12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Eight

Nelson Butt Building, 31 Main St. Carberry, MB

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The Nelson Butt Building makes a striking impression along Carberry’s Main Street due to its distinctive design, use of colour and recent faithful restoration by John and Sharon McNeily. Joseph R. Thompson built the Butt Building about 1896 and over the decades it has housed a variety of businesses including law offices, publishers, a bank and butcher shop. The place earned its present name by being home to the jewellery store of Nelson J. Butt from 1946 until 1992. The street view is a symmetrical dance of depth where brick arc and wood angle sway and commingle in sweet baths of white or red, figure and ground. The dancing balance is embodied in the superb stepped corbelling along and below the cornice, and enlightened by large display windows, sidelights and transoms in the recessed entry which promises unknown delights within. Three sensuous white arches pride the roofline and the pairs of second floor windows. The front elevation is virtually the same today as it was when it was constructed.

Carberry Factoid

Gas lights were installed in Carberry in 1902.

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Seven

McPherson House, 123 Dufferin St. Carberry, MB

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A notable family built this lovely wood frame house in 1897 using a basic design enhanced by elegant Queen Anne style detailing. The expressive use of woodwork on the porch especially on the pillars and bargeboard along the gable end turns a common house plan into a heritage delight. The porch continues at the rear of the house with a second floor balcony. Notice the inset bull’s-eye window under the side gable.

Carberry Factoid

In 1890 Carberry separated from the municipality and incorporated as a village. Its first mayor was W. W. Ireland who ran a lumber and coal store.

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Six

Manitoba Telephone System Building, 121 Main St. Carberry, MB

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MTS built dozens of these little buildings all over Manitoba in the late 1930s and during the war years to house the telephone switchboard, operators and offices. Carberry’s was likely built about 1941. Few remain. This eye-catching pile served its purpose: to remind people to use the telephone. The Spanish Colonial Revival detail of the red adobe tile false roofs (they are tin) on three sides accentuates the compactness of the massing and the sweet roofline, all plain as plain can be. Yet it catches the eye, makes you want to call someone up, tell a few lies and see how quickly they get around town. Contrasting with the stucco cladding is the red soldier course of standing brick around the windows and door. The chunky wide brackets under each fake roof give the roofs principle.

Carberry Factoid

Excellent Carberry trivia: one of the British airmen who attended the flying school in Carberry was actor Richard Burton. It’s not clear if he was an instructor or a trainee. Burton was nominated for an Oscar seven times and never won but he did marry Elizabeth Taylor – twice.

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Five

Webb House, 139 Selkirk St. Carberry, MB

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This sweet variation on Second Empire architecture was the home of W. J. Webb who ran the Carberry Meat Market. Built in 1895, the roofline is its most compelling element. A variation on a mansard roof is cut with tall ornate dormers and a small door opening onto a roof balcony enclosed by a scrolled balustrade. The roof spreads over the large porch and the front room and is supported by brick columns. The rich colours give the home a pleasant aura. I love the little white pediment above the porch entry.

 Carberry Factoid

The British Commonwealth Training Station No. 33 of the Royal Air Force was founded in 1940 to train military personnel for World War II. Its Service Flying Training School was located at Carberry. In five years 3,000 airmen were trained here with British wives and children accommodated in the town. The school’s motto was Unity is Strength. It published a regular newsletter entitled the RAF Rag and disbanded about 1945. Where the McCain Canada processing plant sits south of town was the site of the airport.

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Four

A. E. Gardiner Building, 116 Main St. Carberry, MB

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Now a museum and gift shop devoted to Ernest Thompson Seton, the world-renowned artist and naturalist who spent about ten years in the Carberry area, this building has a rich past. Built about 1915, this little place is a finely-crafted example of a popular building technique of the era: concrete blocks formed on site. Choosing from a variety of moulds with various facings, Frank Thomson of Austin, MB created the blocks and assembled them into this compact, one-storey commercial building. Thomson used a lovely pattern on the building. The intertwining floral design flows around the little place like sweet concrete syrup, a divine, resonant texture that embraces rather than creates the inner space. Even after almost a hundred years of exposure to Manitoba weather, the pattern on the blocks remains crisp and vibrant, a testament to the builder.

Carberry Factoid

The Carberry Plains Archives, created in April 1988, has an extensive collection of archival artifacts and can assist local residents and their descendants with genealogical research and with the safekeeping of their precious family documents and photographs. The Carberry Plains Archives is located in the library.

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Three

Lyons Mansion, Hwy #5, 1 km south of Carberry, MB

Lyons house next to Hwy 5

Robert Fern Lyons was an early settler in the Carberry area who owned 2700 acres of land and raised crops and livestock. A Conservative, Lyons was elected to the Manitoba Legislature five times between 1892 and 1914. Lyons built his mansion just outside of the town. Though long abandoned and disintegrating quickly, the crumbling mansion retains enough of the detail to suggest its original magnificence. Built around 1895, the red and buff brick two-storey house combines elements of Italianate and Queen Anne architectural styles into a striking and luxurious pile. The first floor features buff brick, the second floor red brick, both laid in standard running bond. The commingling of both coloured bricks on the second floor is fluid and dynamic. The asymmetrical massing of the house, round segmental arches over the windows and the accent quoins are all Italianate elements that give the house a villa feel. Queen Anne style is represented in the two-storey rounded rooms, the bargeboard and fish scale shingles on the gable ends, the ornate three arched windows, which open into the stairway, and picturesque roofline. I suspect this place will be torn down soon. Watch my 3 minute video tour of the shambles inside the old mansion.

Carberry Factoid

Carberry and North Cypress Rural Municipality are Spud Country. Every year local farmers plant and harvest about 20,000 acres of potatoes, much of it processed at the nearby McCain Canada plant.

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Two

Old Town Hall, 122 Main St. Carberry, MB

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As the date stone on the stepped pediment above the entrance states, Carberry’s old town hall was built in 1907. Brandon architect William Alexander Elliott designed the building in a Neo-Classical style. The front elevation is a wonderful study in symmetry. The brickwork expresses the Classical elements: the flat roof with quiet cornice, the grand arches over the three openings, each surmounted with keystones, the formal entrance, stringcourse and pediment. The little triangular transom creates a traditional pediment that adds to the elevating effect of climbing the stairs and passing through the recessed doorway into the formal world beyond. Being set on a high rusticated limestone foundation affords full use of the basement. As a town hall the basement was used for offices, meeting rooms and even the local jail.

Carberry Factoid

Carberry was named by James J. Hill after Carberry Tower, county seat of Lord Elphinstone in Scotland. Lord Elphinstone, a director of CPR, was traveling with Hill inspecting the railroad line.

Why Carberry?

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Sitting Bull and Dancing Horse – 124 Years Ago Today

Fiction by Reid Dickie

BULL

December 15, 1890

Sitting Bull’s Camp

Grand River, South Dakota

Commotion was his cue, his spur, his trigger. Gunfire, whoops, whistles and yells! Dancing Horse needed no other prompting. He began to perform his repertoire of tricks; the seven Bill Cody taught him and the two he learned by watching other horses. He was a smart horse born to the circus. Bill Cody had gelded him himself and taught him tricks.

Dancing Horse was the gift Buffalo Bill Cody gave Sitting Bull when Bull retired from the Wild West Show. He’d spent recent years on the quiet prairie with Sitting Bull, far from the cheering crowds.

Though it was the middle of a cold night and the years had slowed his gait, it all came back to Dancing Horse. As the air filled with noise and bullets whizzed around him, the horse pranced and danced, sat on his haunches and raised his front legs, waving, whinnying and shaking his mane. He cantered in a circle, stopped, backed up and cantered on, a curtsy, a bow and, his finale, a high wild buck accompanied by snorts and a long careening whinny. Then he started again.

At the flap of Sitting Bull’s tepee, melee built into frenzy. The holy man, now 60 summers old, lay half-naked, dying; his blood, loosened by two wounds, soaked into the snow. Sitting Bull’s spirit soared over the scene, its grief brief for the hard and desperate life just lived, now elated by the familiarity of death and the antics of Dancing Horse, moving like a pale ghost in the snow below.

Long after the fighting ended, as the prairie filled with mournful keening, Dancing Horse continued to perform, repeating his act over and over. The horse had danced through the mayhem without a single bullet hitting him.

He did not perform for the incredulous and spooked Sioux who watched in awe. Dancing Horse had an audience of one. His old friend Sitting Bull watched long in delight, solely entertained by the horse’s show, then he turned and his spirit embraced The Light.

As the first rays of dawn swept over the frozen land, Dancing Horse collapsed into the snow, exhausted. A little boy dressed in buckskin advanced toward him, extending a handful of sweetgrass.

 MESSENGER

 Reid Dickie

 December 15, 1890

Central Plains

Overhead Orion paused in mid hunt; half a moon lit the prairie snows. The Spirit, its message clear and urgent, rose from the shabby encampment on Grand River, the scene of the crime.

Wearing only paint on his body, riding a horse with arrows and lightning bolts painted on its white flanks, the ghostly Messenger held a human skull on a stick. Half his face was red, half white, his heart was painted with a blue starburst and his body had wavy yellow lines running from foot to throat.

Sailing through the clear cold air the Messenger traveled north over the rolling hills of Standing Rock Reservation to Cannonball River, the end of Hunkpapa land. Every tiny cluster of tipis with warm dreamers inside in the camps of Thunderhawk and John Grass got the news as they slept. Some awoke keening in grief.

The Messenger turned south, crossed over the Grand River in a single bound and headed toward Cheyenne River Reservation, home to the Minneconjou. In his dream, Yellow Bird, the medicine man received the news with a jolt, grabbed his rattle and woke the camp. It was nearing dawn but still dark and cold as Kicking Bear, the high priest of the Ghost Dance, his wife Woodpecker Woman, and all the Minneconjou were informed.  Further on, the camps of White Swan, Bear Eagle and Hump were next to be grief stricken. Off the reservation, the camps of Touch the Clouds and Red Shirt received word.

The ghost Messenger leapt the Cheyenne River and flew southwest toward Pine Ridge Reservation. Passing over Bad River, through the eerie Badlands past Castle Butte and a leap over White River got him to Pine Ridge and the camps at the headwaters of White River. Black Elk, the mystical shaman of the tribe, received the news and told the Oglala chiefs Red Cloud and American Horse. Ghost Dance priest Good Thunder immediately began to beat a hide drum and chant.

Spirit Messenger turned eastward just as dawn was blemishing the blackness. A leap over Pass Creek, through coulees and around buttes and Two Strike’s camp was informed; the ghost dancers Short Bull, Mash-The-Kettle and Plenty Horses began to paint their bodies with grieving symbols.

By the time the sun rose, the Great Plains was lit with grief. As far west as Tongue River Reservation in Montana, Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, and as far south as the Kiowa Reservation in central Oklahoma – they all knew what had happened. Even the people of Walker River Reservation in western Nevada, home to visionary Wovoka who brought the Ghost Dance to the people, knew.

Except Orion, no one saw the ghostly figure riding the strange awkward horse but they all reported his message with sad accuracy:

 “Sitting Bull is dead.”

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Thomas Edison’s Black Maria Studios in West Orange, New Jersey is said to be America’s first movie studio. In 1894 one of the earliest films of Native Americans was shot there. The silent 16 second black and white film, called Buffalo Dance, features three Sioux warriors in full war paint and war costumes performing for the camera. The warriors – Hair Coat, Parts His Hair and Last Horse – are accompanied by two unidentified drummers; all are veterans of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. It was originally shown on a Kinetoscope. The quality of the film is remarkable. I have looped it twice at its original speed followed by the clip at half speed. Click the pic to watch the one-minute film.

BUFFALO DANCE

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day One

 Carberry – North Cypress Library, 115 Main St. Carberry, MB

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While most of the buildings along Carberry’s Main Street have been used for numerous purposes, this compact little structure has served but two high-profile uses since it was built in 1938: federal post office and regional library. The original building was the basic cube on the left. The addition complements the original building in style and materials. Overall, Art Deco describes the building’s architecture. Popular into the 1940s for federal government buildings, the style easily adapted to small town requirements of size and functionality. Art Deco elements here are the boxy massing, flat roofline, well-defined geometric lines and the low-relief ornamentation. Tall windows surrounded by soldier courses of bricks and limestone sills, the limestone surround of the main entrance contrasting with the red-brown brick and the stepped pavilion of the entrance all exude simplicity and durability, modern practicality at its height in 1938.

Carberry Factoid

The first post office opened in 1881 as De Winton, named after Colonel De Winton who at the time was secretary to the Governor General. The name was changed to Carberry in 1883.

Why Carberry?

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Calendars – The People’s Art

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Reid Dickie

Tis the calendar season!

Stores have large displays of 2015 calendars, Calendar Club kiosks are popping up everywhere and businesses are keen to get their free calendar and their name on your wall. Technology hasn’t figured out a way to transcend the obvious convenience of wall and desk calendars yet. They are still a daily necessity and, thus, a perfect gift, with the right images, of course.

I got curious about the origins of picture calendars and discovered they started in Red Oak, Iowa when Edmond Osborne and Thomas Murphy, two college friends, bought a woodcut of a grand local courthouse with the intent of selling the pictures. To offset the cost of the woodcut they sold advertising around the picture and added a calendar. The first wall calendar was born. It was 1889.

The Osborne Company was formed to create and sell promotional calendars. The founders traveled around the world buying images for their calendars as well as using the work of some of America’s most renowned artists: Thomas Moran, Frederick Remington, Maxfield Parrish, Rolf Armstrong and many others. Wall calendars became the people’s art; their high-quality images often had nostalgic, erotic or humorous motifs. Images of children were and still are very popular as calendar subjects.

While I was looking through some of my mom’s teaching materials she used in the 1930s and 40s when she was a school marm in rural Manitoba, I came across six images painted by an unknown artist with copyright belonging to the Osborne Co, Newark, NJ. No other credit is given although they have a Parrish feeling to them, especially the backgrounds but that’s just a guess. The nostalgic pictures are 4 by 5 inches and each is titled. If you have any information about these images, please contact me.

The picture at the top of the post is called “The organ man singing in the rain.” Here are the other five.

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“Wind a-blowing all day long.”

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“Marching, here we come.”

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“Up in the air I go flying again.”

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“Little children saying grace.”

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“We are lucky, with a lamp before the door.”

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Laura Secord School, 960 Wolseley Avenue, Winnipeg 1913

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Winnipeg 1910-1919

 When World War 1 started, Winnipeg’s boom time ended. Immigration slowed as did construction and city expansion. In this decade, the eternal problem of palatable wpg aque 1917drinking water was solved when the Shoal Lake Aqueduct (left) began supplying the city with water.  Manitoba women became the first in Canada to get the vote in 1916 and the Municipality of Kildonan was divided into East and West Kildonan. Transcona was created as an adjunct to the railways. An obscure comedian named Charlie Chaplin played the Dominion Theatre on Main Street. The 1919 Strike brought the city to a halt.

The Little Nurses League was formed in 1912 and the first Home and School Associationswpg 1915 started at Luxton and Wellington Schools. In 1916 the School Attendance Act was passed, making attendance compulsory for 7 to 14 year olds. The Spanish flu, from which thousands of Winnipegers died, closed schools for seven weeks in 1918. Looking west down Broadway (above) in 1915.

During this decade the Junior High School concept was introduced and the first technical high schools, St. John’s and Kelvin, were built. In 1919, the Manitoba Teacher’s Federation was formed and the first Manitoba Musical Festival was held.

This decade resulted in some of the most beautiful and innovative schools ever built in Winnipeg. More than half the schools built in this era have burned or been demolished, making the remaining nine even more precious.

 LAURA SECORD SCHOOL

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 A heroic female namesake, notorious builders and its massive size make Laura Secord exceptional among schools from Winnipeg’s boom time.

Twenty-six classrooms, two manual training rooms, a huge auditorium that seats 800, shops, showers and a third floor caretaker suite made it one of the largest school built during the era. It covered over 25,000 square feet per floor and was 72 feet tall. Originally, it was to be located on Westminster Avenue but the lot was too small. Its current 3.3 acres lot, purchased for $37,000, provides the old place with enough elbowroom to feel comfortable in its Wolseley neighbourhood.

LAURA SECORD WITH TOWER

Laura Secord’s size meant its cost of $218,259 was three times the typical school price tag of the time. The felonious contractors of the Manitoba Legislative Buildings, Thomas Kelly & Sons, constructed Laura Secord School, apparently without scandal.

In December 1913, when Mrs. Isaac Cockburn, Laura Second’s granddaughter, formally opened the ten completed rooms, the school stood among empty market garden fields on happyland1the fertile banks of the Assiniboine River. The area was largely vacant lots but there was an amusement park called Happyland (left) situated between Garfield and Sherburn. By the 1920s, an almost exclusively Anglo-Saxon and steadfastly middle class neighbourhood developed around the school. Ethnic shifts of 1960s and 70s brought greater diversity to the area, revitalizing the school as symbolized by its mini-Folklorama in 1976.

The school opened in August 1913 with just ten rooms completed, six more were done in January and the final 10 by the summer of 1914. Original 1913 enrolment in the first 10 rooms was 602 students (60 students per classroom!) in Grades 1 to 9 with 14 teachers.

Nearby Wolseley School opened in 1921 and relieved the student pressure at Laura Secord.LAURA SECORD 1950S SCIENCE CLASS At its peak capacity in 1940, there were 1012 students enrolled in 24 classes, over 40 per classroom. Morning and afternoon kindergarten began at the school a few years later.  The picture (right) shows a 1950s science class. When Gordon Bell opened in 1960, the Junior High students from Laura Secord were transferred there, leaving Laura as an elementary school, a role it has played ever since. In 2014 Laura Secord has an enrolment of 550 students from Nursery to Grade 6.

School division architect J.B. Mitchell designed Laura Secord School in an eclectic style with elements of Beaux-Arts Classical, Georgian Revival and Romanesque architecture. Two storeys of reinforced concrete sheathed in pale brick with symmetrical façade and sides sit on a high limestone foundation. The low-pitched roof sports coyly arched eyebrow dormers complimenting the arched windows on the end pavilions. Originally, iron cresting, now gone, ran along the upper roof edge. Based on Mitchell’s common plan, the school is nearly square with a central courtyard giving a light and airy feeling to the massive structure.

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Laura Secord’s most stunning feature is the baroque entrance way (above), two entrances in fact. A narrow arched doorway centered between the stairs and cut out of the limestone leads into the basement. It has a lovely multi-paned round window.

LAURA SECORD 4Above it, a limestone portico (left) with four matching arches and canopy, finely executed by superior craftsmen, is bracketed by curlicue stairways and the root of the tower to create an intimate sense of place that draws you inside. Two sections of the tower were removed in the 1960s due to structural problems though urban legend says tower was lowered because it interfered with TV reception.

Unfortunately a few crowning details from the portico and tower have disappeared. These include stone orbs that once sat at the corners of the portico roof and slim finials at the top corners of the remaining tower. This detracts only slightly from the experience of entering the school via the wide stairway, turning, passing under an arch, turning, through another arch then being welcomed inside.

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Above the portico (right) a semi circular stained glass window with a sunburst pattern in brick and limestone depicts the school crest – a red cross with three maple leaves and the letters L & S on either side. It contains elements of Ontario’s crest, honouring Laura Secord’s United Empire Loyalist roots. The little room inside the school with the arched window and its elaborate old stained glass is especially delightful.

Laid in American bond – here every fifth row is headers – the brickwork overall is superb. There is corbelling under a belt course above the upper windows, pilasters separate the inset windows.

The paleness of the brick means its colour changes with the available light. Sometimes ghostly white, other times silvery grey to almost yellow the school is a fine study in combining similar shades of brick and limestone for effect.

LAURA ORCHESTRA 39 400003The similar shading of materials on Laura Secord demonstrates how they age and discolour differently (left). All the limestone has a dirty appearance because it tends to accumulate pollutants faster than the brick. This is very evident on the foundation and windows sills and is common on many older buildings with limestone elements. While the stone darkens, the brick develops a patina, adding to its lightness.LAURA ORCHESTRA 39 400004

When completed, Laura Secord School was the most modern building of its kind in the city. Wide hallways, large enough to accommodate foot races or showing films, and tall windows made it safe and bright. The stained glass (right) is original to the school. Virtually fireproof, only desks and floors were made of wood. Its heating and plumbing were state-of-the-art. Cast iron railings in the stairways still feature the school initials, though a few are missing, likely souvenirs.

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Classrooms are large and bright, each having four windows and a transom. A few of the original stained glass transoms remain. Laura Secord School had its own orchestra as seen in the picture (above) taken 1939/40.

Though most of the attic is empty space, the Ruby Street side has the remains of a first for Laura Secord School: the janitor’s suite with its extra windows. Skylights were often used in these suites.

Early progressive educational philosophy took a holistic approach to learning that included the complete physical health of students. Laura Secord was one of only four Winnipeg schools that offered a dental clinic.

Only a handful of local schools are named after women. Barely a year old in 1776, Laura secordIngersoll and her parents, United Empire Loyalists, fled to Canada from Massachusetts. She married James Secord who, in 1812, fought with Sir Isaac Brock at the Battle of Queenston Heights, near where the Secords lived. In that battle, Secord was badly wounded. He survived only because Laura found him on the battlefield and nursed him back to health. Not long after, Laura overheard American soldiers, billeted in her home, talk of an imminent attack at Beaver Dam. With a cow as her alibi, Laura set out the next day to warnLaura stamp 1992 Captain Fitzgibbon of the attack. The scene is depicted in the Lorne Kidd Smith’s painting (above) circa 1920. Forewarned Fitzgibbon surrounded the Americans forcing them to surrender.  Laura Secord’s heroic behaviour still provides students with an inspirational Canadian figure. In her honour, Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp featuring Laura Secord in September 1992 (right).

The students regularly published a school newspaper called Laura Lites from 1938 to 1957. It reported the activities of students supporting the war effort, their involvement during the 1950 flood and news of school events. Among Laura Secord School’s illustrious alumni is entertainer Fred Penner who attended in the early 1950s.

The City of Winnipeg’s Historic Building Committee recommended historic designation for Laura Secord School in the 1980s. By that time, structural problems demanded either demolition or renovation of the old place. At the forceful behest of the Wolseley area, the LAURA SECORD TREES 4Public Schools Finance Board and WSD #1, recognizing the school as comparable in historic and architectural significance to the glorious buildings on Main Street and in the Exchange District, chose renewal and spared this delightful place.

Renovations, by Ikoy Architects, were extensive beginning with a new roof and foundation repair in the summer of 1988 and followed the next year with new windows and a refurbished west entrance. These projects cost $551, 670 but the major renovation began in 1990. Red Lake Construction Company conducted major structural and interior renovations including replanned corridors, new administrative office, a handicap elevator and new building systems.  The cost of these projects was $2,152,948 bringing the total to $2.7 million; a bargain considering today’s replacement value of the original school is $3.8 million.

That is just abstract dollar values. What matters when you walk into a school is the opportunity, the hope, the motivation and the systems are living and evident, for the building to be a fertile field where young curious minds can feel inspired to grow, inspired by a compassionate and generous staff. That is what schools do and, thankfully, Laura Secord School continues to do it.

PROFILE

Laura Secord School

Built 1913

Additions 1988-90

Materials:  pale brick, limestone, concrete

Style: Beaux Arts/Classical Revival two-storey

Architect J. B. Mitchell

Original cost $218,259

Current assessed value $4,895,000

Acreage 3.3 acres

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“The Chokin’ Kind” Times Five – Unintentionally Topical?

 Reid Dickie

Harlan Howard once defined country music as “three chords and the truth.”

chokin 7Howard (left) was one of Nashville’s most prolific and preeminent songwriters spanning the late 1950s to the late 1990s. He wrote dozens of hit songs, fifteen of which charted in 1961 alone. Among his best known songs are I Fall to Pieces, Heartaches by the Number, Busted, Pick Me Up on Your Way Down, Streets of Baltimore, Tiger by the Tail and one of the greatest crossover songs ever, The Chokin’ Kind.

Two verses, a thoughtful change up, another verse and a reiterating coda tell the story of the singer’s realization that the partner wants more than love, they want utter control of the singer’s life, frighteningly so. The partner will go to any lengths to achieve this but the singer is gone. In the final verse the singer advises the partner to change for their own sake and that of future relationships. The coda reaffirms the fear and the untenable nature of the relationship.

The line that opens the second verse, “You can kill a man with a bottle of poison or a knife…” is often misheard as being “..a Bible or poison or a knife.”

Several of Howard’s songs crossed over into other genres but it was The Chokin’ Kind that scored biggest. I picked it to feature not just because it’s a fantastic song but it’s been covered in very distinct fashion by these five artists. I inserted audio players so you can hear the full versions of each. You’ll find the players under the album covers.

Originally a hit for Waylon Jennings, The Chokin’ Kind reached #8 in the U.S. and #4 in Canada on the country music charts in 1967. The song appeared on his 1968 album Hangin’ On which reached #9 on the U. S. country chart.

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Joe Simon recorded a gorgeous soulful version of The Chokin’ Kind that became the song’s best known version and biggest chart success. It stayed at #1 on the U.S. R & B charts for three weeks in the spring of 1969, selling over a million copies. On the U.S. Pop charts it reached #13 and #17 in Canada. Though he had two other #1 songs, this would be Joe’s biggest hit.

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Allen Toussaint, New Orleans singer, producer and songwriter (Working in a Coal Mine, Southern Nights, Mother-In-Law, Ride Your Pony) added his delta spice to the song on his 1971 album Toussaint.

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Extraordinary master of a 1953 Fender Telecaster (nicknamed Nancy), Roy Buchanan brought his hypnotic style to the song. At the outset it’s almost an arena rock epic but Roy switches into a funky mode retaining the song’s subtleties. Roy included it on his 1986 album Dancing on the Edge. That’s not Nancy in the picture.

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She sounds black and southern but she is blond and British. Joss Stone wails her marvelous rendition of The Chokin’ Kind on her 2003 release The Soul Sessions. The album was a huge hit in Britain, selling over a million copies and going platinum, a feat it also achieved in the U.S. and Canada.

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Inside Birtle Indian Residential School 2014

BIRTLE 039

Reid Dickie

Perched on the edge of the Birdtail River valley above Birtle, MB stands the ruins of an Indian residential school. Built in 1930, this two- and three-storey red brick and limestone building was the third residential school in the town. The 1882 school burned down in 1895. The 1895 school, near this site, was demolished and replaced with the present building. Closed in 1972 and largely abandoned to the elements since, today the place is a fascinating shambles. In June 2014 I took pictures and video of the school inside and out. BIRTLE 005Smashed glass brick basement windows. Thoroughly vandalized, there are few unbroken panes of glass left on the building. BIRTLE 002Rear view of the building.  BIRTLE 004Appropriate graffiti on old shed next to school. BIRTLE 030The facade of the three-storey section of  school.  BIRTLE 010Smooth limestone pointed arch over the front entrance.  BIRTLE 029Just inside the front door looking out.  BIRTLE 025Remains of a colourful mural on the wall inside the front door.  BIRTLE 028Hallway to large auditorium. BIRTLE 014Ice cube trays on a decomposing couch with evidence of fire on the floor. Several small areas in the building have been blackened by fire but it’s mostly masonry with little to burn.   BIRTLE 012Well-graffitied auditorium.   BIRTLE 019Ruined elegance. Once-stylish over-stuffed armchair now oversees the peeling of the floor tiles.BIRTLE 024Bird’s nest atop hanging metal ceiling fragment.  Pigeons, robins and swallows use the place to roost and nest.BIRTLE 021The one remaining unbroken urinal in the building.   BIRTLE 023View out third floor window of pretty little Birtle in the valley below.

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This archival picture shows the school not long after it was built in 1930.

Click here to view my five and half minute video tour of the school.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Photography, Schools

Just This – New Video In a Contemplative Mode

Snapshot 3 (17-11-2014 1-07 AM)Click any picture to play my 3:55 video.

Snapshot 1 (17-11-2014 1-07 AM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snapshot 4 (17-11-2014 1-08 AM)

 

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FOUND Pop-Up Store, 729 Corydon

FOUND

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November 13, 2014 · 9:39 pm

Oasis In Space – Found Sound Poetry and Video

        Reid Dickie

Trinidad!
And the big Mississippi
and the town Honolulu
and the lake Titicaca,
the Popocatepetl is not in Canada,
rather in Mexico, Mexico, Mexico!
Canada, Málaga, Rimini, Brindisi
Canada, Málaga, Rimini, Brindisi
Yes, Tibet, Tibet, Tibet, Tibet,
Nagasaki! Yokohama!
Nagasaki! Yokohama!

Snapshot 5 (10-11-2014 2-48 PM)So begins Ernst Toch‘s fanciful sound poem Geographical Fugue composed entirely of world place names. Toch was a prolific Austrian composer of classical music and film scores who endeavored to stretch the boundaries of music. He’s credited with singlehandedly inventing an idiom called Spoken Chorus which combines the spoken word and music creating a new form of expression. Geographical Fugue, written in 1930, caused a sensation when it was first performed and remains Toch’s most performed work even though he dismissed it as unimportant. Snapshot 1 (10-11-2014 2-44 PM)

The piece strictly follows the form of the fugue with four voices entering one at a time: tenor, alto, soprano, bass. The basic structure is that of the canon or round (Row, row, row your boat) resulting in unexpected rhythms and harmonies. Composers John Cage and Henry Cowell translated the poem from its original German.

Snapshot 2 (10-11-2014 2-45 PM)I combined Toch’s sound poetry with footage taken of the earth from the International Space Station and offered with annotations by NASA.

I found both the sound and vision at www.archive.org. Click any picture to watch my 3 minute video.

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Filed under 1930s, Guff, video art

Fellini’s TV Commercial for Campari 1984

Snapshot 1 (09-11-2014 10-59 PM)

Federico Fellini, visionary Italian filmmaker, made a few TV commercials in his career. In 1984 he created a commercial for the aperitif Campari.  “In just one minute,” writes Tullio Kezich in Federico Fellini: His Life and Work, “Fellini gives us a chapter of the story of the battle between men and women, and makes reference to the neurosis of TV, insinuates that we’re disparaging the miraculous gifts of nature and history, and offers the hope that there might be a screen that will bring the joy back. The little tale is as quick as a train and has a remarkably light touch.” Click the picture to watch.

 

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Filed under 1980s, Film, Trains

Mid-Century Winnipeg – The Cave Supper Club

Wpg Earle Hill & His cavemen at Cave Club 1937

Taken in 1937 in Winnipeg’s Cave Supper Club (likely located where Giant Tiger is at Donald and Ellice), Earle Hill and his Cave Men are about to entertain the evening crowd. There were also Cave Supper Clubs in Vancouver and Edmonton (it was a chain). Stalactites and huge mushrooms were prominent motifs in all of them.

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Filed under 1930s, Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Music, Winnipeg

Happy Birthday John Cleese

cleeseOn this day in 1939 John Cleese was born in Weston-super-Mare, England and the futures in absurdity went through the roof. John had a few witty things to say over the years including  “He who laughs most, learns best” and “I think that the real religion is about the understanding that if we can only still our egos for a few seconds, we might have a chance of experiencing something that is divine in nature. But in order to do that, we have to slice away at our egos and try to get them down to a manageable size, and then still work some practiced light meditation. So real religion is about reducing our egos, whereas all the churches are interested in is egotistical activities, like getting as many members and raising as much money and becoming as important and high-profile and influential as possible. All of which are egotistical attitudes. So how can you have an egotistical organization trying to teach a non-egotistical ideal? It makes no sense, unless you regard religion as crowd control. What I think most organized religion—simply crowd control.” and  “I find it rather cleese wareasy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me. ” and “I can do anything I want, I’m eccentric!” and “I think the problem with people like this is that they are so stupid that they have no idea how stupid they are.” and “Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.” and “This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.” Dead/Not Dead John celebrates his 75th birthday today. One final word: “We don’t know where we get our ideas from. What we do know is that we do not get them from our laptops.” Oh I almost forgot,  “Your Mother was A Hamster and your Father Smelled of elder berries”

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Filed under birthday, Humour, Life and Life Only, Old Souls

Tesla As a Boy – New Video by Reid

“It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages around the world so simply that any individual can carry and operate his own apparatus.” – Nikola Tesla October 1909

Snapshot 3 (18-10-2014 11-57 PM)

Another piece from Free Wild Samples, a series of short videos employing found sound and images I made in early 2014. Tesla As a Boy is 3:11. Click pic to watch.

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