Monthly Archives: December 2012

Curiosity and Gratitude – 2012 Year-End Review

Reid Dickie

If I had to choose two words that describe my year, curiosity and gratitude come to mind. Regular readers of this blog know I have an insatiable curiosity that lures me to out-of-the-way, little-known places on the prairies and causes me to investigate and report on what I find there. Whatever form the journey takes and whatever I find at its end, expected and unexpected, are always causes for gratitude.

The Road

Once again I rented an Avenger from Enterprise Car Rental and followed my summer wanderlust, all 23,000 kms of it. My friend Troy and I ventured into Saskatchewan for a couple of days exploring sacred sites. The rest of my travel was done in Manitoba, mostly Blooming pincushion cactus at Spirit Sandschasing my heritage geekness, rooting out heritage sites and doing documentation. Southeastern Manitoba and north of Dauphin, two areas of the province I wasn’t familiar with, supplied a wealth of new heritage sites. This is my picture of a pincushion cactus in bloom on the trail to Spirit Sands.

I was more prepared than ever for my heritage tours, doing thorough pre-travel research, planning itineraries and making arrangements for access and interviews at various spots along the way. I documented about ninety heritage sites this year, wrote and produced videos about many of them and still have a backlog of new ones for posting and uploading in 2013.

For a 49 second video clip of the map of Manitoba with my 2012 roads marked, click the pic.

When my heritage list was cleared, I hiked to Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park about 30 times this year. I was able to introduce friends, both new and old, to the marvels of the park, especially Spirit Sands. ISpruce near trailhead yurted at Spruce Woods Park in June and August, both enjoyable experiences and ones I’d recommend for the almost-camper. Easy, inexpensive (take some friends) and fun. During my June stay at the yurt, I hiked into Spirit Sands just at sundown on the full moon. My post about the hike is called Gathering Moonlight at Spruce Woods Park.

Another hang-out of mine this year was the Criddle Vane Homestead which I have documented in several different ways including my 11:30 video tour of the site. Coming in 2013 another video and a post about this heritage site and the people who lived there.

Best Heritage Experiences

Two sites stood out this year, providing unique and very dissimilar experiences. Carberry, a little town just off the TCH east of Brandon, is a Manitoba heritage gem! Two blocks of Carberry’s Main Street have been officially deemed a heritage district, the only one in Manitoba. The concentration of well-preserved brick buildings constructed before and after 1900 earned the street the designation. I documented the street thoroughly and posted reports on all the individual heritageEast side of Carberry's Main Street buildings on the west side of the street, sixteen in all. The east side of Main Street is in the works for 2013 along with a video of the street. This picture shows some of the east side brick buildings which will be featured on my blog in the coming months.

The other enthralling heritage site is Negrych Pioneer Homestead, north of Gilbert Plains between Riding and Duck Mountains. Ten original log buildings from the 1890s and the equipment the family used, all of it fashioned from materials available on their farm, make this the best preserved Ukrainian pioneer homestead in North America! Lovingly preserved and maintained, the
site provides summer student guides who are knowledgeable and very empathetic to the Negrych family and their lives in the bush. The
Bunkhouse plus on Negrych homestead remoteness of the location, the complexity of the site and the attention to detail created a deep understanding of the hardships and the glories of early pioneer life. This bunkhouse with long shingle Carpathian roof is an iconic image from the Negrych farm. I am working on a video and feature article about the homestead.

Best Online Heritage Experience

The website for the Manitoba Historical Society is the best online resource I have found for referencing anything about Manitoba’s past. There is nothing that compares to it for its wealth of current details about heritage sites of all kinds, in-depth background on our history and people, and overall accuracy of the information. I have referred to it hundreds of times in my research. A major aspect to the website and a gargantuan project is an interactive map with over 4,000 Manitoba historic sites just a click away! Yes, 4,000 sites! I have a few hundred heritage sites on this blog and feel I’m getting things done. The 4,000 is the work of the MHS webmaster Gordon Goldsborough, a fellow heritage seeker who also likes heading out for a few days and gleaning every piece of heritage he can find, taking pictures, gathering information and GPS co-ordinates, all of which wind up on the website. Gord is much more successful at this than I am. Secretly, I get a little thrill on the very rare occasions when I discover a heritage site that Gord hasn’t already visited and posted on the MHS map! At all other times, I am in total awe of his work. Thank you Gord, for your integrity and determination. Links: MHS website and historic sites map.

YouTube

I added 55 new videos to my YouTube channel this year, many of them with some kind of heritage angle, all of them original, bringing the total to over 170 videos. Heritage churches accounted for 13 new videos, heritage houses for 6, trains going by (I’m a train fan!) for 6, the rest on sundry topics. This month I exceeded 61,000 hits on the channel in the two years of its existence. I am humbled and grateful. Thank you for watching.

Here is a new video from my summer travels. Come on Along the Road with Reid and visit 12 Manitoba places in 5 minutes.

Books

Two books, both loaned to me by dear friends, offered explanations for some deep and old mysteries this year. The Old Way The Old Way of Seeingof Seeing: How Architecture Lost Its Magic (And How To Get It Back) by architect Jonathan Hale clarified why some buildings appeal and seem to sing while others are disharmonious and ordinary. The secret is the Golden Section, the system most architects working before 1840 used to create human spaces, spaces that resonated with our bodies and spirits. I started to use Hale’s schematics on heritage buildings of all kinds to determine if the Golden Section was employed or not and discovered subtle and essential qualities that empathetic places all have. Published in 1994, the book is still available. Thank you Vonda.

The other book, Falling Into Grace: Insights on the End of Suffering by Adyashanti suggests another old way of seeing…with the spirit. If you are openly looking with love in your heart, other Old Souls joinadyashanti you on your journey and you on theirs. Within minutes of reading the opening pages of this book, I knew I was in the presence of not just an Old Soul, but someone who is reincarnated by choice, a man with a spiritual mission. He knows stuff we all can benefit from knowing. The initial simple idea of “They are only thoughts” led to recognizing the illusion of having any kind of control over anything to finally following Spirit’s invitation. Very often our paths crossed, the words are different but the experiences described flow from one source only. A book that tells the truth. Thank you Garcea.

Grief

It is just over three years since I lost Linda, my soul mate, to cancer. I now feel more accepting of her death due, in part, to the time that has
passed but also because of dear and loving friends. Adyashanti’s book helped me take large strides towards acceptance, giving me
Linda at IF in 1980sperspective on my suffering and offering simple methods to get out of my own way and help myself, to “fall into grace.” Thoughtful phone calls, chance encounters and many long coffees with friends have given me healing opportunities for which I am enormously grateful. Linda’s message to me is still “be happy.” This picture of smiling Linda was taken in the 1980s at our vintage clothing store called IF you have to get dressed in the morning…

Ezra Reid Scholl

Regular readers of my blog will recognize the name of my longtime friend Chris Scholl. For over a dozen years Chris and I have helped each other through many difficult life changes and we’ve celebrated our successes, too. We have traveled the prairie together, visited sacred places and made pacts with Nature together. We’ve become family. Chris and his beautiful partner Megan had a full moon baby boy in October. To my complete amazement, they named the boy after me – Ezra Reid Scholl! (just the Reid part.) For an intentionally-childless guy like me, I was, and still am, overwhelmed knowing I Ezra at 6 weekshave a namesake in the world. More than a metaphor, the first image that came to me was Ezra is “a tunnel into the future.” I explore so many tunnels into the past that having one going in the other direction flummoxed me for awhile but I am starting to find language for him now. He is six weeks old in this picture. I am so grateful to Megan and Chris for their loving gesture, for adding a fresh and unexpected dimension to my life resulting in a brand new kind of joy for me.  As only an innocent new-born can, Ezra helped me bear my grief at its most intense. The Christmas season was more real to me this year. I am humbled and happy to express my gratitude to a little child.

Wouldn’t you know, Ezra already comes with philosophy! Now just over two moons old, Ezra has grown and changed so much. When I think of the changes ahead of him, I smile. All those changes can be viewed on Ken Wilber’s Map of the Evolution of our Consciousness. Read from bottom up. Ezra is lolling in the primary matrix right now, undifferentiated from the world around him but just itching to climb as far up the ladder as he can. Soon he’ll start differentiating himself from the world. Such as? Noticing the difference between biting the blanket and biting his thumb or – in grandly-hewn Wilberese – “the hatching of the physical self.”

Ken Wilber's map

The Lonesomes: Sixteen Prairie Stories

Strange births and strange deaths and the lives lived in between on the Canadian prairies. Stirred by the forsaken tumbledown farmhouses and barns, rusting farm equipment and lonely places they abandoned to the prairie wind, the voices of the pioneers and their descendants tell their poignant tales. Farm folk recall their struggles against the elements. Town folk recount interpersonal conflicts and complexities. There is no music but for the lonesome prairie wind. A beautiful dance of sadness and joy ensues.

When you drive down a country road and see a lonesome old farmhouse, sun-baked and tumbling down, or a broken-down rusty half ton on a rise or an abandoned red barn, don’t you wonder what happened in those places, to those things? Maybe you even start making up stories about them. That’s what I did. I found sixteen such places on the prairies and let their stories arise in my imagination. The Lonesomes is the result!

A forty-seven minute docudrama eighteen months in the making, The Lonesomes is a creative extension of my interest in heritage. The sixteen original stories, ranging in length from one to Image from The Lonesomesfive minutes, span more than a century of history, roughly 1890 to 2005, from pioneers opening the harsh prairie and early railroading to second and third generations living complex lives in small towns and villages. The stories tell of the desperate births of people, towns and ideas, mysterious barns, trickery, magical windmills, memories of machinery, revenge and bizarre deaths.

The Lonesomes is a place where rusty old farm equipment suddenly spouts poetry, where the blue vastness of the prairie sky frightens a woman to death, where an innocent red barn is revealed as the scene of an old mystery, where a defeated small-town mayor sheepishly tellsBarn from The Lonesomes his odorous story, where two retired telephone operators have a chance encounter with life-changing results and where a pair of long-abandoned grain elevators have a wonderful dream.

I hired professional actors to voice the roles and recorded them at state-of-the-art Video Pool Studios. The sound quality is exceptional thanks to Michel Germain, an extraordinary audio engineer. The actors brought their best game to The Lonesomes. I’m thrilled to have my characters brought to life so thoroughly, so convincingly.

I shot all the images in HD digital myself. Visually The Lonesomes ranges from subtly changing still life to montage to live action always suggesting the location where the story occurs. The images are simple; the raw, explicit stories blow through them like the restless prairie wind.

This is much bigger than my YouTube stuff. Since I have a financial investment in it, I’ll explore the commercial potential of the piece. My plan is to market The Lonesomes in several ways. The options are many: from apps to E-books, on-demand TV to film festivals. I will keep you apprised. It’s a little too early for a preview but stay tuned to a blog near you.

Particular Posts

Another year of posts done, about 180 in all, covering the length and breadth of my interests. These are some of my best posts of the year with links to the original articles.

January

Early in the year I started my reporting on Carberry and its unique heritage position in Manitoba. An example is this incredible
Canadian government postergingerbread house built by James White. Starting in the late 1800s, the Canadian government advertised free land in the west to fill up the newly acquired North West Territories  I created the TV commercial for their ad campaign. If you think Winnipeg’s current mayor is a sleazebag, he’s carrying on a well-established tradition begun by our first mayor, Francis Cornish. Find out what I mean.

February

I reported on another bit of Carberry heritage – their vintage Louis Riel statueoctagonal agricultural display building. A rarity in Manitoba. On the 20th, Louis Riel Day,  I celebrated the day with two posts about the two Louis Riel statues that have had prominent places in Winnipeg. First statue, second statue. I ended our leap year with the first of several posts about Manitoba Heritage Under Duress, showing a couple of examples of damaged and disappeared sites.

March

Early in the month I posted a piece I had written a few months after my double-bypass heart surgery in 2002. The palpable power of an online prayer circle that formed around me for the surgery aiding the success of the procedure and speeding my healing afterwards is recounted in Nothing Virtual About It. On the 15th, in a grateful post called Lucky, Very Lucky, I wrote about the pattern of luck that has shaped my life. Last winter I watched a series of documentaries from the library and reported on four excellent ones – Gasland, Buck, Exit Through the Gift Shop and Catfish. I recommend them all highly. I Bruce's first albuminadvertently created one of the most popular posts when I wrote about Bruce Springsteen’s first two albums. Included with my thoughts on his music was a highly revealing photograph of a young, mostly naked Bruce taken by Lynn Goldsmith. Now when anyone searches springsteen naked, which happens surprisingly often, they find my post. I’ll bet one or two have even read the article. The post is called Forcing a Light, one of my best titles.To end the month, in case you missed memo, I posted a short video on why it’s called a combine.

April

The month began with a report on my beloved Spruce Woods Park Kevin Richardson kissing a lionand its state after the snow. This is the first of many park reports over the summer. It is love. That’s the only explanation for this amazing relationship between a man and 38 lions, a video I reposted from the internet. It will make your day. I posted about another great documentary called Waste Land – turning garbage into art. The Manitoba Escarpment, a geological step upward as you proceed west across the prairies, offers some spectacular views of the old lake bed below. One is at newly created Alexander Ridge Park near Miami, MB.  On the 15th, I posted Convergence – 35 Years Ago Today.  It commemorated the day Linda and I moved into a little house on Lorette Avenue – our first home together. We stayed there a couple of years. The house is gone now but not the Super 8 I shot out its front window.

May

Reports from the road started in earnest this month as my summer travels got underway  The Fort La Reine Museum on the east side of Portage la Prairie is a terrific museum. I hiked the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park about 30 times last summer and Hoary puccoon along the trail to Spirit Sandsdid two reports this month: the first about the park’s recovery from the floods of 2011, and the second post on my hikes so far. We’ll take any excuse for a long weekend in Canada and Victoria Day is a prime example. I explain why we celebrate the day. I suppose it’s because of its general outrageousness, but this Email from an Old Friend draws views for all kinds of reasons.

June

I started my posts about one of Manitoba’s heritage gems, Carberry One fine Carberry buildingand the turn-of-the-century buildings lining its main drag. The first three buildings on the street are here, here and here. In an early report from along the road, I covered a drive I took up to Dauphin and beyond. I did a report on an alluvial fan which has garnered a surprising number of views. People wanna know! I ended the month with something for armchair engineers – chug chug chug.

July

I kicked off the month with another report from the road, this time
Trinity of light in aisle of a churchfrom a tour through southwestern Manitoba including Spirit Sands and Brandon. In July I reported on six more of the fine old buildings along Carberry’s Main Street. The best way to access all my reports is to choose Carberry in the categories. A provocative title about what happens after death caught some views thanks to Dr. Kenneth Ring.

August

Two trains and two trestle bridges provided some excellent video as did my exploration of two bridges, one trestle, one swinging, over the Structural support for swinging bridge over RoseauRoseau River. Another road report from southern Manitoba including Miniota, Hartney and Spruce Woods Park. The dog days of summer found me reporting from southeast of Winnipeg. A veteran thrift store haunter, I celebrated the 40th anniversary of MCCs (Mennonite Central Committee) thrift stores. Based on years of seeking out and exploring often remote heritage sites, I make some observations in a post called Sex and the Solitary Heritage Site.

September

My reports from Carberry continued this month and I also wrote about heritage sites that have been lost for various reasons. I repostedThe staircase that killed Percy Criddle my Map of Dying from the Tibetan Book of the Dead followed by two more road reports. The first offers interesting pictures from here and there; the second has a dozen pictures from around the province with my short write-ups. Language always fascinates me and the hobo code, a series of symbols that transients in the first half of the 20th century created, resulted in a popular video. I explored a spooky old house inside and out, resulting in another original video.

October

The appeal of ruins along the road was expressed in several original Wooden statue of Katerivideos including one called Portals to the Past, which combines live images with harrowing sounds. My curiosity about language found me exploring Diner Slang, food to the nth degree. I wrote about two more buildings in Carberry’s heritage district this month. Things to do along the road included Reid’s Roadside Junk, which meant filling a small box with highly miscellaneous items and leaving it somewhere out there, all documented on video, of course. On the 20th, I wrote about the impending canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha in the context of Leonard Cohen’s second novelBeautiful Losers, in which she is a central character.

November

I elaborated on a post I found online about Friendship, adding a few items gathered from my life. Desperate for free stuff to fill the ever-increasing white space between their ads, the Winnipeg Free Press ran the Friendship post in their Sunday edition as blog of the week. Later in the month I posted a piece about digital executors and new forms of memorializing yourself after death called Log Off in Peace – Cyber Wills and the Virtual Beyond.

December

In a repost from the internet, which I called Mayo = Life, a succinct explanation of our basic empty awareness ensues. I celebrated the second anniversary of this blog on the 11th. As the year ends, the blog’s view count is more than 182,000 in just over two years. Thank you one and all! The tradition of the 12 Days of Christmas began in the 14th, this year heritage churches and houses alternated daily until Christmas.

The Future

The immediate future will see 31 short absurd videos – one a day, every day, like a pill, throughout January. The series called Sorry Notes to the Future starts January 1st. I plan to kick back in January, let the blog ride with Sorry Notes and focus on some other projects I’ve been putting off. Thereafter, expect more heritage reports from this year’s travels and loads more of the other guff you’ve come to expect from RRR.

I wish you only happiness in 2013 and may you awaken each day with this kind of determination in your spirit.

Today!

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Filed under Heritage Buildings, Linda, Manitoba Heritage, Year-end Review 2012

Holiday Amusements – Explain This Image

Humour yourself. Advance forward into the inexplicable and be sure to read the captions.

Explain This Image

“Make a Wish Foundation, still going strong!!!”

Explain THIS IMAGE

“How babies are made in Japan”

More nuttiness and links to other outrageous stuff at

http://explainthisimage.com/popular/unexplainable-photo

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Twelve Days of Christmas Day Twelve

A. G. Hay House, 402 Clark Avenue, Killarney, MB

Hay House, Killarney

Reid Dickie

I love this house!

The house itself, brick with tall, square massing and truncated hipped roof, is attractive but rather ordinary, despite its opposing one- and two-storey bays.  Its location and Queen Anne Revival style decoration elevate its appeal and grandeur from great to wondrous.

Arthur George Hay from Ontario studied law in Winnipeg andFront view practiced in the Killarney-Virden area after 1893. The main section of the Hay house was completed in 1904. The rear addition was added later.

The two-storey entry pavilion and wraparound verandah are the most striking features. The wooden enclosed porch and the balcony above topped with a pediment and sunburst design accentuate the height of the house. Pediment detailTuscan columns support the porch and verandah, both of which are loaded with intricate wooden details. Notice the three distinct types of brackets under the roof of the balcony and the lovely turned pillars and balustrade.

The large and comforting verandah coddles the house adding to its grace with the conical-roofed corner pavilion topped with a classicSide view pinnacle. The single and paired Tuscan columns, small under-eave brackets and complex use of the colour green make the verandah sing while the rest of the house completes the harmonic choir.

Windows are mostly tall in proportion to the house capped with segmented arches. A charming detail and one that speaks to the overall high quality of the design is the small cutaways above the windows that accommodate the arches.

Yet among all that, set back from the street and settled comfortably on its treed corner lot, the Hay house exudes grace and charm, satisfied with its unique presence in the town of Killarney, its provenance unquestionable.

For an all-angles view of the A. G. Hay house, watch my 1:51 video.

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Filed under 12 Days of Christmas 2012, Heritage Buildings, Houses, Manitoba Heritage

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Eleven

Christ Anglican Church, 505 Curwen Street, Cartwright, MB

Cartwright Anglican

Reid Dickie

Compact and solid, Cartwright’s old stone church sits at a prominent intersection in the little southern Manitoba Anglican churchcommunity. A readily available building material for prairie pioneers, fieldstones in a variety of colours were expertly mortared on this simple English Gothic church. It was built in 1897-98 by stonemason Samuel Hossack and his sons.

The narrow pointed arch windows with a bit of tracery account for most of the place’s decoration. Windows are surmounted with fieldstone arches. Notice the slight arch over the entrance made visible by the slight rise in the mortar and stone. The large window in the apse has lovely stainedSide view glass, which were added in 1927.

A fire in 1910 gutted the interior but the body remained intact, resisting the flames. After the fire a stone vestibule was added but it has since been removed.

One of the oldest stone churches in Manitoba, it was recognized as a municipal heritage site in 2003. Thereafter the community worked for several years restoring the pretty little church to a stable and useful condition. Huzzah to the restoration committee and the people of Cartwright and area for their excellent work.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Day Ten

St. Andrew’s United Church, 338 Hamilton Street, Manitou, MB

St. Andrew's United, Manitou

Reid Dickie

This precious expression of Victorian faith in the little town of Manitou sprung from a plan by Winnipeg architect and contractor James McDiarmid, one of many churches he designed in Manitoba.

Bargeboard on facadeOriginally built for Presbyterians in 1901, the brick church is set on a tall fieldstone foundation with a limestone belt course encircling the building where they join.

Every elevation is awash in arches, notably the tall triple windows on the two exposed facades with their arched tracery. Above the windows, the gable’s bargeboard has a large fluid arch with a small pendant and a smaller vent arch below on the church wall. The bull’s-eye window above the front entrance features lovely stained glass.

The stand-out on the church is the unusual corner tower with its St Andrew's United, Manitousteep tiered roof apexed with a filigree cross. McDiarmid used a wealth of materials on his building and the tower contains examples of them all: from the bottom – fieldstones, limestone, brick, glass, wood and iron.

Colour contrasts add to the overall effect of St. Andrew’s. The pale fieldstones next to the buff brick topped with rufous fish-scale shingles move the eye upward. The black and white trim heightens the effect.

The interior of the church expresses an Akron-style plan, meaning the central auditorium of the church is surrounded by small rooms for Sunday school, a method meant to encourage inefficiency.

For an all-angles view of St. Andrew’s, watch my 1:49 video.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Day Nine

B. J. Hales House, 1312 10th Street, Brandon, MB

B. J. Hales House, Brandon

Reid Dickie

Benjamin Jones Hales came to Manitoba from Ontario and taught at MacGregor and Hartney Schools before becoming the first principal at Brandon Normal School, a job he held from 1911 to 1939. A keen naturalist, his collection became the B. J. Hales Museum of Natural History, a permanent fixture at Brandon University since 1965.

About a block away from Brandon Normal School, one of four such schools for teachers set up in Manitoba, Hales built his house in 1912. Front and side viewLeaning toward Arts and Crafts but declaring no particular architectural style, it’s the double eyebrow roofline that dominates the house along with its steep hipped and oddly truncated roof and prominent dormer.

Set back from the street on a wooded lot, the two and a half storey brick house is domestic, simple, genteel, a model of the times it was built. I love the little second tier sidelights next to the porch door.

The lot is partially surrounded by a fieldstone fence with a built-in stone fireplace on the south side. Much of the flora on the property was planted by B. J. Hales.

This is a 1930s postcard of Brandon Normal School.

Brandon Normal School

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Filed under 12 Days of Christmas 2012, Heritage Buildings, Houses, Manitoba Heritage, Prairie People

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Eight

Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church, Rosa, MB 

Rosa Church

Reid Dickie

Modestly similar in profile to the Hutsul style of churches found in western Ukraine, the little church in Rosa strays from the traditional with its long nave, facade towers and vestibule. Set among trees and the graves of past parishioners, a two-tiered, double-belled belfry Rosa facadestanding nearby, the church conforms to the cruciform floor plan with a small dome over the crossing. Corner towers and the peak of the gable sport small cupolas apexed with metal crosses.

Of wood frame construction on a cement foundation, its original imitation brown brick cladding was replaced with white siding in 1982. Many Catholic churches were covered in unattractive fake brown brick as protection against the prairie winters. Removing the fake dark covering and replacing it with white siding changes the whole aura of the church, its light finally able to escape the asphalt siding.

Ukrainians arrived in the Rosa area of southern Manitoba after 1900.  Holy Eucharist Parish was founded in 1924 and construction of this Onion domeschurch began. The head carpenter was Petro Skrynski assisted by parish volunteers. Total building cost of the church was $2400.

The iconography and wall treatments inside Holy Eucharist were done by Winnipeg painter Hnat Sych between 1926 and 1934. Though modest in size, its eighteen wooden pews can accommodate 100 people.

Watch my 1:49 video for a view of Holy Eucharist from all angles.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Day Seven

Shaver House, Killarney area, MB

Shaver house front elevation

Reid Dickie

As I drove along the dusty country road toward the Shaver house north of Killarney I started to get the giddy sensation that arises when I approach something living and vital yet stationary and settled. Sacred places usually create that sense in me, sometimes buildings do, too.

As if painted directly on the prairie blue, a wondrous and unlikely Side and facade viewvision, that switched back and forth between Italianate and Gothic Revival styles like a 2-D postcard, took shape against the distance. I was fascinated and curious, as ever.

Here’s an example of what prairie success did to an Ontario-born farmer, Arthur Shaver, who came to the Hullett area in 1889. Successful at farming and committed to a new and growing community, he served on Hullett’s first school board when it began in 1892. By the turn-of-the-century Shaver was ready to build.

Situated on a small rise overlooking rolling farm land to the south, Arthur Shaver built a house that recognized his success, his talent and his humanity. Two and a half storeys in tan brick, fanciful, one-of-a-kind design and decoration – a unique, top-notch quality house that the Shaver family made their home for several generations thereafter starting in 1901.

Ivied wall and rear sunroomUniqueness will always arouse my curiosity. I was excited as I stepped out of the cool Avenger into a hot June afternoon to see what’s up!

The wise old house and its tidy and tended grounds turns out to be a bed and breakfast called La Belle Vie (The Good Life) run by friendly and sociable Pam and Paul La Pierre. We sat next to the above-ground pool and rear sun room, both of which felt very compatible with Shaver’s dream, and shared some thoughts on the house and farm.  The La Pierre’s, by loving and maintaining the house and sharing it with travelers, respect and enhance the heritage value of the place, located on the original Shaver farm.

I enjoy staying at curious bed and breakfasts and meant to get back to Detail of front elevationthe area and spend a night living La Belle Vie, but, alas, it didn’t happen. Added to next summer’s list. My words and video then are about the exterior only.

What an exterior!! The generous rectangular massing has a shallow pedimented gable on the front and a wing on the east side. Scrolled bargeboard accentuates the pediment. The hip roof is cut with two dormers and the wide eaves are supported by scrolled brackets. Painted bricks add flair and interest to the house with stars, quoins on the corners and the detailed colour contrast highlighting the windows.

For an all-around view of the Shaver house, watch my 2:12 video.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Day Six

Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church, 162 Central Avenue, Ste Anne, MB

 

Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church

 

Reid Dickie

Imposing and ambitious, Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church is the focal point of little Ste. Anne, its presence a venerable landmark along Dawson Road, one of the first surveyed trails into the West. Four years under construction – 1895-98 – this massive complex resulted Side elevationfrom a design by Joseph-Azarie Senecal, much favoured architect and builder of prairie Roman Catholic churches of the time. Symbolizing the cross, Senecal’s floor plan is cruciform.

Drawing from Romanesque Revival – style architecture, the church is loaded with elaborate detail executed with high-quality craftsmanship. The brickwork alone is enthralling. The entire building is encircled with corbelling under the cornice that seems to drip off the walls. Belt courses of raised brick entwine the place and the rounded openings are topped with segmented sprays and labels.

Facade of Ste. Anne'sThe facade with its striking entry tower apexed with a complex and beautiful steeple effortlessly creates a wondrous sensation of ascension. The double wooden doors and elaborate fanlight above begin your heaven-bound ascent.  The large window above the door, smaller in size but the same design, draws your attention upward to dual windows bracketing a statued alcove. The roofline accentuated by corner towers with their ornate pinnacles, brick corbelling along the Ste. Anne's steeplecornice and balustrades leading to the central tower add a rush of upward energy culminating with the double-belled steeple. The metal-clad multi-tiered steeple has a pleasant rhythmic feeling that adds to the smooth bliss of ascension.

One reason why the ascension works so well on Ste. Anne’s is because Senecal was familiar with the Golden Section, the old way of using ratios and relationships in building design. This ancient way of seeing explains why some buildings evoke a magical, uplifting feeling and other don’t. Using the Golden Section creates an accord between our bodies and our enclosed spaces. Jonathan Hale wrote an enlightening book called The Old Way of Seeing. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in architecture. Ste Anne Roman Catholic Church’s comfortable presence springs from Senecal’s use of the Golden Section.

Side viewSenecal’s other design work in Manitoba, much of it convents and hospitals, includes churches in St. Leon (1895), Gretna (1897) and Holy Ghost Church, Winnipeg (1899) and St. Francois Xavier (1900). He was the contractor, not the designer, on Saint Boniface Cathedral (1906).

Renown artist Leo Mol (Molodozhanyn) painted the images in the nave and sanctuary interior of Ste. Anne’s. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get pictures of the church’s interior. It’s on my list for next summer.

Pre-Confederation, this parish was established in 1859 to serve Metis and French settlers, some of whom inhabit the cemetery around the church.

For a 360 degree view of Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church’s exterior watch my  2:52 video.

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Filed under 12 Days of Christmas 2012, Churches, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Five

Brick Italianate House, Ninga, MB

 

Buff Brick, Ninga

 

Reid Dickie

My summer travels took me to places I’d never been before, like Ninga, Manitoba. Not ninja, Ninga, apparently the Chippewa word for mother.

This lonesome seemingly deserted buff brick house caught my attention and I took one picture of it, the one above. So everything I say is based on seeing this one elevation.

The roofline is the foremost Italianate feature. Its low pitch hip jousted by the sweet angles of the matching gables evokes a smooth and gentle, almost erotic rhythm against the prairie sky. It sings!

The under-eave colour appears to have been reddish brown, which would have contrasted richly with the pale buff brick and feel right at home under the milky brown of the shingles. The pairs of tall windows under the gables have simple brick headers. The bricks overall are laid in common running bond.

The main floor conveys several elements of Italianate style such as bay windows  It appears to have two of them but closer inspection reveals the one on the left of brick construction is incorporated into the body of the house and features the main entrance.  The one on the right is a wooden addition, a back porch painted in trim colour.  The bays are connected by a narrow but elegant verandah.

Oh, the verandah: the brackets are a contrasting green to the reddish trim. The low pitch of the roof in sighing reverence to Ninga, for surethe roofline above and the trio of turned squared-away pillars doing their important work slowly succumb to the creep of the foliage, already obscuring the stairs and entwining the bench against the wall. Although the house remains in reasonably good appearance, the straggling strands of long-dead Christmas lights and the invading overgrowth herald its tomorrow, its future tangled in the vines and vicissitudes that encroach on its presence, that threaten its being. Only the prairie wind can determine how apt this all is.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Day Four

Emerson Baptist Church, Third Street, Emerson, MB

EMERSON Baptist

Reid Dickie

Using concrete as a building material dates back to 200 BC when Romans used it to bind stones together. At one stage in the evolution of concrete blocks, between about 1900 and 1920, molded blocks were cast right at building sites to the specifications and quantity deemed by the designer. This type of production allowed for a wide variety of sizes and textures for the face of the block, the other sides Date stonesmooth and easy to install. Often itinerant crews went from village to village offering their services, sometimes contractors owned or hired block making companies of which there were dozens all over the province. Schools, houses, commercial buildings and the occasional church were constructed of molded concrete blocks. Emerson Baptist is an excellent and rare example.

Winnipeg architect Hugh McCowan drew up the plan for the church. Among McCowan’s other designs are the Kay’s Building on McDermot and the Stovel Building on Princess in Winnipeg as well as several schools in rural Manitoba. The contractor who built Emerson Baptist was well-known in the area. David Wright, one-time mayor of Emerson, constructed the Front facadechurch in 1905 from concrete blocks made on site.

Several sizes of blocks compose the church. Mainly elongated blocks with rough surfaces to simulate actual stone were used in the body of the walls. Smooth long and short blocks accentuate the corners, all openings and string courses. The contrast between the textured and smooth blocks is pleasant and settling.

The front facade has three increasing heights that begins the sensation of ascension. The pyramidal caps on the elevated corners, the elegant gable along the cornice above the triple narrow windows and the corner entrance tower with its steep roof topped, as are all roof peaks, with an elaborate pinnacle complete the ascent. It’s a beautiful choreography of your attention that flows naturally all the way to heaven.

Holy Trinity windowsAbout the roof, I am generally not much of a fan of metal roofs. This is purely aesthetic and rather moody on my part but I do get their value: long lasting, durable, low maintenance and effective – they keep the rain off the hymn books. In the case of Emerson Baptist, the green metal roof deters little from the overall building. Though appealing, the church’s roofline is not its main feature.

The windows and main entrance are peaked in the Gothic Revival style, each peak blunted by a keystone. The smooth surfaces usedRoofline with pinnacles around the windows and front entrance have an interesting relationship with the quoins on the corners, a major feature of the detailing. Glass panes are multi-hued. In this picture you can see the ivied wall and the carved pinnacles atop the three roof peaks.

Emerson Baptist is one of the heritage sites where I shot a copious amount of pictures. Watch my 2:01 video to see it from its many wonderful angles.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Day Three

Demonstration Farm House, 44 Water Street, Killarney, MB

 

Demo

 

Reid Dickie

The original intent of the Killarney Demonstration Farm, as created by George Lawrence, Manitoba’s minister of agriculture from 1911 to 1915, was to identify crop varieties and farming practices that would work in the region. Lawrence was from Killarney, thus this fine old pile!!

The architectural style of the house is typical of many houses built in the early 1900s in southern Manitoba. It’s called American four-square, four rooms down, four rooms up, nice and symmetrical inside and out. A summer kitchen with sun room above have been added at Wide inviting verandahthe back. The balance of the hipped roof cut with dormers, each with its own hipped roof, the window placement and the solid massing indicate order, purity and dominance over the elements. Though looking very shabby today, in its prime with gleaming white wooden siding illuminated by the prairie sun and black trim cutting definition into the vision, it would have been an inspiration!

Above and beyond all those fine wholesome details flies the wide and welcoming verandah. Lovingly embracing the house on three sides and covered by a low-pitched roof supported by square pillars, it’s the verandah that gives the place its life and its lift. The wide eaves and the airiness suggest wings attached to the house, the whole affair about to soar off into the sunshine. It also makes the house appear much larger than it is.

 

Front elevation with verandah

 

Completed in 1915, the Demonstration Farm manager and his family lived in the house. Since the farm closed in 1946, the house has served various duties since including RCMP barracks, private school and museum. Today it appears to be empty. Situated next to the campground on the outskirts of Killarney, it’s a rare, educational and stunning relic.

For a comprehensive look at the Demonstration Farm House from all angles, watch my 1:58 video.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Day Two

Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church, PR 201, Sundown, MB

 

Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church

 

Settled comfortably into its pleasing and tranquil church yard, Sts. Front viewPeter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church has served Sundown area parishioners since it was constructed in 1940. Based on similar churches in western Ukraine, Sts. Peter and Paul is attractive with its large squat central dome, dual banya towers and the cruciform plan. The large dome opens into the nave of the church. Atop each of the trio of metal-clad domes, symbolizing the Holy Trinity, is a three-bar metal cross. The peak of the roof adds a fourth cross. The straight-onBell tower view of the facade is an irresistible path to ascension.

A free-standing bell tower featuring a cupola and louvered openings completes the ecclesiastical compound.

The church’s interior, of which I was not able to get pictures, is richly ornate, featuring original iconostas, iconography and wall surfaces by John Pushka. Pushka, who came from Angusville, MB, painted other church interiors in Manitoba including the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of the Ascension in Angusville, Lakedale Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church in Silver Creek, and St. Nicholas Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church in Gonor.

I shot lots of pictures of this church and used them to create a 2:14 video showing Sts. Peter and Paul from all angles. Enjoy.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Day One

Johnson House, 446-7th Street, Brandon, MB 

 

BRANDON CARBERRY 2012 019

 

Reid Dickie

In 1880, Samuel and Edwin Johnson moved from Seaforth, ON, where they ran a successful family hardware store, to Brandon with the same intention. The brothers built their store on the south east corner of Ninth Street and Rosser Avenue in 1885 and Johnson Hardware operated there until 1959. Under Edwin’s skillful management, the store prospered, making Edwin a prominent citizen of the city.

In 1904 Edwin commissioned one of Brandon’s up and coming architects, William A. Elliott, to design a home for him and his family. Elliott, who went on to design dozens of buildings all over southern Manitoba, was just making a name for himself in Brandon when approached by Johnson. The resulting house is a beauty!

Begun in 1904 and completed in 1906 by builder C. Lillington, the Johnson house is a superb example of Queen Anne Revival architecture, the dominant home design style of the period. The main focal point is the veranda that wraps around the feature corner of the Johnson house Brandonhouse. Its low pitched roof is supported by Classical columns. The veranda pediment with the cowl and anchor detailing is repeated on the dormers. The tan bricks are laid in standard running bond; all openings feature rectangular, segmented or semi-elliptical brick arches and windows have limestone sills. The oval window with its four keystones is striking. Don’t miss the pairs of sweet scroll brackets under the dormer eaves.

The house was inhabited by the Johnson family for 72 years. Beautifully maintained, right down to the patterns in the shingles around the veranda foundation, kudos to its present owners for their dedication to preserving local heritage.

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12-11-10 to 12-11-12 It’s RRR Second Birthday

Reid Dickie

It was two years ago today that I first proffered my blogishness online, a rather clueless beginner with massive curiosity and a tad of talent with words. My intent had been to find my audience which I accomplished in the first year. In my second year, I managed to retain and build my audience. The blog has attracted an average of 240 hits a day for the past year. Amazing! Thank you for coming back to review my latest meanderings time and again.

Tee heeIn my second year 185 new posts appeared on my blog, significantly fewer than my first year. I have found a nice pace for posting that doesn’t create stress, only enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment.

 

If there is a fly in my blog life, it is WordPress, which hosts both my blogs (www.shoallakehistory.com is the other blog) and millions of others. When I started with WordPress two years ago it was a simple and straight-forward blog builder where most everything worked every time I needed it. Today I have come to dislike WordPress greatly. Every week there is some new wrinkle they introduce that makes something more complicated, more time-consuming and much less enjoyable. The tall foreheads whoTee hee  administer WordPress can’t seem to leave anything alone.

The latest annoying feature is a spell check WP introduced when you compose posts right on the blog. I am certain Monty Python designed this spell check. It gives the most outrageously complicated and/or irrelevant suggestions to simple errors making it useful less than half the time. I can’t figure out how to stop the damn thing.

Regular readers will have noticed how sometimes pictures and text don’t format well together, leaving large white spaces in the middle of paragraphs. This is a recent thing due to some mysterious change to WordPress and again I am at a loss on how to fix it. Bottom line is, if you want to start a blog, don’t use WordPress. Shop for a simpler and easier blog maker.

That said, I still enjoy having a blog or two. I need the outlet and I am enormously grateful to everyone who has visited RRR in the past year. Thank you.

Buzz Buzz Buzz

What’s ahead for RRR, you ask?

The tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas that Linda and I started back in 2005 continues, beginning this Friday, December 14. This year, alternating daily, there will be six heritage churches and six heritage houses featured, all in Manitoba, of course. Something new this year: nine of the heritage buildings will have short videos along with pictures and descriptive write-ups!

On the last day of the year, I’ll post my year-end review, another tradition and one I particularly enjoy writing because I get to reflect on my life using the blog as a filter. What a year it has been! So much to report.

Starting January 1st, watch for a new feature called Sorry Notes to the Future. It’s a series of original videos which I created over the past few months combining collage, sound and story. All are very short (under a minute) and quite absurd. I’ll be posting one a day, every day during the month of January.

The past and the future are both experiences in the present moment. Thanks for being here now.

 

The future?

 

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Have a Heritage Holiday!

Six heritage houses!

Six heritage churches!

Add ’em up and you get

The Twelve Days of Christmas.

The tradition continues

on readreidread.com

 starting Fri. December 14. 

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A Toast to All the Patty Lewises of the World!

Re-posted from my Things-I-Wish-I’d-Written File:

Subject: CHRISTMAS PARTY!

FROM:    Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

TO:         All Employees

DATE:    October 01, 2011

RE:         Christmas Party

I’m happy to inform you that the company Christmas Party will take place on December 23, starting at noon in the private function room at the Grill House. There will be a cash bar and plenty of drinks! We’ll have a small band playing traditional carols…feel free to sing along. And don’t be surprised if our CEO shows up dressed as Santa Claus! A Christmas tree will be lit at 1:00pm. Exchange of gifts among employees can be done at that time however, no gift should be over $10.00 to make the giving of gifts easy for everyone’s pockets. This gathering is only for employees! Our CEO will make a special announcement at that time!

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Patty

====================================================
FROM:    Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

TO:         All Employees

DATE:    October 02, 2011

RE:         Holiday Party

In no way was yesterday’s memo intended to exclude our Jewish employees.  We recognize that Chanukah is an important holiday, which often coincides with Christmas, though unfortunately not this year. However, from now on we’re calling it our “Holiday Party.” The same policy applies to any other employees who are not Christians or those still celebrating Reconciliation Day. There will be no Christmas tree present. No Christmas carols sung. We will have other types of music for your enjoyment.

Happy now?

Happy Holidays to you and your family.

Patty

=============================================================================
FROM:   Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

TO:        All Employees

DATE:   October 03, 2011

RE:        Holiday Party

Regarding the note I received from a member of Alcoholics Anonymous requesting a non-drinking table … you didn’t sign your name. I’m happy to accommodate this request, but if I put a sign on a table that reads, “AA Only”; you wouldn’t be anonymous anymore. How am I supposed to handle this? Somebody?

Forget about the gifts exchange; no gifts are allowed since the union members feel that $10.00 is too much money and executives believe $10.00 is a little chintzy.

NO GIFT EXCHANGE WILL BE ALLOWED.

Clear?

Patty
============================================================================
FROM:  Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

To:        All Employees

DATE:   October 04, 2011

RE:        Holiday Party

What a diverse group we are!  I had no idea that December 20 begins the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which forbids eating and drinking during daylight hours. There goes the party! Seriously, we can appreciate how a luncheon at this time of year does not accommodate our Muslim employees’ beliefs. Perhaps the Grill House can hold off on serving your meal until the end of the party, or else package everything for you to take home in little foil doggy baggies. Will that work?

Meanwhile, I’ve arranged for members of Weight Watchers to sit farthest from the dessert buffet and pregnant women will get the table closest to the restrooms. Gays are allowed to sit with each other. Lesbians do not have to sit with Gay men, each will have their own table. Yes, there will be flower arrangement for the Gay men’s table. To the person asking permission to cross dress, no cross-dressing allowed though we will have booster seats for short people. Low-fat food will be available for those on a diet. We cannot control the salt used in the food. We suggest for those people with high blood pressure to taste first. There will be fresh fruits as dessert for diabetics, the restaurant cannot supply “No Sugar” desserts. Sorry!
Did I miss anything?!?!?

Patty
============================================================================
FROM:   Patty Lewis, Human Resources Director

TO:         All Fucking Employees

DATE:    October  05, 2011

RE:         The Fucking Holiday Party

Vegetarian pricks, I’ve had it with you people!!! We’re going to keep this party at the Grill House whether you like it or not, so you can sit quietly at the table furthest from the “Grill of Death,” as you so quaintly put it, and you’ll get your fucking salad bar, including organic tomatoes. But you know, tomatoes have feelings, too. THEY SCREAM WHEN YOU SLICE THEM! I’ve heard them SCREAM!!! I’m hearing them scream right NOW!!!

I hope you all have a rotten holiday!  DRIVE DRUNK AND DIE!!!!!!

The Bitch from HELL!!!!!!!!

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Mayo = Life

I don’t know the author of this but it has appeared with variations online for awhile. This is my favourite version. The empty mayo jar equals our empty awareness.

The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Cups of Coffee

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the two cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.
‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.’
‘Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked. ‘The coffee just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.’

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