What We Do in the Shadows

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Reid Dickie

After years of negotiations the New Zealand Documentary Board was granted safe access to the secretive world of modern-day vampires. What We Do in the Shadows follows the daily lives of four vampires who live together in a ramshackle old house and confront the realities of 21st century life: paying the rent, keeping peace among roomies, getting into nightclubs and doing five years worth of dishes while maintaining the sanguine requirements of being a vampire. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years.

This fresh take on vampires is the creation of Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi (Eagle whatvs. Shark, Boy), two young New Zealand filmmakers. Clement and Waititi play Viago and Valdislav to the hilt as older vampires while Jonathan Brugh is Deacon, a younger less responsible vampire. In a vault in the catacombs of the house lives Peter who is thousands of years old and represents a traditional view of vampires as simply bloodthirsty. Add in all the classic abilities of vampires – flying, hypnotism, silver allergy, etc – and the result is tumultuous fun.

Of course it’s not a documentary; it’s a full-blown comedy, one of the best indies in recent years and a darling at recent film festivals. The screenplay is wonderful, keenly written with a natural comic eye as the men try to explain their lives and deal with each other, various undead and humanity. The lead actors construct characters who are consistently absurd yet possess enough human qualities to create empathy for their modern dilemmas which aren’t that different from us non-vampires. Their encounter with the werewolves made me howl – “We’re werewolves, not swearwolves.”

Watch the trailer and decide if What We Do in the Shadows appeals to you. I found the movie on icefilms.com. Thanks to my friend Kevin for making me aware of it.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Film, Humour

Koz and The Beatles

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Reid Dickie

Still in the hit parade mode, CKRC was CKY’s rival for the young at heart market in Winnipeg as their weekly chart states. CKRC used the image of the singing beaver in boater hat and striped jacket a la barbershoppers, for several years.

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This chart for the week of September 3, 1965 features a picture of CKRC Good Guy Boyd Kozak and the four winners of the contest to see The Beatles in Toronto August 17, 1965. Although I didn’t know Boyd, actually Borys, when we were both DJs, in recent years we’ve become coffee buddies. He did a wonderful voiceover for A Town With Water from my series The Lonesomes. You can still hear his golden tones on the air. Boyd does morning news at QX104 and Fab 94.

I sent Boyd the picture from the chart. He commented, “Thanks Reid..wonderful memories, those three days. This was my second trip, having done same, a year before for the Beatles first trip to Canada.”

Here’s the rest of that week’s chart along with the DJs of the day. Click to enlarge

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Filed under 1960s, Music, Radio, Winnipeg

The Last CKY Hit Parade

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Reid Dickie

Every week for at least five and a half years, CKY Radio, Canada’s Friendly Giant, published a hit parade that listed the Top 50 pop songs and Top 20 western songs in Winnipeg. The 50,000 watt station devoted a few hours a day to, what was then called, western music, country music’s uncle. The CKY hit parade was a colourful single fold sheet distributed free at record stores in Winnipeg and round the province to a degree.

The weekly chart was distilled using a formula that combined local record sales and listener requests and resulting in the hit parade. Post-1963 issues featured pictures of the disc jockeys.

The last CKY Hit Parade was published on February 27, 1966. The Beatles are #1.

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I’m not sure when CKY started publishing a hit parade. The earliest one I have is for the week of September 9, 1961.

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Listen to CKY go off the air forever on January 21, 2004.

If you liked this stuff, check out some of my other nostalgic Winnipeg memories like Eaton’s Beatle Bar, Inside the Mind of a 15 Year Old Beatlemaniac, CKY wants a town named after it, my radio career, the Beatles come to Winnipeg, even some fake nostalgia.

I have pages about Winnipeg’s grand old schools, some heritage houses, churches and Manitoba heritage from around the province.

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Filed under 1960s, Music, Radio, Winnipeg

Who Remembers the Med Movies on Friday Nights?

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Reid Dickie

“We have been transmogrified from mad bodies dancing on hillsides to a pair of eyes staring in the dark.” – Jim Morrison

Two years at Ryerson in Toronto had opened my eyes to all kinds of films from W.C. Fields marathons to Fellini Satyricon (below) to Andy Warhol’s erotic western Lonesome Cowboys which was shown on multiple TV screens (to avoid the censors) in Cinema 2000, a modern XXX emporium on the Yonge Street strip. I craved a similar experience in Winnipeg and found it at the Med Movies.

FelliniSatyricon_Lobby1A year or so after I moved here in the summer of 1973 I started hearing about underground movies that some med students showed every Friday night. Asking around I discovered the Med Movies tucked away in a lecture hall in the Basic Sciences Building at Emily and Bannatyne, part of the newly named Health Sciences Centre.

From October 3, 1975 to May 21, 1976 I went to both Med Movies every Friday. Sixty-four movies and I didn’t miss one. It was like getting a crash PhD in classic and modern films at $1.25 per movie. What a bargain!

The theatre was a large lecture hall with full size screen. The continuous bench seating let you stretch out for comfy viewing. It pulled small discerning crowds, the size often winter-weather dependent. The atmosphere was casual, laid back and reverent to the movies. Here are the films in my “20th century cinema course” on the original schedule sheets.

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Looking at the schedule, the series offered an eclectic cross section of genre-busting, rarely seen films that together create an exceptional overview of world cinema in the first 75 years of the 20th century. Several of these films left indelible impressions on me: Little Murders, Death in Venice, Zabriskie Point, Mean Streets, Red Desert, Amarcord (below).AMARCORD_3_Reasons_Still_video_still

I still recall my gasps as I watched Jodorowsky’s El Topo (top) for the first time, being abducted to his strange and cruel world where you couldn’t just watch the movie, your entire nervous system and every bit of viscera also had to fully participate in the experience. I recently re-watched El Topo and it had a similar effect on me as it did 40 years ago. Don’t die without seeing El Topo.

This wasn’t the first year the med students showed movies and I don’t know how long they went on. I didn’t go the next year because my life had changed. I’d fallen in love with Linda.

She and I sat in on an experimental film course at the University of Manitoba a couple of winters later. We created films together several of which can be found on my YouTube channel. One of the more experimental films we made together was called Passionate Leave, shot in 1978/79 on Super 8. More details with the video here

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Cousin Edra – The Winter Series

Reid Dickie

Previously I have posted two black and white snapshots of my cousin Edra when she was a child in the early 1940s. Both pictures were taken outdoors in winter with incongruent clothing and furniture. The images popped out of the hundreds of typical family pictures for obvious reasons.

The first was Sweet Dream Baby when she was about a year old. Click pics to enlarge

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The second was Dreaming of Tea Time. She’s about three here.

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Recently I came across two more pictures of Edra from The Winter Series, as I’ve come to call it. This time she’s seated next to her brother Arvin on the same little chairs from Tea Time. She’s about two years old. It’s called Me and My Big Brother.

FAM scan0002The final picture in The Winter Series, at least so far, is Edra wearing my Mom’s hat taken in 1944. She’s almost five. I call it Auntie Helen’s Hat.

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Here’s my Mom wearing the same hat on her wedding day two years before.

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Coming Soon to a Canada Near You

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If Harper gets his way…

 Click the pic

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My Letter to Harper about Secret Police Bill C-51

Reid Dickie

I sent the following letter to Stephen Harper today regarding Bill C-51 which is supposed to give police power to deal with “terrorism.” Instead it takes away our right and freedoms based on little more than fear-mongering and media booga booga.

Because the Ref-Cons are under the thumb of Big Pharma, Bill C-51 contains directives regarding alternative medicine. For example, up to $5 million fine for growing, preserving or sharing an unregistered natural health product like garlic, vitamins, herbs. The bill turns ordinary Canadians into “terrorists” if we use medicinal alternatives.

My letter went to every MP in Ottawa via one mass emailing. You can find all their email addresses here.  Scroll down, copy and paste them into your address bar.

http://butterflystorms.blog.ca/2011/07/05/canadian-mps-email-addresses-web-pages-11431378/

Mr. Harper,

   Bill C-51 is your most anti-Canadian bill yet.

   This dreadful secret police bill is much too vague in all its definitions, gives too much power to CSIS and overreaches far too deeply into the lives of ordinary Canadians. It gives police the power to detain people who haven’t committed a crime based on mere suspicion, i.e. search and seizure without warrant. This is your devious way of trying to get control of the internet, censor its content and to control medical alternatives. Why are directives against alternative medicine included in this bill?

   This bill does nothing to protect our freedoms; it undermines them. No matter how much fear-mongering you do or how many phony terrorists you haul out in front of the cameras, we are not willing to give up our rights and freedoms. Your paranoid anti-democratic views represent a very small portion of Canadians.  

    C-51 is alien legislation. This wasn’t even drafted in Canada. It was written elsewhere and you were told to apply it to Canada. You know you are wrong which is why you are desperate to limit debate and abuse your power further. How can you make an informed decision without all the information?

    The current oversight of CSIS has been under funded and understaffed for the duration of your reign and now you claim this new bill has sufficient oversight. There will be even less oversight and accountability with C-51. What kind of spooks are you turning our country over to?

   I am 100% opposed to Bill C-51. It should be scrapped now.

      Sincerely,

        Reid Dickie

            Winnipeg

Read Ralph Nader’s letter to Harper about Bill C-51 here

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/02/18/whats-happening-canada-open-letter-stephen-harper

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Classic Cars, Trucks and Machinery at Carberry Heritage Festival

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Reid Dickie

This 1919 Ford truck was one of the many vintage vehicles on display at the Carberry Heritage Festival. As you can see it’s a crank start. Click the pic to watch my two-minute video of some of the other cars, trucks and farm machinery at the festival.

The 2015 Carberry Heritage Festival takes place Friday & Saturday August 7 & 8.

The festival website is http://www.carberryheritagefestival.com

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Slammin’ with Kayla Fraser and Steve Currie

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Reid Dickie

To end the week of slam poets I’ll feature two Winnipeg poets, Kayla Fraser and Steve Currie, info on local slam events in 2015 and finish with Andrea Gibson who was the inspiration for this series.

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Click her pic for Kayla Fraser to perform The Poetry Game.

Winnipeg Poetry Slam has a new home at the Winnipeg Poetry Project which will hold the second of four events to determine the local slam poets that go to the nationals. The event is Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at the West End Cultural Centre. Sign-in 7:15. Slam 8:00. Details are available. You can see a tally of the top slam poets and their point totals on the site, videos and audio tracks of poets performing and an application form if you want to prowl the stage and share your wisdom.

Another event under the auspices of the Winnipeg Poetry Project is the annual Winnipeg Spoken Word Festival, June 10 to 13, 2015 at the Gas Station Theatre. Details as they emerge.

A collaborative project called F-Wordz combining performing poets and filmmakers is evolving to its May 3, 2015 competition at the Park Theatre. The Winnipeg Film Group offers info.

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Steve Currie is vying for a spot on Winnipeg’s Slam Team this year and reads a work pulled from today’s headlines about Manitoba’s 10,000 foster children. Click his pic to watch Steve perform To Whom It May Concern.

I recently discovered the performance poetry of Andrea Gibson and posted about her. Her work inspired my explorations of current slam poetry resulting in this series. To end off, two poems by Andrea Gibson. Click pic to watch her perform Prism

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Click pic for her performance of Panic Button Collector

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 What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with George Watsky and James Judd

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Reid Dickie

Two more slam poets today.

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Click his pic to watch George Watsky perform Drunk Text Message to God

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One of the funniest slam poets is James Judd performing his story poem The Book Report

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Jeanann Verlee and Carlos Andres Gomez

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Reid Dickie

A trio of slam poems today. Jeanann Verlee, whom I featured earlier in this series, and Carlos Andres Gomez, each performing separately and together.

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Click her pic to watch Jeanann Verlee perform 40 Love Letters.

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Click their pic to watch Jeanann Verlee and Carlos Andres Gomez perform Wait.

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Click his pic to see Carlos Andres Gomez perform What’s Genocide?

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Shane Koyczan and Rudy Francisco

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Reid Dickie

Today’s poets are Shane Koyczan from Penticton, B.C. and Rudy Francisco.

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Click his pic to watch Shane Koyczan perform his story poem Why Does This Man’s Grandfather Fight Monsters? Shane is performing in Winnipeg at the West End Cultural Centre on April 5, 2015.

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Click his pic to watch Rudy Francisco perform his poem Complainers.

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Megan Maughan and Noah St. John

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Reid Dickie

Two youthful voices on today’s slam.

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Click her pic to watch Megan Maughan perform Five Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder.

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Click his pic to watch Noah St. John perform his poem Capoeira.

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Neil Hilborn and Michael Lee

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Reid Dickie

Two more contemporary slam poets in my series on words at work.

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Click his pic to watch Neil Hilborn perform OCD.

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Click his pic to watch Michael Lee perform Pass On.

What’s this series about?

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Slammin’ with Jeanann Verlee and Josh Healey

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Reid Dickie

We live in a time when words have been reduced to a series of abbreviations on tiny text screens, when clarity and truth are drained daily from language replaced by doublespeak that supports an agenda, when the inability to form a complete sentence results in the inability to think critically, when powerful voices that promote sanity and goodness are routinely silenced. But words still work. They can still tell the truth when employed by active minds and engaged  imaginations. In this case, I mean slam poetry. Click the pic below for a poet slam primer under 60 seconds.

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This is the first of six or seven posts featuring contemporary slam poets performing their work. Each one of these voices offers his or her unique perspective on life in the 21st century, usually personal, sometimes cringingly so, frequently funny, always pertinent and inspirational. Instead of writing about each poet’s background I have included links to their websites. Most of these slam poets have won awards for their performance poetry.

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Click her pic to watch Jeanann Verlee perform Communion.

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Click his pic to watch Josh Healey perform Coming Out Straight.

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Fake Winnipeg Nostalgia – Char Broiler Commercial

FOOD DD

You don’t actually remember this Char Broiler commercial but after you watch it you’ll think you do.

False memories are hidden in the food.

Can you decode this order?

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Watch Char Broiler commercial parody 1:30

Click a pic

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Filed under Humour, Winnipeg

Principal Sparling School, 1150 Sherburn Street, Winnipeg (1913)

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Reid Dickie

By the time this “lovely castle” was built, school architect J. B. Mitchell was delightfully combining elements from several architectural styles, creating a stunning array of Principal Sparling can0003structures.

Two-storey Principal Sparling School is a luxurious sight, rich with detail, solid but enticingly airy with glorious fenestration all around. Executed by expert craftsmen, the school incorporates Gothic and Classical Revival design elements.

The elevated limestone portico and the tower above it (left) are the building’s most striking feature. Transverse stairways lead to the portico landing, which is open on each side.

Overhead Dutch gables crown three sides of the portico, the front has a large medallion in a floral motif, all Principal Sparling can0004 - Copycomplimenting the arched doorway into the school, the stained glass window above it and the open tower atop. The name of the school is inscribed on a large limestone plaque on the face of the tower at eave level. (right) Although I’ve never seen anything to indicate J. B. Mitchell belonged to the Masonic Lodge, it is highly likely he was a member. On other schools Mitchell has left us a few hints of his understanding and use of the Golden Section. On Principal Sparling, the overlapping Os in School create the vesica pisces.

A storey and a half above the low-pitched hip roof, the square tower culminates in four open arcades of rounded and square columns. Resembling tracery, the arcades are aPrincipal Sparling can0009 medieval touch. The top of the tower (left) has a curving belt course supported by arcades of corbelling of very high quality – it feels as if it drips from the building. An angled parapet crowns the tower.

The symmetrical facade has large end wings that bring a churchy Gothic effect Principal Sparling can0006because they are windowless but for the round openings on the stone-capped Dutch  gable ends. The sections that would have been windows are indented and surmounted with exquisite corbelling. (left) There is a pair of dormers on the front elevation and a limestone belt course with diamond shapes.

Demonstrating Mitchell’s attention to detail there is the letter S on each of the downspout collectors that deliver rainwater directly into the sewer.Principal Sparling can0010

On the sides (right) projecting sections are in a Gothic motif with stone lintels over the windows, peaked stone cap on the cornice with orbs and a pointed finial. Again, the arcade of corbelling on the face of the wings and Gothic end pavilions is superb. The rear has two Classical Revival porches, one obscured by the 1987 gymnasium. They feature wide arched entranceways with a three-sided hip roof that points up to a recessed arched window.

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A recurring feature of school design was stained glass panels at the top of rectangular windows. At Principal Sparling, the original stain glass remains on the façade windows only, as it was when Mitchell designed it.

Of brick and concrete construction, the masonry overall is fine work. The bond of the building is American bond with a slight variation – usually every fifth or sixth course is headers rather than stretchers. On Principal Sparling School, every fourth row is headers,Principal Sparling can0007 requiring proportionally more bricks to construct.

Notice the tall, rusticated foundation (right) with many windows. This allows classrooms in the basement to have ample light. Limestone is used to great effect from the foundation to the lintels and sills, the belt course and the curved gables.

The interior has a central hallway with rooms leading off both sides. The hallway is extraordinarily wide and the ceilings are very high. The stairwells are concrete with the original cast iron railings embellished by flower medallions. One of the classrooms has the original slate blackboards and the basement rooms have the old hardwood floors that bear the warm patina from the feet of five generations of children.

When Principal Sparling School was built, architect Mitchell was incorporating the latest principal s 3innovations in heating and ventilation. The school still has the original arched vents that accordion out two-thirds the way up the wall that allowed cross-ventilation when combined with window transoms.

Former Principal Denise Smith found the original school boilerplate stored away when she arrived at the school. She had it polished up and proudly displays it in the main hallway.

Every year the graduating Grade 6 class, with the help of the Parent Council, purchases a piece of art for the school, usually a print of a great master or a historic depiction.

All former principals have their pictures displayed in the foyer (above) and a photograph of principal s himselfReverend Joseph Walter Sparling (1842-1912) (right) hangs in a revered place in the hall. Sparling, a theologian and teacher, was known as “the father of Winnipeg Methodism.” Born in Perth County, Ontario, educated in Ontario and Illinois, he was ordained in 1871. After serving in numerous parishes, he was sent to Winnipeg in 1888 to establish Wesley College, now the University of Winnipeg. In a small rented room, Wesley College started with three students. Four hundred were attending at the time of Sparling’s death.

Sparling died in 1912, the year construction on this school began. His son, Jack Sparling attended the official opening in 1914, his granddaughter, Mrs. Joseph Walter Sparling, served tea at the 50th Anniversary in 1962.

The contractor was a Winnipeg firm, S. Brynjolfsson and Son who built the seventeen room school for $142,000. Cost of the 2.6 acre lot was $30,500. Construction began inprincipalsparlingschool2 1912; the cornerstone was laid by Johnson Douglass, merchant and school board member.

Although the official opening occurred in March 1914, the school (archive photo right) offered classes starting in August 18, 1913. Two hundred students enrolled the first day to attend Grades 1 to 8 taught by eight teachers and principal Harry McIntosh. The curriculum included Home Economics and Industrial Arts. As the West End district around Principal Sparling School developed, by 1922 the student population grew to over 800 taught by 19 teachers.

In 1986 a new gymnasium with modern facilities was added to the school based on a design by Stechesen Katz Architects. The addition was built by Levasseur Construction Co. at a cost of $552,000. The old gym was converted into a multi-purpose room and a resource teaching area.

In 2013/2014 Principal Sparling’s enrolment was 212 students in Nursery to Grade 6. Ethnic breakdown is 65% Philippine, 17% aboriginal and the balance mixed.

Principal Sparling School’s heritage designation is Level 3, meaning it is reasonably safe from demolition. There is an active Parent Council at the school which renovated the play structure and added a picnic area and landscaping with 20 trees.

 PROFILE

Principal Sparling School

Built 1913

Additions 1986

Materials: tan brick, limestone, concrete

Style: Gothic Revival, Classical Revival two storey

Architect J. B. Mitchell

Original cost $172,500

Current assessed value $1,779,000

Acreage 2.6 acres

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Filed under Education, Heritage Buildings, Manitobans of Note, Schools

Tim Horton’s Beans in Our Ears

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Reid Dickie

Just for fun I’m weighing in on the changes afoot at defining Canadian icon, Tim Horton’s. Snapshot 4 (29-01-2015 4-40 PM)Former defining icon is better now that it’s owned by Brazilian mega-corporation 3G Capital. Tim Horton’s came as part of the 3G deal to buy Burger King which was blessed by the Ref-Con trained seals in Ottawa.

My fake backstory regarding Tim Horton’s revolves mainly around a little brown brick building near Pembina and Grant in Winnipeg. I have habituated this building for centuries. Before it was Tim’s, Robin’s Donuts operated from it as did Loopins and Snapshot 3 (29-01-2015 4-39 PM)Standards. In the 1950s it was The Sassafras, a coffee and malt shop that catered to teens and adults and maintained an uneasy detente between them. During The War, it was Stookie’s, a smoky diner at an important bus stop that led into new suburbs in south and west Winnipeg. During the Dust Bowl days three sisters, all named Thelma, ran it. Of course it was called Betty’s Place so as not to Snapshot 6 (29-01-2015 4-41 PM)confuse people. Just after the First Big War when it was Mike’s you could buy coffee and pie over the counter, booze, hookers and reefer under the counter. Even before the new century began, on this spot Pounder’s Stopping Off was a widening of the Pembina Trail where you stocked up on supplies coming and going. Porridge Pounder always had plenty of guns and ammunition to sell. Before anything took root at the meeting of the rivers, Cree and Saulteaux sometimes used thisSnapshot 7 (29-01-2015 4-41 PM) place as a campsite due to it’s closeness to the Red River. For thousands of years before that, it was just me and the woolly mammoths drinking from the river with the wind whistling through the willows.

Most of the above paragraph is not true; it is fiction, historical riffing, guff. In that spirit I created a short video to commemorate the assimilation of Tim Horton’s into its new Snapshot 2 (29-01-2015 4-39 PM)corporate maw. I scrounged around on archive.org and found some vintage footage of Brazilian coffee growers and refiners, added Soul Coughing’s The Coffee Song and uploaded it to YouTube. Fellini would appreciate the final few scenes. Click any picture to watch the 2:30 video.

For clarity I have been a long-time customer of Tim Horton’s and witnessed their inevitable decline. Of late, I frequent other coffee shops, local and much more interesting. Comments sections online are filled with people vowing to boycott Tim Horton’s for their recent actions. In my case, the Horts just ran its course after lo, these many thousands of years.

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Andrea Gibson, Poet

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Reid Dickie

I wish I was a photograph
tucked into the corners of your wallet
I wish I was a photograph
you carried like a future in your back pocket
I wish I was that face you show to strangers
when they ask you where you come from
I wish I was that someone that you come from
every time you get there
And when you get there
I wish I was that someone who got phone calls
And postcards saying
Wish you were here

That is how Andrea Gibson’s poem Photograph begins. Listen to her read the whole thing.

From her websiteAndrea Gibson is not gentle with her truths. It is this raw fearlessness that has led her to the forefront of the spoken word movement – the first winner of the Women’s World Poetry Slam – Gibson has headlined prestigious performance venues coast to coast with powerful readings on war, class, gender, bullying, white privilege, sexuality, love, and spirituality.

I came across Andrea’s work recently while downloading some sound poetry. Her written words are provocative but it’s her inspiring spoken performances that give them vivid freshness. Her thoughts bombard you with a stimulating flurry of intelligence and awareness, as effective poetry should. Listen to her poem Stay.

YouTube has many videos of Andrea’s performances. This one is called Jellyfish. Click pic.

andrea vid

Andrea is currently on a North American tour which moves to Europe in the spring.

  • She performs in Toronto, ON on February 3, 2015 at a free show at Lunik Co-Op, Glendon College.
  • On February 17, 2015 she’s at Alix Goolden Performance Hall in Victoria, BC. Tickets available through her website.
  • On April 4, 2015 she’s back for the Toronto Poetry Slam at Bloor Cinema. For tickets contact info@torontopoetryslam.com

Andrea’s website is http://www.andreagibson.org/

Two more readings by Andrea to finish off: Asking Too Much and Say Yes.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Art, Inspiration, Truth, Wisdom

Linwood School, 266 Linwood Street, Winnipeg (1913)

LINWOOD SCHOOL 2

Reid Dickie

Pop quiz!

What Winnipeg school’s alumni includes the City’s first woman mayor Susan Thompson, bandleader Jimmy King, Liberal Cabinet Minister Mitchell Sharp, Olympic speed skater Gordon Audley, Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and former National Defense Headquarters Chief of Air Staff Ken Pennie?

Hint: it’s in St James.

This diverse group all haunted the halls of Linwood School.

Though having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, Linwood School sits on a lot used for schools for 130 years. St James School, a white two-storey wooden building with a large bell tower that sat on the southeast corner of the lot was the original school on the site. Built in 1885 and known in the neighbourhood as The White School, it burned down in 1913. Students attended classes in tents during construction of the current building, also called St James School. The name was changed to Linwood School in 1951 to avoid confusion with the newly opened St James Collegiate.

The original trustees’ names are carved in limestone on the front of the school. The architect is LINWOOD11scan0007listed as A. Melville and the trustees were Alex Gunn, Chas. Holden and J.H. Cotter.

Scottish-born Winnipeg architect Alexander Melville designed the present building. Melville, and his enigmatic brother William, a civil engineer, were responsible for at least 14 of Winnipeg’s fire halls, many of them still standing. (Under the heading of Winnipeg Degrees of Separation, we find Susan Thompson who, besides attending the Melville-designed Linwood School, was later a resident in a fire hall on Dorchester that had been renovated into condominiums. This fire hall was a Melville Brothers design.)

The Melvilles created plans for the Empire Hotel on Main Street, Broadway Court Apartments, Ashford Apartments on Balmoral, Touraine Apartments on Ellice and the Coliseum Dance Hall, all now demolished. One of the few houses the brothers designed, the G.A. Glines house, still stands at 55 Hargrave though its exterior has been substantially changed. Check out this Manitoba Historical Society page for all of Melville’s buildings.

The stately, two storey red brick and concrete Linwood School resembles the size andLINWOOD22scan0001 shape of British Board schools but with a more horizontal emphasis. A large school, it has 20 classrooms set on a tall foundation allowing adequate basement usage. The bricks, laid in running bond, have developed a beautiful patina that changes colour: in shadow, it is deep wine-red; in sun, it turns almost chestnut. Seven belt courses of contrasting limestone surround the building from cornice to foundation complimenting the school’s seven bays. Ribbed pilasters are used to great effect on all elevations.

LINWOOD SCHOOLThe formal front entrance (left) has wide stairs leading toward double doors and sidelights under a low arch with decorative stone keystone and label. Above that, a limestone ledge and brackets sustain three narrow windows and more elaborate limestone work is crowned with the school’s name and datestone.

The school’s fenestration, over 150 windows, adds lightness and openness to the exterior. All windows have limestone lintels and sills.

At the back of the completely symmetrical school is a pair of entrances (below). Grandly carved in limestone over one door is “BOYS”, over the other “GIRLS”. Thought this conjures all manner of questions, the reason was simply logistical: boys and girls lockers were most easily accessible through the separate doors.

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Inside, the hallways are wide and bright with pilasters and beautifully restored oak throughout. The wainscoting and trim around all the blackboards is oak. The large marble sections at the entrances have recently been cleaned and refurbished. Original interior glass is etched with decorative floral designs. On the lower level, there is a large assembly room with built-in stage original to the building.

Classrooms have high ceilings and five large windows making them bright and airy. The linwoodschool1 rearpressed tin ceilings are gone; however, the cast iron railings with oak banisters remain.

From its opening in 1914, the school held elementary classes on the main floor and high school classes above. When St. James Collegiate opened in the early 1950s, the higher grades moved there.

An annex was added on the north side in 1953 and the gym in the early 60s. Though both are brick, their one-level utilitarian style is dwarfed by the mass and scale of Melville’s creation. Above is a view of the symmetrical rear elevation.

The school proudly displays an Honour Roll of former students who died in both World Wars, a venerable and appropriate tribute found in many Winnipeg schools.

In 2013 Linwood School celebrated its 100th anniversary with student reunions and nostalgic events. Watch a four minute video created for Linwood’s centenary.

There has long been a connection between Linwood School and the St James Horticultural Society. The Society has used the school for monthly meetings and flower shows since 1914.

Administered by the St James-Assiniboia School Division, today Linwood School educates 197 children (2012) from Kindergarten to Grade 5. The middle class neighbourhood around the school has been stable for so long that third and fourth generations of the same families are now attending Linwood. The school is so integrated into the community it has over 100 volunteers every year. With its stately and solid appearance, this fine old building grandly reflects the stability of the area it serves.

 PROFILE

Linwood School

Built 1913

Additions 1953, ca 1961

Materials: red brick, limestone, concrete

Style: Georgian Revival, Romanesque Revival two-storey

Architect: Alexander Melville

Current assessed value: $2,217,000

Acreage: 4.2 acres

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January 16, 2015 · 6:30 pm