Category Archives: Winnipeg

Reid’s first novel now available at McNally Robinson

jacket_med


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

http://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/9781772800173/reid-dickie/play-the-jukebox

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.

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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 Five Fiction

The fiction I have written has tended toward short stories, due in part to there being a better likelihood I will know when the story is finished; anything larger attracts doubt, difficulty and potential for dangling dénouements. That said I recently finished, yes actually finished, a novel of several hundred pages and proportions. Writing Play the Jukebox (it’s fourth and final working title) was among my life’s most rewarding experiences. Getting lost in the lives of dozens of fresh beings for eighteen months then coming out the other side covered up in aces I am confident the thing is finished. I look forward to my editor’s comments and my responses to them. Writing Play the Jukebox (it’s fourth and final working title) was among my life’s most rewarding experiences. Getting lost in the lives of dozens of fresh beings for eighteen months then coming out the other side covered up in aces is hard to diminish.

There are two dozen short stories on my Fiction page. In Panic Don’t Panic I take you right down to the concrete on the streets of Winnipeg and introduce some of its denizens.

 

Panic Don’t Panic from Fiction page

Reid Dickie

A steamy prairie wind blows in from the west, the city swelters, the garbage blows up and down Graham Avenue. Come Soon Summer does a finger check because the wind told her to. She curls her fingers toward her and counts. One two three four five. One two three four five. Yup, all there, even the one with the dirty plastic band-aid on it. Someday she will look under the band-aid and see what is there but not today.

She knows the finger stealer is nearby. Perhaps it’s the white man who thinks he’s cool in wrap sunglasses. Maybe it’s the old black lady with the thick glasses and the polka dot shopping bag. Or it’s the tiny drooling googly-eyed baby in the huge plastic carriage, or its mother, the thin distracted woman sipping a take-out coffee through a straw as she navigates the giant tram through sidewalk traffic, picking away at some black thing in her hand, the plugs in her ears telling her how to be in the world and what to do. Whoever it is, there is danger.

Come Soon Summer hears all about the danger from the wind through the elm saplings along the sidewalk, the whish of the bus tires on hot cement and the chattering in her head. There is danger. One two three four five. One two three four five.

When she remembers where she lives, Come Soon Summer can always go home, back to the little boxy house in the bush by the little stream that drowned somebody every summer for twenty five years but never drowned Come Soon Summer, not even once. In the house she sees her half-brothers Ilis and Orlis feet up watching some game on TV, eating zesty chips from crackling bags and bubbling water from plastic bottles. She sees first their feet then their legs being removed by the diabetes and she sees the spinning spokes of their wheelchairs create fluttering birds in the late afternoon sun. She spirals into the flickering light, her fetch overshadows her ghee. She doesn’t understand her thoughts.

Come Soon Summer finds a piece of thick blue chalk on the sidewalk. It is a finger, she thinks, someone has lost a finger. She counts her own fingers. One, two, three, four, five. One two three four five. All there.

She picks up the chalk, which has fallen out of a girl’s bag as she ran from the library to the waiting family car. Is the library on fire? Come Soon Summer asks herself again and again until she can’t remember the question anymore. That’s how she likes it, when she can’t remember the question anymore. She is holding chalk with all her fingers. That’s all. That’s all she knows, needs to know.

She remembers she can write. She can’t think of anything she needs to write or even wants to write. Come Soon Summer has no words. She stands weeping wordlessly as the library door swooshes open and closed.

She remembers the only two words any of us really need to know. They come rushing at her, toward her and she captures each one before it gets lost inside the word zoo building. Together the two words squeeze out small music in her mind.

The blue chalk is becoming moist and crumbly in Come Soon Summer’s hand. She now knows she needs to write and she knows what she needs to write. She kneels and applies the blue chalk to the red brick sidewalk in front of the library. A wad of gum sticks to the chalk. She flicks it away and feels the chalk expressing her command beneath her hand. She feels powerful. Her words appear large and blue.

Panic

 Don’t Panic

Slouched against the stone building Come Soon Summer watches as library patrons walking in and out scuff her words away, her important message, her blue lines disperse like clouds in a red brick sky, vaguely tinting the soles of boots and shoes that later at home cats will sniff and sneeze from the blue dust of her chalk.

Come Soon Summer sneezes just as a woman in office clothes bends toward her offering her a loonie. Come Soon Summer takes the metal thing and smiles widely at the woman, revealing her blackened and broken teeth and the dark gums that still keep some of them in place. Come Soon Summer looks at the metal thing in her palm and suddenly lets out a yelp that startles a library patron who is chaining up his bike at the rack. One of her fingers is gone! Another yelp! Gone! One of her very own fingers! Counting one, two, three, four… only four, one gone! She curls her fingers toward her and counts again. “One two three four…” Still one short! Panic, Don’t Panic, Panic, Don’t Panic!

Something else is going on.

Come Soon Summer looks across Graham Avenue into the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church where men are shouting and hooting. Coming on the run around the side of the church is a barefoot young Cree man pursued by four slightly older native men, all of them high as kites on whatever they managed to steal from Canadian Tire that day. The boy runs through the iron gates into the traffic on Donald Street barely dodging cars. Traffic clears and his pursuers easily catch him on the sidewalk beside MTS Centre. They strip off his torn t-shirt and hold him as they take his jeans and run across Donald waving his clothing victoriously in the air. They stand across the street, pointing at his nakedness and shame, their laughter sounds like coyotes.

The naked man’s name is Shaq, actually Shaquille. Short on heroic role models of their own, Shaq’s young Cree parents named him after a black American basketball player due to cross-cultural empathy between downed natives and suppressed American blacks. Shaq is not seven foot one, he’s five foot ten. His smooth young body carries two souvenirs. Along his right side above his waist is a foot-long scar, still red from a knife attack by his drunken sister three months previous. Shaq almost bled to death that time. A sharp indentation on his right shoulder reminds him of the bullet that he caught on Alfred Avenue in the North End when he was eleven. Friendly fire, the cops called it.

On the sidewalk next to MTS Centre, Shaq quakes in anger, his head and long black hair shake as he clenches his fists by his side. Throwing back his head, he lets out an enormous existential wail of angst that echoes back and forth between the old church and the brick and glass boogie room. As he wails, his arms and clenched hands rise skyward, fists shaking over his head. His prolonged, resounding howl sounds like Wolf.

Naked and howling Shaq feels perfectly alone. He reaches inward and draws out his power animal fully, becoming Wolf on the sidewalk next to MTS Centre, powerful, brave. He howls again and again, each more desolate, more authentic than the last. He looks down at his naked body and howls again, this time tinged with a little laughter but ever Wolf. He throws his fists open and claws flex out of his fingertips. He leaves scratches on the afternoon sky.

His tormentors, though still curious what he will do next, lose interest in the game and throw his t-shirt and jeans onto Donald Street. Shaq watches as cars run over his clothing again and again. Clothing seems so irrelevant now, so unnecessary, so imperfect. I am perfect, Shaq thinks. When the traffic clears, he walks into the street, retrieves his wardrobe and dresses in the middle of Donald Street while drivers honk around him. Smiling and baring his teeth, he gives each one a fond finger.

At the same time as Shaq is naked and howling, behind him and proceeding along the sidewalk next to MTS Centre Come Soon Summer sees an orderly double line of poisonous mushrooms, orange bobbing mushrooms, the most dangerous kind!

In fact, they are not poisonous mushrooms, or even mushrooms. They are the Grade Two class from Our Lady of In Spite of Ourselves Catholic School – all twenty two of them, each wearing a neon orange hat for easy spotting during disasters – under the management and advisement of two obese diabetic women who are not their teachers but teacher’s assistants assigned the dirty job of tending the small flock through the maze of downtown, treacherous filthy downtown with its lurid crime, lack of predictability and unbenign deaths as seen on TVs in Squash Squander Heights and other suburbs surrounding Winnipeg. The women and their entourage are headed toward the Millennium Library for Storybook Time with Gerty Glucosemeter.

Both Eleanor Fecunder and Sessious Pindrover, minders of the little herd and both mothers though not of any of the children in their tow, are wearing similar toxic orange hats. The children have been trained to look for “the lighthouse of an orange hat if they are feeling lost.” As a result, child snatchers now, as a rule, have a neon orange hat in their glove box. Neither Eleanor nor Sessious know this or even care. They just want to get the herd to the gee dee library without any of them being flattened by a bus.

Sessious, leading the line, is the first to notice the commotion of the Indian boys. Her heart rate jumps thirty beats a minute, her eyes widen and her pupils dilate in a strange reaction to the anti-depressants she gobbles daily. She sees the naked man, turns toward the children and screams at the top of her lungs, “STOP!”

Bumpily, all the children stop, most are frightened, some start to cry. Eleanor, riding shotgun at the rear, finally sees naked Shaq and yells at the top of her lungs, “RUN!!” Confused, the children start to run past Sessious and Shaq. All of them turn to look at Shaq. Waiting for the light at the end of the block, some children still cry, others, curiosity enflamed, stare big-eyed at the man howling on the sidewalk. Storybook Time with Gerty Glucosemeter turns out to be rather anti-climatic. All the mushrooms make it through the ordeal, none squashed, all home safe and sound.

That evening, around the dinner table in the Bubbler household on Pillsbury Crescent Roll Crescent in Plunging Plover Plateau, Dad (Blair) asks his seven-year-old Son (Seth) what he learned in school today.

“I saw a wolf.”

Dad (Blair) is surprised. “You saw a wolf? Really? Where did you see a wolf, son?”

“Downtown, when we went to the lyberry, there was a wolf howling on the sidewalk. He had no clothes on.”

Dad (Blair) smiles at his son’s active imagination.

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Filed under 12 days of christmas 2015, Fiction, Old Souls, Winnipeg, Writer's Life

Winnipeg’s Slam Poetry Team 2015

SLAM 026

Left to right: Julia Florek (alternate), Amber O’Reilly, Larysa Musick, Tharuna Abbu, Mike Johnston

Reid Dickie

Competition was stiff and the scores were incredibly close at the Park Theatre tonight as Winnipeg’s 2015 Slam Poetry team was distilled from the eight finalists. Slam poetry is a growing subculture of modern expression that Winnipeggers are embracing. A large crowd nearly filled the theatre which surprised the organizers and elicited much gratitude.

SLAM 017 - CopyThe three poets who didn’t make the team – Kortnee Stevens, Rob Malo and Shelly Genthon  – gave admirable performances. The winner of the shiny satirical belt for the highest score was Mike Johnston.

Calgary slam poet Andre Prefontaine brought his bitter life truths to the stage with refined humour and compelling presence as the half-time show. Charming, erudite and highly tolerant Bruce Symaka (left) MC’ed the evening and rolled with the frequent audience jibes.

The four finalists will represent Winnipeg at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Saskatoon October 18 to 25, 2015.

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Filed under Festivals, Humour, Slam Poetry, Winnipeg

Panic Don’t Panic – Fiction

Reid Dickie

A steamy prairie wind blows in from the west, the city swelters, the garbage blows up and down Graham Avenue. Come Soon Summer does a finger check because the wind told her to. She curls her fingers toward her and counts. One two three four five. One two three four five. Yup, all there, even the one with the dirty plastic band-aid on it. Someday she will look under the band-aid and see what is there but not today.

She knows the finger stealer is nearby. Perhaps it’s the white man who thinks he’s cool in wrap sunglasses. Maybe it’s the old black lady with the thick glasses and the polka dot shopping bag. Or it’s the tiny drooling googly-eyed baby in the huge plastic carriage, or its mother, the thin distracted woman sipping a take-out coffee through a straw as she navigates the giant tram through sidewalk traffic, picking away at some black thing in her hand, the plugs in her ears telling her how to be in the world and what to do. Whoever it is, there is danger.

Come Soon Summer hears all about the danger from the wind through the elm saplings along the sidewalk, the whish of the bus tires on hot cement and the chattering in her head. There is danger. One two three four five. One two three four five.

When she remembers where she lives, Come Soon Summer can always go home, back to the little boxy house in the bush by the little stream that drowned somebody every summer for twenty five years but never drowned Come Soon Summer, not even once. In the house she sees her half-brothers Ilis and Orlis feet up watching some game on TV, eating zesty chips from crackling bags and bubbling water from plastic bottles. She sees first their feet then their legs being removed by the diabetes and she sees the spinning spokes of their wheelchairs create fluttering birds in the late afternoon sun. She spirals into the flickering light, her fetch overshadows her ghee. She doesn’t understand her thoughts.

Come Soon Summer finds a piece of thick blue chalk on the sidewalk. It is a finger, she thinks, someone has lost a finger. She counts her own fingers. One, two, three, four, five. One two three four five. All there.

She picks up the chalk, which has fallen out of a girl’s bag as she ran from the library to the waiting family car. Is the library on fire? Come Soon Summer asks herself again and again until she can’t remember the question anymore. That’s how she likes it, when she can’t remember the question anymore. She is holding chalk with all her fingers. That’s all. That’s all she knows, needs to know.

She remembers she can write. She can’t think of anything she needs to write or even wants to write. Come Soon Summer has no words. She stands weeping wordlessly as the library door swooshes open and closed.

She remembers the only two words any of us really need to know. They come rushing at her, toward her and she captures each one before it gets lost inside the word zoo building. Together the two words squeeze out small music in her mind.

The blue chalk is becoming moist and crumbly in Come Soon Summer’s hand. She now knows she needs to write and she knows what she needs to write. She kneels and applies the blue chalk to the red brick sidewalk in front of the library. A wad of gum sticks to the chalk. She flicks it away and feels the chalk expressing her command beneath her hand. She feels powerful. Her words appear large and blue.

Panic

 Don’t Panic

Slouched against the stone building Come Soon Summer watches as library patrons walking in and out scuff her words away, her important message, her blue lines disperse like clouds in a red brick sky, vaguely tinting the soles of boots and shoes that later at home cats will sniff and sneeze from the blue dust of her chalk.

Come Soon Summer sneezes just as a woman in office clothes bends toward her offering her a loonie. Come Soon Summer takes the metal thing and smiles widely at the woman, revealing her blackened and broken teeth and the dark gums that still keep some of them in place. Come Soon Summer looks at the metal thing in her palm and suddenly lets out a yelp that startles a library patron who is chaining up his bike at the rack. One of her fingers is gone! Another yelp! Gone! One of her very own fingers! Counting one, two, three, four… only four, one gone! She curls her fingers toward her and counts again. “One two three four…” Still one short! Panic, Don’t Panic, Panic, Don’t Panic!

Something else is going on.

Come Soon Summer looks across Graham Avenue into the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church where men are shouting and hooting. Coming on the run around the side of the church is a barefoot young Cree man pursued by four slightly older native men, all of them high as kites on whatever they managed to steal from Canadian Tire that day. The boy runs through the iron gates into the traffic on Donald Street barely dodging cars. Traffic clears and his pursuers easily catch him on the sidewalk beside MTS Centre. They strip off his torn t-shirt and hold him as they take his jeans and run across Donald waving his clothing victoriously in the air. They stand across the street, pointing at his nakedness and shame, their laughter sounds like coyotes.

The naked man’s name is Shaq, actually Shaquille. Short on heroic role models of their own, Shaq’s young Cree parents named him after a black American basketball player due to cross-cultural empathy between downed natives and suppressed American blacks. Shaq is not seven foot one, he’s five foot ten. His smooth young body carries two souvenirs. Along his right side above his waist is a foot-long scar, still red from a knife attack by his drunken sister three months previous. Shaq almost bled to death that time. A sharp indentation on his right shoulder reminds him of the bullet that he caught on Alfred Avenue in the North End when he was eleven. Friendly fire, the cops called it.

On the sidewalk next to MTS Centre, Shaq quakes in anger, his head and long black hair shake as he clenches his fists by his side. Throwing back his head, he lets out an enormous existential wail of angst that echoes back and forth between the old church and the brick and glass boogie room. As he wails, his arms and clenched hands rise skyward, fists shaking over his head. His prolonged, resounding howl sounds like Wolf.

Naked and howling Shaq feels perfectly alone. He reaches inward and draws out his power animal fully, becoming Wolf on the sidewalk next to MTS Centre, powerful, brave. He howls again and again, each more desolate, more authentic than the last. He looks down at his naked body and howls again, this time tinged with a little laughter but ever Wolf. He throws his fists open and claws flex out of his fingertips. He leaves scratches on the afternoon sky.

His tormentors, though still curious what he will do next, lose interest in the game and throw his t-shirt and jeans onto Donald Street. Shaq watches as cars run over his clothing again and again. Clothing seems so irrelevant now, so unnecessary, so imperfect. I am perfect, Shaq thinks. When the traffic clears, he walks into the street, retrieves his wardrobe and dresses in the middle of Donald Street while drivers honk around him. Smiling and baring his teeth, he gives each one a fond finger.

At the same time as Shaq is naked and howling, behind him and proceeding along the sidewalk next to MTS Centre Come Soon Summer sees an orderly double line of poisonous mushrooms, orange bobbing mushrooms, the most dangerous kind!

In fact, they are not poisonous mushrooms, or even mushrooms. They are the Grade Two class from Our Lady of In Spite of Ourselves Catholic School – all twenty two of them, each wearing a neon orange hat for easy spotting during disasters – under the management and advisement of two obese diabetic women who are not their teachers but teacher’s assistants assigned the dirty job of tending the small flock through the maze of downtown, treacherous filthy downtown with its lurid crime, lack of predictability and unbenign deaths as seen on TVs in Squash Squander Heights and other suburbs surrounding Winnipeg. The women and their entourage are headed toward the Millennium Library for Storybook Time with Gerty Glucosemeter.

Both Eleanor Fecunder and Sessious Pindrover, minders of the little herd and both mothers though not of any of the children in their tow, are wearing similar toxic orange hats. The children have been trained to look for “the lighthouse of an orange hat if they are feeling lost.” As a result, child snatchers now, as a rule, have a neon orange hat in their glove box. Neither Eleanor nor Sessious know this or even care. They just want to get the herd to the gee dee library without any of them being flattened by a bus.

Sessious, leading the line, is the first to notice the commotion of the Indian boys. Her heart rate jumps thirty beats a minute, her eyes widen and her pupils dilate in a strange reaction to the anti-depressants she gobbles daily. She sees the naked man, turns toward the children and screams at the top of her lungs, “STOP!”

Bumpily, all the children stop, most are frightened, some start to cry. Eleanor, riding shotgun at the rear, finally sees naked Shaq and yells at the top of her lungs, “RUN!!” Confused, the children start to run past Sessious and Shaq. All of them turn to look at Shaq. Waiting for the light at the end of the block, some children still cry, others, curiosity enflamed, stare big-eyed at the man howling on the sidewalk. Storybook Time with Gerty Glucosemeter turns out to be rather anti-climatic. All the mushrooms make it through the ordeal, none squashed, all home safe and sound.

That evening, around the dinner table in the Bubbler household on Pillsbury Crescent Roll Crescent in Plunging Plover Plateau, Dad (Blair) asks his seven-year-old Son (Seth) what he learned in school today.

“I saw a wolf.”

Dad (Blair) is surprised. “You saw a wolf? Really? Where did you see a wolf, son?”

“Downtown, when we went to the lyberry, there was a wolf howling on the sidewalk. He had no clothes on.”

Dad (Blair) smiles at his son’s active imagination.

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Filed under Fiction, Manitoba Heritage, Winnipeg

Whorls and The Unraveling – Fiction

Reid Dickie

“The ego is just the dream of the Witness, the film the Witness creates out of  its own infinite plentitude, simply so it will have something to watch at the movies.”

Ken Wilber One Taste

 “The self-contraction is a feeling of interior tension, often localized behind the eyes, and anchored in a slight muscle tension throughout the bodymind. It is an effort and a sensation of contracting in the face of the world. It is a subtle whole-body tension. Simply notice this tension.”

Ken Wilber One Taste

The stops on the westbound Corydon #18 bus route to Assiniboine Park are:

Nassau

Daly

Hugo

Cockburn

Arbuthnot  

Lilac – where I get on, one gets off.

Wentworth – does not stop.

Stafford – two get off, one gets on.

I am sitting alone in a two-seater half way down the curb side of the bus. It is a hot day and the windows are bent open for the breeze. In front of me is a man with close-cropped hair. Nestled between the hairs, tiny beads of sweat glisten on his scalp. I am reflected…

Harrow – one gets off.

Guelph – does not stop.

…in every shiny bead. His hair is recently cut, the scalp is almost white. The black hair, stark against the pale skin, swirls out of a central place at the back of the man’s head. The whorl is not centred directly on the back of his head but slightly off to the upper left. Three beads at the edge of his hairline merge to form a drop of sweat that runs slowly down the back of his tanned neck and soaks into his t-shirt. I am…

Wilton – three get on.

Rockwood – one gets off.

Thurso – does not stop.

…staring into the whorl as it begins to spin. I let the spiral of black hair drag me into its vortex. It trips a mindful switch in my awareness. The force of the spin from the whorl is bringing my own self-contraction painfully to the surface, so obvious I cannot…

Cambridge E. – one gets off, two get on.

Cambridge W. – two get on.

Waverly – one gets on, one gets off.

… ignore it.  The evidence is so plain. I am fully wet, the waves have subsided and I rest now simply, here, as the wetness, evolving through and incarnated in all things. The spin from the whorl feels like electric prickles on my fingertips. My living whorls are torn from my fingertips by small tornadoes. I am…

Elm – does not stop.

Ash – does not stop.

Niagara – one gets off.

Brock – stops but wrong stop for passenger.

… who? A slow elegant wave washes behind my eyes, a massage from inside. I am prone. I am….

Campbell – two get off.

… a beach. The contraction is loosening. I am fluid as submerged sand. Tiny vortexes shuffle me along the sandy bottom. I am…

Lindsay – does not stop.

Lanark – two get off, two get on.

… an illusion between witnesses. I am…

Centennial – does not stop.

Lockwood – does not stop.

Kenaston – two get one, one gets off.

… watching. Balance gone now. Does not matter. The world is releasing me. No. I am releasing myself. No. Releasing is happening anyway and I am just tuning into it for now. And now. And now. I am…

Ubique – does not stop.

Doncaster – does not stop.

Edgeland – does not stop.

…floating. There is only Emptiness. A sense of Freedom. And  here…

Southport – does not stop.

Handsart – does not stop.

Park – one gets off.

Kelvin – does not stop.

Laidlaw – does not stop.

…another arising. Just let it arise, abide for its time then recede back into the Emptiness. That is it, just allow your uncontracted self to kick off its shoes and feel the sand between its toes. Oozing up through…

Shaftesbury – two get off.

Shaftesbury W. – one gets off.

…the sand are fresh blades of green grass that…

Zoo – everyone but me gets off.

…spread like a stain across the land, turning the dark earth into the colour of…

Zoo Loop – this is where I get off.  One gets on.

…love.

Out the back door of the bus onto the asphalt pavement, I take two steps before reaching the green grass. I take off my shoes and the earth begins to meld with me. I am rapidly dissolved up to my heart in the green shimmer of the grass. There I pause, appearing like a store display torso for a moment, before finishing my resolve to dissolve. Accomplished.

I love going to the park.

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Filed under Fiction, Parks, Winnipeg

Koz and The Beatles

 CKRC chartscan0002

Reid Dickie

Still in the hit parade mode, CKRC was CKY’s rival for the young at heart market in Winnipeg as their weekly chart states. CKRC used the image of the singing beaver in boater hat and striped jacket a la barbershoppers, for several years.

CKRC KOZscan0001

This chart for the week of September 3, 1965 features a picture of CKRC Good Guy Boyd Kozak and the four winners of the contest to see The Beatles in Toronto August 17, 1965. Although I didn’t know Boyd, actually Borys, when we were both DJs, in recent years we’ve become coffee buddies. He did a wonderful voiceover for A Town With Water from my series The Lonesomes. You can still hear his golden tones on the air. Boyd does morning news at QX104 and Fab 94.

I sent Boyd the picture from the chart. He commented, “Thanks Reid..wonderful memories, those three days. This was my second trip, having done same, a year before for the Beatles first trip to Canada.”

Here’s the rest of that week’s chart along with the DJs of the day. Click to enlarge

CKRC CHARTscan0001

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Filed under 1960s, Music, Radio, Winnipeg

The Last CKY Hit Parade

CKY7

Reid Dickie

Every week for at least five and a half years, CKY Radio, Canada’s Friendly Giant, published a hit parade that listed the Top 50 pop songs and Top 20 western songs in Winnipeg. The 50,000 watt station devoted a few hours a day to, what was then called, western music, country music’s uncle. The CKY hit parade was a colourful single fold sheet distributed free at record stores in Winnipeg and round the province to a degree.

The weekly chart was distilled using a formula that combined local record sales and listener requests and resulting in the hit parade. Post-1963 issues featured pictures of the disc jockeys.

The last CKY Hit Parade was published on February 27, 1966. The Beatles are #1.

CKY1scan0001

CKY1scan0002

I’m not sure when CKY started publishing a hit parade. The earliest one I have is for the week of September 9, 1961.

CKY1scan0003

Listen to CKY go off the air forever on January 21, 2004.

If you liked this stuff, check out some of my other nostalgic Winnipeg memories like Eaton’s Beatle Bar, Inside the Mind of a 15 Year Old Beatlemaniac, CKY wants a town named after it, my radio career, the Beatles come to Winnipeg, even some fake nostalgia.

I have pages about Winnipeg’s grand old schools, some heritage houses, churches and Manitoba heritage from around the province.

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Filed under 1960s, Music, Radio, Winnipeg

Fake Winnipeg Nostalgia – Char Broiler Commercial

FOOD DD

You don’t actually remember this Char Broiler commercial but after you watch it you’ll think you do.

False memories are hidden in the food.

Can you decode this order?

FOOD OO

Watch Char Broiler commercial parody 1:30

Click a pic

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Filed under Humour, Winnipeg

Mid-Century Winnipeg – The Cave Supper Club

Wpg Earle Hill & His cavemen at Cave Club 1937

Taken in 1937 in Winnipeg’s Cave Supper Club (likely located where Giant Tiger is at Donald and Ellice), Earle Hill and his Cave Men are about to entertain the evening crowd. There were also Cave Supper Clubs in Vancouver and Edmonton (it was a chain). Stalactites and huge mushrooms were prominent motifs in all of them.

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Filed under 1930s, Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Music, Winnipeg

Seekaywye, Manitoba: CKY’s Phantom Radio Town

CKY JUNE 64scan0003

Reid Dickie

    In early 1964, Winnipeg’s 580 CKY ran a promotion to have a Manitoba town officially change its name to Seekaywye, Manitoba. Thereafter the station would promote the tourist aspects of its namesake. Two towns seriously vied for the title, each held local votes about the name change.

    Binscarth, in western Manitoba out on Hwy 16 just south of Russell, was one of the towns. La Riviere on Hwy #3 in southern Manitoba was the other. To demonstrate their sincerity local 580 hotelbusinesses were encouraged to change their names to incorporate something about the radio station. Binscarth spawned two related businesses: 580 Plumbing and Heating and the 580 Hotel (left).

    However, it was not to be. The June 6, 1964 issue of Billboard magazine reported the residents of Binscarth had narrowly voted down changing their name but only by 10 votes. When offered the same deal by CKY, La Riviere residents also voted down the renaming.

    My hometown is just down the road from Binscarth. I delivered fuel to a service station there in my youth, for years afterward seeing the billboard for the 580 Hotel by the side of the highway.

    Here’s two CKY Fab 50 Surveys from the time when Beatlemania had taken hold of North America.CKY JUNE 64scan0002

Read about my radio career here.

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Filed under 1960s, Local History, Radio, Winnipeg

La Verendrye School, 290 Lilac Street, Winnipeg (1909)

LA VERENDRYE 5

Imagine Winnipeg in its boomtown days – 1890 to 1915. The population grew by thousands every month. Immigrants, mainly from Europe, converged here, some passed through for points south, west or north. Others saw their opportunity in this brand new city at the confluence of two old rivers.

Over two decades of post-railway bustle that changed a floodplain into a city, almost fifty schools were built to educate all those new western Canadian children. Between 1900 and 1913, school enrolment increased 200%, from 7,500 to 22,000. By contrast, enrolment during the 1950s baby boom increased 25%.

laverendryeschool2One of Winnipeg’s grandest old schools from the boomtown era is La Verendrye School (left, not long after it opened) in Fort Rouge. Though residential and business areas quickly grew up around it, when it opened in 1909 La Verendrye School was on the outskirts of the city. Reporting on the school’s cornerstone laying on July 8, 1909 by Ward 1 Trustee F.C. Hubbard, the Manitoba Free Press reported, “Yesterday visitors journeyed to the ground or within 100 yards of it by electric car and found there was still something of Winnipeg beyond them, though the streets lose some of their garb of traffic and dwellings are hidden in areas of native bush.”

In the early 1900s, education was viewed as a panacea for ignorance and the buildings in which it occurred had to reflect that optimism and hope. In contrast to the few wood frame homes around it, the scale and solid mass of La Verendrye School still provides a feeling of promise and stability.

Centred perfectly between Jessie Avenue and Warsaw Avenue on Lilac Street, the location takes full advantage of having an empty square block without competing buildings. Based on a design by School Division Architect and Commissioner of School Buildings J. B. Mitchell and constructed of local materials, La Verendrye School is a commingling of Queen Anne, Romanesque Revival and Classical Revival architectural styles.LA VERENDRYE0001

The school’s weathered exterior is pale dun-coloured brick with Tyndall stone trim set on a raised limestone foundation. The façade features end wings with wide semi-circular windows accentuating Dutch gables (right).

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The front entrance (left) is very formal with a shallow pilastered portico topped with a cut stone balustrade. Above that an arched tri-part window leads the eye upward toward the school name carved in stone and beyond to the dramatic arch with ball pinnacles (below).LA VERENDRYE 3

 

 

 

 

 

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The side entrance on the north side of the building (left) has a deeper portico with similar balustrade under a Dutch gable with a bull’s-eye window. The south side entrance is obscured by the gym.

 

Although the street face of the school is utterly symmetrical, the rear view LA VERENDRYE 005reveals Mitchell’s asymmetrical use of space (right).

Mitchell’s objectives were student safety and adequate natural lighting. The corridors are wide with plenty of exits and large windows flood the classrooms with light. Though not the originals, the façade features leaded stained glass windows. Most of the rooms still have original pressed tin ceilings.

The total cost to construct the 20-room school was $81,184. Contractors Saul and Irish were paid $69,920 to build the school. The Steam Power and Heating Company got $10,200 to install the state-of-the-art heating and ventilation systems with stylish arched vertical vents midway up the walls, a giant step up from rooms heated by stoves. Though proposed, a third floor caretaker’s suite was never built.

la verendrye duncanThe school’s first principal was David Merritt Duncan (left). Duncan had been classics master at Winnipeg Collegiate Institute and later would principal at the new Kelvin Technical High School. A founder of the Community Chest, Duncan became Superintendent of Schools for the Division in 1929, succeeding Daniel McIntyre.

Obliged to accommodate mentally handicapped children, the school system struggled to find workable solutions. In 1914, La Verendrye School was the site of a program called “Opportunity” which brought handicapped children together in special classes. Over the next decade, various methods were tried, with 300 children attending classes by 1926.

Anna Gibson, who had a school named for her, was a novice teacher at La Verendrye School in 1918 when the Spanish flu hit Manitoba. She volunteered to help in a hospital and succumbed to the flu within a few weeks.

The gym was added onto the south side in 1964, a benefit to the students that offered the drawback of precluding the building from being named a heritage site. In the late 1980s, the school was saved from demolition by an area parents group.

Operated as a high school for two years, La Verendrye became an elementary school to handle the overflow from Fort Rouge School. Today La Verendrye is the oldest school in Winnipeg School Division continuously used for students.

Among La Verendrye School’s century plus of alumni, you will find Terry Fox’s father, Rolly and artist Nathan Carlson.

Named after early Quebec explorer, Pierre Gaultier de Verennes, La Verendrye School is one of a handful of early schools not named after stalwarts of the British Empire. Since 1983, the school has offered French Immersion classes for Nursery to Grade 6 students. Today 310 students attend École La Verendrye taught by 31 teachers.

The centennial of La Verendrye School occurred in 2009. To quote the school’s website, “In June 2009, École La Vérendrye celebrated its centennial with a major community barbecue and carnival, as well as numerous historical projects. A circa-1909 heritage classroom was made a permanent part of the school, offering students from across the Division a chance to experience history in an immersive environment.” Due to increased enrolment since the centennial the heritage classroom no longer exists as it was needed for a regular classroom.

PROFILE

La Verendrye School

Built 1909

Additions 1964

Materials: buff brick and limestone

Style: Queen Anne, Classical Revival two-storey

Architect: J. B. Mitchell

Contractors: Saul and Irish

Original cost $81,184

Current assessed value $3,240,000

Acreage 3 acres

 

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Filed under Education, Schools, Winnipeg

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…

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

Manitoba Flood Cams 2013

Reid Dickie

UPDATE: As of May 15 2013, the flood cams have been discontinued. There won’t be much, if any, flooding this year so show’s over, folks, nothing to see here, move along…

It’s Virtual Flood Season again in Manitoba!

The Manitoba government has added some live flood cams to their Flood Information website:

  • One webcam shows the Red River pouring into the floodway diverting the water around Winnipeg.
  • Another shows a rather odd aerial view of Morris, MB, south of Winnipeg on the Red River.
  • For awhile they had a camera at the inlet for the Portage Diversion which siphons off Assiniboine River water and sends it north to Lake Manitoba. Today (April 30) that cam has disappeared. The Portage Diversion cam shows the most contentious site of flood control in the province and, since the government likes to tightly control its flood information and spin, I’m not surprised it has disappeared.  Perhaps it will be back…
  • The fourth cam is at a bend in the Assiniboine River in Brandon looking west with an 18th Street bridge in the distance. As of today in Brandon the Assiniboine appears to be pre-breakup with lots of solid ice. Its headwaters received about six inches of new snow in the last 24 hours. Once again the Assiniboine is the river to be nervous about.

Click the vintage picture of the floodway gates to get to the 2013 flood cams.

rr floodway

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The First Junior High School

Reid Dickie

Think of the last time you were traveling and came across an idea so new, so startling, so perfect that it caused a eureka moment. Superintendent of Winnipeg Schools Dr. Daniel McIntyre, on one of his “reconnaissance” missions to the United States and eastern Canada, was introduced to the concept of the junior high school in 1918. Whether it was a eureka moment or the seed for his thoughtful innovation, the idea make absolute sense to the Superintendent.
Dr. Daniel McIntyreJunior high schools – sometimes called intermediate or middle schools – developed partly as a reaction to the Old World socialization of parents who believed education culminated at Grade 8 and, thereafter, you worked. This resulted in a significant dropout rate at Grade 8.
Educators had long studied the problem of the quick transition from elementary school to high school that occurred after Grade 8. Students often were ill equipped to deal with specialized teachers, note-taking requirements and the independence of subject selection.
The junior high concept also resulted from the realization that children in the 11 to 15 year old range experienced life much differently than they had at a younger age and differently than they would in the future. Hormonal changes in our bodies ignite puberty and its confusions. New worldviews begin to emerge as we deal with our new ability to think about thinking.
During these transitional years, developmentally we experience the birth of mental rules and roles and the ability to take the role of the Other, moving from a purely egocentric worldview to one that is more sociocentric and inclusive. At this stage, we experience a strong need to “belong” thus our passionate attachments to sports teams, musicians, fashions, groups of any kind. As we find our place in the group and we seek our individuality, from that new vantage point grows our self-esteem and the ability to think about thinking. Rampant with possibilities, this stage – Grades 7, 8 and 9 – requires a different approach to education.
In September 1919, Earl Grey School in Winnipeg became the site ofEARL GREY SCHOOL 2 the first junior high school in Canada. Asked to create an experimental junior high curriculum for 400 students, Earl Grey principal J.S. Little introduced teaching methods quite unusual for the time.
Junior high gave students the opportunity to select various subjects as a way of determining their aptitude and inclinations. Part of the experiment was having the students move, not the teachers. This was adopted because the equipment for science laboratories and other specialized curricula was difficult to move. Instead of a text, history students created scrapbooks of clippings from newspapers and magazines.
These early curriculum ideas evolved, through decades of trail and error, into junior high as we know it today. Innovative curriculum ideas and subjects, experiments in classroom design and focus, introduction of guidance counseling and many other concepts have been tried.
The junior high concept proved so successful it was adopted by other Winnipeg schools and within ten years was standard curriculum across Canada. The first Winnipeg school built specifically as a junior high school was Isaac Newton, which opened in January 1922 and housed students previously at Strathcona School. The principal at the new school was William Sisler.

Find many more stories about Manitoba schools on my Schools page.

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Filed under Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Manitobans of Note, Winnipeg

Request for Rooster Town Information

I received this comment from Lawrence Barkwell of the Manitoba Metis Federation:

A welcome addition to our knowledge of Winnipeg. The Louis Riel Institute and Institute of Urban Studies are beginning a study on Metis community life in Rooster Town, and wish to contact people who lived there or had relatives living there. Contact Lawrence Barkwell at 586-8474 (ext 298) lbarkwell@mmf.mb.ca to participate.

 In the past I have posted about Rooster Town and what it meant to Winnipeg. There is plenty of misinformation about Rooster Town so it’s good to see someone is trying to clarify the events from this era in the city’s history.

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Filed under Accommodations, Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Winnipeg

Wild Winnipeg Weather

Click the pic to check out my video of the wild summer storm that raged through Winnipeg Sunday evening and see its aftermath on my street.

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A Day In The Hood Has Left The Building

For a couple of years, a blog called A Day in the Hood reported honestly without embellishment on daily life in Winnipeg’s North End. The blog is no more. This post poignantly explains why and, by doing so, exposes further Winnipeg’s pathetic, embarrassing and dysfunctional city council who have virtually abandoned the North End to gangs, crime and poverty. Now that the bloggers have escaped the North End, follow them on the road.

 

That’s right, we left. My husband and I no longer live in the North End of Winnipeg. We don’t live anywhere in Winnipeg, for that matter. We moved into an RV, a home on wheels. So, why didn’t we just get another house in the City? That’s easy to answer. We can’t afford to live anywhere else. And I can’t live in the North End anymore. But we can afford to purchase an older, used motorhome. And that is what we did. I am not sure where we are going to ‘live’ now. I guess we will travel for a while and see what happens. (Follow our new adventures – Freedom at 51). I would like to apologize to anyone who feels I have let them down with my leaving. But, one has to do what is best for oneself. I can no longer deal with the issues facing me on my street in the North End. It is not just the garbage in my back lane, or the illegal dumpers who think they can leave all their unwanted crap in my neighbourhood. It is not just the sirens, not just the helicopter, not just the constant fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars on my street. It is not just the graffiti now appearing in my lane. It is not just the partying that goes on all night long, and the yelling that we hear on the street. It is not just the drug houses on the street and the youth we see in neighbouring yards where they don’t belong, uttering their threats as they look at us. It is not even just because someone broke into my house in the middle of the night when I was sleeping. It’s the whole package. And I am sorry, but I just can’t do it anymore. We have left the North End for happier times. If you want to know the turning point, the day we made the decision to leave, it was the day I wrote the blog post “The Decline And Fall of Civilization”. That was the day I realized this City cares nothing of the North End, and will do nothing to fix its issues. North End, I wish you all the best going forward. And I pray the City will care enough to save you some day in the future. Good day and God bless.

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Filed under Blog Life, Life and Life Only, Winnipeg

Stephen Harper Birds

Reid Dickie

In a previous post, I wrote about the Jerry Lewis Birds that inhabit my and my neighbour’s backyards. In fact, they are European starlings and come with an asinine genesis in North America. Having grown accustomed to the starling’s bizarre repertoire of trills, thrills and chills, mimicking cats, squeaky hinges and other birds with expert precision, their sudden absence this spring was obvious.

In their place, a flock of Stephen Harper Birds invaded my neighbourhood. These birds have shiny heads and cold yellow eyes.  They aggressively usurp the starlings’ nests, threaten smaller birds like the sparrows that nest in my neighbour’s birdhouses, en masse attack crows and other birds, dive at cats and squirrels and offer a boring repetitious song. Because I didn’t know what science calls these birds, their sinister appearance and unpredictable behaviour earned them the moniker Stephen Harper Birds.

Just as appropriately they are, in fact and by the bird book, common grackles. A lanky blackbird apparently, but when in flocks are noisy and aggressive. I noticed a pair of grackles building a large nest high up in a conical cedar tree in my backyard. I didn’t want these greedy belligerent birds in my life all summer so I applied some bird psychology. I know, how hard can it be to outsmart a bird? Read on…

In my decades I have come to understand that aggression understands aggression so, with that in mind, I tied a stout piece of rope about eight feet high up on the trunk of the cedar where the grackles nested and yanked on it vigourously. It caused the lean tree to sway wildly and the top section where the nest was to whiplash violently, sending the bird fluttering out of the nest. I started this mid afternoon and did it every two hours, always accompanied with wild growls, hisses and noises to add to the effect. During the day other grackles would come and croak away, defending the nest, I guess. But I kept it up until about two in the morning and the bird would fly out of the nest each time. I did this for two days, always with the strange noises. By the third day, the grackles had moved on.

I expected them to return and start nesting again but it hasn’t happened. I notice they have moved about a block west of here, apparently finding easier and more amenable nesting opportunities there. At least now that they have abandoned our backyards, the cats can peacefully snooze on the railings again, the sparrows sound much happier and the European starlings have reclaimed their nests. No more Stephen Harper Birds to defile the neighbourhood. (My apologies to common grackle lovers for the comparison to The Dark One.)

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Filed under Birds, Canada Strong and Free, Winnipeg

Convergence – 35 Years Ago Today

Reid Dickie

As John Lennon would say, today is a “red lettuce” day in the history of Linda and Reid. On this date, 35 years ago, we formally amalgamated our households and our lives by moving into a small house at 729 Lorette Avenue in Winnipeg. Since we had fallen madly in love, the move was inevitable. It was an usually hot April day, at least for back then, as the temperature soared into the 80s. Sweat was pouring off us and my friend Ted who helped with the move but we managed to clear out two apartments and find space for our combined stuff in the little house.

The house had been a rental property for some time before we moved in and had been reasonably well-maintained. I think we paid $130 a month for it which was appropriate. It became our “one-and-a-half-storey utopia” as we called it, alternating with “the boxcar” because it was long, narrow and open. This picture shows 729 Lorette in 2010 just before it was demolished. It hadn’t been lived in or heated for several years and was deemed “unihabitable.” It had served its purpose, satisfied intent and provided all its shelter.

About Lorette Avenue: it’s a Winnipeg anomaly, a “hermaphrodite street,” as Guy Maddin calls it in My Winnipeg (See this movie please). The front yards of one side of the street, our side, face backyards across the street. This odd bit of urban planning goes on for a couple of blocks then shifts over a block then dissolves into correct property lines. “No one speaks of Lorette Avenue,” again from My Winnipeg. This is the view directly across from 729 Lorette today.

Putting Lorette Avenue’s hermaphroditic charm to use, during the hot summer of 1978 I shot a fast frame Super 8 film out our front window into the backyards across the street. It wound up with a great Pere Ubu soundtrack, a song called Go, and is a popular choice on my DickTool channel on YouTube. Catch a glimpse of Lorette back then.

Linda and I lived on Lorette for two years, making our early art together – photography, films, collage, video. You can find the detailed chronological history of our artlife on my DTC Art page. Some of our strangest video art ensued from the Lorette house. Videos shot on Lorette include Cheap Grace, No Shirt No Shoes No Service, The Yard, Evidence of Winter and Video Shoes. The Super 8, Passionate Leave, was also shot there.

The little house was demolished and replaced with a spanky new duplex over the past year. This is what stands at 729 Lorette Avenue today.

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Filed under Accommodations, Art Actions, BEAUTY, dicktool co, Family, Linda, Love, video art, Winnipeg

New Video – Frozen Warnings Taxi Mix

Reid Dickie

A blast from the past! Alternate take of “Frozen Warnings,” a Nico classic covered by beautiful Linda and myself somewhere in the early 1980s. (Find our original version here.) This time, join us on a taxi ride from near River and Osborne to Winnipeg’s North End via the Arlington Street Bridge. Alfred Avenue between Battery and Artillery is where Linda grew up.  The Winnipeg taxi dispatcher works hard to keep the customer satisfied while we Dick Tool around, intoning a freakish duet. Local landmarks arise, Homer’s Restaurant on Ellice, the Windmill Restaurant on Selkirk and who remembers the Rickshaw Restaurant at 875 Portage? Rancid Randy, a feisty obese raccoon who frequented area backyards, can be heard pounding on a toy baby grand piano we set up near our trash can and tricked him into playing. That coon plays a nasty yano!

Despite the full moon and the deep background the places contain, things aren’t quite right. Aren’t they? Click the pic to find out.

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Filed under Art Actions, BEAUTY, DickToolery, Family, Humour, Linda, Video, Winnipeg