sandblasting the façade, restoring it to its original condition. The northwest winds, which have buffeted the brave face of the building for over 110 years, brought in extra smoke and pollution. The other three sides are not as dingy as the front though they benefited from the cleaning. École Provencher’s splendid façade is now even more striking since the cleaning. I shot the school before and after the sandblasting which accounts for the variations.
As you see in this pre-sandblasting picture (above), the 1924 addition of the east wing created a fine balance to the façade of this massive and stately structure with its five bays including the end wings. The façade and rear are symmetrical without pilasters. The pilasters begin at the corners and offer expression to the sides with their elegant doorways. The rear facade of the school (below) is a modest echo of the front.
École Provencher combines Second Empire massing with Classical Revival elements to create a feeling of stability and potential. The buff brick is laid in American bond, every sixth row is headers. It sits on a rough limestone foundation; the same stone used for lintels, sills and the belt courses around the building. Smooth limestone expresses the more refined detail on the school.
The front entrance pavilion (above) uses round and square Classical columns of smooth limestone to contrast with the rough limestone of the foundation and to welcome you into an enclosed porch. The double doorway into the school is surmounted with a sensual arch filled with a segmented window and accented with an outer arch of smooth limestone. Over the entrance the school’s name is carved in smooth stone.
As you proceed up the entry tower (left), a section of smooth limestone is broken by a pair of rectangular windows. Above an elaborate arched alcove houses the carved datestone – 1906. The next brick section has four small windows with limestone lintels. A course of rough stone grows into a smooth stone Classical cornice surmounted with a parapet. Nine shapely balusters in smooth limestone accentuate the top of the tower.
École Provencher has remained without additions since 1924, making it one of the few Winnipeg schools to have survived nine decades in its original form.
Notice the east and west entrances have different detailing. The pediment and the pavilion details on the end of the west wing are from the earlier school (left) while the east wing entrance (above) on the post-fire addition, is less elaborate.
École Provencher’s interior is among the most spacious in Winnipeg. The dimensions of the classrooms are 24′ by 32′, that’s 768 square feet! The hallways and most classrooms have 12-foot ceilings, which feel airy and open, accentuated in the classrooms with tall doorways and large plentiful windows. The hallways have a row of high horizontal rectangular windows into the classroom.
Most of the floors and stairs throughout the school are terrazzo: chipped stone and marble set in mortar then polished. It lasts forever. There is assorted frosted and mottled glass in various interior windows.
This is a very large school. At the height of its enrollment in fall 1954, fully occupied it taught 1,050 students. Part of the Louis Riel School Division, today École Provencher’s 23 staff provide French Immersion and English Language Arts to about 150 students from K to 6.
The Sacred Heart Cadets originated in 1911 and received their military affiliation the next year. When their uniforms and rifles arrived, the Provencher School #323 Cadet Corps became formal in March, 1912. The picture (above) shows Corps cadets from 1952. The school basement doubled as a firing range. Some of the heating ducts still have dents from stray bullets.
The cadet band (above) from 1952. The Corps’ old drum, along with the school’s trophies and memorabilia, are displayed proudly in a striking stairwell vitrine. The Corps was disbanded in November 1964.
Among the illustrious alumni of École Provencher is a true Canadian celebrity, acclaimed author Gabrielle Roy (left). Not a student, Roy was a Grade 1 teacher at the school from 1930 to 1936. She wrote fondly about her days as a schoolteacher.
Artist and sculptor Tony Tascona (below right) remembers Roy as his first teacher. The class picture (below centre) was taken in 1932 and shows École Provencher Grade One class along with their teacher, Gabrielle Roy. He was born in 1926, so it’s likely one of the students is Tony Tascona.
Hockey was a prime physical activity at École Provencher. Once the skating rink at the rear of the school was flooded and hockey season started, the Provencher Paladins took to the ice, becoming senior champions in 1946. They used a room in the school basement with a separate entrance and low seating to put on their skates and equipment and exit directly to the rink.
During the 1950 Flood, l’Institut Collegial Provencher (the school’s name since 1929) accommodated 250 evacuees, becoming one of a dozen Winnipeg schools pressed into emergency flood service.
As a Collegiate, the school offered bilingual education. When St. Boniface became increasingly francophone in the 1950s, the school principal, Brother Joseph Bruns (left), advocated for more French instruction. J. H. Bruns Collegiate bears his name.
The first lay principal, Marcel Lancelot, took over in 1967. The large gymnasium on the third floor and a huge library in the basement were projects Lancelot accomplished in 1968.
Here is the school’s 2014 mission statement: As a French Immersion school, École Provencher strives to provide a safe and respectful learning environment which develops the acquisition of the French language, useful knowledge, skills and attitudes essential for responsible citizenship and lifelong learning.
Additions 1912, 1924
Materials: buff brick, limestone, concrete
Style: Second Empire and Classical Revival three-storey
Current assessed value $3,672,000
Acreage 2.1 acres
The Lonesomes: 16 Prairie Stories
New Video by Reid Dickie
Strange births and strange deaths and the lives lived in between on the Canadian prairies. Stirred by forsaken tumbledown farmhouses and barns, rusting farm equipment and the lonely places they abandoned to the prairie wind, the voices of the pioneers and their descendants tell their poignant tales. Farm folk recall their struggles against the elements. Town folk recount interpersonal conflicts and complexities. There is no music but for the lonesome prairie wind. A beautiful dance of sadness and joy ensues.
The Lonesomes begins here
Sunday, March 16, 2014
One new story a day for 16 days.
Click any pic to watch the 2:36 trailer
The New Quarterly, a literary magazine published in Waterloo, ON staged a contest inviting writers to submit a story named “Bad Men Who Love Jesus.” This was my entry. It did not win but it did elicit a bemused letter from the organizers.
“Calamity! Calamity! Calamity!” shouted Corny as he ambled into Waywotowich’s Garage, wiping his sweaty forehead with an oily rag, leaving a smear of Valvoline across his wrinkled brow.
“What’s the matter Corny?” asked the cherub from its perch on the gumball machine on the counter near the window at front of the garage on the corner of Reach and Beach.
“Durn. Durn. Durn.”
“Strong language there, Corny. What’s got you so riled up?”
“Ink blots and cumquats!”
“You are angry! You okay, Corny?”
“Blasted oil definitions!! I can’t get usta them.”
“Huh? I thought you’d worked all that out with the pointy-headed Egyptians and the Saudis and the so-ons.”
“Me too Cheruby, me to. But these new rules sure make a difference. Like, No Scissors On Sunday. Hoooo leeeeee! No Scissors On Sunday!!”
On the counter next to the gumball machine, a bright cardboard display of pink and blue rabbit foot key chains and a hardcard of cheap plastic sunglasses lay a big greasy pair of scissors.
“What about these?” asked Cheruby pointing to the scissors. “It’s Sunday, isn’t it?”
A worried look came over Corny’s freckled face. He didn’t know what to do about the scissors. He wiped more Valvoline on his forehead and stood staring dumbly at the counter. Corny resorted to his usual problem-solving tactic: he burst into song, his rich baritone filling the cavernous empty service station.
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the three-hole punch, the three-hole punch, the three-hole punch,” he sang over and over.
“Corny. You’re stuck. Corny! CORNY! You’re stuck on the three-hole punch again.” Cheruby had to get a little feisty with the nodder sometimes. “YOU’RE STUCK” at peak volume brought Corny back to the immediate service station arising around him.
“I’m stuck.” Corny took a small hammer from his belt and struck his right elbow with a light tap. Innumerable ones and zeroes unraveled inside his head and spun back onto a digital plate.
“I’m stuck.” He brought a wavering hand up holding a blue screwdriver and tightened a few screws along his left leg.
“They’ll be makin’ us register our screwdrivers next, blastomycosis or not. I’m still a little stuck, Cheruby.”
“That’s okay Corny. You stay a little stuck and I’ll keep an eye on the store.”
“Would ya?” said Corny.
“Sure thing, little stuck buddy, buddy, buddy, buddy.” Corny tapped his elbow again but the word didn’t stop. Cheruby was having some fun with him, is all.
“Clown pants and romance and bright shiny kittens, eagles in snowsuits, mufflers and mittens, porridge with tycoons, shamblers and foes, these are the ways of the world I suppose.” Corny’s song filled the garage once more. Cheruby peered through the dirty window into the lot and the street beyond.
Corny’s song was interrupted by the resonant clang of the bell hose – a pleasant, ringing tone that bounced around inside the big room.
“Cadillac,” said Cheruby. “Cad eee lack.”
Corny paused in mid chorus to peer through the grime.
“A customer,” he whispered conspiratorially to Cheruby. “What do we do?”
“What we always do. Serve them!” said Cheruby.
“Oh yeah,” was Corny’s astonished reply. It was triumph.
“Still a little stuck,” Cheruby said under its breath as Corny went to serve the customer.
Cheruby seldom left its perch in the window of Waywotowich’s Garage. It wasn’t because it was naked, winged, pink and chubby; it was because the small plastic children sometimes called it “fat”, “fleshy”, and “organic” as they walked from their day boxes to their night boxes.
“Organic! Pah!” Cheruby would scoff. “How can a cherub be organic? Idiot plastic children!” It resented the small plastic thoughts of the children in this little tourist town.
All true cherubim are hermaphrodites – they possess the genitalia of both sexes, lingam and yoni. That is why Cheruby is an IT and not a HE or a SHE. It could be a BOTH or a THEM, I suppose.
Across the street at the QuikDikWhipSlik Dairy Isle, they were advertising ICE CREAM HATS. The line-up was half a block long.
Corny reluctantly approached the long black Cadillac and the driver’s window slid down two inches.
“Hello,” said Corny hopefully.
“Fill’er up,” a gruff voice said from inside the car.
The metal nozzle slipped into the side of the Cadillac. Corny noticed the bumper sticker that read, “I ♥ Jesus.” He peered into the car to see who was driving as he washed the windows. He could barely reach the top of the front windshield with the squeegee. Due to the smoked glass, Corny couldn’t see inside the car but he did notice the puffy face of Cheruby peeking out the garage window. He waved to Cheruby who flapped its wings excitedly in reply.
As Corny moved around the car washing the windows, the passenger door opened and a large man stepped out onto the concrete service pad. He was well over six feet tall, barrel-chested and thick-limbed with piercing blue eyes, a winning smile and a red goatee. He was completely naked, his white skin covered in curly red hair of varying textures and densities. His bald head sported two stubby horns. His voice was loud and clear.
“Hey there, my little buddy, which way to the pisser?”
Cowering, Corny said “You’re…you’re…the Devil.”
“Yup. I am the Devil but you can call me Satan, all my friends do. And Satan needs to take a piss.” The Devil gestured for directions with question-mark arms and a shrug.
“Through the door to the back on the left.”
The Devil grinned at Corny. “Thanks little buddy.”
Corny was transfixed by the small red-haired tail jiggling at the base of the Devil’s spine as the naked man disappeared into the shadows of Waywotowich’s Garage. When Cheruby recognized who was coming toward the garage it slipped down into its hiding nook beneath the counter.
Corny finished the fill, replaced the gas cap and told the driver it was twenty-five dollars. He never saw the face of the person who paid him. As Corny was walking away, the Devil came out of the garage.
“Much obliged buddy,” he said to Corny.
“Okay. Then, answer me a question.” Corny was quizzing the Devil! “How come, if you’re the Devil, you have a bumper sticker that says, “I ♥ Jesus”? Do you love Jesus?”
A wry smile came over the Devil’s face. “Yeah, about that bumper sticker. That’s my sense of humour. Some kid stuck it there. I thought it was funny so I left it.”
“So you don’t really love Jesus?”
“No, my huckleberry friend, I don’t. Jesus is a dickhead. But I do love the idea of his bumper sticker on my Cadillac. See ya, little buddy.”
For a minute it looked like the Devil was getting back into his car but instead he just dissolved through the door and the car sped away. The clang of the bell hose echoed through the empty garage. Emerging from its hiding place, Cheruby saw Corny standing next to the bowsers with $25 in his hand singing at the top of his lungs.
“Bee stings and coil kings and spaniels in tartans, claptraps with dewlaps, bingo and cartons, glimpses of turtles, myrtles and woe, this is the way we all need to go.”
The line-up for ICE CREAM HATS at the QuikDikWhipSlik Dairy Isle was now two blocks long.
Hi Funsters and Dumbsters,
It’s Lil Shirty checkin’ in wit chas.
Since we last talked, Sinatra’s people (dead people have more fucking “people” now than they did when they were alive!) harpooned my GHB’d show, test audiences rejected my Jackie Wilson’s Last Months show, a whole slew of fucking lawyers from the likes of Little Richard, Little Eva, Little Anthony, Little Joey, Little Caesar, Little Steven, Little Dick, Lil Snatch, Lil Yeoman, that bunch, descended on me when I mounted my Little History of Rock and Roll. I thought it was an excellent way to get lots of midgets working but others saw it otherwise.
Which gets us to now. Are you sitting down? I have a legit job! Well, more legit than any ever before. I’m the PR person for the hottest new band out of Brotish Curlumpia – Tapioca Hot Tub!! They are yummy. They will give you erection, wet panties, icing on cake, whatever you want, whatever you need, they will give you. Try not to think of fish eyes in goo when we say tapioca or, actually, think whatever the fuck you want. How’s that for a pitch? THT suck big time, of course. Here’s a preview of their new fake hit, some dreadful drivel, and below a look at the PR material I have aroused for them. Lap it up sheeple. The end is nigh.
Someone keeps putting spoons in my mailbox. Can that be good?
Hugs and Ughs,
Tapioca Hot Tub, the sensational new band from Brotish Curlumpia, are storming up the brain failure charts with their new hit, Marshall McLuhan Steels His Gaze.
Tapioca Hot Tub are the only band to outsell Brotish Curlumpia’s première music act, heavy metal band Expletif FU, whose latest album, Pushing In Rabbits (a loose English translation), has sales of nearly a million. Tapioca Hot Tub has exceeded that number and now hold Brotish Curlumpia’s best selling title.
About their success, Canola Pan Spray, drummist for Tapioca Hot Tub, says, ”We are closing to robots and closing to horses. Spray it around. You smell us coming in you.” Tapioca Hot Tub lead ganip ganop player Melty Smeltz says, ”We’re more than just man pudding. Look. See.” Yes, they are!
Now you can be among first humans on Earth planet to hear their brand new song and watch their brand new video for Marshall McLuhan Steels His Gaze.
Tapioca Hot Tub will be touring Europe soon and elsewhere beyond. Be sure to find them out there.
In case you don’t know it Marshall McLuhan was a WWII spy from Winnipee with a penchant for smelly cigars and farting while seated. He was married to Marilyn Monroe. I miss him.
I began this series on Winnipeg’s grand old schools with Earl Grey School due its unique position in my development. The rest of the schools will be offered chronologically by the year they were built, starting with an overview of Winnipeg as the 20th Century began.
Winnipeg 1898 – 1909
The new millennium brought radical changes in the way we travel thanks to the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford and the creation of General Motors. The new era of transportation began in Winnipeg with the first “horseless carriage,” reputedly owned by Professor Edgar Kenrick, appearing on the streets in 1901.
Other than bicycles and electric streetcars, horses were the major transportation mode. Livery stables abounded (there were nine of them on the south side of Portage between Main and Donald in 1905) as did blacksmiths, harness makers and sellers, and horse troughs. To house their trade, carriage and harness companies built massive multi-storey buildings in what is now called the Exchange District. Great West Saddlery Company’s two buildings at 112-114 and 113 Market Avenue are fine examples.
By 1905, there were a dozen “benzene buggies” which, as they passed, often elicited shouts of “Get a horse!” from bystanders. By 1910, cars were a common sight on Winnipeg streets. The last horse trough, dismantled in 1952, was across from City Hall.
The T. Eaton Company opened their huge Winnipeg store in 1906 and the Redwood Bridge opened in 1908 providing further access to the Municipality of Kildonan. Largely due to European immigrants, many of whom lived in the Dagmar District, by 1900 Winnipeg’s population had grown to 40,000, to 100,000 in 1906 and 213,000 in 1913.
This rapid growth challenged school systems. In this decade, at least 27 schools were built, very few of which remain standing.
During this period, new curriculum concepts developed to educate the influx. Innovative ideas like William Sisler’s direct method of teaching English, night schools and Household Arts (Home Ec) were introduced.
ISBISTER SCHOOL/WINNIPEG ADULT EDUCATION CENTRE
The oldest public school in Winnipeg and the last old downtown school sits rather anonymously, preciously on Vaughan Street, just north of The Bay. In fact, the land Isbister School stands on once belonged to the Hudson’s Bay Reserve. To accommodate the school the Board purchased a block of lots at $100 each from the Hudson’s Bay Company. To assure good water, one of the major challenges in the city’s early development, a 160 foot-deep well was dug.
On June 14, 1898, the contract for a ten-room, three-storey building was let to the construction firm of Sutherland and Wood at a cost of $29,336. Construction began one week later. Architect Samuel Hooper supplied the plans.
In the architectural drawing of Isbister (above), you can see Hooper’s intent was to employ Queen Anne style architecture, an eclectic style used mainly for residential buildings in Winnipeg. This makes any public building using the style particularly special.
A cornerstone laying ceremony was held on September 26, 1898. Building committee chairman Angus Browne presided. Joseph Carman, the school board chairman, said, “The walls that you see rising before you are an expression of the universal desire of our citizens to give their children who will succeed them such a training as will enable them to carry on worthily the work of nation building which their fathers have so well begun.”
By early November the brick work was nearly up to the top of the third storey so construction was rushed to get the roof on before winter. On January 5, 1899 the new Smead-Dowd Heating System was fired up to provide warmth for the interior plastering. The interior work was handled by C.W. Sharp.
Isbister School opened its doors to its first students on March 27, 1899, just slightly behind schedule. What grandeur awaited the first pupils! Their school became a showcase proudly displayed to visiting dignitaries for the modernity of its design, heating, ventilation, lighting and electrical system. In many ways, Isbister School was the prototype for a dozen Winnipeg schools that followed it. The school still evokes a sense of wonder 115 years after it was built. Current (2014) WAEC principal Roz Moore says, “It is certainly an honour to work in such a beautiful and historic building.”
For a number of reasons, some inadvertent, in Isbister School we have an extremely well preserved example of fanciful Queen Anne architecture on a public building. Delightfully, despite the recent addition, we can still experience both the exterior and interior more or less as it was when Hooper brought it forth from his imagination.
The school has many striking features: its picturesque roofline flowing from a medium-pitched hip roof into large gables on every elevation, richly detailed chimneys that bracket the building and an unusual entry tower with multi-tiered, pagoda-like cupola. The school measured 75 x 81 feet (22.7 x 24.7 m) giving it 6075 square feet (561 sq. m) on each floor. The entry tower induces a feeling of ascension beginning with the ground-level steps that lift you into a landing in a small pavilion bracketed with columns and an elaborate rough limestone surround. A short balustrade in sandstone at the landing off-sets the entrance and appears to be an after-thought but it is included in Hooper’s original drawing. Beyond, large double doors invite you inside. Above the entry, a wide graceful limestone arch embraces a pair of rectangular windows, each capped with a limestone lintel and linked brick arches. Note the brickwork (cross-hatching, sunburst) that infills the large arch above the windows includes a ghost arch. Upward, just above a stone belt course, another pair of rectangular windows with stone lintels are bracketed with pilasters and surmounted by a dentil then the school name carved in stone.
The tower that extends above the roof has an open arcade of three arches with balustrades along the front and a single window one each side executed in rough stone. The first roof above an extended cornice is a foursquare convex design with round hooded windows. The cupola is composed of a short square section with a blind arcade of hooded arches in every direction. Above heavy brackets, a concave roof ends in a pinnacle, a peak and a flagpole. The highly accomplished craftsmanship on the entry tower in both stone and brick lives up to the expectations of Hooper’s plan.
Similar to British Board schools, which were usually three-storeys, square with boxy massing, Hooper built his design on a tall foundation with stone up to the sills of the first floor windows cut by low rectangular windows.
There are two different stones used in the school’s high foundation. Typical Tyndall limestone alternates with paler sandstone. The brickwork on every elevation is highly decorative and expertly executed. In this regard, notice the brickwork around its wide variety of windows and openings, the tops of the pilasters and the chimneys.
The subtle asymmetry of the front facade is balanced by the fenestration. Three rows of windows adorn the front facade. Notice the first and third floor windows are rectangular but the middle row has arched crowns to complement the large central tower arch and the three arches it encloses. The gables denote where the pilasters divide the facade. The smaller south (left) gable covers just two rows of windows while the larger north gable covers all three rows.
The school originally had ten classrooms, four on the first and second storeys and two on the third, shared with an assembly hall that was later converted into two additional classrooms. The classrooms were spacious and well illuminated with cloak rooms in each room and blackboards and carved wainscoting along the walls. Colourful stained glass panels with magenta and blue floral motifs filled the transoms. Adjustable desks (right) were attached to the maple floors. These cast iron and wooden desks were made by A. H. Andrews Co. in Chicago and were called desk benches due to the combination of chair and table. In the basement, the school had a playroom; we’d call it a gymnasium.
The interior of Isbister is slightly changed; many distinctive original elements remain. Passing through the double doors you enter a vestibule, three more steps, through double doors and you arrive on the main floor of the school. Wide stairways on the east and west sides greet you. Every hallway, foyer and classroom has the original pressed metal ceilings in a variety of floral and geometric designs. Block and column detailing surrounds the classroom doors. The maple floors throughout the building have a lovely creak to them. The stairs, uprights and banisters are oak which glows with a hundred-plus-year-old patina. The handrail and globes of the newel posts have been smoothed by the caresses of countless hands
over the decades, leaving them almost soft to the touch. The 1899 Annual Report by the Winnipeg Public School Board described the interior of Isbister:
The character of the finishing, the pleasant effect of the colouring in the furniture, walls and ceilings has an important value as one of the educational influences by which the children are affected. With no museums or picture galleries or other agencies for the cultivation of taste and promotion of art amongst us, it is important that the school should not fail in its duty in this respect, for no educational agencies have greater claims on the ground of utility alone than those concerned with the education of taste.
As you can see in this picture postcard of Isbister School (below), it once had wrought iron filigree cresting along the roof peaks and metal fire escape slides on the north and south sides. The slides were installed in 1907 and could evacuate all students in less than two minutes. In August 1909, the British Association for the Advancement of Science held their convention in Winnipeg. Isbister along with Carlton (at Carlton and Graham) and Alexandra (at Edmonton and St. Mary) schools were pressed into service for meetings. Delegates must have felt right at home in buildings similar to ones they attended in England.
By 1939, lip-reading classes for the deaf were offered at the school. Though the post-WW2 baby boom helped fill some desks, demographic changes downtown and sliding birth rates meant ever-dwindling enrollments. On June 30, 1964 Isbister School closed its doors and it seemed inevitable the old place would be demolished. Not to be!
Isbister School received a reprieve when it became the Winnipeg Adult Education Centre (WAEC) in September 1967. Eleven years later, enrollment was so large that portable trailers parked around the school handled the overflow. Today WAEC provides high school education in Grades 9 to 12 to mature students, ESL and computer classes. Current enrollment is about 900 pupils with a staff of 45.
In 2004 the steel, glass and concrete L-shaped addition, designed by Penner Prins Architectural Collaborative, was built onto the west side. Structural work was done by Wolfrom Engineering at a cost of $2.5 million. From the third floor, the addition offers some stunning views of downtown. While an incongruent juxtaposition in design and materials, somehow the addition doesn’t detract too heavily from the old building, a testament to the timelessness of Hooper’s design and the empathy of the modern architects. Luckily, the Vaughan Street façade retains its 1898 face, glorious even with pollution-darkened brick and stone.
The experience of entering the new addition from inside is like passing through a time warp. (right) Surrounded by rich wood and arcane designs with creaking floors beneath, at the end of the hall is a blinding white glow, the doorway into the 2004 addition.
The floor of the addition is concrete and feels as if it’s vibrating. The wall of glass is not connected to the floor, the space between the floor and the window contributes to a mild sensation of vertigo. The view of the upper brick detailing on the old school from the addition is spectacular! In the above picture, notice the visible section of the chimney with its dentil, sunburst arches and belt courses. Wow! There is a matching one on the north side of the building. Now move down to the dentil under the building’s eaves and the exquisite brick and stone work thereafter. Note the cross hatch carved in limestone under the rough stone sill.
The south facade of Isbister shows a fine view of how the chimneys are incorporated into the exterior design. Bracketed by exits on every floor, the elaborate chimney protrudes out of the top of the gable. Wide metal stairway fire escapes have replaced the spiral metal slides.
The north side reflects the south in design. The grey wall on the right is the north side of the 2004 addition. I like this shot for the contrast between the old and new school and apartment buildings beyond.
The school is named for Alexander Kennedy Isbister, the son of Orkneyman Thomas Isbister and Cree Mary Kennedy, born in 1822 at Cumberland House on the Saskatchewan River. A smart and promising student, at 16 he became an articulated clerk with the Hudson’s Bay Company. Later he studied at universities in Scotland and England becoming a lawyer, teacher and writer, completing 21 textbooks. He died on May 28, 1883. A strong supporter of the Red River and Northwest regions, Isbister established a scholarship fund still offered to undergraduates at the University of Manitoba though now paid for by the province. Isbister bequeathed his 5,000 volume library to the U. of M. Regrettably, most were lost in a fire in 1898. In addition to the school, he is commemorated with Isbister Street and the Isbister Building at the U. of M. Fort Garry campus.
Isbister School’s designer, Samuel Hooper, became Provincial Architect in 1904, a position he held until his untimely death in 1911. In addition to designing Isbister School and St. Mary’s School (1904), he created plans for the Carnegie Library (1903-05) and Normal School (1906) on William Avenue. In his role as Provincial Architect, he created three designs for Department of Education one-room schoolhouses in 1903, which were replicated all over rural Manitoba; Land Titles Buildings in Neepawa (1906) and Portage la Prairie (1906), and Courthouses in Brandon (1908-1910) and Morden (1905). Among Hooper’s last designs, in fact one completed by his successor V.H. Horwood, was the University of Manitoba Administration Building (1911-12) on the Fort Garry campus.
Another prominent figure in the story of Isbister School is Daniel David Wood, (left) of Sutherland and Wood Contractors, the builders of many early schools in Winnipeg including Isbister, Somerset, Gladstone and Norquay. Wood, a highly-regarded and successful businessman, served on city council and the Board of Trade. Little is known about his business partner, A. C. Sutherland.
Though opened without fanfare, Isbister School quickly became a
downtown fixture. Notable features of the school included its award-winning mouth organ band which so impressed a visiting Sir. H.G L. Joly, the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia at the time, that
he donated a drum to accompany the harmonicas.
Among the illustrious alumni of Isbister School, you’ll discover Skuli Johnson (left), an early Rhodes Scholar and professor who studied history, philosophy, and classics at Oxford University and taught at the University of Manitoba.
Other Isbister students include star 1912 hockey player for the Winnipeg Victorias and World War 1 hero, George Hamilton (Hammy) Baker (right) who turned down the opportunity to became a professional hockey player, and singer/comedian/good guy Pat Riordan, (left) known to many as Winnipeg’s King of Comedy for his long-standing gigs at The Zoo and The Gort. Watch Pat sing Bobby Darin’s hit Beyond the Sea.
Now that Somerset School has been razed, Isbister School is especially precious because it is the last 19th century school left in the city and one of a very few left in the province. Since Isbister was one of the schools on the demolition hit list of the 1948 Reavis Report, it is even more remarkable that we still have this beautiful old place.
Isbister School/Winnipeg Adult Education Centre
Materials: buff brick, limestone, sandstone, concrete
Style: Queen Anne three-storey
Architect: Samuel Hooper
Contractors: Sutherland and Wood
Original cost $29,336
Current assessed value $6,734,000
Acreage 1.5 acres
I shot this perfectly restored Texaco sign in front of a business on the outskirts of Dauphin, MB with the threatening sky beyond. This sign has a nostalgic meaning for me. My dad was a Texaco consignee (he sold and delivered gas to farms and service stations) for 10 years in Shoal Lake, MB. I grew up there and worked with him, even delivering fuel myself when I got my license. Dad wore a Texaco uniform and cap that featured the big red star with the green T emblazoned on the white circular background. The slogan of the day was, “Texaco. You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.” This is a re-post because I finally found the 1960s Texaco jingle that uses the above slogan. Click the pic to view the 20-second tune.
Since I will be referring to the Reavis Report from time to time in my schools series, here is the background on it. All accompanying pictures are from 1948. The above photo is from the 1948 Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade. If you click the pic you can watch a Super 8 movie of the parade.
During the 1940s, education changed dramatically. Innovative teaching methods, curriculum, research and administration styles developed, creating new challenges and complexities. This left some school boards wondering about the modernity of their own systems. The looming post-war population surge forced educators to take action. Winnipeg School Division #1 (WSD #1) undertook an intense self-study to gain perspective on its present state and most beneficial future actions.
To conduct the survey, WSD #1 sought the University of Chicago’s Department of Education Field Services Committee under the chair of William Reavis.
The directed self-survey methodology used questionnaires almost exclusively. Sixteen core committees and 73 sub committees involving over 500 parents, school officials, administrators and teachers participated. The survey explored every aspect of the educational process including trustees, superintendents and principals, school buildings, finance and administration and curriculum at every level. The survey occurred during one week in October 1947.
As a result, in September 1948 the Reavis Report offered over 300 recommendations intended to update and modernize WSD #1. The Report recommended that the Board of School Trustees reduce its membership from fifteen to nine and find a better way of selecting trustees. The Report encouraged improvements in utilizing the professional leadership of the Superintendent in relation to trustees, schools, teachers and students. School principals, often confused by their role as intermediaries between students and communities on one hand and school authorities on the other, needed more opportunities for personal and administrative improvement including in-service workshops and a clear manual of instructions.
Teacher recommendations focused on recruitment, selection, standards of living, appraisals, instructional development and workload considerations. Over 200 of Reavis’ recommendations fell under the heading of curriculum changes.
Elementary school recommendations encouraged smaller class sizes, enrichment of library facilities, improved instructional materials and
expanded teaching techniques. Reading in Winnipeg schools at the elementary and high school levels lagged behind national averages. The Report recommended special attention for reading and language arts.
Junior and senior high schools, while generally effective, required establishment of core common teachings needed by all students mixed with curriculum options to help students discover their own proclivities. Other recommendations included fewer and longer class periods, a University Entrance Exam, reorganization of subjects and expansion of practical arts and vocational education.
Tec Voc was in the planning stages at the time of the survey. The Report encouraged expansion of home economics and industrial arts and the introduction of agriculture courses at the new technical school.
The Report identified the high dropout rate at the secondary school level as a major problem. One way of improving dropout rates was by establishing and adequately financing more personal services for students. Among these services, the Report touted Child Guidance Clinics as essential to modern secondary education. Guidance clinics in combination with newly available vocational opportunities meant students could more easily adapt to the machinery of mass education.
The Report found that board finances and the administration of school business could be improved through more thorough budget considerations and by exploring new sources of revenue. The Report pinpointed the need for a central maintenance shop and storage building for equipment and supplies.
Reavis felt the system lacked modern “school plants” declaring it encumbered by too many “obsolete” fully depreciated buildings. The Report recommended 14 old three-storey schools should be razed, rebuilt or relocated and replaced with new buildings as soon as possible. The Report stated a dozen other old schools needed the same treatment
but less urgently. Although most of the Report’s findings proved helpful, the demolition of old schools was controversial in local communities, eliciting many objections from area parents and residents.
The introduction of a one-mill capital levy made a vigorous
building program possible. Between 1948 and 1957, the School Division built 25 schools to accommodate the baby boom. In that same decade, just four of the schools Reavis recommended for demolition succumbed to the wrecker’s ball – Argyle, Fort Rouge, Norquay and Aberdeen. Largely due to the heroic efforts of neighbourhood residents, many of the other schools de-listed by Reavis remain standing today.
The Reavis Report’s impact on WSD #1 increased sensitivity to principals’ leadership roles and motivated teachers and other staff to improve procedures in the teaching and learning process. Administration changes made the Superintendent the chief executive officer of the Board. Because of the Report, Winnipeg established the first fully modern school administration in Canada. The constructive efforts of Division employees and communities involved in the survey created long-term improvements in education and better prepared the Division to cope with present and future challenges. The Division also discovered a way to satisfy the needs of communities using responsive attention while involving them in modernizing the schooling process. Perhaps inadvertently, this delicate balance of needs may be the Reavis Report’s greatest legacy.
A few years ago, before this blog existed, Linda & I used Winnipeg’s old schools for our 12 Days of Christmas. The school articles originally appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press starting in 2004. I have expanded and updated the features, added many more pictures and helpful links. I begin the series with one of my all-time favourite buildings.
There is no better place to begin my series about Winnipeg’s grand old schools than standing here in front of Earl Grey School’s glorious façade with its asymmetrical towers above the entrances and contrasting brick and limestone details. Earl Grey School is my alma mater, though not in the usual way. I was raised and educated in rural Manitoba and never attended any Winnipeg schools. Let me explain.
At the beginning of 2004, I had surgery, which required a long recovery time. As part of my recuperation, I decided to take three months and teach myself everything I could about architecture. My aim was not to design and build buildings but rather to recognize and describe various architectural styles, details and eras.
Being a lifelong learner I had done this before, teaching myself about subjects as far ranging as spirituality, nanotechnology and futurism. As a writer, I find broad knowledge and studied references essential.
Once I began to learn architectural terms and designs from library books and online, I needed to find explicit examples of them in the world. I live two blocks away from Earl Grey School and had walked by it for 25 years without really seeing it. With my new-found appreciation of the built environment, suddenly Earl Grey School “existed.” I saw it for the first time now that I was able to describe it and appreciate its wonderful style and detailing.
Since then, I have often walked around Earl Grey School with my clipboard, noting its roofline and masonry style, its fenestration and glorious entry towers. I took pictures of it to study at home, researched its architect and was given a thorough and gracious tour of the interior by Principal Gail Singer. At Linda’s urging, I started to write about it. My first “This Old School” feature in the Winnipeg Free Press was about Earl Grey School back in late 2004.
Earl Grey School is one of Winnipeg Schools architect J. B. Mitchell’s spectacular ones – huge, beautiful and expensive. I wrote extensively about J. B. Mitchell.
Settled handsomely at the corner of Cockburn Street and Fleet Avenue and towering above its neighbourhood, Earl Grey is truly one of Winnipeg’s grandest old schools. It was constructed during Winnipeg’s boom time when population growth on the newly opened prairie was exploding.
Detail of decorative arches on rear of Earl Grey School by school architect J. B. Mitchell. There are ten arches in this picture!
On July 3, 1914 the City of Winnipeg granted the school board permit #2244 to build a school on the west side of Fleet between Helen (now Cockburn) and Garwood. Construction began in 1914. Total cost was nearly $186,000, an enormous amount of money for a school. To replace Earl Grey School today would require at least $4 million. The 2.4 acre lot the school sits on was a relative bargain at $7,559. That’s about $152,000 today.
The result was Earl Grey School – three-storeys tall with 25 rooms and able to accommodate 675 students. In 1915 Earl Grey, as this section of Winnipeg is known, was a burgeoning neighbourhood with large wood frame houses sprouting everywhere on streets freshly cut from the surrounding pastures still dotted with a few greenhouses.
Let’s take an architectural tour of the place. While my pictures provide context and some detail, to get the full impact of the building and appreciate its complexity you need to walk around it, be there with it.
Like many of J. B. Mitchell’s schools of the time, Earl Grey School’s design is loosely based on British Board schools from 1870 to 1900. These massive solid buildings became symbols of progress and enlightenment, qualities that Mitchell felt were essential to Canada’s future. When you look at the building, its impact is one of stability, openness and hope.
Earl Grey School’s architectural imprint is an eclectic mix of styles as were British Board schools of the late Victorian era. Architect Mitchell combined Romanesque, Gothic and even a few Queen Anne elements to make the school an exceptional delight. The combination of styles captured the public imagination and became representative of the Enlightenment.
Typical is the red brick exterior with Tyndall stone details. Set on a tall limestone foundation, this stately building’s facade features two dramatic towers above the entrances, their height difference a hint of the complex symmetry of the building. The rear sections of the U-shape plan are uneven sizes to complement the uneven towers.
The pavilions on which the towers sit are identical with deep smooth limestone arched entrances and the monograms E and G. As you ascend the stairs, the muscular arch with its robust curved keystone draws you deep inside to a sheltering alcove before you pass through the elegant doorway into the school.
Moving upward both towers feature limestone quoins, two small multi-diamond-paned windows, a larger rectangular window with limestone surround, a scroll under a short pediment at eave level. Each pediment has a stone emblem inscribed with The Maple Leaf our
Emblem Dear and God Save Our Gracious King.
The stubbier south tower (above) has pilasters, corbelling, a smaller window with a stone sill and a parapet dressed up with Dutch gables pierced with round lights. The taller north tower (right) sports a false balustrade in limestone beneath an arched window under fine corbelling in an inset. Its uneven parapet sports Dutch gables with small lights.
Earl Grey School’s glowing facade.
The façade section between the towers is fascinating. Here the use of two slightly different colours of bricks is used to great effect. Notice the fenestration. The foundation has six wide arched windows with segmented heads allowing plenty of light into the basement. Above, five bays separated by pilasters, capped at the second floor level, sport 36 rectangular windows with limestone sills and stained glass transoms. Effective brick detailing on the spandrels is a lively addition. A stone belt course runs across the façade at the third floor. Craved in limestone and bracketed by rosettes are the words The Earl Grey School. (I don’t think the sneakers hanging from the name were part of Mitchell’s design.) Thereafter a compelling vertical sweeps up past the school name to the only two dormers with peaked roofs. Beyond, sky’s the limit!
Another dramatic feature, typical of early J. B. Mitchell schools, is the strikingly exuberant use of arches all around, especially on the dark-roofed dormers – sixteen in all – that face every direction. There are window arches, arched insets, curved entranceways, Dutch gables and arches within arches.
The two-and-a-half-storey-tall arches over south side entrance - arches within arches.
Notice the side entrances. On the north, two narrow doorways are surmounted with a deep curved inset. Its small balcony has an iron railing. Two windows, the top one arched to complement the feature, are set in the indentation. On the roof directly above, an arched dormer takes your attention to the huge blue sky. A similar entrance experience occurs on the south side.
Elegant arches of Dutch gable surmounting the south rear entrance. Even the steps are arched.
At the rear of the building are two entrances each with its own masterful design and execution. Each has a pair of doors separated by an arched window deep inside a raised porch with a wide fanciful archway. Above, stepped corbelling and yet another variation on the arches theme, a Dutch gable, complete both entrances. Notice the interplay between the brickwork in the corbelling, the wall behind it and the outer rim of the arch with three rows of headers. The north entrance is now obscured by the gymnasium.
Inside the rear U of the school, the white terra cotta detailing stands out against the red patina of the brick.
Most of the decorative features are inexpensive, not requiring special materials or artisans. The exception is the upper detailing on the inside corners of the rear sections. A variation on a Dutch gable with modillions is set in a white terra cotta wall panel with false limestone balustrades and brackets.
In this rear view the delicate asymmetry of Mitchell’s plan is obscured by the brick gymnasium. Note the arched dormers.
If you’ve ever wondered what one million bricks look like in one place, look at Earl Grey School. That’s how many contractors W. M. Scott and Company needed to build the original building, not including the gym. The bond is a tight American bond with every fourth row headers, requiring more bricks. Usually American bond has fifth, sixth or seventh row headers. The builders used 1,000 cubic metres of concrete to create a concrete slab and concrete joists. There are 325 cubic meters of limestone on the school, 9000 square meters of superficial plaster. The lot has 114 feet frontage to a depth of 164 feet. The cornerstone was placed on October 2, 1914.
Two of Mitchell’s major design concerns were safety and lighting. Made of fireproof material with wide hallways and many exits, the building satisfied all safety requirements when built and still does today. At one time Earl Grey School had spiral metal fire escapes, basically chutes in silos, to evacuate the third floor in case of fire. Read my feature Cheap Thrills and Fire Drills on spiral metal fire escapes on Winnipeg schools.
Large plentiful windows provide sufficient light and provide cross-ventilation. Earl Grey had Winnipeg’s first direct alarm connection to a fire hall. The school library opened in 1941, an intercom system was installed in 1958 and the new gymnasium was completed in 1965.
The school was heated by coal furnaces in the basement which burned mud-like Souris coal requiring much stoking and shoveling. On cold winter nights, the firemen worked all night to heat the school.
One of the rooms of the custodian’s suite as it looks today. Most of the rooms still have remnants of garish flower wallpaper, popular in the early 1900s.
The need for a constant presence to mind the furnaces and maintain the building meant a custodian’s apartment was provided in the attic of Earl Grey School. The custodian and his family lived in the large apartment, using a separate entrance. The last live-in custodian left in the early 1950s. The school was converted to gas in 1961.
In this picture the dormer windows of the dilapidated apartment offer a fine view of a mature neighbourhood, very different from the young suburb springing up when Earl Grey was built. Read my feature article about custodian suites in several of Winnipeg’s old schools.
The striking Art Deco double entrance inside Earl Grey School.
Once you pass through the Art Deco entrance, the interior of Earl Grey School is a strikingly practical design with wide hallways, tall ceilings and dark wood paneling carried throughout the building. Stairways have wrought iron railings and wooden banisters polished smooth by decades of childrens’ hands. Skylights brighten the third floor and the custodian’s apartment. And more arches! In a design rarely seen today, the school’s warm air vents are vertical arches.
For many years the school’s gymnasium had shared the basement with the woodwork and metal shops and two classrooms but its low ceiling precluded sports like volleyball. There were no change or equipment rooms. A new gym was proposed. Built by contractors B. F. Klassen Construction Ltd., the large gymnasium on the school’s west side was completed in October 1965. The bricks on the gym, though not matching the school’s brick, complement both buildings. The gym’s chevron roofline less so.
Gymnasium built in 1965 with chevron roof.
The school is named after British nobleman Albert Henry George Grey, the 4th Earl Grey (left). A popular personage, (at one time he was Chief Boy Scout of Canada), he acted as Governor-General of Canada between 1904 and 1911. An avid sports fan and a strong advocate of fitness and health, Lord Earl Grey initiated the Grey Cup in 1909. Earl Grey tea is named after the position, actually the 2nd Earl Grey, not specifically our Earl Grey.
The first students attended Earl Grey School in September 1915. Over its almost hundred-year history, the school has educated thousands of children and produced many illustrious alumni, among them lawyer Robert Steen, (right) who was a Manitoba MLA in the 1960s and Winnipeg’s 38th mayor from 1977 to 1979. In 1980 The National Film Board produced a documentary about Steen called The New Mayor. Another Earl Grey alumnus is media philosopher and fusionary Marshall McLuhan (left) who received all his formal education in Winnipeg. Among McLuhan’s major contributions are his Laws of Media. Musician and social activist Neil Young (below), the soul of Buffalo Springfield, the Y in CSN&Y, also attended Earl Grey School.
At one time, both signatures on Canadian paper money were Earl Grey graduates: James E. Coyne (below) was the second Governor of The Bank of Canada (1955-61), and John R. Beattie, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada. This $20 from the 1950s has both signatures.
Another Earl Grey graduate was journalist, spy and WWII hero Frank Pickersgill. A film called Canadian Special Operations Executive Stories of WWII documents the exploits of Pickersgill and other spies. Watch it on YouTube.
In 1919, Earl Grey School became the site of a major educational innovation; it was the first Junior High School in Canada. Read my feature article on how this came to be.
Today Earl Grey School educates 220 Nursery to Grade 8 students, about one-third of its capacity, with 28 staff members. Asked to characterize her school, Principal Gail Singer said, “We’re a close-knit family, creative and innovative.”
Still the scene of innovation, since 1995 Earl Grey has offered an all-girls program for grades 7 & 8 that has a strong academic focus and emphasize math, science, and technology. Research indicates that girls can benefit academically in an all-girls environment where they are encouraged to take risks and to develop positive self-esteem.
The school features state-of-the-art computers (they are the iPad generation now) and science labs that benefit all students. In 1999 Earl Grey School was made a member of the Network of Innovative Schools.
Always ready to innovate, today Earl Grey School participates in Building Student Success with Aboriginal Parents which aims to increase the involvement of Aboriginal parents in education. ABC Montessori School is also located in the building.
Earl Grey School’s centennial is next year! If you are an alumnus of Earl Grey School, please call the school office at 204-474-1441 or email email@example.com to add your name to our 100th anniversary contact list. Celebrations are planned for May 15 & 16, 2015. To prepare for the centennial, a school yard beautification project is underway. While maintaining its proud historic connections, Earl Grey School continues to look to the future.
Simply by being there, Earl Grey School taught and inspired me. Special, familiar and precious, a neighbourhood icon, it galvanized my attention and gave me wisdom, educated me. Because of that, I will always think of Earl Grey School as my alma mater.
Earl Grey School
Materials: red brick and limestone
Style: Gothic Revival, Romanesque Revival three-storey
Architect J. B. Mitchell
Builder W. M. Scott and Co.
Original cost $185,548
Rebuild cost $3,622,604
Current assessed value $4,169,000
Acreage 2.4 acres
I don’t mean dying your hair magenta, piercing every pinch and hollow you can find or covering yourself with drawings. Do that if you want. Here I mean rebellion that comes from inside of you rather than applied rebellion for its own sake.
Conformity is killing us and allowing us to be killed. Herd mentalities and their manipulation have become a core tool of mind control. The most frightening thing you can do is “think for yourself,” the operative word being “think.”
I came across an article on Waking Times website called Top 5 Ways to Practice Non-Conformity in the Matrix As I read the list I realized many of my readers would be interested in it.
Monetary Non-conformity – The human race is enslaved to a corrupt and inflationary monetary system. To act as a balance to this, any opportunity to conduct life without using the dollar and the credit system is a stunning act of non-conformity. By practicing trade, barter and local exchange, and using alternative currencies whenever possible, a practical statement is made in support of an alternative to central bank tyranny and manipulation. Most important, however, is the simple decision to spend less overall and live without consumer debt.
Shun the Materialistic and the Entertainment Driven Lifestyle – The consumption of consumer goods in our world has grown to dangerous proportions, and no matter your political bent, you can’t deny the existence of the plastic ocean gaining mass in the Pacific. To be realistic about one’s true needs and to consume less “stuff” makes one stand out as a non-conformist in today’s culture. Much of this consumerism is part of a lifestyle of entertainment that we have developed in recent decades. We seem to value being entertained more than anything else, and we will do anything, and incur any debt, in order to get that which entertains and distracts us. Choosing a non-consumeristic, non-entertainment driven lifestyle is an important act of disobedience to the norm.
Health Rebel – The truth about the condition of health is ugly, and clearly something is wrong with the conformist ideas of diet and health. From horse meat, to high-fructose corn syrup, to GMOs, the conformist diet is deathly harmful to our well-being. To continue on with this unhealthy lifestyle is self-destructive, and to buck this trend simply means to take care of yourself properly, as we all should be doing anyway. Taking care of the body is easy and enjoyable, and each step towards health brings with it a renewed outlook on life. Taking control of diet, finding some enjoyable type of exercise, and being courageous enough to try out alternative, non-pharmaceutical modalities of healing when possible, are, oddly enough, all one has to do in order to stand out as a health non-conformist.
Re-Education – The quality of the future can be seen in the quality of our youth, and the current models of building quality people seem to be falling short. Trying out new modalities of education for our children is an inspiring way to work towards a better vision for the future. Green schooling, homeschooling and even un-schooling children offer hope for something different from the next generation. With access to unlimited educational resources via the Internet, almost anyone can educate themselves in almost any field, and so the re-education of the individual is an act of great non-conformity.
Experience-Based Spirituality – The nature of personal spirituality itself is evolving in these transformative times as people have access to a vast assortment of ideas, philosophies, wisdom traditions, substances, and dogmas. The non-conformist of today explores practices and ideas that work best to induce direct experience, following intuition to develop a connection to the sacred part of humanity, which is so routinely trampled in our hectic world. Finding inner peace through whichever religion or philosophy you choose is critical to creating a world free from toxic effects of collective fear. There is a war being waged against the conscience and consciousness of the average person, and seeking direct, personal spiritual experience and connection to the great mystery is the way to prevail.
Two creative techniques converge in this piece: the use of ‘found’ objects and images, in this case, free stock footage gleaned from the internet, along with the cut-up technique pioneered by William Burroughs, in this case, cut-ups from various 1960s and 70s vinyl LPs. Add a can of Peaches and a dash of Herb (Close Your Eyes, 1967 #8), turtles “making love” and stir. Click the pic to watch. Enjoy!
At the top of the hill on the left side of the picture lives a warren of 16 foxes. On the right side of the picture there is a drop-off of 106 feet to the valley below. A woolly mammoth is entombed in 45,200-year-old mud below this section of highway. The light dusting of snow fell 3 weeks early this year. 10 peculiar things happened on this stretch of road. Click the pic to find out what I mean by peculiar.
Garland, Manitoba is a tiny place settling into the bush near The Ducks, as locals call the Duck Mountains. Garland consists of a store, post office, hall, some churches, a few nicely tended yards around little cottages, the sweet smell of prairie air and a Vickers Viscount airplane parked in the middle of it all, looking more than a little like it just landed. This is the kind of anomaly that sparks my curiosity so I went off in search of the story.
I didn’t have to go far. Don Fyk lives two miles from Garland on the family farm. Don’s family homesteaded in the area; several of his relatives are buried in the little cemetery on the highway at his turnoff. Don, a pilot and airplane buff, farms, does repairs, heavy construction, crop dusting and grows a variety of buckwheat much sought after in Japan, his biggest market. He’s an amiable fellow, hard-working, successful with a fine sense of humour. We sat and had coffee in his office one afternoon in the summer of 2013 and he told me the story of the Garland airplane. That’s him and his aircraft in the picture above.
Back in 1982 Don’s brother-in-law was looking to build a new cabin,
something different. He considered a log cabin but went after the idea of an airplane fuselage as the living space. After searching around, they found two Vickers Viscount airplanes at Teulon in Manitoba’s Interlake; both had been cannibalized, neither were in good condition. However, they managed to combine parts from both and come up with a whole aircraft. He bought the airplane for $700 then faced the mammoth task of transporting it from Teulon to Garland, a distance of 380 kms.
Don, his brother-in-law and other family members, with the help of a consultant, dismantled the 8 tonne airplane, took off the wings and tail feather, building special dollies to load the pieces on several trucks. In early May, 1982, the five-truck convoy received a special permit to transport the load down major highways, passing through The Narrows then heading north of Dauphin. Don was surprised that people turned out at every little town to watch them go by. Even the Winnipeg Free Press covered the trek which wound up taking 12 hours.
For the two weeks needed to disassemble the airplane, it took about as long to reassemble it on the large lot in Garland where it sits today, chained and anchored down against strong winds. Interior renovation began. They gutted the aircraft, laid carpet, connected it to hydro for lights and electric heat, added a stereo system, air conditioning, all the amenities except running water. The front area accommodated a living room, behind that a galley kitchen and at the tail end a bedroom. The grounded Viscount hosted many a party since landing in Garland. The guest book for the aircraft cum weekend getaway includes dozens of people who stayed in the plane over the years.
In recent times, Don’s Viscount hasn’t been used much. A couple of years back the plane was vandalized on the interior but Don plans to restore it when he has the time. He pays about $300 a year in taxes for the lot and aircraft. Don has had offers from people who want to turn it into a bed and breakfast but he feels very attached to the plane. The novelty of the aircraft and its incongruent location will continue to draw the curious, like myself, to little Garland. For now, it will stay as it is – a startling surprise in a prairie village. Good!
Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) was the first North American company to fly Vickers Viscounts starting April 1, 1955 on its Montreal to Winnipeg route. By November of the same year TCA Viscounts were serving fourteen North American cities. The aircraft flew North American routes for TCA until 1974. Don Fyk’s aircraft belonged to the TCA then Air Canada fleet. Both the logos were painted over when Don bought the plane but the paint has since peeled away revealing both names.
This is a picture of Don Fyk’s plane, identification number CF-THB, when it was still part of Air Canada’s fleet taken July, 1967. My thanks to Ken Fielding for the pic.
What was the original appeal of the aircraft?
It was a game changer! The Vickers Viscount revolutionized passenger air travel when British engineering conglomerate Vickers-Armstrongs introduced it in 1948. Instead of a piston engine, the Vickers Viscount used a Rolls Royce Dart 510 turboprop engine, a new form of propulsion.
Piston engines were noisy, smelly and couldn’t provide a smooth ride. The Viscount changed all that with its turboprop system. It was much quieter with fewer vibrations, the cabin was pressurized for comfort, the ride was smoother and oval panoramic windows offered a view from your plush and adjustable seat. Flying had become comfortable, even glamorous. The plane was designed for medium-range flights with 24 to 48 passengers.
The Viscount became one of the most profitable post-war transport aircraft. Four hundred forty-four of the luxury liners were built, six were prototypes and the rest went into service worldwide.
This picture shows what the original Viscount cockpit looked like with its wide front and side views, instrument panel and seating.
This is the interior of the Viscount cabin in 1950s-modern primary colours. Comfort was built into every aircraft. This is what Don’s plane would have looked like when it was still in service.
According to vickersviscountnetwork.net there are 47 Viscount airframes left in the world, fifteen in museums. Along with his, Don thinks there are three other Viscounts in Canada: Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg has one, one in British Columbia Aviation Museum in Sidney and one in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa .
I took my video camera to Garland and shot a short four-minute tour that includes a walk around the outside of the airplane with close-up views. Click on the picture of VV and me above to watch.
A few other videos of Viscounts. The first one shows the aircraft loading passengers then starting its engine. The second video shows a Rolls Royce Dart 510 turboprop engine that’s been removed from a plane being started. The last video shows a vintage Viscount making its final flight and landing in 1996.
I am grateful to Don Fyk for sharing his story and part of his busy day with me. To end off, a direct quote from Don about flying, ”I have my faith in my airplane like I have my faith in God. You cannot doubt it for a second or the what if will kill you.”