Tag Archives: 2011

The Swinging Bridge That Doesn’t Swing

old swinging



The engineers who designed the new swinging bridge in Souris left out one important thing – the swing. The “attraction” to this site is that the bridge moves as you walk across it, it responds to your presence and gives you a little thrill because it is so dangerous and fun. It isn’t fixed, it swings!

Not anymore.

I visited the new bridge on a hot August day as workmen sodded and landscaped the east end of the structure. A few visitors took pictures BRANDON 031and grinned at each other. As I walked closer to the centre of the bridge I realized it wasn’t responding to me or to anyone. At the centre I rocked my body back and forth to get a response out of the bridge but it barely moved. Its footings are pulled so taut, its cables so rigid that it feels like you are walking on a wooden sidewalk not across a river. There was no fun, no danger, not even a little faux danger. I felt safe. It was boring!

I asked two people at Hillcrest Museum next to the bridge about the cost. A codger minding an amazing roomful of tools said about $3.5BRANDON 033 million. The bored girl working out her summer contract on the museum porch nodded and agreed to the figure. She said the bridge lights up at night. There is a double row of solar lights that shine after dark. I didn’t stick around for the light show but thought it could be more exciting than “experiencing” the bridge itself, especially from a long view.

As you can see in the pictures at least four cables as thick as your arm support the all metal substructure. It’s a muscular affair, the metallic skeleton only partially obscured by the wooden walkway. A strand of rope, yes actual organic rope, runs along each side for the old schoolers who retain tactility and to soften the impact of the huge coiled cables. The bridge’s attraction has been subtracted from the actual structure and experience.

I wonder what Squire Sowden, who built the first swinging bridge in 1904 for his own convenience to access his property across the river, would think of the new bridge.

Here’s a shot of that room full of old tools.



Filed under Manitoba Heritage, Museum

Stockton Ferry 2013


Reid Dickie

As you can see in the above picture taken in late August 2013, the Stockton Ferry is back in the water and spanning the Assiniboine River. This is a picture of how the ferry looked two years ago – beached by floodwater.

Snapshot 1 (27-06-2012 9-04 PM)

In 2011 the ferry was pulled from the surging river and spent two summers on land, its infrastructure a tangle of steel beams and cables. Today, its support system rebuilt, the ferry plies the river once more connecting two gravel roads used primarily by locals.

The ferry is free and operates on limited hours: Monday to Friday from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. with no service on Saturday and Sunday. The site includes a small area where you can camp and fish in the Assiniboine. Facilities are limited.


Stockton is located 11 kms west of Glenboro on Hwy #2 and 3 kms north on signed road. The ferry is past the community across the tracks. Watch for signs.

Click on any picture to watch my 1:20 video report from August 2013.


Filed under Earth Phenomena, Flood, Hope, Manitoba Heritage

Stockton Ferry 2012 Update

Reid Dickie

Last year at this time the Assiniboine River was in full flood, threatening wide areas of Manitoba. The surging water had already taken out the infrastructure for the Stockton Ferry, a small pull ferry that spans the Assiniboine linking two gravel roads. Watch last year’s video report.

At one time there were 150 river ferries operating in Manitoba, most of them like the Stockton Ferry – able to carry one or two car/buggy passenger loads and still remain more economical than bridge building. Operating since 1887, the Stockton Ferry was the last river ferry in Manitoba. 

As you can see in the picture and my 2012 video report, the ferry is still beached. Flood damage was substantial but work is underway to reconstruct the system. No word on when the service might be operating again.


Filed under Flood, Manitoba Heritage, Roadside Attractions

Spruce Woods Park Today

Reid Dickie

Last Friday I took a drive out to Spruce Woods Park to see how the little park overwintered. Park workers have cleaned up most of the debris that cluttered the ditches. The plastic and metal grid dams that were washed away and strewn about the park have been removed. Some infill in wash-out areas, such as around the park sign and in ditches where water stood all last year, has been done. The huge pile of trees next to the bridge has been removed, likely providing the park with firewood for the next five years. The low road to the campground is still impassable and there remains plenty of evidence of the flood’s impact on the landscape. 

According to Manitoba Parks, the entire lower campground (bays 1 – 7) and all the campground buildings at Kiche Manitou in Spruce Woods were completely destroyed by the floodwaters. Currently the department is assessing damages and planning reconstruction, however, the lower campground will NOT be open for the 2012 season. The upper campground and yurts will still be available.

I stopped at the trailhead of Spirit Sands and took a few pictures. Though they never moved all last summer, the three covered wagons await their horses and a flood of tourists to carry out to the dunes. Other than the lower campground closure and most of the trail system needing repairs, the park will  operate more or less as usual this year. I’m looking forward to watching the natural changes the park will undergo this summer.

The status of several other provincial parks damaged by flooding last year remains uncertain. The department is reporting that availability of parks around Lake Manitoba inundated by high lake levels will vary. Since its campground and park infrastructure were completely destroyed, camping at St. Ambroise Park will not be offered this year. Also on the lake, Watchorn Park was damaged badly and assessments are currently underway, but it’s uncertain whether camping will be available this year. The campgrounds at Rainbow Beach and Manipogo Parks are now under repair with the intent that they’ll be open on May 11. Lundar Beach Park suffered extensive damage and, although repairs are underway, availability of camping this summer is uncertain. Slowly our parks will bounce back.

There have been changes this year in Manitoba Parks. Camping fees have increased slightly, between $1.05 and $3.15 depending on services offered. Park entry fees will be charged this year, ending three pleasant years of free park entry. Annual permits are just $30, amongst the lowest in Canada. Three-day passes are $8 and single day is $4. Permits are required after May 1 and can be purchased by mid-April at any Manitoba conservation office including campground offices, large stores like Canadian Tire and small stores that cater to fishers and hunters.

The Manitoba Provincial Parks Reservation System kicks into life tomorrow, April 2, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.  They should have the latest information on campground availability around the province. In Winnipeg call 948-3333, elsewhere toll-free 1-888-482-2267. Their website is manitobaparks.com

The mighty Assiniboine that caused havoc last year at this time is a much more peaceful river today as you can see. Here it’s rounding the bend at Spirit Sands trailhead. I’ll have many more reports on Spruce Woods Park and my other travels this summer on my blog. Stay tuned. Happy trails!


Filed under Accommodations, Carberry, Day Tripping, Flood, Natural Places, Parks, Spirit

The Party of Peacocks of Souris

Reid Dickie

Last year’s flooding of the Souris River valley displaced the party of peacocks and peahens that are a distinctive attraction in Souris, MB. Normally the peacocks live in a bird sanctuary in the valley but last summer they freely roamed the little town, enthralling people with their lush displays of tailfeathers and startling cries. They spent most of the mild winter on the lam in the town, finding shelter in various backyards. According to the Souris Plaindealer, the two dozen birds have been rounded up, corraled and relocated to a farm outside of town. When flood damages to the bird sanctuary are repaired, the birds will be returned to the valley. Watch my short video report on the peacocks of Souris which I shot at the height of last year’s flood.

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Filed under Birds, Day Tripping, Flood, Parks, Video

My Year of Being Grateful – 2011 Year-End Review

Reid Dickie

I’m calling this My Year of Being Grateful because time after time, day after day all year I found myself expressing gratitude for an aspect of my present life. Wherever I was and whatever I was doing was exactly what I wanted to be doing at that moment! I am an incredibly lucky man. Although my year began with a short hospital stay for a small physical tune-up, it improved greatly thereafter.

Reasons to be Grateful

Friends, new and old, and travel have helped me this year, providing continuous opportunities to grow and evolve while offering support and love. It is a luxury to be understood. I am enormously lucky and grateful for my friends. Their healing love comes in many forms from company in the Avenger’s passenger seat to a spontaneous breakfast to an accomplice on the Midnight Ride to a cup of coffee to a drive-by hug. From hikes along lush valleys and across the sweltering dunes of Spirit Sands to day trips exploring hidden places, sacred sites, getting a Skinner’s and doing flood recon to long trips into the SK Holyland, I have shared the miles and my experience with only wonderful people this year. Every mile was enhanced by their presence and curiosity and I appreciate that they allowed me to share my enthusiasm and intensity with them. For all the above mentioned reasons, I am grateful to Vonda, Kenny, Chris, Terry, Troy, Mark, Garcea, Mike, Marce, Steve, Mitch, Travis, Susan, Kevin, Sharon, Alex, Ernie, Marc, Cynthia, Jim, Wanda, Roman, Kenn, Liz, Mike, Brenda, Cheryl, Tillie, Robert and Mette. I felt Linda’s watchful presence, her benevolent, beautiful energy with me wherever I went.

My Blogging Life

It’s a numbers game. In the last year almost 93,000 hits have accrued to my blog, an astonishing number! It averages about 240 hits a day now, a steady and changing audience. I went seeking an audience with this blog and my other internet endeavours and I found one! Thank you for being part of readreidread.com  

The flood was the major story on my blog this year, attracting a large percentage of hits. Reporting on it was easy because it was so widespread in MB and SK. Everywhere I went, there was a flood. This is a picture of the Portage Diversion filled to the brim. The Diversion was the major cause of flooding around Lake Manitoba. The other big story, virtually exclusive to my blog, was the huge sinkhole south of Dauphin, MB. My post on June 19 about the sinkhole garnered the most daily hits of any post this year with 1561 views. The short video of the sinkhole on YouTube is the most viewed of my 125 videos now on the DickToolCo channel. The picture shows the sinkhole in July. I became a double blogger this year when I launched a blog devoted entirely to my hometown’s history. Find it at www.shoallakehistory.com 

Good Stuff Bad Stuff

Best hotels of the year: Delta Vancouver Suites (the picture was my view from 20th floor), The Convent Country Inn, Val Marie, SK and Canalta Hotel in Weyburn, SK. All offer superior accommodation, excellent amenities and good value.

Worst hotel of the year: Country Boy Motel, Coronach, SK. Humour and horror combined for a trying stay. Try not to stay there. Find out why. Coronach itself is a pleasant little town in the midst of millenia of fascinating history and pre-history.

Good Company: Enterprise Car Rental for another year of excellent service, economical rates and reliable vehicles. Over 5 months I put 23,000 km on a 2011 Avenger and encountered not one problem of any kind with the car! It deserved to be called the Mighty Avenger.

Bad Company: H & R Block for committing obvious errors on both Linda’s and my income tax and causing me months of grief. They settled. Go to a CPA.

Music: I attended three excellent concerts: The Tragically Hip at the Winnipeg Goldeyes’ ball park, k. d. lang at Regina Folk Festival and the spectacle of Prince at MTS Centre. The Avenger’s CD player was dominated by Bruce Springsteen’s first two albums. I’ll be posting about them in January.

Grieving: Linda’s toothbrush. In my post I Had a Wake-Up Call Today I admit that after 15 months I still couldn’t throw out Linda’s toothbrush. Strangely, the toothbrush became a symbol that grew in significance after I wrote the post about it. My words seemed to imbue it with a special connection to Linda, more intimate than other items she used daily. As with so many other events, things and memories, the toothbrush’s time to be reckoned with arrived. In early December I pledged I would throw out the toothbrush the day after Christmas, two years and a day after Linda died. The day and time arrived, I kissed the handle of her toothbrush, thanked it and put it in the wastebasket. Then I said to myself what I’d said the morning after Linda died two years prior: Today is the first day of the rest of my life. The meaning of this saw from the 1960s is much different today than it was in my youth, looking at it from the other end of life. It still seemed apt. Now that it is gone, the toothbrush has acquired new significance. Now it symbolizes progress, acceptance and hope, an emblem of my endurance. Truly what the toothbrush must be is yet another subtle wonderful gift from Linda. Thank you love.    

Spirit:  My gratitude extends beyond the organic realm to include the helping and loving spirit helpers and power animals who humble me with their ongoing assistance. Always and all ways, there is Spirit ashimmer with unconditional love and proper guidance. I am all gratitude. It was an extraordinary thrill for me to take several of Linda’s friends for their first hike on Spirit Sands this summer. I felt privileged to share my special experience with all of them and watch them become quickened and present as Spirit moves through them.

Particular Posts     

With a year of posts under my belt, I’ve created a month-by-month guide to my life and blog with links to some of my best writing of the year.

January: The year began with some chest pain, a few days in Health Sciences Centre followed by grateful recuperation at home. My post, called Six Days Among Angels, recounts the events in the hospital. Mid-month I posted a historical piece I’d researched and written several years before about Rooster Town, an early Winnipeg ghetto. This proved to be one of my more popular posts. The tenth anniversary of my father’s death inspired a piece simply called Dad, another popular post.

February: February 1st is Grasslands National Park Day on my blog, celebrated with three posts about the park and region. Lise Perrault, who lived in Val Marie, SK on the edge of the park, painted many scenes of GNP in an appealing folk art style that I have long admired. Prairie dogs still abound in several dogtowns in GNP so when I came across this prairie dog image I did some research and posted Prairie Dog Rapture. GNP pictures and commentary gave some local background. In mid-February I posted Weasels Ripped My Flesh about Frank Zappa’s album of the same name. This is consistently among the posts most viewed on my blog.

March: The posts I’m most satisfied with in March deal with Linda’s death and that of an old friend, heyoka and a tandem post with Chris where we ponder the big stuff. Sacred Clowns explored the role and significance of heyokas, “contraries” in tribal cultures. In my post I Had a Wake-Up Call Today, I recount the last moments of Linda’s life in language one friend described as “startlingly candid” and try to update my grieving process since that has always been one of the reasons for this blog. Wake-Up Call was difficult but cathartic to write as was my tribute to a friend Linda and I had known a long time. David Marks died in mid-March. I have fond memories of David. He was one-of-a-kind. On March 26, Chris and I tandem-blogged on the same topic: Have I found what I’m looking for? with interesting results from two different generations.

April: This was the month my traveling began with a week-long stay in Vancouver visiting old and new friends and having a ball. In April I posted two practical pieces, both dealing with some aspect of death: Obituary Euphemisms and Do You Have a Last Will and Testament?  I took my first long drive out of Winnipeg to Dauphin in late April and recount it with lots pictures in My Weekend. It was April 28 when I did my first flood report: an aerial view of Morris surrounded by water.

May: A vivid memory from my youth growing up in a little prairie town was my first hearing of Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles, a post that draws some attention. I celebrated the life and influence of my mother on her deathday in early May in a post called Mom. My flood coverage began in earnest in the first week of May and continued through most of the summer. I picked up my summer horse, another mighty Avenger from Enterprise, in mid-May. It was exciting to take day trips, often with friends, to view scenes of the flood and bring back information and pictures for my posts. I’ve had many comments both on and off the blog lauding my reporting and praising my mix of fact and dry wit. And of course, May 21, 2011 was The End of the World. Remember? Didn’t notice? It was a blogger’s dream come true and, as The Rapture proceeded, I did three posts that day, each more sardonic than the last. Here’s the first, second and third post.

June: A month of many changes. The flood dominated my attention and the blog most of June with daily coverage including the Lake Manitoba Flood Protest at the Manitoba legislature. I seemed to have the exclusive on the huge sinkhole near Riding Mountain National Park and blogged several times about it. June 14 was the ninth anniversary of my heart surgery and I wrote about it in the post My Fixer-Upper. On June 19, Chris and I drove west into Saskatchewan and encountered that province’s floods in Weyburn and area. We spent a few days together, visiting sacred sites and enjoying each other’s company. I bought my camcorder on June 24 and it went with me everywhere thereafter.

July: My travels continued all over Manitoba and back to Saskatchewan in July with pictures and videos coming thick and fast. Floodwise, I visited Souris several times to see their flood preparations and the crest of the river. Several popular posts and videos ensued. Though there was little to do in Spruce Woods Park because of the flooding Assiniboine River, I spent two enjoyable days yurting there in mid-month resulting in a post called Yurting at Spruce Woods. Late in July I posted three items about my early childhood in rural Manitoba. Hayfield – A Manitoba Ghost Town explained the place’s history, My Memories of a Ghost Town described Hayfield from the point of view of a child (me) between four and eight years old, and Hebron School – 1 Room 8 Grades 30 Pupils 1 Teacher explores my early education in a reopened one-room schoolhouse until halfway through Grade Three when we moved away.

August: My third trip into Saskatchewan and the opening of Spirit Sands were August highlights. The eight-day SK trip resulted in a post called Out There It’s Summertime. Early in the month I offered a series of pictures and video of the flood damage to precious Spruce Woods Park and later in the month, once Spirit Sands opened, I took pictures and video of my hikes. I stayed in a yurt in Spruce Woods Park again in August with the resulting video. My post Journeys of the Heart, Journeys of the Soul gives a good overview of how I was feeling late in the summer as a result of my travels and their revelations. The Doll House is an art project by Heather Benning situated by the side of Hwy #2 in western MB that I reported on in August. 

September: July and August were hot and dry and the fall continued with warm, fair weather prompting more day trips and a few overnights. I wrote about one of my trips in a late September post titled Equinox Journey. Shoal Lake, MB, my hometown, provided the inspiration for a piece I’d had published in the local paper Crossroads This Week some years ago, about Art Moderne Texaco Filling Stations. Such a building remains in a prominent intersection in Shoal Lake and in Dauphin which I visit frequently.

October: The mighty Avenger returned to Mother Enterprise in mid-month but not before a few more visits to Spirit Sands, my last one on October 11. This picture shows naked trees on a late fall hike to Spirit Sands.  Two Days Out recounts a trip into the heat-broken prairie early in October. Before and after pictures of the flood, bottle buildings and wild epitaphs highlight the report.  My post called The Real Work, inspired by friend and Old Soul Chris Scholl explains some of the work of Old Souls and, on Thanksgiving Day, I offered a public service to anyone not able to find something to be thankful for called If you can’t think of anything to be thankful for today, I have a suggestion. This post resulted from a friend whining at me this very line, “It’s easy for YOU to find things to be grateful for!”

November: I sublimated my wanderlust into several dozen coffees with friends as the days grew shorter and colder. I have been celebrating people’s deathdays on my blog which caused confusion and even consternation among some readers and friends. I clarified it a bit with a post called What’s With Happy Deathday? A post called Between Shark’s Teeth and Stardust details a midnight hike on Spirit Sands during a full moon. The government notified me in November that Linda had officially ceased to exist as a taxable entity which prompted my post Death and Taxes about how many different ways we can be dead in this society.

December:  Another full coffee card this month as I spiral into the Big Day. I repost my two stories, Dancing Horse and Messenger, which commemorate Sitting Bull’s death on the anniversary – December 15, 1890. Tradition held with another 12 Days of Christmas series, this year it’s churches in rural Manitoba. You can find them all on my Churches page. And here I am at the edge of a new year feeling thankful for friends who have become family and family who are friends, for imagination, intuition and everything that happens before I think about it and for  grateful.

My luck holds out! The sun sets in an orange blur along the TCH, the rumble and groan of semis dissolve into the harvest glow. Once again the full moon rises between the old wise spruce in the autumn haze, the whir and slur of traffic on the TCH sings a lullaby to the nightbirds fitfully dozing in the cottonwoods overhead. Tranquility base, earth shine, we have seen it and been it all before.

Peace in your heart creates peace in the world. May the moments you find rare, precious and beautiful abound in your life in the new year and every year.  With love, Reid

Taken December 31, 2011


Filed under Blog Life, Family, Linda, shaman, Spirit

Pictures of an Amazing Year

Reid Dickie

This is a sample of my first batch of 2011 travel pictures. Taken in the Big Muddy in southern Saskatchewan, an enduring symbol of hard pioneer life still stands atop a rise surrounded by crop.

I have uploaded the first 56 pictures from my various travels over the spring and summer onto the DickToolCo page on Flickr. They include shots of Vancouver in the spring, a series of cityscapes of downtown Winnipeg taken from the rooftop of the Fort Garry Hotel in mid-May, flood pictures of Brandon, Melita and the flood protest rally held at the Manitoba Legislature in June. During Doors Open I took a series of pictures of the Ukrainian Labour Temple in north Winnipeg. I always snapped pictures during my many trips to Souris covering the flood. Plus several shots from my July travels in Saskatchewan. Some of the pictures are along the right hand sidebar on my blog. All my pictures are here. Enjoy!

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Filed under Art Actions, Blog Life, Day Tripping, Flood, Heritage Buildings, Linda, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers, Roadside Attractions, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg

Castle Butte Video Report

Reid Dickie

I have written about Castle Butte in the Sacred Places series and felt it required a video homage. My short report tries to capture the uniqueness of the butte.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Earth Phenomena, Natural Places, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, Spirit

Firebugs in Winnipeg Busted On Camera

Reid Dickie 

I live under a canopy of majestic, mature American elm trees in one of Winnipeg’s many old middle-class neighbourhoods. I call it “the forest” – peaceful but ever-changing. Lately my peace has been shaken by firebugs in the ‘hood. At least twenty fires have been intentionally set over the last three months within about a nine block radius of my house. They range from pizza boxes in recycling bins to garbage fires to garages, vehicles and whole houses going up in flames. I suppose in an effort not to panic everyone but coming off sounding dumb and out-of-it, the Winnipeg Fire Department isn’t even admitting it could be arson. Nor does our city councillor, Jenny Gerbasi.  This inflames many of us in the neighbourhood. We’re adults. Tell us the truth! We can handle it! Do you want us to start defending our alleys and properties with baseball bats at night? I have heard of neighbours doing just that!

This creepy video was taken by the security cameras at a home in my neighbourhood between 8:35 and 8:46 in the evening on July 27. I don’t know where the specific house is. This is new on YouTube. It shows the arsonists lighting a fire! Since it’s eleven minutes long, I’ll give you the highlights timewise. At :55 two boys appear to be playing in the alley. They are the arsonists. They disappear  and reappear. At 3:13 in lower right frame, the firestarter walks into yard carrying jerry can. Thereafter the accomplice acts as lookout, at 4:29 hiding when a car comes down the alley. At 4:55 the accomplice walks down the alley, looking back. At 6:13 firestarter runs in opposite direction carrying jerry can. At 6:34 firestarter casually walks by and down the alley, no jerry can. Note the same boxy black runners with white stripe from early shots. By 10:35 neighbours are reacting to hearing the fire engines. As I write this, the video has less than two dozen hits. I hope at least one of them is from the Winnipeg Fire Department. (Update: Sunday, July 31: Wpg. Police Services arson task force is aware of the video.) With today’s face recognition technology, these two should already be behind bars!

Instead, I sit on my porch swing in the evening, a little dread edging in as the twilight deepens. Most of the arson has been between midnight and 4 a.m. – our nervous hours these days. The hair on the back of neck prickles when I hear sirens approach “the forest” and I sleep with my bedroom window open, hoping to smell the smoke before the house goes up if my garage is hit. In the still of a summer long weekend Saturday night, right now, at nine o’clock, I hear sirens.


Filed under Accommodations, Life and Life Only, Oh Dear, Winnipeg

Yurting at Spruce Woods Park

Reid Dickie 

Watch my 3:17 video tour of Yurt #4.

I spent Thursday and Friday of last week at Spruce Woods Park, staying in one of 13 yurts they rent out to not-quite-campers. It was a quiet stay. The park has been ravaged by the flooding Assiniboine River since break-up this spring and most of its amenities are inaccessible. There isn’t much to do except enjoy the outdoors and catch up on cloud watching.

Kiche Manitou campground is a shadow of its former self due to this year’s flooding. Only the upper campground and yurts are in use this summer with a makeshift camp office set up to process visitors. The lower campground has been under water for months. Just two other yurts were in use on Thursday and just five on Friday. It’s been a slow year, park staff told me. The detour map from the provincial parks website was easy to follow to the campground on good gravel roads. To cut down on noise, motorized vehicles are prohibited from getting close to the yurts. To haul your camping stuff from car to tent, the park provides good quality red metal wagons. Here’s a shot of my wagon.

Every yurt is electrified with a nice porch – mine faced northwest – fire pit, picnic table and chopping area.

The yurts sleep five and, although the days were very hot – both about 30 degrees C – the yurt has a domed ceiling that opens to allow hot air out. The place cooled quickly and adequately at dusk resulting in pleasant sleeps both nights.

I wasn’t completely alone for the two days. A little red squirrel adopted me and defended our territory against other squirrels, chipmunks and even a crow. I named it Tenacious. I think it was my constant supply of Spanish peanuts that ensured the critter’s loyalty. Here’s a shot of Tenacious.

Friday began with an intense thunderstorm at dawn. Heavy rains and a wild light show resulted but I stayed cozy and dry in the yurt. The rest of Friday was a perfect prairie summer day, hot and clearing. I caught up on my cloud watching and made this time-lapse video of the afternoon cloudscapes from my porch.

For the third year in a row, there is no entry fee for Manitoba provincial parks though camping fees still apply. In the case of the yurts, the charge is about $54 a night all in. Very economical for a family. If you are interested in a quiet getaway experience this summer, rent a yurt at Spruce Woods. Respite from the weary world, peaceful trees and easy accommodations await you. For information and bookings, the provincial parks website is http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/

Today in Winnipeg the temperature is 34 degrees C or 93 degrees F, add in 63% humidity and it feels like 48 degrees C or 118 degrees F. Thunderstorms are predicted. Our precious prairie summers!!

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Filed under Accommodations, Critters, Flood, Natural Places, Parks, Spirit

Sacred Places Video Update – Big Beaver Buffalo Effigy

Reid Dickie 

On my recent excursion into the Saskatchewan Holyland, I spent most of a morning at the buffalo effigy south of Big Beaver. My visit resulted in this video report on the site and its vistas.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Love, PRAIRIES, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, shaman, shamanism, Spirit

Spruce Woods Park Flood – Video Update

Reid Dickie 

I just spent two days in Yurt #4 at Spruce Woods Provincial Park and brought back three video reports of the damage the little park sustained. It’s sad!

The main access road – Hwy #5 – is a broken highway with washouts fifteen feet deep and spanning hundreds of yards. The bridge over the Assiniboine held but serious washouts occurred on both sides of it. The prospects for doing anything other than camping or yurting at the park this year are dim. One park attendant told me there is a slim possibility Spirit Sands may be accessible before the year is out but I’m not counting on it, judging by the condition of the highway, access roads and the continuing high water levels. Although full moon night was clear and warm and would have been perfect for a midnight hike on the sands, alas I was only able to watch the moon rise and listen to the surging river from the porch of my yurt.

My first report shows the Assiniboine’s damaging effect on the park road which leads off Hwy #5 to the lower and upper campgrounds and yurt area. The road is washed out as you can see in this short video report.

The second report shows Hwy #5, closed and barricaded, and the some of the damage it sustained. This is a long shot looking from the south taken on a hot prairie morning. You can see the heat waves rising from the asphalt.

The third report shows in detail the extensive damage and washouts along Hwy #5 near Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park.

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Filed under Accommodations, Flood, Local History, Natural Places, Parks, Prairie People, spirit sands

Along Saskatchewan Roads

Reid Dickie

Visible for miles, this white beacon is, in fact, Weyburn, SK’s original water tower. It stands atop Signal Hill. Learn its history.

A couple of shots of Chapel Grove Cemetery just north of Minton, SK along Hwy #6.

By consulting the weather rock, they know what the weather is like at the Country Boy Motel in Coronach, SK. The motel’s website is completely appropriate, including the flubbed slogan “Your Home from Home”! Another weird motel sleep.

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Filed under Accommodations, Heritage Buildings, Local History, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions, Saskatchewan

Sacred Places Update – Minton Turtle Effigy July 2011

Reid Dickie

I visited Minton Turtle Effigy on July 3, a hot and breezy day in southern Saskatchewan. The dirt road up to the site had about a foot of water at its lowest point so I opted to walk rather than drive. Donning my rubber boots I slogged through the damp spots to the top of the highest hill around. The grass at the effigy site is tall and thick from the year’s abundant moisture, making the effigy difficult to find for first time visitors. But it drew me in and I felt the welcome warmth and compassion I usually experience when I come here. With my new video camera, I took a panorama of the horizon from the site.

Looking southwest from the turtle effigy, this picture shows Big Muddy Lake, usually a dry bed rimmed with white alkali, fluid and blue on the horizon this year.

The Saskatchewan government has recognized the site by erecting three explanation boards for the place.The archies are still trying to figure out what the heck this thing is!

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Local History, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan, shaman, Spirit

The Hip

Last night the greatest rock and roll band Canada has ever produced played a two-hour concert at Shaw Park, where the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team call home. The Tragically Hip were in fine form!

With a solid repertoire to choose from, their set had all the hits and some unexpected tunes like Grace, Too, Music @ Work and Wheat Kings. They dedicated Fiddler’s Green to the cop killed in Toronto last week who was a Hip fan, and Ahead By a Century to Lloyd Axworthy (!) and Winnipeg in general, pointing to the looming frame of the under-construction Museum for Human Rights.

After 25 years in the business (their first EP was released in 1987 followed by 11  albums) The Hip can still rock out, represent Canada to Canadians in a quirky and special way and thoroughly entertain. Gord Downie’s act as the newly unstrung marionette on stage was weird and fun as ever. His prop tonight was a handkerchief.

The band is so familiar with the songs that they can toy around with them, giving new life to the faithful old tunes that often the audience sang along with. A national treasure: The Tragically Hip!

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Filed under Music

Another Manitoba Sinkhole

Reid Dickie

Our engorged rivers are reshaping the Canadian landscape to the extreme this year. Water, in its eternal compulsion to conform to gravity, etches its slow-hewn language through valleys and onto flatlands. Now a new sinkhole has opened up along the Souris River in an undisclosed location near the town of Souris, Manitoba.

Similar in features to the Dauphin sinkhole, it appears calling either of these a sinkhole is a misnomer. Landslide appears to be the official explanation of the phenomena at both sites. The adjacent rivers and their abundant flows this year have eaten away enough of the banks for masses of earth to slide into the valleys. At the Dauphin site, the Vermillion River takes a sharp deep turn just below the landslide. At the Souris site, the valley wall appears to have collapsed and slid toward the river.


Filed under Earth Phenomena, Flood, Local History, Natural Places

Souris Prepares for the Flood Crest

Reid Dickie

I visited Souris on Canada Day (July 1), on Monday (July 4) and Tuesday (July 5) taking pictures and videos with my new high-definition camcorder on each visit.

All day Friday 300 trucks hauling diking material rumbled around the town of 2,000 people, trucks were filled and dispatched every thirty seconds. The sense of urgency was palpable in the race against the rising river after which the town is named, its crest expected within days. The date of the crest had changed daily causing further anxiety and uncertainty. A main focus was to protect the water treatment plant located right next to the river. If it gets flooded the town will have to be evacuated. Click the picture to watch the short video.

The distinctive and slightly frantic cry of peacocks were a plaintive counterpoint to the thundering trucks and machinery. Peacocks? Yes, Souris has a bird sanctuary next to Victoria Park which is flooded. The birds now free range around town and most everywhere you can hear their frequent cries adding an incongruent exotica to the prairie town. I’m startled by the loud piercing cry as I walk past some shrubbery with a peacock nestled in it. Click the pic to watch my short video of this fine display of male peacock plumage.

Around 1910, local architect Charles Brindle designed three stately Souris houses that are almost identical. One of the houses stands on the banks of the river and has been heavily fortified against the rising water. I write about these houses on my Houses page. In the picture you can see the roof of the house behind the treatment plant. Click the pic to see a short video of the diked house. 

Over the weekend 375 troops from CFB Shilo were called in to help finish up the diking. By Monday most of the work had been completed along the dikes. With the river level barely a foot below the bridge, stones were put in place to reenforce the foundation. This picture shows the river level slightly higher on Monday. Click picture to see my short video of Monday’s operations.

By Monday the mainstream media had figured out there’s potential for sensational catastrophe here. Click here to see my short video and comment. Another change on Monday was the world famous longest swinging bridge, a major tourist attraction for Souris, had to be cut for fear it would dislodge some of the dikes if the water swept it away. The river was within four feet of the swinging bridge when I visited on Friday. Watch my short video with before and after footage and the bridge’s history.

As I write this post the crest is passing through Souris and the dikes are holding. No major breaches have been reported and the lack of rainfall in the past few days means the crest is about two feet lower than anticipated, all of which is good news for the little town. The water will stay high in Souris for a few days.

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Filed under Earth Phenomena, Flood, Local History, Momentous Day, Prairie People

Souris Flood Videos

Reid Dickie

Fresh footage I shot of the preparations for the crest of Souris River in Souris, Manitoba over the weekend. More videos and the feature post to come shortly.

Brindle house under duress


The Free Ranging Peacocks of Souris 


Victoria Park under water


The media come to Souris


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Filed under Earth Phenomena, Flood, Prairie People

Saskatchewan Big Sky


 JUNE 19, 2011

Photographs by Reid Dickie


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Filed under Images, Natural Places, Pioneers, PRAIRIES, Saskatchewan


Prolonged flooding in Sindh area of Pakistan has resulted in an  unexpected phenomenon.

Spiders escaped the flood water by climbing into trees and spinning gigantic webs.

Another unexpected consequence is, despite the amount of standing water, the mosquito population is low. It is believed the webs in the trees are capturing the biters. This is the silver lining in the situation since fewer mosquitos mean fewer cases of malaria in an area already devastated.

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Filed under Critters, Earth Phenomena, Flood, Natural Places