Category Archives: 1950s

Reid’s first novel now available at McNally Robinson


With gratitude and love I dedicate this book to my parents, Helen and Bruce Dickie, whose gifts I used every day of my life, and to Linda, who lit my way.

Available now at McNally Robinson

Moments away from puberty, young Jim Crawford begins to discover how his newly effervescent maleness gives fresh meaning and expression to manhood in his family, friendships, community and beyond. Set in a small Canadian prairie town just as the tumultuous social and cultural changes of the 1960s begin, Play the Jukebox is a character-driven story entwining bright wholesome and dark pathological expressions of masculinity. As his own unique gifts reveal themselves, Jim learns the heights and depths to which men will go to defend family and future and how shared experience creates diverse forms of camaraderie between men and women.

Jim’s life revolves around pop music and records. The 45 – the little record with the big hole – is king; radio disc jockeys, record players and jukeboxes spin the seven-inch discs constantly. He discovers intimate links between hit songs and his own development as he travels from town to town changing the records in jukeboxes with Percy Peel, a mystery media mogul who leaves lasting impressions on Jim. As they did for millions of 1960s youth, The Beatles play a defining role as one of Jim’s change agents.

McNally Robinson: If you are coming into one of our stores, we suggest that you confirm that the book you want is in stock by emailing the location nearest you: Grant Park, Saskatoon, or by phoning the location nearest you.


Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Fiction, Friendship, grief, Hope, Humour, Love, Manitoba, Manitoba Heritage, Movies, Music, Prairie People, PRAIRIES, Radio, shaman, shamanism, Spirit, Winnipeg, Wisdom

12 Days of Christmas 2015 – Day Four Birdland

Raised in rural Manitoba I developed an early appreciation of birds evidenced by the complete collection of Red Rose Tea Bird Cards on this page. My travels on the prairies including several unexpected birds. Find them all my Birdland page.


cedar 1

It was a strange April day in Manitoba: temperatures around 30 degrees C and clear blue skies all weekend long.  I was staying with my cousin, Duncan, in the east end of Brandon. On the day I arrived, Duncan pointed out an ornamental cherry tree in his neighbour’s backyard that was loaded with shriveled red cherries. Unfit for human consumption, the cherries are a delicacy of certain birds that, according to Duncan, each spring swarm the tree and feast on the cherries, now sweetened by winter’s freezing and thawing.

The next morning, as if induced by my cousin’s comment, the tree was alive with cedar waxwings. Famished from their long migration, the waxwings cover the tree and the ground below, ravenously eating the cherries. A flock of birds flies up from the ground into the branches and the ones from the tree swarm to the ground, excited birds, appetites whetted, blissful on a hot strange spring day.

The air was vibrating with the shrill keening of the waxwings. Several large still-bare nearby trees were decorated with more cedar waxwings waiting to feed, hundreds of birds in all. Flock after flock dined at the cherry tree.

Several curious species – robins, blue jays and starlings – arrived to see what all the commotion was about. These birds prefer feeders and worms to cherries but waxwing enthusiasm was contagious.  The feeding frenzy went on most of the morning then the flock was gone, the air still, quiet, hot.

In a few weeks, the cherry tree will be smothered in tiny white and pink blossoms that perfume the air with a sweet smell. By then subsequent flocks will have stripped all the cherries from the tree.

Cedar waxwings have the ability to digest a variety of berries, some of which are poisonous to humans. Gorging themselves for hours, waxwings have been known to get a little drunk if the berries have fermented.

A sleek, beautiful creature, cedar waxwings are strikingly identifiable: the brown topnotch crest and breast with grey wings and tail, the yellow wash over the belly, the dark eye mask and throat marking, the yellow tail tip and the distinctive waxy red drops on the wings which give the birds their name. The females are somewhat plainer. Cedar waxwings are one of the few birds whose numbers are increasing in North America.

Coniferous trees are favoured places to build their deep nests. Chicks are born late to ensure a supply of berries and bugs for their growth. I remember seeing waxwings as a kid in western Manitoba. Apparently they abound in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg but I haven’t seen one in our neighbourhood for years. The last time I saw one was a few years ago at Last Mountain Lake in Saskatchewan. I was camping next to the bird sanctuary and saw a nesting pair.

What a hopeful sign it was to see a huge flock of excited birds so eager to fulfill their biological imperative. I had begun to wonder if there were large flocks of any birds remaining. It was good to see an old friend return with such vigor.

 August 6/02


Filed under 12 days of christmas 2015, 1950s, Birds, Hope, Soul Building, Spirit


My friend Candis’s store on Corydon. Check it out!


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March 29, 2015 · 5:50 pm

Plan 9 from Outer Space Trailer 1959 The Good Old Days Part 18

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It is safe to state that the grandchildren of some of the people in this theatre will not be born on Earth. Click Bela to find out how come.

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Folding Up the TV The Good Old Days Part 17

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It’s 1959 again. Click pic and fold

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Smoking The Good Old Days Part 15

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Sunlight soap and cigarette smoke – click the pic for a whiff

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Drive-In Movie Food The Good Old Days Part 12

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Delicious and fresh, click either pic if you want butter

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I Met Him on a Sunday The Good Old Days Part 10

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 They’re balloons! Really! Click the pic if you don’t believe me.

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The tobacco, the tip, the taste and even Even-Waving Toni The Good Old Days Part 9

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The hits are smokin’! Click the pic and see


Filed under 1950s, Humour

All you ever do… The Good Old Days Part 8

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Click pic to do the do

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Like Millions of Others The Good Old Days Part 7

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Click pic to see the light

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85 Horses! The Good Old Days Part 6

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Click the pic for the power and the glory

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Wheelbarrow! The Good Old Days Part 5

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Click pic to unravel the mystery

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About Ten Rings The Good Old Days Part 4

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Click pic for lowdown

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Poof! The Good Old Days Part 3

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Click pic and poof!

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Cigarettes, Oh Boy! The Good Old Days Part 2

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Click pic to get smokin’.

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Festive Food 1959

FOOD 19590001 Canada Packers Festive Feasting recipe booklet in garish unappetizing 1959 colour includes recipes for Sage Party Piggies, Cheese Candle, Wiener Cocktail Bits and the gag-inducing Ham Rolls in Aspic. Start planning your retro holiday menu now! Click pics to enlarge if you dare.FOOD 19590002   FOOD 19590003 FOOD 19590004 FOOD 19590005 FOOD 19590006 FOOD 19590007 FOOD 19590008

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Filed under 1950s, Guff

A Vickers Viscount in Garland?


Reid Dickie

Garland, Manitoba is a tiny place settling into the bush near The Ducks, as locals call the Duck Mountains. Garland consists of a store, post office, hall, some churches, a few nicely tended yards around little cottages, the sweet smell of prairie air and a Vickers Viscount airplane parked in the middle of it all, looking more than a little like it just landed. This is the kind of anomaly that sparks my curiosity so I went off in search of the story.

I didn’t have to go far. Don Fyk lives two miles from Garland on the family farm. Don’s family homesteaded in the area; several of his relatives are buried in the little cemetery on the highway at his GARLAND VONDAROSA PICS 024turnoff. Don, a pilot and airplane buff, farms, does repairs, heavy construction, crop dusting and grows a variety of buckwheat much sought after in Japan, his biggest market. He’s an amiable fellow, hard-working, successful with a fine sense of humour. We sat and had coffee in his office one afternoon in the summer of 2013 and he told me the story of the Garland airplane. That’s him and his aircraft in the picture above.

Back in 1982 Don’s brother-in-law was looking to build a new cabin,
GARLAND VONDAROSA PICS 023 something different. He considered a log cabin but went after the idea of an airplane fuselage as the living space. After searching around, they found two Vickers Viscount airplanes at Teulon in Manitoba’s Interlake; both had been cannibalized, neither were in good condition. However, they managed to combine parts from both and come up with a whole aircraft. He bought the airplane for $700 then faced the mammoth task of transporting it from Teulon to Garland, a distance of 380 kms.

Don, his brother-in-law and other family members, with the help of a consultant, dismantled the 8 tonne airplane, took off the wings and tail feather, building special dollies to load the pieces on several trucks. In early May, 1982, the five-truck convoy received a special permit to transport the load down major highways, passing through viscount 2The Narrows then heading north of Dauphin. Don was surprised that people turned out at every little town to watch them go by. Even the Winnipeg Free Press covered the trek which wound up taking 12 hours.

For the two weeks needed to disassemble the airplane, it took aboutViscount as long to reassemble it on the large lot in Garland where it sits today, chained and anchored down against strong winds. Interior renovation began. They gutted the aircraft, laid carpet, connected it to hydro for lights and electric heat, added a stereo system, air conditioning, all the amenities except running water. The front area accommodated a living room, behind that a galley kitchen and at the viscount 1955-TCA-Vickers-Viscounttail end a bedroom. The grounded Viscount hosted many a party since landing in Garland. The guest book for the aircraft cum weekend getaway includes dozens of people who stayed in the plane over the years. 

In recent times, Don’s Viscount hasn’t been used much. A couple of years back the plane was vandalized on the interior but Don plans to restore it when he has the time. He pays about $300 a year in taxes for the lot and aircraft. Don has had offers from people who want to turn it into a bed and breakfast but he feels very attached to the plane. The novelty of the aircraft and its incongruent location will continue to draw the curious, like myself, to little Garland. For now, it will stay as it is – a startling surprise in a prairie village.  Good!

tca logo

Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) was the first North American company to fly Vickers Viscounts starting April 1, 1955 on its Montreal to Winnipeg route. By November of the same year TCA Viscounts were serving fourteen North American cities. The aircraft flew North American routes for TCA until 1974. Don Fyk’s aircraft belonged to the TCA then Air Canada fleet. Both the logos were painted over when Don bought the plane but the paint has since peeled away revealing both names.

viscount don

This is a picture of Don Fyk’s plane, identification number CF-THB, when it was still part of Air Canada’s fleet taken July, 1967. My thanks to Ken Fielding for the pic.

What was the original appeal of the aircraft?

It was a game changer!Viscount TCA ad The Vickers Viscount revolutionized passenger air travel when British engineering conglomerate Vickers-Armstrongs introduced it in 1948. Instead of a piston engine, the Vickers Viscount used a Rolls Royce Dart 510 turboprop engine, a new form of propulsion. 

Piston engines were noisy, smelly and couldn’t provide a smooth ride. The Viscount changed all that with its turboprop system. It was much quieter with fewer vibrations, the cabin was pressurized for comfort, the ride was smoother and oval panoramic windows offered a view from your plush and adjustable seat. Flying had become comfortable, even glamorous. The plane was designed for medium-range flights with 24 to 48 passengers.

The Viscount became one of the most profitable post-war transport aircraft. Four hundred forty-four of the luxury liners were built, six were prototypes and the rest went into service worldwide.   

viscount cockpit

Viscount interior

This picture shows what the original Viscount cockpit looked like with its wide front and side views, instrument panel and seating.

This is the interior of the Viscount cabin in 1950s-modern primary colours. Comfort was built into every aircraft. This is what Don’s plane would have looked like when it was still in service.

According to there are 47 Viscount airframes left in the world, fifteen in museums. Along with his, Don thinks there are three other Viscounts in Canada: Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg has one, one in British Columbia Aviation Museum in Sidney and one in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa .


I took my video camera to Garland and shot a short four-minute tour that includes a walk around the outside of the airplane with close-up views. Click on the picture of VV and me above to watch.

viscount ott

A few other videos of Viscounts. The first one shows the aircraft loading passengers then starting its engine. The second video shows a Rolls Royce Dart 510 turboprop engine that’s been removed from a plane being started. The last video shows a vintage Viscount making its final flight and landing in 1996.

I am grateful to Don Fyk for sharing his story and part of his busy day with me. To end off, a direct quote from Don about flying, “I have my faith in my airplane like I have my faith in God. You cannot doubt it for a second or the what if will kill you.”


Filed under 1950s, Day Tripping, Local History, Manitobans of Note, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions, Year-End Review 2013

Hebron School

Reid Dickie

Cities weren’t the only place the post-war baby boom occurred. Suddenly the countryside was alive with newborns who needed an education. To remedy that, just outside of Hayfield, MB, a one-room schoolhouse – Hebron School – was reopened which I attended for two and a half years. My account of those days is called Hebron School – 1 Room, 8 Grades, 30 Pupils, 1 Teacher 

I hadn’t been able to find a very good picture of my old school until I was checking out the Manitoba Historical Society website, a regular haunt of mine, and found this great shot of the place. The Classical Revival columns that supported the little portico roof were a sharp contrast to the bucolic scene around – open fields, rolling hills and dry dusty roads. It gave me a warm yet lonesome feeling when I saw this picture of my first school.

Once again I am grateful to Gordon Goldsborough, Webmaster, Journal Editor and Secretary of the MHS, for his diligence and integrity at finding and reporting Manitoba heritage sites. He has tracked down 3600 so far and now we can discover them first on this great map on the MHS website and then out there on the road. Thanks Gord.

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Filed under 1950s, Family, Ghost Towns, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage

The Doll House by Heather Benning

Reid Dickie

The house is gone. Find out why here.

A chilling monument to the decline of the prairie farm stands next to Manitoba Highway #2 just a few miles east of the Saskatchewan border. The 2007 art project by Saskatchewan artist Heather Benning is called The Doll House. Heather took an old abandoned farmhouse, removed the rear wall completely, furnished the place with stuff from the late 1960s when it was last inhabited and covered the open wall with plexiglas – instant doll house! The name is only one of the many ironies the project evokes. The loneliness of prairie pioneer women who could go months without seeing another woman struck me. The location would have been bleak if not desolate although Highway #2 was once a trail. The house is about a hundred years old now and Heather says it will remain an art project until it falls down. Here’s my video report on The Doll House.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Art Actions, Day Tripping, Hope, Local History, Pioneers, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions, Video