Monthly Archives: July 2011

Firebugs in Winnipeg Busted On Camera

Reid Dickie 

I live under a canopy of majestic, mature American elm trees in one of Winnipeg’s many old middle-class neighbourhoods. I call it “the forest” – peaceful but ever-changing. Lately my peace has been shaken by firebugs in the ‘hood. At least twenty fires have been intentionally set over the last three months within about a nine block radius of my house. They range from pizza boxes in recycling bins to garbage fires to garages, vehicles and whole houses going up in flames. I suppose in an effort not to panic everyone but coming off sounding dumb and out-of-it, the Winnipeg Fire Department isn’t even admitting it could be arson. Nor does our city councillor, Jenny Gerbasi.  This inflames many of us in the neighbourhood. We’re adults. Tell us the truth! We can handle it! Do you want us to start defending our alleys and properties with baseball bats at night? I have heard of neighbours doing just that!

This creepy video was taken by the security cameras at a home in my neighbourhood between 8:35 and 8:46 in the evening on July 27. I don’t know where the specific house is. This is new on YouTube. It shows the arsonists lighting a fire! Since it’s eleven minutes long, I’ll give you the highlights timewise. At :55 two boys appear to be playing in the alley. They are the arsonists. They disappear  and reappear. At 3:13 in lower right frame, the firestarter walks into yard carrying jerry can. Thereafter the accomplice acts as lookout, at 4:29 hiding when a car comes down the alley. At 4:55 the accomplice walks down the alley, looking back. At 6:13 firestarter runs in opposite direction carrying jerry can. At 6:34 firestarter casually walks by and down the alley, no jerry can. Note the same boxy black runners with white stripe from early shots. By 10:35 neighbours are reacting to hearing the fire engines. As I write this, the video has less than two dozen hits. I hope at least one of them is from the Winnipeg Fire Department. (Update: Sunday, July 31: Wpg. Police Services arson task force is aware of the video.) With today’s face recognition technology, these two should already be behind bars!

Instead, I sit on my porch swing in the evening, a little dread edging in as the twilight deepens. Most of the arson has been between midnight and 4 a.m. – our nervous hours these days. The hair on the back of neck prickles when I hear sirens approach “the forest” and I sleep with my bedroom window open, hoping to smell the smoke before the house goes up if my garage is hit. In the still of a summer long weekend Saturday night, right now, at nine o’clock, I hear sirens.

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Filed under Accommodations, Life and Life Only, Oh Dear, Winnipeg

Marshall McLuhan’s Laws of Media

A.   Any major artifact enhances or accelerates a
certain process or thing.

      What does it enhance?

B.   Any major artifact renders obsolete another
process or thing.

      What does it make obsolete?

C.   Any major artifact retrieves some process or
thing that was once obsolete (from
cliché to archetype).

      What does it retrieve?

D.   Any major artifact, when pushed to the
limits of its potential, flips into
something entirely new.

      What does it reverse or flip into?

 Samples of McLuhan’s Laws of Media 

1.   Cable TV
A.  Amplifies quality and diversity of signal pickup.
B.  Obsolesces diffusion broadcasting.
C.  Retrieves early transmission broadcast pattern of point-to-point
(ship to shore).
D. Reversal is flip to home broadcasting.

2.  Housing
A.  Private enclosed visual space (three little pigs).
B.  Cave, tent, wigwam, dome.
C.  Wagon trains, covered wagon (pioneers), mobile home clusters.
D.  High-rise corporate.

3.  Elevator
A.  For mines, enhanced depth –  real low-down.
B.  Steps, ladders – gravity, that  is, is levity.
C.  Retrieves hidden treasures,  retrieves hierarchy!
D.  Flips into high-rise – new  egalitarianism of the elevator.

4.  Clothing
A.  Private energy, clothing as  weaponry.
B.  Climate, clothing as thermal  control.
C.  Mask, trophy, corporate energy.
D.  Conventional attire.

5.  Number
A.  Plurality – quantity, for example, possessions.
B.  Notches, symbols, tallies.
C.  Math, algebra, zero, blank.
D.  Profile of crowd – pattern recognition.

6.  Steamboat
A.  Opens sea of hardware.
B.  The wood sail – uncertainty, exploration.
C.  Creates tourism – programmed  pilgrims.
D.  Centralism via sea power (vs. old decentralization of sea power).

7.  Railway
A.  Tonnage hardware – horizontal speed.
B.  Country life.
C.  Frontier.
D.  Vertical organization chart; hierarchy – robber barons.

8.  Copernican Revolution
A.  Enhances role of sun (central).
B.  Pushes aside the crystalline spheres.
C.  Retrieves Aristarchus. (Greek astronomer of 3rd century BC, first to conclude
earth moves around sun and to state causes of day and night and change of
seasons.)
D.  Flips into relativity – centers everywhere (decentral) and margins nowhere.

9.  Xerox
A.  Speedup of printing process.
B.  Obsolesces assembly-line book.
C.  Retrieves the oral tradition, the committee (the happening).
D.  Reversal is “everybody a publisher.”

10.  Microphone – P.A. system
A.  Amplifies individual speech and rhythm.
B.  Obsolesces the big band, Latin Mass, grand opera.
C.  Retrieves group participation.
D.  Flips from private to corporate sound-bubble.

11.  Money
A.   Transactions.
B.   Barter.
C.   Potlatch (conspicuous consumption).
D.   Credit.

12.  The Wheel
A.   Locomotion.

B.   Sled, roller, etc.
C.   Roads as river – moving sidewalk – skis, snowmobiles, dune buggy, Skidoo, tank.
D.  Airplane via bicycle.

13.  Printing
A.  Amplification of private, individual handicraft via mechanization.
B.  Oral tradition, also handicrafts and guilds.
C.  Retrieves antiquity, for example, the first Copernican revolution via Pythagoras.
D.  Flips from private writing to corporate consumption, into the big mechanizedenvironment (reading public and worker) of the second Copernican revolution, and the interiorization of the external world via Kantian revolt against Hume, and flip into Romanticism and  subjectivism.

14.  Instant reply
A.   Instant replay of experience = cliché. Amplifies cognitive awareness.
B.   Obsolesces the representational and chronological.
C.   Retrieves “meaning”.
D.   Flips from individual experience to pattern recognition – archetype.

15.  Satellite
A.   Enlarges the planet.
B.   Obsolesces nature.
C.   Retrieves ecology.
D.   Reversal – nature is art form. Retrieves globe as theatre, population goes from spectator to actor.

16. Electric media
A.   Amplification of scope of simultaneity and service environment as information.
B.   Obsolesces the visual, connected, logical.
C.   Retrieves the subliminal-audile-tactile-dialogue.
D.  Etherealization – the sender is sent.

Marshall McLuhan Steels His Gaze by Tapioca Hot Tub

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Happy Birthday Linda Tooley

I usually list a number of quotes the birthday honouree said. Today, because it’s my love’s 63rd birthday, there is just one Linda quote I want to share with you. I heard it thousands of times during our decades together. It is, “I love you, Reid.” Love you too my Beauty.

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Hebron School – 1 Room 8 Grades 30 Pupils 1 Teacher

Reid Dickie

HEBRON SCHOOL

Part 3 of 3

Though I was home schooled early by my teacher mother, my formal education began in Hebron School, a one-room schoolhouse. This sounds like a pioneer situation but it was actually the 1950s. The area south of Brandon had plenty of young farm families at the time. Dad and Mom along with several neighbours with school-aged children petitioned the provincial education department to reopen Hebron School. With the baby boom in full bloom, the province agreed with the local wisdom of using an old one-room school to help educate the population surge. The school reopened in 1955, the year I attended Grade One. Hebron School sat at the intersection of two gravel grid roads, three miles from Hayfield, one west, one south, one west.

Hebron School as recorded in A Study of Public School Buildings in Manitoba (1994) by David Butterfield for the Historic Resources Branch of Manitoba Culture Heritage and Citizenship (as the department was known then)

Between 1903 and 1918, the building of one-room schools flourished all over Manitoba. About 400 new schools were built over that 15-year span bringing the total number of one-rooms in Manitoba to 1,400. Built about 1910, Hebron School was a traditional one-room country schoolhouse, wood frame with a pyramid roof and a low dormer above the front entrance. The doorway sported a small porch with modest Classical Revival stylings in the form of a pediment supported by columns. Almost square with a small cloakroom at the entrance and a little office for the teacher on the west side, the rest was the classroom with blackboards around two sides and a row of large windows facing east. A flagpole flew the Union Jack. The school’s amenities included a small stable out back where you could tie up your pony or mule for the day while you went to school, and a manual pump for water. In the spring and fall, I rode my little two-wheel bicycle to school.

About 30 pupils demanded the attention and wisdom of Miss Bernice McRae, a young local woman fresh out of Normal School. During the school day, Miss McRae moved from the large Grade One row to the much shorter Grade Eight row, giving each her own special attention, their lessons and the direction their attentions needed to go. I learned everyone’s lessons in one year. It was impossible not to, a bright, curious child getting eight years of knowledge at once! It was school immersion. I attended Hebron until the middle of Grade Three.

Every year the School held a Christmas pageant that disrupted the room completely because the stage, built on wooden trestles, took up a third of the classroom. The show consisted of the familiar songs, drills, costumes, the usual Christmas trappings all cute as the dickens when done by little kids, your little kids! I “sang” and “acted” in the nativity play, usually as a shepherd.

Hebron School had a basement, which meant it had a furnace that kept it relatively warm most of the winter. On the coldest days, we lit an extra stove on the classroom.

When Miss MacRae noticed black clouds streaked with lightning building in, she’d herd us all into the cement basement of the building to wait out the storm in safety. I recall the sound of the daily attendance binder she kept as she snapped it shut after taking attendance as we entered the basement. I suppose she brought it to account for her small brood of charges should we be hurled into oblivion or taken to heaven by a twister. 

My Grade One picture from Hebron School 1955

Like Hayfield, Hebron School no longer exists. Sold and moved off the original site in the 1990s, its corner of the world has turned into cropland. Often unused schools became granaries, shops or sheds but I’m not sure of the eventual fate of Hebron School. A stone with a commemorative plaque marks the spot where the school stood.

Though I excelled in terms of the requirements of Miss MacRae and Hebron School, and despite school immersion, in Shoal Lake Grade Three, I was behind. I couldn’t multiple or divide for my level. Before and during Christmas, while I recuperated from an accident, Mom taught me math at the kitchen table. Dad would come home from work and we’d report how the multiplication was going, complete with demonstrations. “Six times nine,” Dad would say and I would spout out the answer. I caught up.

In addition to the plaqued rock, there is one other reminder of Hebron. Hebron Road, a good gravel road, runs off Hwy 2 east of Souris and goes right by the former school site.

 

Find more stories about Manitoba schools on my Schools page.

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Filed under 1950s, Family, Ghost Towns, Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions

My Memories of a Ghost Town

Reid Dickie

Part 2 of 3

HAYFIELD, MANITOBA

This article about Hayfield along with a store picture was supplied to the Souris and Glenwood Municipality history book, published in 2006.

    I may be the last person alive who ever lived in Hayfield, Manitoba.

    My parents (Bruce and Helen Dickie) and I moved from Margaret, Manitoba in 1952 when they purchased the Red and White store in Hayfield. I was three years old. Dad bought grain in Margaret for Pool Elevators after he returned from the war and wanted a new experience.

   Hayfield provides my earliest firm memories. The country general store my parents bought was a huge two-story rectangular building with shed-roof wings, slat siding and Red and White Store emblazoned across the front. We bought the buildings, not the name, from Mrs. Canning after Mr. Canning passed away. Thereafter it became Dickie’s General Store though the white with red trim remained. As you came over the rise traveling west on Hayfield Road, the store, blazing white in the bright sun, stood against a rolling landscape of crop and fallow making it impossible to miss.

Front view of Dickie’s General Store in Hayfield. Note the handpump-style gas bowser. The child in the picture is me.

    The store, which faced east, had a flat roof and façade with a central entrance and sidelights bracketed by two large multi-paned display windows. The sidelights sported large Coca-Cola decals. On the façade a pair of narrow rectangular windows opened into the second floor. The wing on the south housed vehicles, the one on the north a storage area with its own entrance. A windbreak of trees to the north and west of the store helped protect it from inclement weather.

    Don’t mistake Hayfield for a town or even a village. It was mostly just a store. Besides my parents and me, just two others resided in Hayfield: the hired man, Lawrence Murphy who rented a room from us and an older man named Dave Rogers who lived in the only remaining house in Hayfield. More cats and dogs than people lived in Hayfield.

   On the main floor, our store sold groceries, dry goods, house wares and a few farm supplies. A soft drink cooler – the kind with a tank of cold moving water holding drinks like Kik Cola, Wynola, cream soda and a myriad of Stubby flavours – stood next to the front door. Customers came in from the summer heat, opened the large lid of the cooler and either poured over the vast variety of drinks or reached right for their brand, likely Cokes all clustered together. I accumulated a huge bottle cap collection from the sticky catch bin of the cooler.

    At the rear of the store, a post office offered the services of the Royal Mail. Mom was the postmistress and Dad delivered the mail to the local farms. In winter, he drove a horse and cutter, in summer he used a half-ton. The post office was the only place off limits to me, federal property and all – there and Lawrence Murphy’s room upstairs in the corner, personal property and all.

    Oiled wooden planks, likely original to the place, covered the floor of the store. I recall the slightly chemical smell of the crumbly green stuff we put on the floor before we swept it. In front of the store in the parking lot was an Esso gas bowser, the kind with the glass tank overhead into which you hand-pumped with a handle the required number of gallons then gravity pulled it into the tank.

   We lived at the back and above the store. Behind the store were our kitchen, family room and mudroom. A crude summer room led off the kitchen. Our bedrooms were upstairs, my parents in the front corner, Lawrence’s in the opposite back corner, mine along side Mom and Dad’s. These bedrooms all opened into a huge living room with linoleum floor and four wood frame windows across the south side We never had much in the way of furniture up there (our financial situation was modest at best) so I rode my tricycle around and around in the bright airy empty room.

    In one upstairs corner down a short hallway, a dusty storage room housed an enchanting assortment of things from the store’s past. A moveable type printing press, in pieces but with the type open and available to my little fingers sat next to store displays for products that hadn’t been made in decades and a few personal effects of families who lived there before us. I’m not sure why but my parents completely ignored this room and its contents. It became my secret place.

    The mysterious and intriguing thing that turned the storage room into a secret place was not left behind by a person. On the sill of a west window, I found the perfectly preserved skeleton of a mouse, bleached white by the sun. It provided my first exposure to death encountered suddenly in an unexpected place. I remember how the sheer brightness of the tiny bones reached out and grasped my attention, how I would stand and stare at the glowing white structure, arranged like jewelry on the grey wooden ledge, the sun pointing slanty fingers through the slowly moving dust.  My young imagination strained to picture those frail dry bones supporting a tiny body in a soft fur coat, tail sweeping back and forth, warm life pulsing inside. Over the years, I watched these fragile bones turn to a soft white powder.

This promotional item from Dickie’s General Store is a small first aid kit in a plastic box containing an antiseptic solution, cotton absorbent, a spool of tape and basic first aid instructions.

      By the time we arrived in Hayfield, only a short section of the raised grade across the prairie remained to remind you that railway tracks once ran through here. At some point Hayfield had at least one elevator but all that remained of it was a metal grain bin set deep into the ground, its shiny slanted metal sides gaping and open to the sky, a great danger to anything that fell into it. It usually held enough water in the bottom of the hopper to drown a child, a constant worry to my parents. I recall Mom’s frequent warnings not to go near the hopper. It was the most dangerous thing I ever encountered in Hayfield.

   North of the wooden store, two small sheds and a barn, all with gable ends, sat next to a corral. The last building in the row, a big wooden hall, provided me with endless hours of amusement. (This was formerly the Hayfield church.) The hall consisted of a large room with rectangular windows along both sides and an open raised stage at one end. Used for storing lumber, the place was full of planks in piles. I found some old drums left behind by a band that made music there at some previous time. The skins were broken but I can recall standing on the stage all alone banging on the drums with a stick singing at the top of my lungs to my captive audience of old planks.

   Being an only child in a rural setting without nearby children, I became a self-amusing kid, my performances to old lumber an example. I roamed the area with our black lab, Jet. Mom could always tell my whereabouts because she’d see Jet’s black tail above the tall grass or crop and know her son was safe. 

   left: Bruce and Reid at front door of Dickie’s General Store in Hayfield, 1955  below: Mom in front of store 1955

    Cats abounded in Hayfield. I recall one rainy day racing back and forth from barn to house excitedly reporting every new kitten our cat Freckles produced. A few barn cats tried to keep the mouse population under control.

     Southwest of the store, a dilapidated wooden fence encircled a space for an ice rink in winter, another hint of Hayfield’s past. Unused by the time we arrived, Dad would cover a small section of the rink with water, clean off a smooth patch with a rusty old ice scraper and let me skate. I learned to skate on this bumpy ice by pushing a small kitchen chair ahead of me.

     In summer, wild windstorms swept in from the northwest or, more scarily, from the east. Dust devils as big as funnel clouds came swirling across the black summer fallow, lifting cones of dry dust into the heat. The wind would pop out a pane of old glass in the upper floor of the store, sweep through the place looking for egress, punch out a window in the back room downstairs and continue its desperate journey across the prairie. I have jumbled, frightening recollections of the wind and thunder pounding outside while we frantically held pillows to the windows on the storm side of the house. On more than one occasion, the weather became our enemy, vulnerable as we were out there.

    Dickie’s General Store would be the last store in the old building. Newly mobile, people found Brandon nearby, alluring and centralized. Our country store was obsolete. In the fall of 1957, we held an auction sale liquidating the stock. Dad found a job running a Texaco consignee business delivering bulk gas and fuel oil to service stations, farms and homes in and around Shoal Lake, Manitoba out on Highway 16. He moved there first and we followed a month or two later. I don’t know the arrangement but Lawrence Murphy stayed on as caretaker of the Hayfield buildings. He may have run the post office for a few more years after we left. Later Lawrence lived in Souris.

The store and all the remaining buildings in Hayfield came to a sad but useful end in the 1990s when firefighters in training from Brandon and Souris used them for practice. They set the buildings on fire then put them out, set them on fire then put them out, and so on until they were gone. It brought a tear to Dad’s eye when I told him the details of Hayfield’s demise but we agreed the cause was worthy and a fitting finale.

Helen Dickie passed away in 1993, Bruce in 2001. They lie side-by-side in Shoal Lake Cemetery. I make a living as a freelance writer, working out of Winnipeg although since my wife Linda passed away, I am trying to retire. My areas of interest include urban and rural architecture, history, heritage issues, music and spirituality.

My years in Hayfield, ages three to eight, were formative in my life and in the world. Humanity emerged out of the darkness of a great war into a time of sunny optimism when hope invaded our hearts and souls. The future glowed with promise and prosperity. Somehow, that sense of optimism filtered through to our little family and gave us the strength we needed to move and survive in a new town.

Though I consider Shoal Lake my hometown, Hayfield, Hebron School and the Brandon Hills left indelible impressions. That was where the mysteries of life and death revealed themselves to me in obvious and subtle ways, where I learned lessons that are still useful and relevant to me every day. Hayfield is gone but I expect its lessons will last a lifetime.

A bluff of trees in a cow pasture and the grade of the lane suggest Hayfield but its only a suggestion against the big prairie sky.

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Filed under 1950s, Family, Ghost Towns, Linda, Manitoba Heritage, Prairie People

Hayfield – A Manitoba Ghost Town

Reid Dickie

   

Part 1 of 3

Hayfield History

     Hayfield, Manitoba no longer exists. It’s gone, expunged, vanished. Located 10 miles south of Brandon on Highway #10 and 4 miles west on Hayfield Road, Hayfield sat at the western edge of the Brandon Hills just as the hills begin their final smoothing into farmland. Hayfield was west of the enormous broadcasting tower near the eastern edge of the Rural Municipality of Glenwood.

    An article in a September 1906 issue of the Souris Plaindealer stated, “Hayfield is to be the name of the new town on the Brandon Saskatchewan and Hudson Bay Railway, northwest of Carroll. A. Wilson will be the pioneer merchant of the future city, having decided to establish a branch store this fall.” Despite the best efforts of all the storekeepers and area residents, the City of Hayfield was not to be.

An early picture of Hayfield with the store on left, then barn and church. The railway station is obscured by smoke from the locomotive but the water tower is visible behind the train. The elevator was on the left out of the picture.

   The original store was built on the future site of Hayfield even before the railroad tracks were laid. In 1906, A. Wilson and his sons, Guy and Red, built the two-storey wood frame store. With the arrival of the Great Northern Railroad (the subsequent name of the BS & HB Railway), Hayfield began to grow. The store, which included a post office, did a thriving business.

    Over the years, Hayfield General Store became an important meeting place for the community. With the store open from morning til night, neighbours visited while shopping, discussing issues of the day. Besides groceries, hardware and dry goods, you could have a sundae in its ice cream parlour. My father used to call the men who sometimes gathered at the store in the evenings the Hot Stove League, no doubt due to their vast wisdom and willingness to share it.

    The Great Northern Railroad built a station at Hayfield in 1907. The busiest place in the community after the general store, the railroad station served residents and visitors for 22 years before being relocated to the place known as “The Diamond,” three miles west of Carroll. This was where the Canadian Pacific and Great Northern Railroads’ tracks crossed. Here it was known as Griffin Station and continued to operate until 1933.

   Station agents at Hayfield over the years included Bill Lauterwasser, Mr. Henderson, Glen Carter, Gordon Maxwell, Mr. Lenarz and Bill Oty. Hayfield was one of the water stops for steam locomotives. A water tower was built north of the station and water was piped in from a spring located a mile to the north. GNR built two residences at Hayfield for company section men and their families.

Bustling Hayfield Railway Station in 1908 alive with prim and proper children, ladies in picture hats and gents in bowlers.

     The McCabe Grain Company began construction of their Hayfield elevator in the fall of 1906 but a severe winter delayed completion until the spring of 1907. The company placed railcars on the siding in the fall of 1906 so farmers could deliver their grain but it didn’t move until the following spring.

     The McCabe Grain Company supplied a residence for its Hayfield elevator agents. That house was later moved to Carroll then to east of Log Cabin as a private residence for the Flickwert family. The elevator continued serving the area until the railroad ceased to operate. McCabe closed the elevator in 1935 and tore it down the following year. Some of the material was used to build the Newstead Elevator, which operated until 1982 and was demolished in 1986.

   Some of the agents who ran the McCabe Company elevator in Hayfield were Charles Davidson, Bill Cameron, Bill Rathwell, Bill Porteous, Sweeney Bergeson, Bob Anderson and Curly Law.

    Baptists built Hayfield’s first church in 1910. The building included a baptism immersion tank and all the church furnishings. However, due to lack of Baptists, it became a Union Church in 1912 and served all denominations until 1925. Thereafter, the building became Hayfield Community Hall operated by a board of trustees consisting of Aaron Johnson, W. E. Lawson and William Cameron. The hall was used mainly for whist drives and dances. In 1957, the year the Dickie’s closed the store for good and left Hayfield, the hall building was sold by tender to Russell Cunningham who moved it to his farm.

   In 1929, Hayfield’s new rink opened. Surrounded by an 8-foot fence with a small opening on the east side for spectators, the rink was situated southwest of the store. A small shed accommodated skate changing. For many years, the rink was flooded by water tanked in from a spring north of Hayfield. Ron Sopp witched a well in 1940 just south of the store and thereafter, the well supplied rink water. A gas engine ran a lighting system for night skating and hockey games. Saturdays were a popular skating day. Sometimes hockey players spent the whole afternoon clearing the snow off the rink for a night game. Teams from Kemnay, Brandon, Beresford, Carroll, Roseland, Brandon Hills, Little Souris and Souris played hockey in Hayfield.

    The original builder and owner of Hayfield Store, A. Wilson, sold the business to another man named Wilson – J. B. Wilson who also owned Simmington’s Store in Brandon. J. B. hired Robert Scott to run the store. Scott eventually bought the store and ran it on his own for five years. The next owners were the E. C. Drury family who sold out to yet another Wilson – Mr. & Mrs. Vic Wilson who were proprietors longer than any other owners.

    Vic Wilson had an Imperial Oil dealership and sold International Harvester parts. Vic started the first mail delivery service for the Hayfield district in 1915, developing two routes. Mail was delivered using teams of horses. Wilson constructed a barn just north of the store to house the teams. The first mail carrier was T. Upton who was paid $600 a year for his services, which include four horses. Going the extra mile for customer service, on mail delivery days, area residents could phone the store with their grocery orders and have them delivered with their mail. Vic installed the hand-pumped gas bowser in front of the store.

   Other mail carriers over the decades were Vic Wilson, E. Lawson, W. Turner, Frank Beckett, Donald McCollum, Harold Rogers, Jack Davis, Alf Lovatt, Morley Lovatt, Bob Lovatt, Harold Brown, E. Canning, Wilmot McComb, Bruce Dickie and Lawrence Murphy.

    In the 1940s, the Wilsons sold the Hayfield store to Steve Kowilchuk who sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Ermine Canning in 1946. After Mr. Canning died, his widow sold the store to Bruce and Helen Dickie in 1952. Our family was the last to operate a store in Hayfield. In 1957, we held an auction sale to liquidate the stock and sold the building to Lawrence Murphy who continued to operate the post office and mail routes until January 8, 1968. The store had operated continuously for 51 years.

   Lawrence Murphy sold the property to Alice Magel and her son Mike in 1982. They occupied the place for a few years but by 1991 the building was vacant, its story almost over.

Hayfield as it looked in the early 1990s, just before it disappeared.

    The store and the barn in Hayfield came to a sad but useful end in the 1990s when firefighters-in-training from Brandon and Souris used them for practice. They set the buildings on fire then put them out, set them on fire then put them out and so on until they were gone.

    All that remains of Hayfield today is a small bluff, a little patch of gravel and the elevation for the ¼-mile lane overgrown with grass, all surrounded by fields and pasture. The name remains in Hayfield Road as the sign on Highway #10 states. Once a home to hopes and dreams and a popular oasis for locals and travelers – it existed for almost 90 years – Hayfield has now vanished into memory.

All that’s left to remind you of Hayfield

You can find my boyhood memories of living in Hayfield here and my experience attending a one-room schoolhouse here.

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Filed under 1950s, Family, Ghost Towns, Life and Life Only, Manitoba Heritage, Prairie People

Happy Birthday Marshall McLuhan

Henry Gibson, poet from Laugh-In, wrote eloquently and succinctly about one of Canada’s greatest thinkers. His poem goes: “Marshall McLuhan, what are you doin’?” which summed up most of the world’s reaction to McLuhan’s thoughts. Here are a few random ideas from McLuhan, born one hundred years ago today: “The printing press, the computer, and television are not simply machines which convey information. They are metaphors through which we conceptualize reality in one way or another. They will classify the world for us, sequence it, frame it, enlarge it, reduce it, argue a case for what it is like. Through these media metaphors, we do not see the world as it is. We see it as our coding systems are. Such is the power of the form of information.” “A commercial society whose members are essentially ascetic and indifferent in social ritual has to be provided with blueprints and specifications for evoking the right tone for every occasion.”  “The modern Little Red Riding Hood, reared on singing commercials, has no objection to being eaten by the wolf. Advertising is an environmental striptease for a world of abundance.” “Diaper backward spells repaid. Think about it.” “The more the data banks record about each one of us, the less we exist.” “Affluence creates poverty.” “Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favor of his image, because the image will be much more powerful than he could ever be.” “Television brought the brutality of war into the comfort of the living room. Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America – not on the battlefields of Vietnam.” “All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” “An administrator in a bureaucratic world is a man who can feel big by merging his non-entity in an abstraction. A real person in touch with real things inspires terror in him.” Marshall McLuhan was a future attractor,  a genius whose mind extended far beyond his time and, as a philosophical oracle, was only able to speak the truth. After his death, McLuhan’s influence waned, more accurately it was submerged from the public mind and usurped by corporations who twisted his truth to manipulate the masses for profit. We are immersed in an invisible environment which continuously exploits every aspect of our humanity. McLuhan was the first to point this out.

Marshall McLuhan was born in Edmonton but moved to Winnipeg when he was four years old. The McLuhan family lived at this house, 507 Gertrude Avenue in Winnipeg. McLuhan attended Gladstone School, Earl Grey School, Kelvin Technical School and the University of Manitoba. Not dead/Dead since December 31, 1980. One final thought from the man who truly knew what the human mind is for, “Art is anything you can get away with.”

     

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Filed under 1960s, Ancient Wisdom, Momentous Day, Old Souls, Winnipeg

Big Beaver, Saskatchewan

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Reid Dickie

As the sign says, there actually is a place called Big Beaver, Saskatchewan, located on the Missouri Coteau at the western end of the Big Muddy Badlands. The 2006 census said there were 20 people living in Big Beaver, maybe a couple fewer today. In its heyday – the 1920s – Big Beaver boasted 300 people, a six-room schoolhouse and four grain elevators, including, in 1925, the biggest inland grain terminal in the British Empire.

Today Aust’s Store is the hamlet’s only business. A classic country general store – their motto is “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it” – Aust’s offers the full gamut of merchandise. Groceries, farm supplies, stationery, clothing, garden supplies and a myriad of stuff you need fill three large joined wooden boxes. Each room has its own distinctive odour, rich and rural. There is even a “coffee shop” with classic advertising and a few locals who love to jaw with strangers. Have a cool drink, relax and chat in Aust’s. Then have a boo in the Big Beaver Museum and Nature Centre which offers sandstone concretions, native hammers, hatchets and pemmican stones along with a collection of stuffed local critters. They have a very good softbound book with area history that is worth buying at about $14. Big Beaver has a small campground, a rodeo every July and is right in the heart of the Saskatchewan Holyland. This is my video panorama of downtown Big Beaver.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Local History, Prairie People, PRAIRIES, Roadside Attractions, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan

Yurting at Spruce Woods Park

Reid Dickie 

Watch my 3:17 video tour of Yurt #4.

I spent Thursday and Friday of last week at Spruce Woods Park, staying in one of 13 yurts they rent out to not-quite-campers. It was a quiet stay. The park has been ravaged by the flooding Assiniboine River since break-up this spring and most of its amenities are inaccessible. There isn’t much to do except enjoy the outdoors and catch up on cloud watching.

Kiche Manitou campground is a shadow of its former self due to this year’s flooding. Only the upper campground and yurts are in use this summer with a makeshift camp office set up to process visitors. The lower campground has been under water for months. Just two other yurts were in use on Thursday and just five on Friday. It’s been a slow year, park staff told me. The detour map from the provincial parks website was easy to follow to the campground on good gravel roads. To cut down on noise, motorized vehicles are prohibited from getting close to the yurts. To haul your camping stuff from car to tent, the park provides good quality red metal wagons. Here’s a shot of my wagon.

Every yurt is electrified with a nice porch – mine faced northwest – fire pit, picnic table and chopping area.

The yurts sleep five and, although the days were very hot – both about 30 degrees C – the yurt has a domed ceiling that opens to allow hot air out. The place cooled quickly and adequately at dusk resulting in pleasant sleeps both nights.

I wasn’t completely alone for the two days. A little red squirrel adopted me and defended our territory against other squirrels, chipmunks and even a crow. I named it Tenacious. I think it was my constant supply of Spanish peanuts that ensured the critter’s loyalty. Here’s a shot of Tenacious.

Friday began with an intense thunderstorm at dawn. Heavy rains and a wild light show resulted but I stayed cozy and dry in the yurt. The rest of Friday was a perfect prairie summer day, hot and clearing. I caught up on my cloud watching and made this time-lapse video of the afternoon cloudscapes from my porch.

For the third year in a row, there is no entry fee for Manitoba provincial parks though camping fees still apply. In the case of the yurts, the charge is about $54 a night all in. Very economical for a family. If you are interested in a quiet getaway experience this summer, rent a yurt at Spruce Woods. Respite from the weary world, peaceful trees and easy accommodations await you. For information and bookings, the provincial parks website is http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/

Today in Winnipeg the temperature is 34 degrees C or 93 degrees F, add in 63% humidity and it feels like 48 degrees C or 118 degrees F. Thunderstorms are predicted. Our precious prairie summers!!

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Filed under Accommodations, Critters, Flood, Natural Places, Parks, Spirit

Sacred Places Video Update – Big Beaver Buffalo Effigy

Reid Dickie 

On my recent excursion into the Saskatchewan Holyland, I spent most of a morning at the buffalo effigy south of Big Beaver. My visit resulted in this video report on the site and its vistas.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Love, PRAIRIES, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, shaman, shamanism, Spirit

Happy Birthday Hunter S. Thompson

On this very day, in 1937, a sage for the ages, a historian of the highest order arose to document the druggy dissolution of America – Hunter Stockton Thompson. He shall now blather at length: “America… just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.” On Richard Nixon, “The integrity of a hyena and the style of a poison toad.” and “Call on God, but row away from the rocks.” and “If I’d written all the truth I knew for the past ten years,  about 600 people – including me – would be rotting in prison cells from Rio to Seattle today. Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.” and “On some days you just want to beat the living shit out of someone, and then have the cops come and clean them up” and “The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” and “The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.” and “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” and “The person who doesn’t scatter the morning dew will not comb gray hairs.” Not Dead/Dead since February 20, 2005. Thanks Hunter.  Here’s part one of Hunter in The Crazy Never Die.

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Spruce Woods Park Flood – Video Update

Reid Dickie 

I just spent two days in Yurt #4 at Spruce Woods Provincial Park and brought back three video reports of the damage the little park sustained. It’s sad!

The main access road – Hwy #5 – is a broken highway with washouts fifteen feet deep and spanning hundreds of yards. The bridge over the Assiniboine held but serious washouts occurred on both sides of it. The prospects for doing anything other than camping or yurting at the park this year are dim. One park attendant told me there is a slim possibility Spirit Sands may be accessible before the year is out but I’m not counting on it, judging by the condition of the highway, access roads and the continuing high water levels. Although full moon night was clear and warm and would have been perfect for a midnight hike on the sands, alas I was only able to watch the moon rise and listen to the surging river from the porch of my yurt.

My first report shows the Assiniboine’s damaging effect on the park road which leads off Hwy #5 to the lower and upper campgrounds and yurt area. The road is washed out as you can see in this short video report.

The second report shows Hwy #5, closed and barricaded, and the some of the damage it sustained. This is a long shot looking from the south taken on a hot prairie morning. You can see the heat waves rising from the asphalt.

The third report shows in detail the extensive damage and washouts along Hwy #5 near Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park.

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Filed under Accommodations, Flood, Local History, Natural Places, Parks, Prairie People, spirit sands

Continental Divide

Reid Dickie

Continental divides define watersheds and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. The Great Divide, which stretches from Alaska through the Rockies into Mexico, and eventually along the Andes in South America, is the best known continental divide in North America, however, it’s not the only one. This map shows the various divides and their watersheds.

The green line, the Laurentian Divide, defines the watershed for Hudson Bay, meaning all rivers within the region eventually drain into the big northern bay. As you can see this includes all of Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, some of Alberta, northern Ontario and Quebec, and ends up defining the western border of Labrador. Everything south of this line flows into the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. Several sacred places in Saskatchewan are located on the continental divide.

There are few drives I enjoy more than through the hills and gullies of the Missouri Coteau in southern Saskatchewan. The climbs are steep and the valleys deep with lots of blind hills that make you feel like you are flying. The highways generally are poor but passable with little shoulder and weeds window high right next to the road. On a recent journey through the Coteau I stopped on the Laurentian Continental Divide just south of Assiniboia and created this video report that’s less than 2 minutes long.

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Yosemite’s Frazil Ice

Amazing earth phenomenon that occurs in many American parks each spring – frazil ice!

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Along Saskatchewan Roads

Reid Dickie

Visible for miles, this white beacon is, in fact, Weyburn, SK’s original water tower. It stands atop Signal Hill. Learn its history.

A couple of shots of Chapel Grove Cemetery just north of Minton, SK along Hwy #6.

By consulting the weather rock, they know what the weather is like at the Country Boy Motel in Coronach, SK. The motel’s website is completely appropriate, including the flubbed slogan “Your Home from Home”! Another weird motel sleep.

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Toronto Rock & Roll Revival -September 13, 1969

Reid Dickie

A few days after my return to Toronto for my second year of Radio and Television Arts at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now University), the Toronto Rock & Roll Revival occurred in Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto. The open air stadium held about 20,000, the music started at noon, it was a warm sunny day and the line-up commingled an eclectic range of music. In order of appearance the revival offered Flapping, Whisky Howl, Cat Mother & the All-Night Newsboys, Chicago Transit Authority, Screaming Lord Sutch, Tony Joe White, Doug Kershaw, Alice Cooper, Junior Walker & the All-Stars, Bo Diddley, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, John Lennon & the Plastic Ono Band and the Doors.

Tickets hadn’t sold very well until the day of the festival when it was announced that John Lennon would be appearing with a pick-up band. The stadium filled up quickly and updates came every half an hour about the plane carrying Lennon and band. Chicago and Alice Cooper were just starting their careers and all I remember about Alice was something to do with live chickens. I never cared much for Chicago’s music but the rest of the line-up brought musical depth to the day.  The four old boys – Gene, Jerry Lee, Little Richard and Chuck – were full-out rocking with Little Richard stripping down to a pair of wild shorts while assaulting the piano.

One whole section of the bleachers was reserved for bikers because they served an important duty that day. Both Lennon and his band and the Doors were formally escorted into downtown Toronto from the airport by a phalanx of bikers thus earning them their own section in the stands.

Lennon’s pick-up band for the gig was top-notch with Eric Clapton on guitar, Klaus Voorman (who designed the Revolver cover) on bass, Alan White (who’d sat in for ailing Ringo during the Beatles’ Australian tour) on drums with Lennon and Ono on vocals. The resulting set became the album Live Peace in Toronto 1969, not Lennon’s best music but certainly some of his rawest.

This picture by Emil was taken at the festival. The white thing on stage next to Lennon is idiot Ono screeching in a bag, making John look as ridiculous as possible, which was her task from the beginning. D. A. Pennebaker shot a film of the event called Sweet Toronto.

When I started at Ryerson I did concert reviews for the alternative weekly newspaper The Eyeopener. I was usually joined by Emil who was taking photography at Ryerson. Emil and I had never met anyone quite like each other before and we hit it off right away. We were opposites who attracted. He’d never met a hippie country boy with a rural prairie upbringing and I’d never met a sophisticated Greek photographer who came from an enormously wealthy family and always wore crisp white shirts, black slacks, smoked Gitanes and had a cowlick curl that fell over his forehead. Though not one of his best shots, Emil’s grainy picture of John Lennon matches the music of the day.

Lennon ended the set with Give Peace a Chance which the entire audience continued to sing for about 20 minutes after the band had left the stage. It was a beautiful eerie moment filled with possibility and promise. The Doors ended the day coming on stage about 2 a.m. and offered a violent and self-destructive show with Jim Morrison, then overweight with full beard, leaping into the air and coming down on his knees making great cracking sounds. This interview from around the time shows Morrison’s state and gives a bit of background on his interest in shamanism.

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Sacred Places Update – Minton Turtle Effigy July 2011

Reid Dickie

I visited Minton Turtle Effigy on July 3, a hot and breezy day in southern Saskatchewan. The dirt road up to the site had about a foot of water at its lowest point so I opted to walk rather than drive. Donning my rubber boots I slogged through the damp spots to the top of the highest hill around. The grass at the effigy site is tall and thick from the year’s abundant moisture, making the effigy difficult to find for first time visitors. But it drew me in and I felt the welcome warmth and compassion I usually experience when I come here. With my new video camera, I took a panorama of the horizon from the site.

Looking southwest from the turtle effigy, this picture shows Big Muddy Lake, usually a dry bed rimmed with white alkali, fluid and blue on the horizon this year.

The Saskatchewan government has recognized the site by erecting three explanation boards for the place.The archies are still trying to figure out what the heck this thing is!

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Seagull Steals Go Pro

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Sandstorm Over Phoenix – Two Views

REALTIME AERIAL

TIME LAPSE

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The Hip

Last night the greatest rock and roll band Canada has ever produced played a two-hour concert at Shaw Park, where the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team call home. The Tragically Hip were in fine form!

With a solid repertoire to choose from, their set had all the hits and some unexpected tunes like Grace, Too, Music @ Work and Wheat Kings. They dedicated Fiddler’s Green to the cop killed in Toronto last week who was a Hip fan, and Ahead By a Century to Lloyd Axworthy (!) and Winnipeg in general, pointing to the looming frame of the under-construction Museum for Human Rights.

After 25 years in the business (their first EP was released in 1987 followed by 11  albums) The Hip can still rock out, represent Canada to Canadians in a quirky and special way and thoroughly entertain. Gord Downie’s act as the newly unstrung marionette on stage was weird and fun as ever. His prop tonight was a handkerchief.

The band is so familiar with the songs that they can toy around with them, giving new life to the faithful old tunes that often the audience sang along with. A national treasure: The Tragically Hip!

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