Click pic to play
Click pic to play
Thus begins Reid’s 2013 version of the 12 Days of Christmas.
This year I offer twelve glimpses into mysterious places where what you see and what you hear may surprise and inspire you, at least I hope so. Combining seven personal reminiscences with original footage and free clips off the internet I molded Things I Have Forgotten, a new 35-minute video art piece. I divided the piece into twelve segments and will offer one a day until Christmas Day here on my blog.
I found inspiration in early 1970s artists like Lisa Steele and Vito Acconci who created very personal videos that revealed some aspect of their past, real or mythical. Their calm, underplayed deliveries were and still are the exact opposite of television’s relentless howl. These seminal video artists created still and peaceful places where they told their intimate stories. I tried to create similar places with Things I Have Forgotten, places where the viewer can feel at ease, hearing personal stories but alert because you’re never sure what might happen next. The quick cuts, brisk swaths of sound interspersed with the stories keep you in the moment, attuned to the experience.
Tomorrow there will be more and every day thereafter another piece of the puzzle called Things I Have Forgotten will be added. On Christmas Day the entire work, all twelve segments in order, can be viewed on YouTube. Click the pic above to start Things I Have Forgotten.
A. G. Hay House, 402 Clark Avenue, Killarney, MB
I love this house!
The house itself, brick with tall, square massing and truncated hipped roof, is attractive but rather ordinary, despite its opposing one- and two-storey bays. Its location and Queen Anne Revival style decoration elevate its appeal and grandeur from great to wondrous.
Arthur George Hay from Ontario studied law in Winnipeg and practiced in the Killarney-Virden area after 1893. The main section of the Hay house was completed in 1904. The rear addition was added later.
The two-storey entry pavilion and wraparound verandah are the most striking features. The wooden enclosed porch and the balcony above topped with a pediment and sunburst design accentuate the height of the house. Tuscan columns support the porch and verandah, both of which are loaded with intricate wooden details. Notice the three distinct types of brackets under the roof of the balcony and the lovely turned pillars and balustrade.
The large and comforting verandah coddles the house adding to its grace with the conical-roofed corner pavilion topped with a classic pinnacle. The single and paired Tuscan columns, small under-eave brackets and complex use of the colour green make the verandah sing while the rest of the house completes the harmonic choir.
Windows are mostly tall in proportion to the house capped with segmented arches. A charming detail and one that speaks to the overall high quality of the design is the small cutaways above the windows that accommodate the arches.
Yet among all that, set back from the street and settled comfortably on its treed corner lot, the Hay house exudes grace and charm, satisfied with its unique presence in the town of Killarney, its provenance unquestionable.
For an all-angles view of the A. G. Hay house, watch my 1:51 video.
St. Andrew’s United Church, 338 Hamilton Street, Manitou, MB
This precious expression of Victorian faith in the little town of Manitou sprung from a plan by Winnipeg architect and contractor James McDiarmid, one of many churches he designed in Manitoba.
Every elevation is awash in arches, notably the tall triple windows on the two exposed facades with their arched tracery. Above the windows, the gable’s bargeboard has a large fluid arch with a small pendant and a smaller vent arch below on the church wall. The bull’s-eye window above the front entrance features lovely stained glass.
The stand-out on the church is the unusual corner tower with its steep tiered roof apexed with a filigree cross. McDiarmid used a wealth of materials on his building and the tower contains examples of them all: from the bottom – fieldstones, limestone, brick, glass, wood and iron.
Colour contrasts add to the overall effect of St. Andrew’s. The pale fieldstones next to the buff brick topped with rufous fish-scale shingles move the eye upward. The black and white trim heightens the effect.
The interior of the church expresses an Akron-style plan, meaning the central auditorium of the church is surrounded by small rooms for Sunday school, a method meant to encourage inefficiency.
For an all-angles view of St. Andrew’s, watch my 1:49 video.
B. J. Hales House, 1312 10th Street, Brandon, MB
Benjamin Jones Hales came to Manitoba from Ontario and taught at MacGregor and Hartney Schools before becoming the first principal at Brandon Normal School, a job he held from 1911 to 1939. A keen naturalist, his collection became the B. J. Hales Museum of Natural History, a permanent fixture at Brandon University since 1965.
About a block away from Brandon Normal School, one of four such schools for teachers set up in Manitoba, Hales built his house in 1912. Leaning toward Arts and Crafts but declaring no particular architectural style, it’s the double eyebrow roofline that dominates the house along with its steep hipped and oddly truncated roof and prominent dormer.
Set back from the street on a wooded lot, the two and a half storey brick house is domestic, simple, genteel, a model of the times it was built. I love the little second tier sidelights next to the porch door.
The lot is partially surrounded by a fieldstone fence with a built-in stone fireplace on the south side. Much of the flora on the property was planted by B. J. Hales.
This is a 1930s postcard of Brandon Normal School.
Shaver House, Killarney area, MB
As I drove along the dusty country road toward the Shaver house north of Killarney I started to get the giddy sensation that arises when I approach something living and vital yet stationary and settled. Sacred places usually create that sense in me, sometimes buildings do, too.
As if painted directly on the prairie blue, a wondrous and unlikely vision, that switched back and forth between Italianate and Gothic Revival styles like a 2-D postcard, took shape against the distance. I was fascinated and curious, as ever.
Here’s an example of what prairie success did to an Ontario-born farmer, Arthur Shaver, who came to the Hullett area in 1889. Successful at farming and committed to a new and growing community, he served on Hullett’s first school board when it began in 1892. By the turn-of-the-century Shaver was ready to build.
Situated on a small rise overlooking rolling farm land to the south, Arthur Shaver built a house that recognized his success, his talent and his humanity. Two and a half storeys in tan brick, fanciful, one-of-a-kind design and decoration – a unique, top-notch quality house that the Shaver family made their home for several generations thereafter starting in 1901.
The wise old house and its tidy and tended grounds turns out to be a bed and breakfast called La Belle Vie (The Good Life) run by friendly and sociable Pam and Paul La Pierre. We sat next to the above-ground pool and rear sun room, both of which felt very compatible with Shaver’s dream, and shared some thoughts on the house and farm. The La Pierre’s, by loving and maintaining the house and sharing it with travelers, respect and enhance the heritage value of the place, located on the original Shaver farm.
I enjoy staying at curious bed and breakfasts and meant to get back to the area and spend a night living La Belle Vie, but, alas, it didn’t happen. Added to next summer’s list. My words and video then are about the exterior only.
What an exterior!! The generous rectangular massing has a shallow pedimented gable on the front and a wing on the east side. Scrolled bargeboard accentuates the pediment. The hip roof is cut with two dormers and the wide eaves are supported by scrolled brackets. Painted bricks add flair and interest to the house with stars, quoins on the corners and the detailed colour contrast highlighting the windows.
For an all-around view of the Shaver house, watch my 2:12 video.
Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church, 162 Central Avenue, Ste Anne, MB
Imposing and ambitious, Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church is the focal point of little Ste. Anne, its presence a venerable landmark along Dawson Road, one of the first surveyed trails into the West. Four years under construction – 1895-98 – this massive complex resulted from a design by Joseph-Azarie Senecal, much favoured architect and builder of prairie Roman Catholic churches of the time. Symbolizing the cross, Senecal’s floor plan is cruciform.
Drawing from Romanesque Revival – style architecture, the church is loaded with elaborate detail executed with high-quality craftsmanship. The brickwork alone is enthralling. The entire building is encircled with corbelling under the cornice that seems to drip off the walls. Belt courses of raised brick entwine the place and the rounded openings are topped with segmented sprays and labels.
The facade with its striking entry tower apexed with a complex and beautiful steeple effortlessly creates a wondrous sensation of ascension. The double wooden doors and elaborate fanlight above begin your heaven-bound ascent. The large window above the door, smaller in size but the same design, draws your attention upward to dual windows bracketing a statued alcove. The roofline accentuated by corner towers with their ornate pinnacles, brick corbelling along the cornice and balustrades leading to the central tower add a rush of upward energy culminating with the double-belled steeple. The metal-clad multi-tiered steeple has a pleasant rhythmic feeling that adds to the smooth bliss of ascension.
One reason why the ascension works so well on Ste. Anne’s is because Senecal was familiar with the Golden Section, the old way of using ratios and relationships in building design. This ancient way of seeing explains why some buildings evoke a magical, uplifting feeling and other don’t. Using the Golden Section creates an accord between our bodies and our enclosed spaces. Jonathan Hale wrote an enlightening book called The Old Way of Seeing. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in architecture. Ste Anne Roman Catholic Church’s comfortable presence springs from Senecal’s use of the Golden Section.
Senecal’s other design work in Manitoba, much of it convents and hospitals, includes churches in St. Leon (1895), Gretna (1897) and Holy Ghost Church, Winnipeg (1899) and St. Francois Xavier (1900). He was the contractor, not the designer, on Saint Boniface Cathedral (1906).
Renown artist Leo Mol (Molodozhanyn) painted the images in the nave and sanctuary interior of Ste. Anne’s. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get pictures of the church’s interior. It’s on my list for next summer.
Pre-Confederation, this parish was established in 1859 to serve Metis and French settlers, some of whom inhabit the cemetery around the church.
For a 360 degree view of Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church’s exterior watch my 2:52 video.
Brick Italianate House, Ninga, MB
My summer travels took me to places I’d never been before, like Ninga, Manitoba. Not ninja, Ninga, apparently the Chippewa word for mother.
This lonesome seemingly deserted buff brick house caught my attention and I took one picture of it, the one above. So everything I say is based on seeing this one elevation.
The roofline is the foremost Italianate feature. Its low pitch hip jousted by the sweet angles of the matching gables evokes a smooth and gentle, almost erotic rhythm against the prairie sky. It sings!
The under-eave colour appears to have been reddish brown, which would have contrasted richly with the pale buff brick and feel right at home under the milky brown of the shingles. The pairs of tall windows under the gables have simple brick headers. The bricks overall are laid in common running bond.
The main floor conveys several elements of Italianate style such as bay windows It appears to have two of them but closer inspection reveals the one on the left of brick construction is incorporated into the body of the house and features the main entrance. The one on the right is a wooden addition, a back porch painted in trim colour. The bays are connected by a narrow but elegant verandah.
Oh, the verandah: the brackets are a contrasting green to the reddish trim. The low pitch of the roof in sighing reverence to the roofline above and the trio of turned squared-away pillars doing their important work slowly succumb to the creep of the foliage, already obscuring the stairs and entwining the bench against the wall. Although the house remains in reasonably good appearance, the straggling strands of long-dead Christmas lights and the invading overgrowth herald its tomorrow, its future tangled in the vines and vicissitudes that encroach on its presence, that threaten its being. Only the prairie wind can determine how apt this all is.
Emerson Baptist Church, Third Street, Emerson, MB
Using concrete as a building material dates back to 200 BC when Romans used it to bind stones together. At one stage in the evolution of concrete blocks, between about 1900 and 1920, molded blocks were cast right at building sites to the specifications and quantity deemed by the designer. This type of production allowed for a wide variety of sizes and textures for the face of the block, the other sides smooth and easy to install. Often itinerant crews went from village to village offering their services, sometimes contractors owned or hired block making companies of which there were dozens all over the province. Schools, houses, commercial buildings and the occasional church were constructed of molded concrete blocks. Emerson Baptist is an excellent and rare example.
Winnipeg architect Hugh McCowan drew up the plan for the church. Among McCowan’s other designs are the Kay’s Building on McDermot and the Stovel Building on Princess in Winnipeg as well as several schools in rural Manitoba. The contractor who built Emerson Baptist was well-known in the area. David Wright, one-time mayor of Emerson, constructed the church in 1905 from concrete blocks made on site.
Several sizes of blocks compose the church. Mainly elongated blocks with rough surfaces to simulate actual stone were used in the body of the walls. Smooth long and short blocks accentuate the corners, all openings and string courses. The contrast between the textured and smooth blocks is pleasant and settling.
The front facade has three increasing heights that begins the sensation of ascension. The pyramidal caps on the elevated corners, the elegant gable along the cornice above the triple narrow windows and the corner entrance tower with its steep roof topped, as are all roof peaks, with an elaborate pinnacle complete the ascent. It’s a beautiful choreography of your attention that flows naturally all the way to heaven.
About the roof, I am generally not much of a fan of metal roofs. This is purely aesthetic and rather moody on my part but I do get their value: long lasting, durable, low maintenance and effective – they keep the rain off the hymn books. In the case of Emerson Baptist, the green metal roof deters little from the overall building. Though appealing, the church’s roofline is not its main feature.
The windows and main entrance are peaked in the Gothic Revival style, each peak blunted by a keystone. The smooth surfaces used around the windows and front entrance have an interesting relationship with the quoins on the corners, a major feature of the detailing. Glass panes are multi-hued. In this picture you can see the ivied wall and the carved pinnacles atop the three roof peaks.
Emerson Baptist is one of the heritage sites where I shot a copious amount of pictures. Watch my 2:01 video to see it from its many wonderful angles.
Once St. Luke’s Anglican Church, now The Plum, Souris, MB
The plum in your Christmas pudding! The Souris area was barely settled when the former St. Luke’s Anglican Church was constructed in 1883. As the community grew, two additions were built. There is an enormous amount of Gothic detail in this tiny building: the jerkinhead gable end, double and staggered triple lancet windows and doorway. The L-shape is typical as is the fieldstone foundation. The additions were demolished in 1989. The Souris and District Heritage Club acquired the original 1883 section and relocated it to its present site. It sits perched halfway down the Souris valley and, in plum and chocolate colours, is unmistakable, almost edible. The Plum is now a museum where guides in period costumes offer lively story-tours. There is a tearoom with a terrace overlooking Victoria Park Bird Sanctuary. Watch a very short video clip of this building that I shot this summer.
“Although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you”
Emmanuel Anglican Church, Holland, MB
This ambitious church is credited to architect Andrew Maxwell and constructed in 1893/94. An extremely pretty and well-maintained Gothic church, it has many enticing details. The tower doorway has a classic Gothic arch, triply repeated to great effect on the left side facing the street. This arch begins the ascension. The tower is fraught with corner brackets, decorative scrolling and contrasting black and white trim. The slim steeple with narrow gabled openings accelerates the ascent to the ornate finial and beyond.