Manitobans go to the polls next Tuesday, October 4, to elect a provincial government. After mulling all his options, listening carefully to the campaign slogans and succumbing to the endless fear-mongering, this Typical Manitoba Voter appears to have decided who he’s voting for.
Monthly Archives: September 2011
Two polar bears, high as kites on the first growth of reindeer moss, share a joke.
This is the joke they shared:
Did you hear the one about the hunter who liked to shoot bears from small planes? No? Well, seems there was this hunter who liked to shoot bears from small planes. He was flying over the tundra and spotted me loping across an open area. The plane swooped low, he took aim with his rifle but, at the very last moment, I stood on my rear legs and said right to his face, “You can’t shoot me, I’m a piano.”
In hysterics, both bears roll on the ground until the worth of the joke gets used up.
Personally, I don’t get it but then, I don’t have any reindeer moss, I’m not a polar bear nor have I ever been hunted from a small plane plus I’m not a piano. But I commend those polar bears for still having a sense of humour even though, according to Big Head, they are nearly extinct. Greed thinks we could use a few thousand more species like polar bears, nice critters who will disappear from the world with good humour and a positive attitude. It’s a dream that could come true, as long as we don’t run out of reindeer moss.
Robert Fern Lyons was one of the early settlers in the Carberry area after emigrating west from Ontario in 1879. He purchased one of the first lots when the community of Carberry was established, on which he built a department store which he operated until 1888. Lyons owned 2700 acres of land around Carberry and raised crops and livestock. A Conservative, Lyons was elected to the Manitoba Legislature five times between 1892 and 1914.
What interests me most about Lyons is the house he built near Carberry. Though long abandoned and disintegrating quickly, the crumbling mansion retains enough of the detail to suggest its original magnificence. Located about a km south of Carberry on Highway #5, the house is visible among the overgrown trees from the highway, its brick construction standing out against the prairie fields.
Below is a picture of the side of the Lyons mansion and the additions it had back in its hey day along with the list of early owners. Thanks to Kelly at Carberry Plains Museum.
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 I believe went up the stairway of the house, and picturesque roofline. The former Lyons farm yard still has the wooden barn collapsing into itself and a rusting car parked at the rear of the house. The interior picture shows how far the place has fallen from grace. It’s a shambles.
More pictures in this update.
Click on the pic of R. F. Lyons at the top of this article to explore his house inside and out in a 2:55 video.
This article, minus the Dauphin update, originally appeared in Crossroads This Week in 2004 under the title The Treasure in the Middle of Town. Today it also appears on my blog about my hometown’s history www.shoallakehistory.com
What do Kodak Brownie cameras, bullet trains, Spartan radios and the Central S building in Shoal Lake have in common? The answer: the same person, an innovative American industrial designer named Walter Dorwin Teague, designed them all.
Teague’s most popular camera design for Eastman Kodak was the Bantam Special. Perfection!
From Pendleton, IN Teague worked as an illustrator and commercial artist, notably for Time magazine. A trip to Paris in 1926 exposed him to new ultra-modern designs and materials that captured his imagination. Hired by Texaco to design service stations, Teague employed architectural elements from the Art Deco and Art Moderne schools. The Central S building is a classic example of this style and one of the few remaining in western Canada.
The building, on prime real estate at the intersection of Highways 21 and 42 in the centre of Shoal Lake, was constructed in 1936. It opened for business on July 31 of that year as the Red Indian Filling Station, the brand name used by the Frontenac Oil Company. Formed in 1873, the McColl-Anderson Oil Company in Toronto consisted of a refinery and lubricating oil and grease facility. Around the turn of the century, they shortened the name to McColl Brothers. A merger with Frontenac Oil in 1927 gave the McColl-Frontenac Oil Company Canadian operations from coast to coast. About this time, Texaco began acquiring shares in Frontenac, gaining control of the company in the early 1930s. In 1941, they formally changed the name to Texaco and the brand to Sky Chief and Fire Chief products.
Texaco service stations became a common site along highways all over North America. Unmistakable they had bright white stucco finishes, forest-green stripes and large red three-dimensional stars around the upper area below the roof along with a freestanding signpost bearing the red Texaco star logo on a white disk.
Teague created two designs for Texaco service stations: a small one like the Shoal Lake building, and a larger example with a breezeway supported by angled pillars that covered the pump area. The prominent decorative detail was the large, 3-D red star taken from the Texaco logo and duplicated on the company’s uniforms, prompting the advertising slogan “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.” There were about 10,000 such service stations on the continent by 1950, most of them in one of Teague’s two cookie-cutter styles.
Teague’s industrial projects always represented the dynamic progress of the 20th century, the streamlined machine esthetic suggesting motion and speed, denoted here by the jutting rounded tower bearing the company name. Elements common to Teague’s designs are all evident in the Central S building: flat roof, rounded corners, symmetrical facades and raised signage, both modern and economical at once. Front doors on both sides of a protruding curved entranceway compliment the double service bays. There was another bay entrance on the east side of the building. Inside was a small storefront area, office and storage behind that and the service areas on either side joined by a wide, open backspace. The building, though small, gives the impression of stability and confidence. Yet there is a charming lightness and optimism to the design that appealed to the newly mobile to “Trust Texaco.”
The large version of Teague’s Texaco stations with breezeway.
Owned by Texaco until 1953, the service station was leased to Dean Brothers, Mr. Burns, Roy Garlick, McLean’s, Mr. Kashton, Louis Bart and John Byram. It was bought in 1953 by John Decelle who operated it until 1960. The small furnace room at the back was added on during this time. Roy Garlick ran it for a few years, followed by Doug Susinski, Don Wiburg and Bill Schwaluk. With the absorption of Texaco into Chevron, Bill Stebnicki bought the building in 1987 and it became the Central S convenience store. Today Mickey and Yvonne Shust are the proprietors.
UPDATE: Posted August 11/2012
Nothing says turn up the tunes, point her toward the vanishing point and step on it like an old Texaco filling station!
Previously I have posted about the Art Moderne Texaco filling station in my hometown in western Manitoba and its designer, Walter Teague. I have few old pictures of the place as it appeared back in its heyday as the Texaco gas station in Shoal Lake. Today it still serves relatively the same purpose. The garage and tire repair are gone, replaced with a convenience store called Central S. You can get gas, wash your car and buy a Pepsi, too. Plunked down in the middle of town, it is still the best location in Shoal Lake.
I recently took pictures of how the structure looks these days. Even though it is completely covered in grey vertical cladding, almost every detail from its original design can still be seen on the building. The rounded corners on the building, the roof and entrance, the prominent stepped signage, the symmetrical windows where the garage doors were, the darker trim at the cornice and around the projecting sign, all still visible, all smooth and optimistic, all telling you that the future is bright! Despite the matching grey Manitoba sky beyond, the colour has a warm, an inviting neutrality. I had forgotten that the building isn’t square on the lot. “It’s squee gee,” as Mom would say. It doesn’t parallel the facing street, The Drive, but tilts slightly toward the intersecting Station Road, Shoal Lake’s main drag.
Rarified 21st century mists of Art Moderne still lurk about the old place, passing along pleasing reminders of gentler, less-pre-occupied times to anyone who can slow down and notice them. Take a deep Art Moderne breath, old friend. You’ve earned it.
END OF UPDATE
As a fine example of Art Moderne architecture, the building stands among a dwindling number of such historic places left in Canada. Its geometric form, precise location for striking visual appeal and the renown of its creator conspire to make this a little treasure worthy of preserving.
I’ve known about it for years and finally got around to photographing a twin to Shoal Lake’s service station, this one in Dauphin, MB also designed by Teague. Built in 1936 and formerly Greening’s Garage it now houses a computer business. The sweeping sign with the rounded receding corners prominent at the front, the flat roof, the horizontal lines, and sleek, sensuous curves of the building overall suggest movement and speed to match the modern automobiles. All this is evident in the Texaco picture, the same as the Shoal Lake version.
Today most of the openings have been closed and the place stuccoed but the sign is still the same. Although covered over, the rounded front entrance remains intact and the paint job kept the horizontal stripe along the roofline, two distinctive elements of the style. Originally set back from the street to accommodate gas pumps, without the pumps it still stands out positioned on a street corner. By the way, the company Walter Teague started in 1926 is still going strong today creating innovative and award-winning industrial design.
This is the moon of wayward intermingling. An errant autumn wind blows a regiment of brittle leaves toward me, past me, through me. Each tree is releasing its billions of spent sentinels, this oak, that elm, this maple, that cottonwood, sending away once-securely-held flags to dance on the chaos of the wind.
Orion rises tonight. The hunter returns to his prairie.
Mixed with the brown rustle of the leaves and occasional goose music from high above is the changing voice of the trees. No longer aflutter, agiggle with leaves, now more wind sieves, branches straining out the harmonics to leave skeletons of dark notes hung on stark staffs.
Gone are the chlorophyll days, the thrill of songbirds, the ache of heat and harvest. Now only the spin and sputter of the leaves, crunchy as cereal, a rheologist’s reverie. When trees decide to forfeit their prize leaves, there is no consensus. Each tree decides which breeze will receive its reward. Perhaps it waits for that moment of pure stillness, utter windlessness, and, through sheer force of will, releases a single yellow acrobat that carelessly, delicately, unashamedly glides and chutes to the earth. Each leaf that lands sends a small signal to the sipping roots of the tree beneath.
Some trees prolong the gilded state until their full-sun radiance receives gratitude sufficient to warrant the golden release. In the tickle of two or three small breezes, the tree abandons its saffron robe to stand naked, posing against the blue-grey sky. Lungless now, breathless too, it awaits winter, the snow.
A small miracle: a squirrel, impossibly, finds an unshelled peanut among the welter of leaves. Frozen in suspicious surprise for a moment, the squirrel accepts the miracle, integrates the peanut into its intent and carries off its living treasure to be re-hidden, forgotten until, in the dozy squirm of a warm winter day, the squirrel remembers the exact location of the nut, dreams it onto a map that will unfurl once spring takes off the snow. Hunger will tweak this unfurling. The shell will split, nourishment gained, the dreaming proceeds.
A bouquet of swirling yellow erupts on a gravel road, tracing something indecipherable on the ground then gone. A settling of leaves, a stilled rustle. Clouds of leaves, brittle as butterflies, none the colour of blueberries, sail across the horizon. Stiff winds chase each leaf from the tree and pursue it at an unpredictable pace over unknown ground landing a mile away or further.
Though sharp, serrated, dry and propelled by anxious autumn winds, leaves don’t shear off our heads or lacerate bare skin. Buds and twigs, even playful bits of bark borne on an earnest breeze won’t damage our flesh. Large branches fracture bone; entire falling trees crush us to death regularly. Usually, though, trees do not kill us. They breathe with us, for us. If they die, we die.
Booga booga, it’s Percy Moggey. In 1960 many Manitoba kids checked under the bed every night just in case Percy Moggey was hiding there. Portrayed in the media as a monster who frequently had shoot-outs with police, Percy was the only person to ever escape from Stony Mountain Penitentiary. He spent almost a year on the lam living in the bush near Eriksdale. In 2001, John Warms wrote a book about Percy called Over the Prison Wall. Can the movie be far behind? Today Percy’s log cabin is a tourist attraction located along Moggey Road. Join me in the bush at Percy’s hideout.
Today’s hike on Spirit Sands was perfect: warm, windy and sunny all day. Spruce Woods Park is going through its fall changes with the tamarack needles turning yellow along the highway and the final blaze of poison ivy as the predominant plant on the forest floor, obvious now in its yellow, red and orange stages. Leaves everywhere are in transition. The south wind today tossed the sand around in its own design.
The mighty Avenger and I are just back from welcoming in the fall season with an 800 km loop around Manitoba. The weather is way above normal and sunny, perfect days. On Friday morning I headed north out of Winnipeg up Hwy #6 along the east side of Lake Manitoba, Dauphin my destination for the night. The leaves on the trees in the early part of the journey were just beginning to turn but the further north I got the brighter and more spectacular the display became. My first stop was at Percy Moggey’s cabin north of Eriksdale to do a video report. Percy was one of Manitoba’s most notorious boogeymen. My report is coming soon to a blog near you.
I turned onto Hwy #68, one of the better highways in central Manitoba, and headed towards the Lake Manitoba Narrows. High dykes still protect the areas at and around the Narrows. For the first time this year I stopped at the Thunderbird Nest, just a few kms west of the Narrows, wondering if the peninsula it sits on had been flooded. No flooding was apparent, just a wonderful feeling of happiness which struck me as soon as I stepped out of the car and persisted the whole time I was at Thunderbird Nest. The site was peaceful and calming with unrelenting happiness. It was different from Linda’s Be Happy but just as effective. I felt blissful the whole time I was there. When I returned to the car, suddenly I received the story behind the happiness I felt.
I relay it: Not that long ago her family brought Old Mother, an elder on the nearby nation, to the Thunderbird Nest. She was so excited because she hadn’t been back to it since she was a girl and something very important had happened on that visit. Even though her family had to wheel her in her chair across the rough and rocky trail to the place, Old Mother stayed happy and full of laughter the whole time. As we passed a certain tree, she tied a gift to the branch of a tree, something she had made with her old and gnarled fingers. It was a piece of jute string tied around a stone she found with a striped feather floating at the bottom. When we got to the Thunderbird Nest she held her breath and when she let it out, it was full of laughter. The trees echoed her happiness back to her and birds began to call. She prayed and sang, tears of joy flowing from her old but keen eyes.
She told us why this place was special to her. When she was a girl she received her power animal here: it was flicker, a large woodpecker. They still frequent the bur oak forest in the area. She said the bird loudest in the forest was the flicker. We listened and sure enough a large flicker came flying through the trees and landed on a branch above Old Mother. She smiled and sang a little song to the bird. As they wheeled her back down the trail she said she had never felt more peaceful in her life and was ready to die. Three days later she died with a smile on her face. Old Mother was 93. I thanked Great Spirit for bringing me safely to this place and for the happiness message. I have recounted another experience at Thunderbird Nest here.
Though the quality of Hwy 68 deteriorates somewhat on both sides of the Narrows, mostly it’s smooth with wide shoulders, a pleasure. This time of year though it got a little gruesome with the number of dead garter snakes on the road. They are heading to their underground caves below the frost line for the winter, lots of them on the move. This was especially noticeable west of the Thunderbird Nest. Even writing about it makes me a little sickish, driving it was grim. By the time I got to Ste Rose du Lac, the snakes were much less frequent; skunks were the other unluckiest roadkill.
I stayed at the Super 8 in Dauphin (excellent steam room!) and wined and dined with two lovely and attractive women: my cousin Vonda and our delightful friend, Cheryl. A perfect sunset promised another hot day. After a leisurely breakfast at The Bully (Boulevard Hotel) with Vonda, I drove through Riding Mountain National Park. The north face offered a garish array of fall colours from the red and brown understory through to the lush electric yellow of cottonwoods, poplar and birch all broad stroked against the solid stoic evergreens. The south face was a few days less colourful. Best time to drive through RMNP for the fall colours is likely mid to late this week and next week (Sept. 28 to Oct. 8). Not many leaves falling yet but a frost or two will hasten that, along with a few windy days.
Mountain Road (PR 357) always has majestic Manitoba vistas, today dabbed with autumn hues. The view of the lakebed misted with dust and chaff was breathtaking and the chute to the bottom always a thrill. The harvest is proceeding well with fields of late crops now dotted with combines and trucks. I passed through Neepawa, Tim Horton’s in hand, and went south to Carberry where I did some visual heritage recon and gleaned great shots of two old historic sites near Carberry. I will have full reports on both sites but here is a picture of each.
The hike on Spirit Sands today was perfect at 25 degrees C, sunny, slight breeze I wished was a little more frequent once I got to the dunes and the fulfilling effervescence of Spirit that percolates through me. Boots off, feet bare, the sand is hot today, cool an inch below. At our special place I sit and commune, Linda reaffirms a recent message: “I’ve only been gone a minute, Reid.” Her wonderous experience of eternity and her attempt to tell me what it’s like sends me into new realms of bliss. I laugh and roll on the sand. Linda died 21 months ago.
Since it opened for the first time this year in early August I have visited Spruce Woods Park several times. Sinkholes have appeared by the side of the highway, another aftermath of the flood. Some have sunk due to residual river water and have small fish gasping for oxygen swimming in them. Others appear to be more recent and their water has a slight emerald tinge to it not unlike the punchbowl.
On my return to Winnipeg along Hwy 2, I saw several massive flocks of blackbirds, thousands of birds moving as one across the blue sky. It went on for about a mile with birds arising from the trees along the road to join the throng.
Anything that suddenly rises 116 feet above the prairie gets noticed, every day ever since it was created, by some animal, some person, someone needing direction. That’s why it’s called Pilot Mound – it will safely and surely guide you toward your destination, your quarter section of unforgiving prairie to which you are now inextricably bound and legally committed to render arable, tamed, sane. Pilot Mound holds much more history than I am able to relate here but try here.
Amazingly readreidread.com just surpassed 69,000 hits since December 2010! Thank you!!
I have made a change in the design and content of one of the Pages along the top of my blog. The Page formerly Heritage Bldgs is now MB Heritage. This gives me greater flexibility to offer a broader range of heritage examples. I have added the Little Mountain Cottonwood, Newcomb’s Hollow, Lone Tree, Prairie Dog Central and other video reports to the Page.
About 1880, settlers began arriving in southwestern Manitoba, necessitating this cemetery above Newcomb’s Hollow, south of the actual community of Old Deloraine. Founded in 1881, the community was first called Zulu but citizen demand had it changed to Deloraine when the town was moved to meet the railroad in 1886. This hilltop cemetery is a beautiful place to spend eternity!
The only other remnant of Old Deloraine is the bank vault from the community’s private bank. More about the vault at http://www.youtube.com/watch? feature=player_profilepage&v=9C4iLbUMVSs
Operated by Winnipeg’s Vintage Locomotive Society, the Prairie Dog Central has been offering the experience of an old-fashioned steam train ride since 1970, making it one of the oldest regularly scheduled steam trains in North America. The locomotive was built in 1882 and worked the rails between Fort William (Thunder Bay) and Vancouver for decades. The rest of the rolling stock – the passenger coaches and caboose – was built between 1900 and 1912. On one of its last trips of the year, I caught the PDC taking a Sunday run out to Grosse Isle, MB. Smell the smoke, hear that lonesome whistle blow, feel the soothing rhythm of the tracks and enjoy the Prairie Dog Central. Gone from modern trains, the Prairie Dog Central still sports a caboose.
On my recent travels in southwestern Manitoba I found two lovely examples of mansard roof houses, both have an additional distinctive feature. The first house, located on a residential corner in Boissevain, MB, is built of fieldstones with red brick accents. Each dormer has a small shed roof over it. The little brackets under the eaves have a pleasant appeal.
The other mansard roof house is in Waskada, MB and its construction is of formed cement blocks. This technique was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s and meant each block was made on-site in a press with various textures available for the face of the block. You can see the top row of blocks has a different texture than the rest of the blocks below it. This house has a much larger second floor with more elaborate dormers, each with a little pediment roof and brackets. The steepness of the roof pitch is accentuated by a swoop creating concave corners. This makes it appear as if the second floor is larger than the first giving the place an unusual massing.
Yes, Manitoba has a long list of trees deemed worthy of heritage designation by the Manitoba Forestry Association. One of them is a beautiful old cottonwood that you can see for miles on the edge of Little Mountain Park in northwest Winnipeg.
ω PLANKING ω
Newcomb’s Hollow – the name conjures visions of strange new landscapes presenting unknown challenges to the mere mortals who dare to go there. In a sense, that’s what Newcomb’s Hollow was, a new beginning for thousands of people homesteading on the prairies. From the Land Titles Office, conveniently located in the little hollow where Turtlehead Creek has its ford along the Boundary Commission Trail, over 1.2 million acres of land were titled between 1881 and 1893. The man responsible was a land titles clerk from Winnipeg named George Newcomb who built his home and office in the hollow that now bears his name. New settlers had to register with Newcomb and pay the small fees before moving out to their claim. Sometimes people lined up for miles out of the hollow and waited days to see George. One of the most significant heritage sites in southwestern Manitoba, Newcomb’s Hollow holds and evokes centuries of history and pre-history.
I have just uploaded my 100th video to YouTube, appropriately it is about one of the most unusual and historically significant families to homestead on the Manitoba prairie. In 1882 London merchant Percy Criddle packed up his wife Alice and their four children, and his mistress Elise Vane and their five children, and transported them all across the ocean to a homestead southeast of Brandon. Exceptional and eccentric describes this family. Music, art, sports, astronomy, entomology – the family had wide and varied interests and pursued them all in what is now called Criddle Vane Provincial Park. This picture shows Percy, Alice, Elise and 11 of the brood which eventually totalled 13 children.
At the park, a short easy well-documented walking trail shows you the significant remains of the homestead. I wrote about the Criddle Vane family and homestead in my 2006 book Manitoba Heritage Success Stories, available at libraries all over Manitoba. Though slightly obscure, the homestead is easily accessible, offers lots of information on the site while providing a fascinating glimpse into the lives of these pioneers. Below is a picture of Norman Criddle standing in front of his entomology lab, the first one in western Canada.
Step back in time to pioneer days now and join the Criddle Vane adventures via my video report.
The municipal building for the RM of Pipestone is a beauty! Located on a prominent corner in Reston, MB, it is a rare example of Italianate style used on a public building. The style, popular at the turn of the 20th century, was employed mainly on houses, rarely for civic structures. Built in 1917, Brandon architect William Alexander Elliott designed this elegant, compact two-storey place, which features many Italianate elements including low-pitched rooflines, wide eaves, tall windows and the small corner tower. The main entrance on the building’s south side has a rounded brick arch with stone highlights. The secondary entrance is simpler with a shed roof. The windows are a variety of shapes and sizes with the slim arched window on the west side complementing the main entrance beautifully. There is playful contrast between the striking red tapestry brick and the light coloured second floor and tower and white trim.
One of southwestern Manitoba’s most prolific architects, W. A. Elliot’s buildings include Park School, Brandon 1904 (demolished), Hamilton Hotel, Neepawa 1904 (burned), Bank of Montreal, Brandon 1905, Clark Hall, Brandon University 1906, Empire Bottling Company bottling house/warehouse, Brandon 1906, Brandon Collegiate Institute 1907, Methodist Church, now Dutch Christian Reform, Brandon 1909, Carberry Town Hall 1909, Cecil Hotel, Brandon 1910 (burned 1981), Central Fire Station, Brandon 1911, Opera House, Virden 1911, St Matthew’s Anglican Cathedral, Brandon 1912, Methodist Church, now St Paul’s United, Souris 1908. Elliot also created design plans for over 40 public schools built before WWI in Manitoba towns like Baldur, Newdale, Elkhorn, Melita, Brookdale, Rivers, Oak River, Rapid City and Reston. He also designed buildings for numerous Saskatchewan towns and cities including Moose Jaw and Arcola. Now Buddy’s Pub, this was Arcola, SK’s town hall designed by Elliot and built in 1905.