Monthly Archives: December 2014

Achieving Geezerhood – Reid’s 2014 Year-End Review

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Reid Dickie

Geezerhood

Somehow life managed to transport me to age 65 this year placing me firmly in the category of senior citizen. Of course, I resist that as much as possible while still getting the geezer discounts and pensions that accrue to me. Turns out, for me, 65 is the new 45. I originally told friends 65 is the new 40 then I started comparing myself to some 40-year-olds I know and realized I needed to adjust my figures.

It’s become obvious from The Long View that there are at least two kinds of age: the number of years I’m around which is relevant to the system as my part of the herd, and age as a state of awareness which is relevant to me as an individual and the growth I accomplish in this life. Both need to be honoured.

The Distance

The Mighty Avenger accompanied/enabled me on my 14,000 kms of summer travel, alas, for the final time. Dodge has decided to discontinue making Avengers so my moving persona will be overhauled next year when it comes time for Mother Enterprise to birth me a new vehicle. I will miss the Avenger. Over the past five summers I’ve driven ten different Avengers, all basically the same. Sitting in the car was as familiar as sitting in my living room. The performance was consistent car to car, year to year, as was the service I received at Enterprise.

Personal Creative

My large video project The Lonesomes: 16 Prairie Stories wound up on YouTube afterSnapshot 1 (23-05-2013 5-59 PM) many unsuccessful attempts at getting it into film festivals. YouTube has the individual stories plus the entire work. Along with the sixteen short videos, I posted the script and the backstory for each story on my blog. This was the year I went after free wild samples big time, downloading hours of free images and sounds from sites like freesound.org and archive.org. This provided the basic content for a few dozen short videos which I call absurd found art.  One example I’m especially fond of is called The Curve. I downloaded a short black and white video clip of a curve in a road and added the muffled sound of people walking. I decribed ten spontaneous stories of events that happened at this curve. The parameters of the descriptions were easy: each had to contain a number. I combined  the stories with the video and an hour later had my piece. It needed an intro. The images of the red curtain rising and falling is perfectly absurd. Click the picture below to watch The Curve. It’s 3:45 long. Snapshot 1 (22-12-2014 1-46 PM) Incorporating found material I created four short videos using my flash fiction stories as narratives. Click the pics to watch. Snapshot 1 (22-12-2014 10-40 PM)        Itinerary Item  1:35     Snapshot 1 (29-03-2014 9-28 PM)    Grass of the Apocalypse   1:17     Snapshot 2 (22-05-2014 6-55 PM)    I Am Aspen Smoke  4:38     Snapshot 1 (22-12-2014 10-54 PM)    God is At Home/Atomic Prayer  4:53     Along with my found art and other video documentations this year, I have been compelled by The Muse to write my coming-of-age in a small town in the 1960s novel, now almost complete. The working title is Some Stuff. My hometown provides the physical layout for the town in the story. None of the characters, including mine, bears much resemblance to anyone in particular. Instead the characters are composites of aspects and traits I’ve noticed over my life. I’ve never embarked on a project this intense or complex. It requires me to spend five to eight hours a day writing. Backed up with a solid outline, the thing starts to write itself after awhile. Characters become overly familiar and take on a life of their own. I see them at the coffee shop or grocery store. A couple of characters have suggested their own destiny to me, some quibble about a line of dialogue I have written for them, other characters will join in the debate. It’s a long conversation that goes on in my head which I empty out daily, spattering it across the pages. No matter how good or bad a character is, I am responsible for every one of them; they live and die by my key strokes. Despite that, I find the characters sometimes use me as their conduit to get the words on the page. I just type what they tell me to.

Heritage

Criddle/Vane house

CRIDDLE HOUSE 001 Over the past five years I’ve devoted an enormous amount of energy and time studying the Criddle/Vane family and their incredible story of survival as pioneers on the Canadian plains. Their reasonably intact homestead has been a constant source of inspiration as I followed their story with the intent of it becoming a screenplay one day. Regular readers of this blog know the homestead is a favourite haunt of mine. FLOOD JULY 2 to 4 2014 pics 002I visited the homestead on Monday, June 23 with my cousin Vonda who had never been there before. The house had recently been boarded up (above) so no access inside was available. I’ve felt for some time this would be an excellent idea, at least to protect it somehow. Two days later on Wednesday June 25 arsonists burned the 120 year old Criddle/Vane house to the ground. The crime remains unsolved. The sign on the left is located about three miles south of the turn-off to the Criddle/Vane homestead. Although the house is gone, documentation of it exists in several ways. One of them is my 3:55 video tour of both floors of the interior of the house which I shot in 2013. I haven’t returned to the homestead this year. I can’t really bring myself to see it without the eight-bedroom house towering over the remains of the family’s history, the enormous amount of wood the place required and the glories and tragedies the house contained. It makes me angry that more protection wasn’t given to the place; the threats to it were real and obvious. Another effect of the loss has been a dulling of my interest in heritage. Over the years my endeavors have been quite scatter-gun all over the province, dabbling in this and that. Moving past that I decided to focus my heritage energies on one location and try to make a difference there.

Carberry

Deciding where to focus my energy and intent was quite easy. I just picked the place with the best heritage stuff outside of Winnipeg – Carberry. I’d helped promote the first Carberry Heritage Festival in 2013 by writing a media release for them and documenting the festival. In 2014 I was much more involved in the festival, attending planning meetings and promoting the event. A family emergency prevented me from attending the 2014 festival but it was deemed a success by organizers and the next festival is August 7 and 8, 2015. Check out the festival website. It wasn’t just the heritage buildings and unique history that attracted me to Carberry, it was and still is the people. I’ve met some of the nicest, most sincere people of my life in Carberry. When I go there I am reminded of growing up in Shoal Lake – the leisurely pace of life, the friendliness of people even to strangers, the lack of most of the crappy things about urban life and the sound and vibration of trains going through town. Carberry heritage people are very appreciative of my contributions. In addition to building the festival website, this year I also wrote and designed a walking tour book of Carberry that features 45 heritage places. I’m still working on some design features for the book but hope to have it available for the summer of 2015. Possibly the Carberry town council will help fund the book then the local heritage organizations can sell it as a fund raiser. I’ll keep you posted.

Winnipeg’s Grand Old Schools

One of my heritage interests has always been Winnipeg’s grand old schools, the ones built in the first half of the 20th century. Over a decade ago I did a freelance series for the Winnipeg Free Press on the schools, even writing and designing a book on the subject that no one wanted to publish. This year I updated the school features and posted them on my EARL GREY 1Schools page. Earl Grey School (left) was my alma mater for the series which I explain in the article. The other schools already posted are Isbister/Adult Education Centre, Ecole Provencher, Luxton, La Verendrye and Laura Secord. I am posting them in chronological order by the year they were built. I expect to post six to eight school features a year. In addition to the old schools that still stand, I feature ten schools that have been demolished with pictures and descriptions. Along with posts on Winnipeg schools, the Schools page has articles on many rural schools, architect J. B. Mitchell, spiral fire escapes, live-in custodian suites in schools, William Sisler, the first junior high school and much more. I had a teacher mom and I have posted her Grade 11 exams from 1930 along with the rules of conduct teachers of the era were expected to follow. Coming soon is a feature on some of the teaching materials Mom used in the 1930s when she taught in rural Manitoba.

Favourite Spots

Besides Carberry and the nearby Camp Hughes, two of my favourite spots this year have been Beaudry Park and Alexander Ridge Park. Beaudry is a small provincial park on the bend of the Assiniboine with some hiking trails and picnic areas. It sports a bit of original tall grass prairie. Situated just west of Headingley, the park is perfect for an afternoon’s relaxation to bask in the sun or sit in the shade and work on some details of my novel. alex 2Alexander Ridge Park (left) is halfway up the escarpment just west of Miami, Manitoba. The view of the vast lake bed below is spectacular making the 75 minute drive from Winnipeg well worth it. This year the park added a new lookout tower and a washroom. I spent many long hours working out details of the book at the park. I took a couple of old buddies to enjoy the view. Afterward a drive up onto the top of the escarpment wending my way back to the city.

Culturebound

Movies

I have a short list of artists of all stripes with whom I will gladly go wherever they want to take me. Musically Tom Waits is on my list, cinematically Federico Fellini and fully completely Dali. Obviously I have tendencies toward the surreal. I miss Fellini’s fantastic visions and not having a new Fellini film to look forward to. To remedy that I seek out filmmakers with similar artistic motives and motifs finding two this year. I have already posted about The Color of Pomegranates (1968), a surrealistic telling of thecolor pomogranates life of Armenian poet Sayat Nova by Russian director Sergei Parajanov. Released the year before Fellini’s Satyricon, the film creates similar trance-like imagery. The image on the right is from the film. This year I discovered a more recent film The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza, 2013) that celebrates Rome as enthusiastically and humourously as Fellini’s portrait of the great 3city in Roma (1972). Well-known and well-loved writer Jep Gambardella, handsomely portrayed by Toni Servillo (left), has just turned 65 and attends party after party in his honour between which he reminisces about his life in Rome and his love affairs while interviewing a parade of odd characters for a book. Director Paolo Sorrentino, who also wrote the screenplay, often goes full homage to Fellini as in the early scene with the nun on a ladder half obscured by a lemon tree followed by a murmuration of black birds across a chem trail. At the 37 minute point there is a scene in a hallway of two men grieving for the same dead woman that is breath-taking! Modern Rome and Old Rome mesh in delightful ways: Jep’s apartment looks out onto thegreat 1 Colosseum and a performance artist does her bizarre act at the ancient Roman aqueduct. Jep’s friend Stefano has a case that contains the keys to Rome’s most beautiful buildings so we accompany them on a long nighttime jaunt through empty museums, palaces, promenades and incredibly ornate rooms, filmed with a definite shout-out to Fellini’s brothel scene in Satyricon. The sources of humour in The Great Beauty are the same as Fellini’s: bureaucracy, politicians, sexuality, religion. Jep interviews a 104-year- great 4old saint (her feet don’t touch the floor) whose minder says the most outrageous things about her. At Jep’s dinner party in the saint’s honour, a flock of flamingos show up on his balcony (above) followed by the saint’s odd reaction. The Great Beauty won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in 2014. If you like witnessing unlikely things you’ve never seen before, The Great Beauty provides two hours and twenty minutes of it, every moment striking and unusual. It’s not for everyone but it could be for you. Netflix has it in Italian with English subtitles. Watch the trailer. Other new movies I enjoyed included St. Vincent, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy (yes, I admit it!), Gone Girl, On the Road and The Hobbit. I’ve just come from seeing The Hobbit in 3-D D-Box. D-Box is where the seat moves and rumbles coordinated with the screen action. It added four bucks to my ticket price but nothing to the movie, immediately becoming more distracting than enhancing. The only time D-Box gave me a convincing sensation of the action was when people rode horses. The Hobbit was terrific fun. Martin Freeman has the perfect Hobbit face. birdmanTwo movies I especially enjoyed mastered very specific cinematic techniques to tell their well-written stories. Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) has Michael Keaton (left) as a washed-up movie superhero trying to make a credible comeback on Broadway. Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and the rest of the cast are marvelous as is the script. The entire movie appears to be one long take, i.e. one uninterrupted shot with no editing. Credit and, hopefully, some awards should go to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki for the seamlessness of the movie. The stylish technique created a floating sensation for me that lasted the whole film. If you missed its first run, see it during its Oscar run in theatres. Birdman trailer. Locke takes place entirely inside a car at night and the only actor we see is the driver. That might sound tedious but write a well-oiled script that uses modern telephone technology in a new and inventive fashion to tell the story then hire one of today’s best, thoughlocke 1 somewhat unknown, actors and the result is riveting entertainment. British writer/director Steven Knight (he created TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) is responsible for the story and the vision and actor Tom Hardy (above) is the driver. The car never stops so the film unfolds virtually in real time. Hardy says near the beginning he’s ninety minutes away from London and he arrives almost exactly ninety minutes later. Considering he has only his chest and above to act with as he talks to various people on his hands-free car phone, Hardy easily overcomes the limitation and makes the role utterly convincing. During the shoot, Hardy caught a head cold which is incorporated into the drive as one more way his life is unraveling. Tom Hardy is under-appreciated even though he’s been in Inception, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Lawless (amazing role) and The Dark Knight Rises. Next summer he is Mad Max. Maybe then he’ll get the recognition his talent merits. Watch Locke trailer.

TV Series

sherlock-holmes-450794Thanks to Netflix I watched the British TV series Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character and Martin Freeman as Watson (left). This is Sherlock for the 21st century and it’s a hoot with three seasons done and a fourth on the way. Its fun trailer. A fascinating series called Rectify with Aden Young as a newly released prisoner returning to his hometown has two seasons under its belt and returns in the spring. Netflix also has Lie To Me, one of the last series Linda and I watched together. Tim Roth reads facial expressions and body language to determine who’s lying and who isn’t. Educational and fun.

Podcast

National Public Radio in the U.S. produced a 12-part podcast called Serial that revisits a real 15 year old murder by interviewing all the principals and seeking out new information on the case. Beautifully written and voiced by Sarah Koenig with very high production values I highly recommend it. Serial is available here.baseballs 2

Music

Late in the year I discovered a German throwback band called the Baseballs (right) who capture the genre’s brash fun. Their original songs are often pastiches of numerous hits from the 1950s and 60s. They also rockabilly up some modern songs. On the player below hear the Baseballs jumped up versions of Leona Lewis’s Bleeding Love, Alicia Keys’ No One and Robbie Williams’ Angels.

Blog Life

2014 at readreidread.com was a very good year with almost 80,000 views from 160 countries. I created 132 posts during the year and uploaded 679 pictures to my blog. This year-end review will be my 1010th post. Here’s how my blogging life went month by month.

January

EARL GREY 1I started the old schools series with Earl Grey School (left) in all its glory. I posted an article from elsewhere on ways to rebel in the Matrix and added an absurd cut-up video called What He Rebels Against.

February

Though I eliminated my Fiction page because WordPress is a crappy forum for almost everything now, I posted a short fiction called Bad Men Who Love Jesus. I profiled Isbister School now the Adult Education Centre and offered a feature on the 1948 Reavis Report on the future of schools and education in Winnipeg.

March

Ecole Provencher was the next old school feature. This month my large video work The Snapshot 9 (06-02-2012 1-55 PM)Lonesomes: 16 Prairie Stories (right) was posted on my blog and also on my YouTube channel. You can read the scripts and backstory here and watch the video here. I posted on movies about the Beats made in the 21st century.

April

We had spring flooding in Manitoba this year that caused Spruce Woods Park to be closed for a while. I did three on-site reports. The next old school is Luxton in Winnipeg’s North End. I documented the ten years of my radio career with pictures and charts in a post called Read Reid Radio.

May

I reported on my first Spirit Sands hike of the year, my train trip to Dauphin and the awakening of the garter snakes at Narcisse in a post called Snakes Without Ladders. I re-reported on Kevin Richardson and the lions shot with a GoPro camera. An amazing story!

June

I reported on my visit to the Criddle/Vane homestead discovering the house had been sealed off (left). Two daysCRIDDLE HOUSE 001 later the house was burned to the ground by arsonists. I posted a short fiction piece called Watching the River Flow, a life-changing conversation between a husband and wife

July

More flooding at Spruce Woods Park with on-the-spot video and pictures. The Cooks Creek Medieval Festival was held this year and I have a full report plus video. I helped promote the Carberry Heritage Festival this year and posted often about it.

August

A major attraction at the Medieval Festival was the Prairie Caravan Tribal Belly Dancers. ISnapshot 4 (17-08-2014 12-46 PM) offer some background on the troupe and video (right) of one of their festival dances. The heritage festival in Carberry was a success prompting a third year. Check out the Carberry Heritage Festival website for the latest information. More short fiction What Ever Happened To the Squareaway ChildrenGrindel, Cheyenne, Colloquia.

September

An offshoot of my rooting around for found footage online I created a daily short video series called The Good Old Days which started last month and accounted for the rest of my posts this month. See two samples: Five-horse, one man swather and stooker :55 and Cigarettes, Oh Boy 1:18

October

I celebrated John Cleese’s birthday, offered a new short video called Tesla As a Boy. I did a CKY JUNE 64scan0002feature on a 1960s radio contest where CKY (left) tried to get a town to change its name to Seekaywye. I report on Marshall McLuhan’s 1977 visit to Brandon. La Verendrye School is next in the schools series and a new found video Guitar Concerto.

November

I posted the feature on Birtle Indian Residential School which I shot in June when my  friend Mark and I went for a drive in western Manitoba. I created two more found videos – Just This and Oasis in Space which uses the sound poetry of Kurt Schwitters as its audio. I found some TV commercials Federico Fellini produced in the late 1960s including one for Campari. Five versions of one song – The Chokin’ Kind – rounded out the month.

December

I kicked off the month with a feature on Winnipeg 1910 to 1919 which tied into Laura Secord School. I found some lovely old calendar art from the 1920s which got me curious about calendar art in general. On the 124th anniversary of his death I posted two shortFAM MOM TEACH0009 fictions about Sitting Bull with an added bit of film this year. Then I started the 12 Days of Christmas – a daily look at one of Carberry’s wonderful heritage buildings. The series was very popular. Party hats (right) from the 1930s was a timely post. Over the Christmas holidays, due to hundreds of Facebook links, my post on the Vickers Viscount airplane in Garland from 2013 generated thousands of views giving my blog its best day ever and second best month ever.

Ezra

I’ll give the last picture and the last word to my namesake Ezra Reid Scholl who’s just turned two. The little guy enriches my life beyond measure. I revel in watching him grow and change and learn. Among the many things Ezra has taught me so far is there is no better reason to make a silly fool of yourself if it makes a two-year-old laugh. This picture is Ezra at 17 months. Below that is a one-minute video mash-up I did of Ezra being extra cute. Click the pic. Happy New Year!

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Blog Life, Carberry, Education, Flood, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Festival, Momentous Day, Museum, Music, Schools, The Lonesomes, Year-End Review 2014

Party Hats of the 1930s

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Reid Dickie

Among the artifacts unearthed in a recent archaeological dig through the family archives, I discovered seven party hats made of crepe paper. These are part of Mom’s teaching materials from the 1930s. As a child I was never allowed to play with these which accounts for their excellent condition today.

I’m not sure if Mom made these as an assignment when she was learning to be a teacher in Winnipeg Normal School in 1932 or if they were made afterward for a school event. They are all small and medium sizes to fit children’s heads. The crepe paper pieces are stitched together. The appliques, bits of wallpaper, are glued on. Here are the other six.

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Twelve

 Gingerbread House, 510 James White Way, Carberry, MB

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By far the merriest place in Carberry, James White’s gingerbread house, built circa 1900, occupies a prominent corner on Carberry’s south side. Contractor and inventor James White built it to reflect his Ontario heritage where Queen Anne style developed its own permutations. Fanciful yet formidable, subtlety and exuberance unite in striking accord in its expansive harmony and superb craftsmanship. The picturesque roofline features double gables with a shallow pitch between them. Under the gables, bull’s-eye windows are perfectly centred between substantial brackets, each of which features a delicate drop. The peaks of the gables contrast with the smooth arc of the bargeboard below. The design on the elaborate bargeboard, the triangle and dot, is replicated on the upper verandah. The colours are intoxicating. The distinctive red brick has developed a lovely patina over the century that accentuates the contrast with the rich white brick detailing. All windows are topped with elaborate headers in white brick, each with a drop, like on the brackets. Two belt courses in white brick gird the house and the bull’s-eyes are accentuated by the solid white brick enclosures. Every corner is loaded with white brick quoins. Notice the subtle use of the colour black on the building in the small details on the verandahs, window sills and lintels and under the gables. Though I could describe its detail for pages, this is a must-see-for-yourself place. Now part of the Carberry Plains Museum, guided tours inside the house are offered in the summer months. I’ll tease you with my four and a half minute video tour of the house inside and out.

Carberry Factoid

The Carberry gingerbread house is one of only three houses with that design in Canada and the only one of the three still standing, making it extra precious.

Heaven and Nature sing…

Merry Christmas 

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Eleven

Bank of Montreal, 33 Main St. Carberry, MB

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From an important and imposing location, a red brick behemoth watches over Main Street. Its grandeur, though somewhat faded, its status as local landmark and its architectural presence make the Bank of Montreal Carberry’s most important building. Completed in 1902, originally a Union Bank, the structure combines enormous size, ambitious architecture and a variety of uses to become a unique exception to typical small town bank buildings in Manitoba. Its colour treatment of grey limestone, red brick and white trim is striking and alluring as is the combination of materials. The delicate symmetry of the facade is expressed in a wealth of handsome detail from the large elaborate chimneys to the elegant and steadfast limestone surround of the main entrance surmounted with a limestone balustrade and a bay window. The main floor housed the bank proper, the basement had offices accessible from the sidewalk, the second floor was home for the bank manager and his family and the third floor was a ballroom where clients were entertained.

Carberry Factoid

Carberry holds an annual heritage festival every August. To celebrate its unique heritage designation, two blocks of Main Street are closed off to accommodate festival activities – performers, artisans, demonstrations, vintage vehicles and implements. The 3rd Annual Carberry Heritage Festival happens Friday and Saturday August 7 and 8, 2015. Check out the festival’s website at http://www.carberryheritagefestival.com

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Ten

Forbes Building, 40 Main St. Carberry, MB

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Lovingly-restored to its original late 1890s appearance by owner Don Forbes, this building pops! It prompts the imagination to see the whole street newly built, colours bright and alluring. Going by the brick detailing on the second floor, the Forbes Building and its neighbour, the Kowalchuk Block are twins linked at the adjoining wall. Elements – the drip moulding, American bond, corbelling and segmental window arches – are shared by both buildings. Notice the delicate wood frame detail between and above the second floor panes. The main floor is attractive with its recessed entrance surrounded by large display windows below a series of transoms. The colour scheme of forest green and cream against the red patina of the brick feels warm and inviting. The Forbes Building served as commercial home to two long-time Carberry businesses. Funeral directors J. B. Davey & Son were early occupants. Carberry Radio-Electric inhabited the space for decades.

Carberry Factoid

The parachute unit of the RAF training at Carberry along with several local musicians formed a troupe appropriately named the Rip Chords. They performed concerts around the area ending their career with a well-received stand at the Walker Theatre in Winnipeg. Their final song, called The Boat Song, praised the people of Carberry and Winnipeg for their hospitality.

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Nine

Brick House, 20 Ottawa St. Carberry, MB

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Charming Queen Anne style details make this a local treasure. Built about 1910, this red brick one-and-a-half storey home is notable in Carberry for its use of gingerbread elements like the scroll and bracket work on both the upper and lower porches, striking against the red brick. The bricks are laid in standard running bond. The facade window in the vestibule has coloured glass, original to the house. Its floor plan is unique in Manitoba. The first owner was Joseph Mack who was a school trustee and municipal councillor. At one time the house was a duplex.

Carberry Factoid

Typically in small towns, before there was a power distribution grid system, early electricity was generated by a local power plant. Carberry’s first electricity plant began supplying power in 1907.

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Eight

Nelson Butt Building, 31 Main St. Carberry, MB

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The Nelson Butt Building makes a striking impression along Carberry’s Main Street due to its distinctive design, use of colour and recent faithful restoration by John and Sharon McNeily. Joseph R. Thompson built the Butt Building about 1896 and over the decades it has housed a variety of businesses including law offices, publishers, a bank and butcher shop. The place earned its present name by being home to the jewellery store of Nelson J. Butt from 1946 until 1992. The street view is a symmetrical dance of depth where brick arc and wood angle sway and commingle in sweet baths of white or red, figure and ground. The dancing balance is embodied in the superb stepped corbelling along and below the cornice, and enlightened by large display windows, sidelights and transoms in the recessed entry which promises unknown delights within. Three sensuous white arches pride the roofline and the pairs of second floor windows. The front elevation is virtually the same today as it was when it was constructed.

Carberry Factoid

Gas lights were installed in Carberry in 1902.

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Seven

McPherson House, 123 Dufferin St. Carberry, MB

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A notable family built this lovely wood frame house in 1897 using a basic design enhanced by elegant Queen Anne style detailing. The expressive use of woodwork on the porch especially on the pillars and bargeboard along the gable end turns a common house plan into a heritage delight. The porch continues at the rear of the house with a second floor balcony. Notice the inset bull’s-eye window under the side gable.

Carberry Factoid

In 1890 Carberry separated from the municipality and incorporated as a village. Its first mayor was W. W. Ireland who ran a lumber and coal store.

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Six

Manitoba Telephone System Building, 121 Main St. Carberry, MB

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MTS built dozens of these little buildings all over Manitoba in the late 1930s and during the war years to house the telephone switchboard, operators and offices. Carberry’s was likely built about 1941. Few remain. This eye-catching pile served its purpose: to remind people to use the telephone. The Spanish Colonial Revival detail of the red adobe tile false roofs (they are tin) on three sides accentuates the compactness of the massing and the sweet roofline, all plain as plain can be. Yet it catches the eye, makes you want to call someone up, tell a few lies and see how quickly they get around town. Contrasting with the stucco cladding is the red soldier course of standing brick around the windows and door. The chunky wide brackets under each fake roof give the roofs principle.

Carberry Factoid

Excellent Carberry trivia: one of the British airmen who attended the flying school in Carberry was actor Richard Burton. It’s not clear if he was an instructor or a trainee. Burton was nominated for an Oscar seven times and never won but he did marry Elizabeth Taylor – twice.

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Five

Webb House, 139 Selkirk St. Carberry, MB

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This sweet variation on Second Empire architecture was the home of W. J. Webb who ran the Carberry Meat Market. Built in 1895, the roofline is its most compelling element. A variation on a mansard roof is cut with tall ornate dormers and a small door opening onto a roof balcony enclosed by a scrolled balustrade. The roof spreads over the large porch and the front room and is supported by brick columns. The rich colours give the home a pleasant aura. I love the little white pediment above the porch entry.

 Carberry Factoid

The British Commonwealth Training Station No. 33 of the Royal Air Force was founded in 1940 to train military personnel for World War II. Its Service Flying Training School was located at Carberry. In five years 3,000 airmen were trained here with British wives and children accommodated in the town. The school’s motto was Unity is Strength. It published a regular newsletter entitled the RAF Rag and disbanded about 1945. Where the McCain Canada processing plant sits south of town was the site of the airport.

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Four

A. E. Gardiner Building, 116 Main St. Carberry, MB

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Now a museum and gift shop devoted to Ernest Thompson Seton, the world-renowned artist and naturalist who spent about ten years in the Carberry area, this building has a rich past. Built about 1915, this little place is a finely-crafted example of a popular building technique of the era: concrete blocks formed on site. Choosing from a variety of moulds with various facings, Frank Thomson of Austin, MB created the blocks and assembled them into this compact, one-storey commercial building. Thomson used a lovely pattern on the building. The intertwining floral design flows around the little place like sweet concrete syrup, a divine, resonant texture that embraces rather than creates the inner space. Even after almost a hundred years of exposure to Manitoba weather, the pattern on the blocks remains crisp and vibrant, a testament to the builder.

Carberry Factoid

The Carberry Plains Archives, created in April 1988, has an extensive collection of archival artifacts and can assist local residents and their descendants with genealogical research and with the safekeeping of their precious family documents and photographs. The Carberry Plains Archives is located in the library.

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Three

Lyons Mansion, Hwy #5, 1 km south of Carberry, MB

Lyons house next to Hwy 5

Robert Fern Lyons was an early settler in the Carberry area who owned 2700 acres of land and raised crops and livestock. A Conservative, Lyons was elected to the Manitoba Legislature five times between 1892 and 1914. Lyons built his mansion just outside of the town. Though long abandoned and disintegrating quickly, the crumbling mansion retains enough of the detail to suggest its original magnificence. Built around 1895, the red and buff brick two-storey house combines elements of Italianate and Queen Anne architectural styles into a striking and luxurious pile. The first floor features buff brick, the second floor red brick, both laid in standard running bond. The commingling of both coloured bricks on the second floor is fluid and dynamic. The asymmetrical massing of the house, round segmental arches over the windows and the accent quoins are all Italianate elements that give the house a villa feel. Queen Anne style is represented in the two-storey rounded rooms, the bargeboard and fish scale shingles on the gable ends, the ornate three arched windows, which open into the stairway, and picturesque roofline. I suspect this place will be torn down soon. Watch my 3 minute video tour of the shambles inside the old mansion.

Carberry Factoid

Carberry and North Cypress Rural Municipality are Spud Country. Every year local farmers plant and harvest about 20,000 acres of potatoes, much of it processed at the nearby McCain Canada plant.

Why Carberry?

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day Two

Old Town Hall, 122 Main St. Carberry, MB

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As the date stone on the stepped pediment above the entrance states, Carberry’s old town hall was built in 1907. Brandon architect William Alexander Elliott designed the building in a Neo-Classical style. The front elevation is a wonderful study in symmetry. The brickwork expresses the Classical elements: the flat roof with quiet cornice, the grand arches over the three openings, each surmounted with keystones, the formal entrance, stringcourse and pediment. The little triangular transom creates a traditional pediment that adds to the elevating effect of climbing the stairs and passing through the recessed doorway into the formal world beyond. Being set on a high rusticated limestone foundation affords full use of the basement. As a town hall the basement was used for offices, meeting rooms and even the local jail.

Carberry Factoid

Carberry was named by James J. Hill after Carberry Tower, county seat of Lord Elphinstone in Scotland. Lord Elphinstone, a director of CPR, was traveling with Hill inspecting the railroad line.

Why Carberry?

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Sitting Bull and Dancing Horse – 124 Years Ago Today

Fiction by Reid Dickie

BULL

December 15, 1890

Sitting Bull’s Camp

Grand River, South Dakota

Commotion was his cue, his spur, his trigger. Gunfire, whoops, whistles and yells! Dancing Horse needed no other prompting. He began to perform his repertoire of tricks; the seven Bill Cody taught him and the two he learned by watching other horses. He was a smart horse born to the circus. Bill Cody had gelded him himself and taught him tricks.

Dancing Horse was the gift Buffalo Bill Cody gave Sitting Bull when Bull retired from the Wild West Show. He’d spent recent years on the quiet prairie with Sitting Bull, far from the cheering crowds.

Though it was the middle of a cold night and the years had slowed his gait, it all came back to Dancing Horse. As the air filled with noise and bullets whizzed around him, the horse pranced and danced, sat on his haunches and raised his front legs, waving, whinnying and shaking his mane. He cantered in a circle, stopped, backed up and cantered on, a curtsy, a bow and, his finale, a high wild buck accompanied by snorts and a long careening whinny. Then he started again.

At the flap of Sitting Bull’s tepee, melee built into frenzy. The holy man, now 60 summers old, lay half-naked, dying; his blood, loosened by two wounds, soaked into the snow. Sitting Bull’s spirit soared over the scene, its grief brief for the hard and desperate life just lived, now elated by the familiarity of death and the antics of Dancing Horse, moving like a pale ghost in the snow below.

Long after the fighting ended, as the prairie filled with mournful keening, Dancing Horse continued to perform, repeating his act over and over. The horse had danced through the mayhem without a single bullet hitting him.

He did not perform for the incredulous and spooked Sioux who watched in awe. Dancing Horse had an audience of one. His old friend Sitting Bull watched long in delight, solely entertained by the horse’s show, then he turned and his spirit embraced The Light.

As the first rays of dawn swept over the frozen land, Dancing Horse collapsed into the snow, exhausted. A little boy dressed in buckskin advanced toward him, extending a handful of sweetgrass.

 MESSENGER

 Reid Dickie

 December 15, 1890

Central Plains

Overhead Orion paused in mid hunt; half a moon lit the prairie snows. The Spirit, its message clear and urgent, rose from the shabby encampment on Grand River, the scene of the crime.

Wearing only paint on his body, riding a horse with arrows and lightning bolts painted on its white flanks, the ghostly Messenger held a human skull on a stick. Half his face was red, half white, his heart was painted with a blue starburst and his body had wavy yellow lines running from foot to throat.

Sailing through the clear cold air the Messenger traveled north over the rolling hills of Standing Rock Reservation to Cannonball River, the end of Hunkpapa land. Every tiny cluster of tipis with warm dreamers inside in the camps of Thunderhawk and John Grass got the news as they slept. Some awoke keening in grief.

The Messenger turned south, crossed over the Grand River in a single bound and headed toward Cheyenne River Reservation, home to the Minneconjou. In his dream, Yellow Bird, the medicine man received the news with a jolt, grabbed his rattle and woke the camp. It was nearing dawn but still dark and cold as Kicking Bear, the high priest of the Ghost Dance, his wife Woodpecker Woman, and all the Minneconjou were informed.  Further on, the camps of White Swan, Bear Eagle and Hump were next to be grief stricken. Off the reservation, the camps of Touch the Clouds and Red Shirt received word.

The ghost Messenger leapt the Cheyenne River and flew southwest toward Pine Ridge Reservation. Passing over Bad River, through the eerie Badlands past Castle Butte and a leap over White River got him to Pine Ridge and the camps at the headwaters of White River. Black Elk, the mystical shaman of the tribe, received the news and told the Oglala chiefs Red Cloud and American Horse. Ghost Dance priest Good Thunder immediately began to beat a hide drum and chant.

Spirit Messenger turned eastward just as dawn was blemishing the blackness. A leap over Pass Creek, through coulees and around buttes and Two Strike’s camp was informed; the ghost dancers Short Bull, Mash-The-Kettle and Plenty Horses began to paint their bodies with grieving symbols.

By the time the sun rose, the Great Plains was lit with grief. As far west as Tongue River Reservation in Montana, Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, and as far south as the Kiowa Reservation in central Oklahoma – they all knew what had happened. Even the people of Walker River Reservation in western Nevada, home to visionary Wovoka who brought the Ghost Dance to the people, knew.

Except Orion, no one saw the ghostly figure riding the strange awkward horse but they all reported his message with sad accuracy:

 “Sitting Bull is dead.”

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Thomas Edison’s Black Maria Studios in West Orange, New Jersey is said to be America’s first movie studio. In 1894 one of the earliest films of Native Americans was shot there. The silent 16 second black and white film, called Buffalo Dance, features three Sioux warriors in full war paint and war costumes performing for the camera. The warriors – Hair Coat, Parts His Hair and Last Horse – are accompanied by two unidentified drummers; all are veterans of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. It was originally shown on a Kinetoscope. The quality of the film is remarkable. I have looped it twice at its original speed followed by the clip at half speed. Click the pic to watch the one-minute film.

BUFFALO DANCE

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12 Days of Christmas in Carberry – Day One

 Carberry – North Cypress Library, 115 Main St. Carberry, MB

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While most of the buildings along Carberry’s Main Street have been used for numerous purposes, this compact little structure has served but two high-profile uses since it was built in 1938: federal post office and regional library. The original building was the basic cube on the left. The addition complements the original building in style and materials. Overall, Art Deco describes the building’s architecture. Popular into the 1940s for federal government buildings, the style easily adapted to small town requirements of size and functionality. Art Deco elements here are the boxy massing, flat roofline, well-defined geometric lines and the low-relief ornamentation. Tall windows surrounded by soldier courses of bricks and limestone sills, the limestone surround of the main entrance contrasting with the red-brown brick and the stepped pavilion of the entrance all exude simplicity and durability, modern practicality at its height in 1938.

Carberry Factoid

The first post office opened in 1881 as De Winton, named after Colonel De Winton who at the time was secretary to the Governor General. The name was changed to Carberry in 1883.

Why Carberry?

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Calendars – The People’s Art

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Reid Dickie

Tis the calendar season!

Stores have large displays of 2015 calendars, Calendar Club kiosks are popping up everywhere and businesses are keen to get their free calendar and their name on your wall. Technology hasn’t figured out a way to transcend the obvious convenience of wall and desk calendars yet. They are still a daily necessity and, thus, a perfect gift, with the right images, of course.

I got curious about the origins of picture calendars and discovered they started in Red Oak, Iowa when Edmond Osborne and Thomas Murphy, two college friends, bought a woodcut of a grand local courthouse with the intent of selling the pictures. To offset the cost of the woodcut they sold advertising around the picture and added a calendar. The first wall calendar was born. It was 1889.

The Osborne Company was formed to create and sell promotional calendars. The founders traveled around the world buying images for their calendars as well as using the work of some of America’s most renowned artists: Thomas Moran, Frederick Remington, Maxfield Parrish, Rolf Armstrong and many others. Wall calendars became the people’s art; their high-quality images often had nostalgic, erotic or humorous motifs. Images of children were and still are very popular as calendar subjects.

While I was looking through some of my mom’s teaching materials she used in the 1930s and 40s when she was a school marm in rural Manitoba, I came across six images painted by an unknown artist with copyright belonging to the Osborne Co, Newark, NJ. No other credit is given although they have a Parrish feeling to them, especially the backgrounds but that’s just a guess. The nostalgic pictures are 4 by 5 inches and each is titled. If you have any information about these images, please contact me.

The picture at the top of the post is called “The organ man singing in the rain.” Here are the other five.

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“Wind a-blowing all day long.”

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“Marching, here we come.”

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“Up in the air I go flying again.”

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“Little children saying grace.”

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“We are lucky, with a lamp before the door.”

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Laura Secord School, 960 Wolseley Avenue, Winnipeg 1913

LAURA SECORD 1

Winnipeg 1910-1919

 When World War 1 started, Winnipeg’s boom time ended. Immigration slowed as did construction and city expansion. In this decade, the eternal problem of palatable wpg aque 1917drinking water was solved when the Shoal Lake Aqueduct (left) began supplying the city with water.  Manitoba women became the first in Canada to get the vote in 1916 and the Municipality of Kildonan was divided into East and West Kildonan. Transcona was created as an adjunct to the railways. An obscure comedian named Charlie Chaplin played the Dominion Theatre on Main Street. The 1919 Strike brought the city to a halt.

The Little Nurses League was formed in 1912 and the first Home and School Associationswpg 1915 started at Luxton and Wellington Schools. In 1916 the School Attendance Act was passed, making attendance compulsory for 7 to 14 year olds. The Spanish flu, from which thousands of Winnipegers died, closed schools for seven weeks in 1918. Looking west down Broadway (above) in 1915.

During this decade the Junior High School concept was introduced and the first technical high schools, St. John’s and Kelvin, were built. In 1919, the Manitoba Teacher’s Federation was formed and the first Manitoba Musical Festival was held.

This decade resulted in some of the most beautiful and innovative schools ever built in Winnipeg. More than half the schools built in this era have burned or been demolished, making the remaining nine even more precious.

 LAURA SECORD SCHOOL

LAURA SECORD 2

 A heroic female namesake, notorious builders and its massive size make Laura Secord exceptional among schools from Winnipeg’s boom time.

Twenty-six classrooms, two manual training rooms, a huge auditorium that seats 800, shops, showers and a third floor caretaker suite made it one of the largest school built during the era. It covered over 25,000 square feet per floor and was 72 feet tall. Originally, it was to be located on Westminster Avenue but the lot was too small. Its current 3.3 acres lot, purchased for $37,000, provides the old place with enough elbowroom to feel comfortable in its Wolseley neighbourhood.

LAURA SECORD WITH TOWER

Laura Secord’s size meant its cost of $218,259 was three times the typical school price tag of the time. The felonious contractors of the Manitoba Legislative Buildings, Thomas Kelly & Sons, constructed Laura Secord School, apparently without scandal.

In December 1913, when Mrs. Isaac Cockburn, Laura Second’s granddaughter, formally opened the ten completed rooms, the school stood among empty market garden fields on happyland1the fertile banks of the Assiniboine River. The area was largely vacant lots but there was an amusement park called Happyland (left) situated between Garfield and Sherburn. By the 1920s, an almost exclusively Anglo-Saxon and steadfastly middle class neighbourhood developed around the school. Ethnic shifts of 1960s and 70s brought greater diversity to the area, revitalizing the school as symbolized by its mini-Folklorama in 1976.

The school opened in August 1913 with just ten rooms completed, six more were done in January and the final 10 by the summer of 1914. Original 1913 enrolment in the first 10 rooms was 602 students (60 students per classroom!) in Grades 1 to 9 with 14 teachers.

Nearby Wolseley School opened in 1921 and relieved the student pressure at Laura Secord.LAURA SECORD 1950S SCIENCE CLASS At its peak capacity in 1940, there were 1012 students enrolled in 24 classes, over 40 per classroom. Morning and afternoon kindergarten began at the school a few years later.  The picture (right) shows a 1950s science class. When Gordon Bell opened in 1960, the Junior High students from Laura Secord were transferred there, leaving Laura as an elementary school, a role it has played ever since. In 2014 Laura Secord has an enrolment of 550 students from Nursery to Grade 6.

School division architect J.B. Mitchell designed Laura Secord School in an eclectic style with elements of Beaux-Arts Classical, Georgian Revival and Romanesque architecture. Two storeys of reinforced concrete sheathed in pale brick with symmetrical façade and sides sit on a high limestone foundation. The low-pitched roof sports coyly arched eyebrow dormers complimenting the arched windows on the end pavilions. Originally, iron cresting, now gone, ran along the upper roof edge. Based on Mitchell’s common plan, the school is nearly square with a central courtyard giving a light and airy feeling to the massive structure.

LAURA SECORD 3

Laura Secord’s most stunning feature is the baroque entrance way (above), two entrances in fact. A narrow arched doorway centered between the stairs and cut out of the limestone leads into the basement. It has a lovely multi-paned round window.

LAURA SECORD 4Above it, a limestone portico (left) with four matching arches and canopy, finely executed by superior craftsmen, is bracketed by curlicue stairways and the root of the tower to create an intimate sense of place that draws you inside. Two sections of the tower were removed in the 1960s due to structural problems though urban legend says tower was lowered because it interfered with TV reception.

Unfortunately a few crowning details from the portico and tower have disappeared. These include stone orbs that once sat at the corners of the portico roof and slim finials at the top corners of the remaining tower. This detracts only slightly from the experience of entering the school via the wide stairway, turning, passing under an arch, turning, through another arch then being welcomed inside.

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Above the portico (right) a semi circular stained glass window with a sunburst pattern in brick and limestone depicts the school crest – a red cross with three maple leaves and the letters L & S on either side. It contains elements of Ontario’s crest, honouring Laura Secord’s United Empire Loyalist roots. The little room inside the school with the arched window and its elaborate old stained glass is especially delightful.

Laid in American bond – here every fifth row is headers – the brickwork overall is superb. There is corbelling under a belt course above the upper windows, pilasters separate the inset windows.

The paleness of the brick means its colour changes with the available light. Sometimes ghostly white, other times silvery grey to almost yellow the school is a fine study in combining similar shades of brick and limestone for effect.

LAURA ORCHESTRA 39 400003The similar shading of materials on Laura Secord demonstrates how they age and discolour differently (left). All the limestone has a dirty appearance because it tends to accumulate pollutants faster than the brick. This is very evident on the foundation and windows sills and is common on many older buildings with limestone elements. While the stone darkens, the brick develops a patina, adding to its lightness.LAURA ORCHESTRA 39 400004

When completed, Laura Secord School was the most modern building of its kind in the city. Wide hallways, large enough to accommodate foot races or showing films, and tall windows made it safe and bright. The stained glass (right) is original to the school. Virtually fireproof, only desks and floors were made of wood. Its heating and plumbing were state-of-the-art. Cast iron railings in the stairways still feature the school initials, though a few are missing, likely souvenirs.

LAURA ORCHESTRA 39 400001

Classrooms are large and bright, each having four windows and a transom. A few of the original stained glass transoms remain. Laura Secord School had its own orchestra as seen in the picture (above) taken 1939/40.

Though most of the attic is empty space, the Ruby Street side has the remains of a first for Laura Secord School: the janitor’s suite with its extra windows. Skylights were often used in these suites.

Early progressive educational philosophy took a holistic approach to learning that included the complete physical health of students. Laura Secord was one of only four Winnipeg schools that offered a dental clinic.

Only a handful of local schools are named after women. Barely a year old in 1776, Laura secordIngersoll and her parents, United Empire Loyalists, fled to Canada from Massachusetts. She married James Secord who, in 1812, fought with Sir Isaac Brock at the Battle of Queenston Heights, near where the Secords lived. In that battle, Secord was badly wounded. He survived only because Laura found him on the battlefield and nursed him back to health. Not long after, Laura overheard American soldiers, billeted in her home, talk of an imminent attack at Beaver Dam. With a cow as her alibi, Laura set out the next day to warnLaura stamp 1992 Captain Fitzgibbon of the attack. The scene is depicted in the Lorne Kidd Smith’s painting (above) circa 1920. Forewarned Fitzgibbon surrounded the Americans forcing them to surrender.  Laura Secord’s heroic behaviour still provides students with an inspirational Canadian figure. In her honour, Canada Post issued a commemorative stamp featuring Laura Secord in September 1992 (right).

The students regularly published a school newspaper called Laura Lites from 1938 to 1957. It reported the activities of students supporting the war effort, their involvement during the 1950 flood and news of school events. Among Laura Secord School’s illustrious alumni is entertainer Fred Penner who attended in the early 1950s.

The City of Winnipeg’s Historic Building Committee recommended historic designation for Laura Secord School in the 1980s. By that time, structural problems demanded either demolition or renovation of the old place. At the forceful behest of the Wolseley area, the LAURA SECORD TREES 4Public Schools Finance Board and WSD #1, recognizing the school as comparable in historic and architectural significance to the glorious buildings on Main Street and in the Exchange District, chose renewal and spared this delightful place.

Renovations, by Ikoy Architects, were extensive beginning with a new roof and foundation repair in the summer of 1988 and followed the next year with new windows and a refurbished west entrance. These projects cost $551, 670 but the major renovation began in 1990. Red Lake Construction Company conducted major structural and interior renovations including replanned corridors, new administrative office, a handicap elevator and new building systems.  The cost of these projects was $2,152,948 bringing the total to $2.7 million; a bargain considering today’s replacement value of the original school is $3.8 million.

That is just abstract dollar values. What matters when you walk into a school is the opportunity, the hope, the motivation and the systems are living and evident, for the building to be a fertile field where young curious minds can feel inspired to grow, inspired by a compassionate and generous staff. That is what schools do and, thankfully, Laura Secord School continues to do it.

PROFILE

Laura Secord School

Built 1913

Additions 1988-90

Materials:  pale brick, limestone, concrete

Style: Beaux Arts/Classical Revival two-storey

Architect J. B. Mitchell

Original cost $218,259

Current assessed value $4,895,000

Acreage 3.3 acres

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