Monthly Archives: April 2014

Spruce Woods Park Flood Update – April 23, 2014

SPIRIT SANDS 2011 #1 017

Reid Dickie

The picture above shows some of the trees swept away by the flooding Assiniboine River that piled up against the bridge in Spruce Woods Park after the 2011 flood.

This year, other than a couple of days when the Assiniboine River covered Highway #5 through the park, the river is generally treating Spruce Woods Park well. The water receded and the highway is open again. There was no damage to any area in the park reported.

Latest flood reports say the Assiniboine will likely stay within its banks, however, weather is always the wild card. Manitoba and Saskatchewan are expecting heavy rains for the next couple of days. Headwaters of the Assiniboine and Souris Rivers are in eastern Saskatchewan where the rains, along with ice melt and run-off,  will have an impact that will be sent downstream to Manitoba.

Many Manitoba lakes are still mostly iced over and a lot of melting remains to be done. Near-normal temperatures this week have advanced the thaw creating plenty of free flowing ice on the rivers to jam and cause overland flooding. Residents near Petersfield north of Winnipeg have been evacuated today due to the rising Red River.

For now, Spruce Woods Park has escaped the river’s wrath. If there is any change in that I will update with an on-site report.

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April 20, 2014 · 12:02 pm

Shirty Upclues! Tapioca Hot Tub Mania Has Broken Out!!

Hi Dee Ho FANtestilites,

Newly-young (surgical) Shirty upcluing you on my careening career.

It’s all good news!!

Contagiously, the bumph of this Brotish Curlumpian band I’ve been promoting to the globals of late is reaching stratospheric proports!!

Tapioca Hot Tub Mania has been declared!! (Well, almost. I’m urging Prim Loobster Sylvia Hampster to make it official and some day in May or June be deemed National Tapioca Hot Tub Day when all Canadians will be required to eat tapioca, bathe in tapioca or somehow perversely include tapioca in their lives while humming the band’s catchy little melody that will get them singing in the showers. Pending…)

Evidence you need?

This week’s Brain Failure Top 10 contains no less than two, count ’em, TWO tunes by Tapioca Hot Tub (THT), new darlings of kinky food fetishists, no niblets please.

Watch Sheila countdown the Top 10. She is downright kind to the new THT ditty by saying merely, “This is lame.” She’s always right! Click the pic to see if you agree. Snapshot 1 (12-04-2014 7-56 PM) THT’s mega-hit Marshall McLuhan Steels His Gaze remains atop the chart at #1 for the third straight week. Debuting at #5 is THT’s next mega-hit Calypso Mind Control, a spunky formulaic re-upchucking of their first smash but with spooky weird images that will follow you to bed tonight.

Described by Mother’s Little Helper magazine as “harrowing” the disturbing new video for Calypso Mind Control is now available free for human eye viewings by simply clicking the pic below us. DICKTOOL KIT IMAGES 037 Tapioca Hot Tub Fan Fun Factoids: the total IQ of all five band members combined is 107. The average IQ of Tapioca Hot Tub fans is 9.

Elsewise in my career, the idea I pitched to the Penetration Channel for a reality show that follows newly-ejaculated human sperm attempting to fertilize a human egg inside the female was turned down even though we have the technology to record everything everywhere – management caved due to blow back from the Spermists, I persist.

Pinin’ for the fjords,


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Spruce Woods Park Flood Update

Reid Dickie

What news there is appears to be good!

According to the latest daily flood update from the province the water over Highway #5 has receded and the highway has been reopened. Repair crews are working on the highway.

Apparently damage to the rest of Spruce Woods Park is minimal. The ice jam that caused the back-up remains on the Assiniboine River but for now poses less of a threat. As the rivers break-up more ice jams are likely.

The high water advisory remains for the Assiniboine from St. Lazare, where it is joined by the Qu’Appelle River, to Portage la Prairie. Overland flooding due to ice jams is possible along the river. While the Red River appears to be comfortable between its banks so far this year, that pesky Assiniboine, unpredictable and bendy, is full of surprises. Be aware.

The Portage Diversion is operating in an attempt to manage the ice on the lower Assiniboine.

The Whitemud River between Gladstone and Lake Manitoba is rising quickly and at the top of its bank in Gladstone. Area residents need to heed the high water advisory and be vigilant for flash flooding.

So far daytime temperatures are well below normal and below freezing. This is will slow the melt rate and possibly mitigate the run-off. Seasonal temperatures are predicted for later in the week.

Today’s flood update from the province completely ignores the current status of the Souris River, one of the rivers mostly likely to flood, and what’s happening in The Pas. These are two areas the province knows will flood. Where’s the info?

More updates to come…

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Spruce Woods Park Is Flooding…

Reid Dickie


Today the province released its second daily flood update and little Spruce Woods Park appears to be flooding again.

An ice jam upstream from the park caused the Assiniboine River to rise seven feet overnight. Its waters now overflow Highway 5 which is closed for 2 kms in both directions from the bridge. The update says, “Maintenance crews have been dispatched to investigate where the ice jam is located, if it is in an accessible location ice jam mitigation action may be undertaken.” Let’s hope so.

If its flowing over the highway the water is also making its way along the ditches toward the access road into the Spirit Sands trail head and Marsh Lake north of the river and the oxbows to the south. Hopefully it won’t spill over into the lower campground as it did in 2011’s flood. The campground has been repaired over the past two years and just reopened last summer.

If I can get out there next week I’ll report from the park. Below is a picture of how Highway 5 looked after the 2011 flood in Spruce Woods Park. JULY 2011 YURT PICTURES 084

Several secondary roads have been closed due to flooding. You can find current information at

Otherwise the province has issued a High Water Advisory meaning ice jams along Manitoba rivers, which are just starting to break up, could cause sudden overland flooding. Be especially alert if you live near the Assiniboine or Whitemud.

People living near Whitewater Lake in southwestern Manitoba should know the lake is at a record high level this spring. Provincial hydrologists are monitoring the lake’s outflow carefully. Be alert for possible overland flooding near the lake.

Southern Manitoba received a heavy wet snowfall today. Thankfully it didn’t amount to the 10 cms predicted but there is a fresh coat of snow itching to melt and drain. Areas around Riding Mountain received more snow than southern regions.

The daily flood updates can be accessed at

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Luxton School, 111 Polson Avenue, Winnipeg (1908)

LUXTON 006_3

Reid Dickie

During the 1950 Flood, many Winnipeg schools on higher ground were pressed into emergency service. Luxton School became headquarters for the Police, the Navy and the Scotia Street Flood Sufferers Association. Located east of Main Street, the school sits at the top of a steep rise that falls away to the Red River. During the flood, the water rose so high that the Navy docked their boats near the school door.

Luxton School was among the first in a series of increasingly larger mitchell_jb5schools designed by Schools Architect J. B. Mitchell (right) and built between about 1907 and 1915 in what is today Winnipeg School Division #1. Among these enormous buildings were Laura Secord (1912), Isaac Brock (1913), Earl Grey (1915) and the two original Technical High Schools, Kelvin (1910) and St John’s (1912).

Luxton was the first school to utilize a modern and safer layout – a wide central hallway with rooms along each side. Previous schools were boxy and three-storeys while the new design was two-storeys with horizontal massing and sprawled out on its large lot.

Construction by building contractor John Saul began in 1907 with the cornerstone laid on September 28. Completed the following year at a cost of $86,167, Luxton School had 12 classrooms and a manual training area. When it opened in 1908, Luxton School employed eight teachers instructing 338 pupils, average class size was 42. In 1920, the school had an average monthly enrolment of 1048. Enrolment in 2014 is 250 students from Nursery to Grade Six plus Special Education.

Luxton School was equipped with the latest technology as recommended by Superintendent Daniel McIntyre and Architect Mitchell. The building was heated by direct and indirect methods of steam heating with mechanical ventilation and an air washer.

Winnipeg experienced a boom time in the early 1900s and as the School Board’s ability to accommodate the influx of new students diminished, schools were often put into temporary use to teach certain grades. In 1909, four of the upper rooms in Luxton School were used for a Technical High School teaching Grades 7 through 9. When St. John’s Technical High School opened in 1912, these students moved there. With the addition, Luxton held Grades 1 to 9 until 1967 when the Junior High grades moved to St. John’s Technical. For a few more years, until 2000, Luxton was a Junior High again.

The building we see today is actually two distinct places, both LUXTON 118designed by J. B. Mitchell but built seven years apart. The original 1908 section (left and below from 1910) is on the east end and the 1916 addition on the west. Although the designs are similar, the detailing and execution of the 1916 part are better quality.


Contractors Worwick Brothers added the eight rooms onto the schoolLUXTON 012_9 in 1916. Every school on which the Worwicks worked has excellent quality craftsmanship in its masonry, especially in fine details like corbelling, window surrounds and gables. Cost of the addition was $50,479.


In this early picture (above) of the completed Luxton School you can see the differences in styles that architect Mitchell employed on each section. Note the wrought iron cresting along the roof peaks.

Set on a tall limestone foundation Luxton School’s architecture is a mix of Georgian and Classical Revival, two of Mitchell’s favourite styles, both popular at the time. Two pale shades of Manitoba pressed brick, a light tan and a pale yellow, along with Tyndall stone combine to create a subtle palette to which elegant decorative elements were added. The masonry style is American bond with every sixth course of bricks headers. Limestone sills and lintels are used at every window.


The 1908 entry pavilion (above) is an off-centre widely projecting portico supported by smooth round pillars. The original pressed tin remains on its ceiling. A broad and elegant limestone arch frames the double doorway. There is a fanlight over the main entrance.


Above the original entrance (above) on the projecting bay and all around the entire 1908 section the roofline features a low ornamented parapet, short columns topped with orbs and the school name in stone.

The entrance on the 1916 addition is a bit of Classical Revival LUXTON 018_15whimsy (right), something Mitchell was not averse to including in his designs. A portico with square pillars and an open arcade along each side, thick entablature with a decorated and corbelled parapet and two octahedral urns create an elegant and elevating entry. An arched entrance surrounds the double doors and the school name is carved in stone.

The side entrance uses a variation on a Dutch gable featuring a trio of arched windows surmounted with a bull’s-eye.

LUXTON 016_13

Distinguishing features of Mitchell’s work are a variety of dormers seen here (above) on the 1916 addition only, the attractive limestone parapet with orbs and the corbelling which richly accentuates the head of every second floor window and the base of the cornice. The corbelling on the 1916 addition is different from and much more intricate than the corbelling on the original building. Viewed in full, the school has an aura of stability, promise and hope.

Safety and lighting are always a concern in school design, accomplished here by the extra wide hallways and large windows in every classroom. The wide central hallway with rooms off each side accommodated physical exercises, previously done in classrooms. The classrooms and hallways retain the pressed copper ceilings and some original stained glass windows.


This view (above) of the rear of Luxton School shows the brick detailing was not just for the front facade but extended all around the building.

For fireproofing, the door and window frames leading into stairwells are brass and the original dividers in the washrooms were made of slate. Luxton’s pillar-free auditorium (a rarity at the time) in the basement, complete with hardwood floors, came into use in 1919. Today it is used for the lunch program, Mary Kardash Child Care Centre and the before/after school program.

Contractor Peter Leitch added two more rooms and a gym in 1949 at a cost of $72,150. A newer gym complete with equipment storage, change rooms, showers, phys ed office and a kitchen was built in 1989 by Westland Construction at a cost of $457,410.

The first Home and School Associations in Winnipeg was started at Luxton School and Wellington School in 1915. Luxton got a public address system in 1962.

In 2008, Luxton School was named one of the top 25 best elementary and middle schools in Canada by Today’s Parent magazine.

adele_wisemanIllustrious alumni of Luxton School tend toward the arts and show business. Acclaimed novelist Adele Wiseman (left) who wrote The Sacrifice (1956) and Crackpot (1974) attended Luxton as did actor, sportscaster and game show host Monty Hall (right) who is best known for his hosting of Let’s Make a Deal.Monty_hall_abc_tv

burtonGuess Who singer and songwriter Burton Cummings (left) attended Luxton and returned for the centennial. Watch Burton Cummings perform at his alma mater during the centennial celebration. simpkins reat-photo-pf-jim

A Luxton student, artist and cartoonist Jim Simpkins (right) was one of jasper_cartoon_8the original artists with Canada’s National Film Board and the creator of Jasper the Bear (left) who is still the mascot for Jasper National Park.KENNY IN COSTA RICA - Copy

Kenny Boyce, (right) City of Winnipeg Film and Special Events Manager, attended Luxton School stein 2as did actress and writer Johanna Stein (left). Watch Johanna perform Stairway to Winnipeg on Mortified.

Luxton School is named after a major figure in Winnipeg’s history, William Fisher Luxton. Born in England, Luxton came to Canada as a child. He learned the newspaper business in Ontario and was sent west as a correspondent. Persuaded to be the first teacher at the first public school in the city, he taught in a log shanty located between Henryluxton_wf2 Avenue and Maple Street (now Higgins). Though Luxton (right) only taught for one year at the school, he remained active as a school trustee.

Luxton was a founder of Winnipeg General Hospital, a charter member of the Winnipeg Board of Trade, a member of the provincial Board of Education and active in provincial and federal politics.

Another of his lasting contributions was the Manitoba Free Press, which he started with John Kenny. It’s first issue went to press on November 9, 1872. The newspaper evolved into the Winnipeg Free Press in 1931.

Luxton died the year construction of the school began. His portrait still hangs in the school.

lauzon_jb2The Lauzon family ran a farm and abattoir on the land where Luxton School sits. They sold it to the School Board in 1906. Jean Baptiste Lauzon (left), a Montrealer, came to Winnipeg in 1876, opened a thriving butcher shop in St Boniface, prompting a second location in the now-demolished Public Market Building behind old City Hall. Lauzon served in municipal and provincial OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAgovernments and, like proper public figures, required a dwelling to match. The original 1896 Lauzon home (right), a dainty Queen Anne style two storey, still stands directly behind Luxton School.

Luxton School celebrated its centennial in 2007. 


Luxton School

Built 1907-08

Additions 1916, 1949, 1989

Materials: two shades of pale tan brick, limestone

Style: Neo-Georgian and Classical Revival two-storey

Architect: J. B. Mitchell

Contractors: 1908 John Saul, 1916 Worwick Brothers, 1949 Peter Leitch, 1989 Westland

Original cost $86,167

Current assessed value $1,556,000

Acreage 2.3 acres


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Read Reid Radio

CKY chartscan0001

Reid Dickie

When I was twelve years old I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a disc jockey on the radio. That was my dream job, I told my parents.

As a kid growing up in a small prairie town three hours away from YORK 002any big city, my best escape was listening to the radio. Transistor radios came out in the late 1950s. I got my first one for my birthday in 1961. It was a six transistor York, made in Japan for the New York Transistor Company on Fifth Avenue, NYC. My York had a gold metal front with perforated metal speaker, black and cream coloured hard plastic case hiding its guts and a heavy 9-volt battery. (Factoid: 9-YORK 001volt batteries were invented to power transistor radios.) It was encased in a “genuine leather” case with YORK embossed in gold on the front.

As you can see (above, right) I still have the radio. It no longer turns on or off. It’s gone to radio limbo.

That little York became my constant companion filling my life with an ever-changing but comfortable soundtrack of pop music given extra depth and excitement by the on-air antics of the personable guys who spun the discs. That’s who I wanted to be.

Disc jockeys like Daryl B(urlingham), Jimmy Darin, Mark Parr, Peter Jackson PJ the DJ, Chuck Dann, Porky Charbonneau, Dennis Dino Corrie at CKY, Canada’s Friendly Giant originating in a little room on Winnipeg’s Main Street, came pounding across the prairie riding 50,000 clear watts. Here’s their chart from the week I turned 16. Click to enlarge. CKRCscan0003CKRCscan0004















CKRC, Winnipeg’s other less powerful pop station whose signal strength varied out in my little town, still managed to leave an indelible impression with DJs like Boyd Kozak, Jim Paulson, Don Slade, Bob Washington, Doc Steen, Ron Legge. Here is their chart from the week I turned 12 and got my York radio. Click to enlarge. CKRCscan0001               CKRCscan0002














Near dusk when radio stations changed their signal patterns, WLS, 50,000 clear watts from Chicago came booming in. DJs like John Records Landecker, Dick Biondi, Larry Lujack, Chuck Knapp had incomparable pipes (voices) and songs never sounded better than on WLS_1964-12-18_1WLS. The massive wattage carrying the signal buoyed even the most banal pop ditty to powerful new heights. And WLS made great songs sound even greater. I was never sure how that mystical condition was achieved but I knew I wanted to be part of it, to ride those invisible waves crashing onto transistor beaches and young hearts across the continent. It was a big dream for a little kid.

All the hits, all the time! John Records Landecker’s motto was, “Records is my middle name.” That’s how I felt about records and pop music in general starting in 1960. This feeling increased by quantum leaps in 1964 when The Beatles et al were released to North America. I encouraged the local radio/TV repair shop in the little town to carry CKY’s weekly hit parade charts and I amassed a fine collection that I referred to often for this post. I loved poring over the charts, tracing the arcs of my favourite songs, what song debuted the highest, all the permutations and changes I could wring out of fifty pop songs.

How does the announcement by a 12-year-old that he wants to devote his existence to playing records on the radio go over with his parents? Some amusement at first but I was adamant about this which led to bewilderment then concern. Mom definitely wanted a doctor son to cure all her ills and Dad wanted a hockey player. I had to disappoint them both. They eventually understood. By the time I was sixteen and steadfast in my future career choice, my parents started to come around and say things like, “If you are going to be a radio announcer, we’ll send you to school to be a damn good one.” The universe was unfolding as it should.

Disc jockey was generalized and upgraded into radio announcer by my parents and in the 1960s the best place to learn how to be a good one in Canada was at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in downtown Toronto. The course was called Radio and Television Arts (RTA): three years of hands-on technical training on top quality, modern equipment mixed with psychology, sociology, writing, speech training and even a class in foreign pronunciations. First year was mostly radio, second and third all TV. I’m not photogenic so radio was my only interest in taking RTA. The program sounded interesting to both my parents and I so we started working toward it.

The day came in late August 1968 when I stepped off the train at Union Station in downtown Toronto on my way to Ryerson. The culture shock of moving from a town of 700 people to a city of two million (then) excited and stimulated me. Any fears I had struggled beneath a heavy covering of optimism and hope. It was the Sixties when anything was still possible. Everyone felt that.

Ryerson (now a university) is located one block off Yonge Street’s section called The Strip, at least it was in the late 1960s. Strip clubs, bars, XXX movie theatres, organ grinders with monkeys, chestnut roasters, buskers, Hari Krishnas, hippies and hipsters, the denizens brought throngs downtown every night.

The first year I stayed in Ryerson’s residence across the street from the school. Sam the Record Man and A & A Records were right around the corner on Yonge Street. Ronnie Hawkins’ club The Hawk’s Nest where I saw the Kinks and Parliament/Funkadelic (not on the same bill) was two blocks down. The Rock Pile, a Masonic Temple converted into a Rock & Roll Shrine where I saw Led Zeppelin two days after their first album came out, was a ten minute walk away. On the way you could stop at the Riverboat Coffeehouse in Yorkville and see John Lee Hooker or James Taylor. At the Ryerson folk club The Onion you could watch Bruce Cockburn begin his glorious arc or Leon Redbone perform to a tomato. At Massey Hall I saw The Fugs and Laura Nyro (not on the same bill). I had moved from lonesome howling prairie wind song to the 24-hour thrum and throb of Canada’s pop cultural heart.

My first year was intense and exactly what I needed and wanted to learn about radio, not just as an announcer but as a producer with awareness of potential future career growth. I wasn’t as ambitious as many of the others though I succeeded the first year. That summer I worked at Clear Lake and went back to Ryerson in the fall of 1969 much less enthused.

Culturally Toronto still overwhelmed with the new and the shiny but TV was the main focus that year and, at the time, I hated TV. As a result I developed a kind of accidee, a good old word meaning torpor or sloth, which combined with a yearning to be away from the cold city and back on the prairie. It made for a rough year.

My saving grace came in the form of a radio station. As much as the DJs on CKY, CKRC and WLS had inspired me and the teachers at Ryerson had taught me, CHUM-FM, Toronto’s underground radio station, completed my radio education. CHUM-FM was my post-grad work.

Underground radio was free-form radio, usually on FM, no format, few ads, the announcers played what they wanted usually in long music sequences, lots of brand new music mixed with familiar tunes, unpredictable crazy fun to the highest degree. CHUM-FM was Canada’s premier underground station.

I remember listening to Dave Marsden doing a laidback but amusing persona completely opposite that of his previous role, Dave Mickie on CBC-TV’s noisy Razzle Dazzle. The graveyard shift on CHUM-FM was pritchardfilled by David Pritchard (left) whose delivery, style and choice of music had an enormous effect on me and the radio would later create. Pritchard had a dark and dry delivery that was full of surprises and always made you wonder if he was putting you on. Frank Zappa described his show as “an utter freak out.”

That year I lived alone in an apartment paid for by a classmate as a cover so he could live with his girlfriend elsewhere. The apartment, across the street from Allen Gardens, had at least two inorganic occupants as well. David Pritchard and I became adept at scaring away the night spooks. I saw many sunrises and few classrooms that year.

The summer of 1970 I worked in the little town until I got my first radio job. Dad had a drinking buddy who had a drinking buddy who had a buddy who ran CFAR, the radio station in the mining town of Flin Flon, Manitoba. Connections!

I started at CFAR in October 1970. On my first day station manager Jay Leddy had me run the controls for him early Sunday morning for an hour then stood up and said, “You’re on your own, kid.” No net! It was delightfully terrifying. The first song I played on cfarthe radio, real radio with people listening, was Sunday Morning Coming Down by Johnny Cash. By the end of shift I had settled in, almost comfortable, getting chatty. Ryerson was right! I’d been taught well.

At a little 1,000-watt station like CFAR, whose staff was maybe six people, I got to do everything: play records, prepare and read news and sportscasts, interview people on-air, read the daily stock market closings, answer the phone, write and read ad copy, type logs, sell ads, sweep the floor and even train announcers newer than me. Gary Roberts from Winnipeg was one such guy.

We both cut our teeth at CFAR, became good friends and shared lots of small town fun. Admirably ambitious, Gary, real name Reg Johns, went on to program radio stations in the U.S. and now runs Mass2One Media in Carlsbad, CA. We chatted about a year ago.

I spent ten months at CFAR. In July 1971 I got my second radio gig at CKX-AM in Brandon, an hour from my hometown. Mom was thrilled! She could finally listen to me. Frank Bird, whom I had listened to since childhood, hired me to do the CKX all night show 1:00 to 7:00 a.m. six nights a week. The only music restriction was I had to play country music from 5:00 to 7:00, otherwise I could play whatever I wanted. The music library at CKX was adequate to my needs and the record companies were generous with new releases. I had my own underground radio show for four hours a night. The freedom was delicious! It was heaven!

I was required to rip and read a three-minute newscast at the top of every hour. My time at CKX coincided with Watergate and Richard Nixon’s destiny. As a consequence I honed a passable Nixon impression often using it for the whole newscast. This is a shot of me (below) at 6:00 a.m. in the CKX studio about 1972. REID CKX 1972 Although not a major market, Brandon was a step up in my career. CKX had an FM station that was on auto-program during the day and simulcast AM all night. CKX-FM leaked into Winnipeg somehow, maybe cable TV. I recall several Winnipeg people calling me to say they’d listened to me on CKX.

I did the CKX all-night show for twenty-three months having no ambition to do a day shift. I was happy with my freedom and whatever audience was generated all night. I was getting tired of Brandon though, overly familiar Brandon, the city of my birth was getting real stale at 23.

In July of 1973 I scored my major market job. Duff Roman hired me to do an evening underground radio show from 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. on CFRW-FM. During the day, FM simulcast CFRW-AM until I took over for the evening. Again free form, no format, run wild. So I did.

When I started at CFRW-FM the office and studios were in the Confederation Building on the curve on Main Street. They were cramped and chaotic. A few months later CKY moved their studios to Polo Park. CFRW bought the former CKY studios, which were located in the London Block, a three-storey building at 432 Main Street N. next to the McIntyre Building. All are gone now. CKY master control 1965

Turns out after the move, the studio where I did my show was the same one the CKY DJs I admired so much on my York radio had used (left about 1965). It was a shivery and wonderful completion of a life circle for me.

CFRW-FM was also theREID CFRW 1974 best radio I ever created. I was on-air six nights a week (right) and Ziggy filled in on my night off. I don’t know what became of Ziggy.

The precedent for underground radio in Winnipeg had been set a few years before my arrival by Now Flower on CKY-FM. On-air from 1968 into 1971, Now Flower was created and manned by Jan Thorsteinson and Harold Gershuny who called himself Gersh. It broke the ground for me by creating an audience and a taste for free-form radio that lingered then disappeared briefly to be reincarnated on CFRW-FM. CKY ad

FM radio was relatively unknown in the 1960s, having been used mainly for classical music. Underground radio helped change that. This Advance ad (left) indicates how popular and cool Now Flower was. The late 1960s ad for a Lloyd’s FM/AM radio mentions Now Flower on 92.1 CKY-FM along the bottom of the ad. I spoke with Jan Thorsteinson recently to do some fact-checking of dates for this post. He’s happily retired in rural Manitoba. I’m not sure of Gersh’s whereabouts.

With the benefit of The Long View, I see Now Flower as the opening bracket and my show on CFRW-FM as the closing bracket since it was the last underground radio on a commercial station in Winnipeg. Between us lies the full extent and duration of alternative radio in Winnipeg. Thereafter, university radio stations began filling the gap. CFRW list0001   Click to enlarge             CFRW list0002









As these two diverse lists of albums I played in 1974 and 1975 indicate (above, right), music on underground radio needed to be unabashedly varied because the element of surprise (never knowing what you’re going to hear next) had to be maintained – the less predictable the better.

The first two Bruce Springsteen albums came out in 1973 and I played tracks from both of them every night in Brandon and Winnipeg. CFRW-FM had a very active and demanding audience so I played lots of requests.

Manitoba had a rash of UFO sightings in the 1970s. During self-proclaimed Alien Week, I did a bit where every night at a certain time I would announce the co-ordinates of our transmitting tower and invite any amenable aliens to contact us using our transmitter. Two minutes of silence, dead air, followed. The aliens never took me up on my offer but apparently there were more than a few earthlings glued to the silence.

In the 1970s it was illegal to advertise alcohol before ten o’clock at night (imagine that!). CFRW-FM had a heavy contract with Club Beer which meant I had to play three or four beer commercials an hour. Though humorous and nutty, the ads wore thin fast.

In 1975 CHUM from Toronto purchased CFRW AM & FM and the death knell for underground radio began to sound. CHUM changed the call letters to CHIQ which became Q94-FM and adopted a nauseating ice-water format of banality and conformity.

The irony is that CHUM, whose FM flagship station taught me so much about free-form radio, were the ones to put the kibosh on alternative radio in Winnipeg.

Since I could think and talk at the same time, CHUM kept me on to do a 90-minute afternoon talk show on Q94 called Forum. I interviewed people on the phone and live in the studio, like the 12-year-old evangelist preacher and Mr. Manitoba, adding in interviews from my Toronto counterpart. There was still something unpredictable and free-form about a talk show plus I got to ask weird questions. I enjoyed that greatly. Extra bonus: I loved pissing off the “music director” by playing Tom Waits instead of Elton John during my musical interlude.

Looking back it seems as if the main reason I worked at CFRW was to meet, fall in love with and spend my life with Linda. She was the boss’s Girl Friday, traffic reporter, occasional copywriter and all-around beauty. Though mostly an evening creature at the station, I did appear occasionally during the day after making sure she’d be there. I quit CFRW in early 1977, Linda and I moved in together and we lived a bohemian lifestyle, making art, meeting new people, having fun. Much of that era is documented on the DTC ART page.

My next and final radio gig was at CJUM-FM where I was hired by Brent Mooney as music director for the struggling University of Manitoba station which had come on the air in September 1975 and closed in June 1980. New wave was just underway when I started there in 1978 and we ran with it. With niche tastes serviced while enlightening others, CJUM-FM had even more diversity than underground radio. We played plenty of Winnipeg bands as you can see by the music lists from 1979 (below). CJUM list0001   Click to enlarge           CJUM list0002











Though the 1980s and 90s were dry radio-wise, CJUM-FM returned in 1998. The following year CKUW, at the University of Winnipeg, debuted on air. Both continue to provide high quality accessible radio.

My childhood dream came true. I was a disc jockey for ten years. Then I had the epiphanal moment: when one dream is realized, another begins…


Filed under 1960s, BEAUTY, Music, Radio, Winnipeg

Summer Miles – 2014 Manitoba Events, Festivals and Flooding

Reid & Vicker Viscount in Garland

Reid Dickie

The spring melt is inevitable, though it doesn’t feel that way with massive amounts of snow everywhere. To give you some idea of the kind of winter it’s been, I shot this from the train coming in from the west in late-March. This mountain of snow that dwarfs the heavy equipment tending it is some of the snow cleared from Winnipeg streets this winter. Click pic to start 30 second clip. Snapshot 1 (31-03-2014 1-17 PM)

Depending on snow quality and quantity as well as melt rate, Manitoba could be in for a heavy flood season..or not. The province has another new flood watch manager who on March 31 predicted the potential for spring flooding is near normal for most of the province. Translated out of Steve Ashtonese, it’s goodish news!

In fact, the flood news is downright rosy. We won’t need the Winnipeg Floodway nor the Portage Diversion this year, well, maybe we’ll just use 10% of them. Highway 75, frequently bathed by floodwaters, won’t get a bath year. The Shellmouth Reservoir has been drained down to catch all the incoming Assiniboine River. Oh yeah…this depends on cooperation from the weather which hasn’t been very cooperative so far this year. Flood predicting is hydrological guesswork, playing the odds as discerned from computer models.

There are three Manitoba sites where flooding is very likely to occur: The Pas, southwest Manitoba and some low-lying areas of Winnipeg due to run-off.  Above normal soil moisture and snow pack means The Pas will likely experience localized flooding from run-off. The Souris River, whose headwaters has above average snow pack this year, will threaten the Souris/Melita area and points south. A Winnipeg flood truly depends on a slow melt. Our sewers are old. The whole flood report is here.

If the province is inundated I will start my summer travels early to provide firsthand flood reports. Otherwise I’ll hit the road in early May.

My summer travel plans will have a distinct focus this year which can be described with one word: inside. I’m always looking for new wrinkles on old stuff. Blog readers and viewers flock to my heritage reports from inside old abandoned buildings so that is where I will focus my cameras this summer. I have a short list of places to record and I’m open to suggestions. Watch for my reports starting in May.

During our gorgeous Manitoba summers we are treated to a panoply of festivals, events and happenings.

Folk Fest hugsWorld-renown Winnipeg Folk Festival July 9 to 13, 2014 enlivens Bird’s Hill Park for the forty-first time. Among the performers this year are Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt, John Hammond, the Sheepdogs and a hundred others. Every second year Cooks Creek becomes the scene of jousting, fair damsels, ogres, armoured hand-to-hand combat, fire dancers, jesters, archery and all things medieval. This year their Medieval Festival on the Medieval festival at church and grottogrounds of Immaculate Conception Church and Grotto will be held Saturday, July 26. At $10 a ticket it’s one of the best festival bargains in Manitoba. Watch my report from the 2012 festival. The first annual Carberry Heritage Festival last year gave the town an opportunity to celebrate and share its past, show off its wealth of heritage buildings and its hospitality while bringing some new faces to town. It was deemed a success and this year’s Carberry Heritage Muzzleloaders at Carberry Heritage FestivalFestival will be held Friday and Saturday August 8 & 9, 2014. Once again I will help promote the event and document the festivities. I’ll be posting their schedule of events closer to the festival. Watch my report from last year’s festival. A brand new idea that should appeal to communities of all sizes was hatched last year by the people who promote Dauphin. They created Yardfringe, the first event of its kind anywhere. For theYardfringe Master gist of it, read my report from last year’s event. In 2014, Yardfringe will happen Saturday September 27 as part of their Arts Alive Day. I’ll have more details as they become available. Other events are yet to be announced but when they are green-lit I’ll post them here. We Manitobans have waited with varying degrees of patience for this winter to end. When it does, all the more reason to celebrate. See you on the road.

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Filed under Blog Life, Carberry, Churches, Dauphin, Day Tripping, Festivals, Heritage Festival

Email from Shirty

Hi Ho Fools and Tools,

What better day to update you on my alleged career!

Last missive I told you those numbed-down slotheads Tapioca Hot Tub hired me to promote their vile drivel. I seem to have a talent for it since their new “song” Marshall McLuhan Steels His Gaze just hit NUMBER ONE on the Brain Failure Top Ten!! Click pic and see for yourself. Snapshot 1 (29-03-2014 9-22 PM) I guess my publicity stunt of having the band members waterboarded in public on the main drag of Vancooper has really paid off. You’ll be wondering how I can top that. Just watch me!

It’s our special day, widgets! Do something foolish!

My fly keeps unzipping itself and my shoelaces won’t stay tied.

Still pigeon-toed,


Read Shirty’s next email

Read Shirty’s previous email.

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Filed under Humour