Tag Archives: criddle vane

Criddle/Vane House Now Off Limits

CRIDDLE HOUSE 002

Reid Dickie

UPDATE: On June 25, 2014 the Criddle/Vane house was destroyed by fire set by arsonists.

https://readreidread.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/heritage-lost-criddlevane-house-burned-down-by-arsonists/

A couple of years ago I wondered when the vandalism in the Criddle/Vane house would get so bad the place would be shuttered and no longer open to the public. That time has arrived.

On my first visit of the year to the homestead yesterday I noticed the usual well-kept grounds, trails groomed and accessible, everything as expected except for one thing: the huge eight-bedroom Criddle/Vane house has been boarded up, as you can see in the picture above. All the doors and windows are now covered with plywood and there is no interior access to the house. The same is true of the second laboratory.

I have documented the interior condition of the house several times on this blog and YouTube channel. The vandalism is obvious and heart-breaking, especially so for Paul Criddle, one of the few Criddles still living in the area. (Paul is Talbot Criddle’s first born.)  Paul, who lives in Brandon, said the vandalism required the house to be better protected. The parks people concurred and it was closed up this spring. Paul would like to see a seven-foot fence erected around the house as well. 020 The picture above shows the house unshuttered and accessible.

The homestead is a provincial heritage park and thus maintained by the parks people. I commend them for their consistent work in keeping the site clean and mowed and also for the new signage around the park. By explaining the events along the trail, the signs give a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Criddle/Vanes and how exceptional these pioneers were. From the golf course to tennis courts, hybrid plant gardens to entomology labs, weather station to family cemetery, the new documentation details it all.

Although the house is inaccessible, it takes little away from the ambiance of curiosity and kindness that pervades the site. Walk the trails, relive the lives of nine children and three adults who spent their first Manitoba winter housed in two flimsy tents with little to eat, see the foundations of their first log homes, browse through the little family cemetery under the giant spruce tree and capture the essence of an era modern people find difficult to comprehend. CriddleBigHouse The above picture shows the Criddle/Vane house in a dilapidated condition when the site became a provincial heritage park in 2004.

One way to still see inside the house is to take my 3:55 personal guided tour of the interior of the Criddle/Vane house. Watch it on YouTube.

Norman painting A few miles south of the homestead in the Sipiweske Museum in Wawanesa you can see Percy Criddle’s telescope, some of the family’s elegant clothing, their home made golf clubs and balls, some of Norman’s original paintings and a raft of other memorabilia from a family worth remembering.

This painting of wild roses was done by Norman Criddle who usually painted out in the field or from memory. A replica of Norman’s entomology lab, the first in western Canada, stands at the homestead.

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Filed under Heritage Buildings, Houses, Manitoba Heritage, Museum, Pioneers

Percy Criddle’s Medicine Chest

Reid Dickie

Criddle Vane family 1895

Criddle/Vane Family at Manitoba homestead 1895 l to r: Cecil V, Elise V, Evelyn C, Norman C (seated), Edwy V, Julia C, Talbot C, Alice C, Alma C, Percy C, Maida C, Harry V, Beatrice C, Stuart C

Born in England in the midst of the Victorian era, Percy Criddle brought his extended family to Canada in 1882 settling on a patch of sandy land south of present-day Shilo, MB. Apparently (and there are many apparentlys in Percy’s story) Percy studied some medicine during his university days in Heidelberg, Germany and brought his medical books with him to Canada. He treated the various maladies of his family, which eventually totaled sixteen people, and, because doctors were scarce on the newly-awakening prairie, Percy provided medical attention to ailing members of the local community as well.

From a pea lodged in a child’s nose to haemorrhaging after birth, Percy offered his panaceas to all who sought his medical advice. Scurvy, measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, colds, grippe (we call it flu), rheumatic fever, kidney stones, quinsy (complication of tonsillitis) and toothache were among the conditions Percy treated using a remarkably short list of medicines.

Percy Criddle was extremely lucky to have a friend like J. A. Tulk. He visited Percy in Canada several times, traveling from London and always bearing gifts for his old friend. On one trip Tulk brought Percy a complete medicine chest with labelled medications and a host of medical devices from scales to surgery equipment.

Brandon was the nearest place to purchase medications and Apothecaries Hall on Rosser Avenue, run by the city’s first doctor, Alexander Fleming, offered up-to-date potions. It’s likely Percy was a patron, perhaps an unwilling one, of Fleming’s drugstore.

In her book Criddle-De-Diddle-Ensis, largely based on Percy’s detailed diaries, Alma Criddle offers a list of the medicines her grandfather used regularly.  Described by the original names as Percy knew them, I researched all of Percy’s medicines and found some intriguing mixtures! At least five of them contained opium in some form; several were poisons in higher doses. Let’s look inside Percy Criddle’s medicine chest.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I do not play one on TV. This information is for entertainment purposes only. I am in no way recommending these treatments, just reporting what medical resources were available to pioneers 130 years ago.

Ipecac – used from 18th to early 20th century, a poison from ipecac root but in small doses induces vomiting, also an expectorant and an ingredient in Dover’s Powders.

Fer what ails yaDover’s Powders – discovered by Dr. Thomas Dover in 18th century, used to treat colds and fever, consisted of ipecac and opium.

Quinine – white powder obtained from an indigenous Peruvian tree and used by Europeans starting in the 17th century to reduce fever, pain and inflammation and to treat malaria.

Rochelle salts – potassium sodium tartrate first used in 1675 in La Rochelle, France for laxative effect.

Mustard plasters – composed of crushed mustard seed mixed with flour and water spread on a warmed cloth and applied to chest, back and/or abdomen to stimulate the immune system, relieve pain, act as an anti-inflammatory, treat common colds, runny noses, rheumatism and respiratory problems.

Poultices – long used as method of treating inflammation of skin,Drawing Salve cuts and pain, medicinal ingredients spread on cloth which is applied to body where needed, commercial poultices are available today, sometimes called drawing salves.

Castor oil – an ancient remedy derived from the oil of the castor bean, used in production of hundreds of modern products, its medical use as a powerful laxative, treats headaches, muscles aches and sinus problems.

Ginger – traditional folk medicine that spans cultures, known in Percy’s time as Jamaica ginger, helped relieve gastric conditions from preventing gas to treating constipation, colic and bowel inflammation.

Catechu – derived from the boiled acacia wood, traditional medicine for sore throats and an astringent.

Chlorate of Potash – potassium chlorate, poisonous compound Chlorate of Potashwidely used in industrial products, like matches, explosives and fireworks, treatment for muscle spasms, sore throat and possibly as a disinfectant.

Tincture of iron – in moderate doses, it acts as a tonic and astringent upon the alimentary canal, increasing the appetite, promoting digestion, speeding recovery and relieving constipation.

Hypno-Bromide – potassium bromide plus other ingredients used to induce sleepHypno...! among many other applications, hypnotics came in a variety of combinations, here’s one from Worchester, Mass. listing ingredients and uses.

Colocynth – aka bitter apple, bitter cucumber, desert gourd, egusi, or vine of Sodom, used since 3800 BC a herb from which ripe fruit is used to treat constipation, liver and gallbladder ailments, has anti-inflammatory properties.

Bromide of Ammonia – ammonium bromide, a homeopathic treatment for corpulency (obesity), timidity, malaise, fatigue, nervous restlessness, pains in legs and lack of self-confidence.

Sal Volatile – ammonium carbonate or smelling salts, ammonia Sal Volatilestimulates the mucous membranes and causes an inhalation reflex bringing one into consciousness, used if about to faint and by high performance athletes like power lifters and hockey players as a stimulant to better play.

Rhubarb – long a staple of Chinese medicine as a gastric balancer, powdered rhubarb root, by one report, used as “anticholesterolemic (reduces blood cholesterol), antiseptic, antispasmodic (suppresses muscles spasms), antitumor (fights malignancy), aperient (mild laxative), astringent (constricts tissue), cholagogue (promotes bile discharge), demulcent (produces a soothing film), diuretic, laxative, purgative (strong laxative), stomachic (aids stomach digestion) and tonic.

Bottle labelSteedman’s Soothing Powders – used after 1882,  relieved symptoms of teething in children like gum inflammation, fevers, convulsions and diarrhoea, formula a mystery until 1909 when scientists discovered it contained calomel (mercury) which was not removed until 1940, original formula included opium.

Chloradyne – 19th century invention as treatment for cholera, diarrhea, insomnia, neuralgia, migraines, its principal ingredients were a mixture of laudanum (an alcoholic solution of opium), tincture of cannabis, and chloroform, readily lived up to its claims as a sedative and analgesic.

Laudanum – tincture of opium, its principal use was as a painkiller and cough suppressant but prescribed for almost every malady, content varied but often included, along with the opium, “mercury, hashish, cayenne pepper, ether, chloroform, belladonna, whiskey, wine and brandy.”

Tincture of Calumba – root of calumba, an African plant, used for indigestion and intestinal ailments including worms, helps with morning sickness due to pregnancy, snakebites, hernia and abscesses.

Fizzgigs – Percy’s own panacea, a medicine he created although from what and for what purpose nothing is known.

Dr. Thomas’ Eclectric (Electric) Oil – the tonic favoured by prairie doctors in the late 1800s and early 1900s contained spirits, oilDr. Thomas' Eclectic Oil of tar, turpentine, camphor and fish oil, treated toothache, backache, earache, lameness, coughs, hoarseness, colds, sore throat, burns, scalds and could cure deafness in 2 days. Despite its claims and popularity, Percy did not trust or use this medicine, perhaps because it was not based on British science but on New World invention.

So how effective were Percy and his bag of gris-gris? Very helpful in spite of the extreme ingredients in some treatments, if you go by the lives of his children. Percy, Alice and Elise had fourteen children: the first, Mabel, died in her first year, the last, Alma, died of cancer at age 23. The rest of Percy’s offspring, Criddles and Vanes, mostly lived long productive lives. These are his children’s death ages: Norman 57, Julia 64, Isabel 83, Edwy 84, Talbot 85, Beatrice 86, Cecil 87, Minnie 87, Stuart 93, Evelyn 95, Maida 98 and Harry 100. Percy died at 73, Alice 68, Elise 62.

Join me for a video tour of the Criddle/Vane homestead.

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Filed under Heritage Buildings, Pioneers, Prairie People

Curiosity and Gratitude – 2012 Year-End Review

Reid Dickie

If I had to choose two words that describe my year, curiosity and gratitude come to mind. Regular readers of this blog know I have an insatiable curiosity that lures me to out-of-the-way, little-known places on the prairies and causes me to investigate and report on what I find there. Whatever form the journey takes and whatever I find at its end, expected and unexpected, are always causes for gratitude.

The Road

Once again I rented an Avenger from Enterprise Car Rental and followed my summer wanderlust, all 23,000 kms of it. My friend Troy and I ventured into Saskatchewan for a couple of days exploring sacred sites. The rest of my travel was done in Manitoba, mostly Blooming pincushion cactus at Spirit Sandschasing my heritage geekness, rooting out heritage sites and doing documentation. Southeastern Manitoba and north of Dauphin, two areas of the province I wasn’t familiar with, supplied a wealth of new heritage sites. This is my picture of a pincushion cactus in bloom on the trail to Spirit Sands.

I was more prepared than ever for my heritage tours, doing thorough pre-travel research, planning itineraries and making arrangements for access and interviews at various spots along the way. I documented about ninety heritage sites this year, wrote and produced videos about many of them and still have a backlog of new ones for posting and uploading in 2013.

For a 49 second video clip of the map of Manitoba with my 2012 roads marked, click the pic.

When my heritage list was cleared, I hiked to Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park about 30 times this year. I was able to introduce friends, both new and old, to the marvels of the park, especially Spirit Sands. ISpruce near trailhead yurted at Spruce Woods Park in June and August, both enjoyable experiences and ones I’d recommend for the almost-camper. Easy, inexpensive (take some friends) and fun. During my June stay at the yurt, I hiked into Spirit Sands just at sundown on the full moon. My post about the hike is called Gathering Moonlight at Spruce Woods Park.

Another hang-out of mine this year was the Criddle Vane Homestead which I have documented in several different ways including my 11:30 video tour of the site. Coming in 2013 another video and a post about this heritage site and the people who lived there.

Best Heritage Experiences

Two sites stood out this year, providing unique and very dissimilar experiences. Carberry, a little town just off the TCH east of Brandon, is a Manitoba heritage gem! Two blocks of Carberry’s Main Street have been officially deemed a heritage district, the only one in Manitoba. The concentration of well-preserved brick buildings constructed before and after 1900 earned the street the designation. I documented the street thoroughly and posted reports on all the individual heritageEast side of Carberry's Main Street buildings on the west side of the street, sixteen in all. The east side of Main Street is in the works for 2013 along with a video of the street. This picture shows some of the east side brick buildings which will be featured on my blog in the coming months.

The other enthralling heritage site is Negrych Pioneer Homestead, north of Gilbert Plains between Riding and Duck Mountains. Ten original log buildings from the 1890s and the equipment the family used, all of it fashioned from materials available on their farm, make this the best preserved Ukrainian pioneer homestead in North America! Lovingly preserved and maintained, the
site provides summer student guides who are knowledgeable and very empathetic to the Negrych family and their lives in the bush. The
Bunkhouse plus on Negrych homestead remoteness of the location, the complexity of the site and the attention to detail created a deep understanding of the hardships and the glories of early pioneer life. This bunkhouse with long shingle Carpathian roof is an iconic image from the Negrych farm. I am working on a video and feature article about the homestead.

Best Online Heritage Experience

The website for the Manitoba Historical Society is the best online resource I have found for referencing anything about Manitoba’s past. There is nothing that compares to it for its wealth of current details about heritage sites of all kinds, in-depth background on our history and people, and overall accuracy of the information. I have referred to it hundreds of times in my research. A major aspect to the website and a gargantuan project is an interactive map with over 4,000 Manitoba historic sites just a click away! Yes, 4,000 sites! I have a few hundred heritage sites on this blog and feel I’m getting things done. The 4,000 is the work of the MHS webmaster Gordon Goldsborough, a fellow heritage seeker who also likes heading out for a few days and gleaning every piece of heritage he can find, taking pictures, gathering information and GPS co-ordinates, all of which wind up on the website. Gord is much more successful at this than I am. Secretly, I get a little thrill on the very rare occasions when I discover a heritage site that Gord hasn’t already visited and posted on the MHS map! At all other times, I am in total awe of his work. Thank you Gord, for your integrity and determination. Links: MHS website and historic sites map.

YouTube

I added 55 new videos to my YouTube channel this year, many of them with some kind of heritage angle, all of them original, bringing the total to over 170 videos. Heritage churches accounted for 13 new videos, heritage houses for 6, trains going by (I’m a train fan!) for 6, the rest on sundry topics. This month I exceeded 61,000 hits on the channel in the two years of its existence. I am humbled and grateful. Thank you for watching.

Here is a new video from my summer travels. Come on Along the Road with Reid and visit 12 Manitoba places in 5 minutes.

Books

Two books, both loaned to me by dear friends, offered explanations for some deep and old mysteries this year. The Old Way The Old Way of Seeingof Seeing: How Architecture Lost Its Magic (And How To Get It Back) by architect Jonathan Hale clarified why some buildings appeal and seem to sing while others are disharmonious and ordinary. The secret is the Golden Section, the system most architects working before 1840 used to create human spaces, spaces that resonated with our bodies and spirits. I started to use Hale’s schematics on heritage buildings of all kinds to determine if the Golden Section was employed or not and discovered subtle and essential qualities that empathetic places all have. Published in 1994, the book is still available. Thank you Vonda.

The other book, Falling Into Grace: Insights on the End of Suffering by Adyashanti suggests another old way of seeing…with the spirit. If you are openly looking with love in your heart, other Old Souls joinadyashanti you on your journey and you on theirs. Within minutes of reading the opening pages of this book, I knew I was in the presence of not just an Old Soul, but someone who is reincarnated by choice, a man with a spiritual mission. He knows stuff we all can benefit from knowing. The initial simple idea of “They are only thoughts” led to recognizing the illusion of having any kind of control over anything to finally following Spirit’s invitation. Very often our paths crossed, the words are different but the experiences described flow from one source only. A book that tells the truth. Thank you Garcea.

Grief

It is just over three years since I lost Linda, my soul mate, to cancer. I now feel more accepting of her death due, in part, to the time that has
passed but also because of dear and loving friends. Adyashanti’s book helped me take large strides towards acceptance, giving me
Linda at IF in 1980sperspective on my suffering and offering simple methods to get out of my own way and help myself, to “fall into grace.” Thoughtful phone calls, chance encounters and many long coffees with friends have given me healing opportunities for which I am enormously grateful. Linda’s message to me is still “be happy.” This picture of smiling Linda was taken in the 1980s at our vintage clothing store called IF you have to get dressed in the morning…

Ezra Reid Scholl

Regular readers of my blog will recognize the name of my longtime friend Chris Scholl. For over a dozen years Chris and I have helped each other through many difficult life changes and we’ve celebrated our successes, too. We have traveled the prairie together, visited sacred places and made pacts with Nature together. We’ve become family. Chris and his beautiful partner Megan had a full moon baby boy in October. To my complete amazement, they named the boy after me – Ezra Reid Scholl! (just the Reid part.) For an intentionally-childless guy like me, I was, and still am, overwhelmed knowing I Ezra at 6 weekshave a namesake in the world. More than a metaphor, the first image that came to me was Ezra is “a tunnel into the future.” I explore so many tunnels into the past that having one going in the other direction flummoxed me for awhile but I am starting to find language for him now. He is six weeks old in this picture. I am so grateful to Megan and Chris for their loving gesture, for adding a fresh and unexpected dimension to my life resulting in a brand new kind of joy for me.  As only an innocent new-born can, Ezra helped me bear my grief at its most intense. The Christmas season was more real to me this year. I am humbled and happy to express my gratitude to a little child.

Wouldn’t you know, Ezra already comes with philosophy! Now just over two moons old, Ezra has grown and changed so much. When I think of the changes ahead of him, I smile. All those changes can be viewed on Ken Wilber’s Map of the Evolution of our Consciousness. Read from bottom up. Ezra is lolling in the primary matrix right now, undifferentiated from the world around him but just itching to climb as far up the ladder as he can. Soon he’ll start differentiating himself from the world. Such as? Noticing the difference between biting the blanket and biting his thumb or – in grandly-hewn Wilberese – “the hatching of the physical self.”

Ken Wilber's map

The Lonesomes: Sixteen Prairie Stories

Strange births and strange deaths and the lives lived in between on the Canadian prairies. Stirred by the forsaken tumbledown farmhouses and barns, rusting farm equipment and lonely places they abandoned to the prairie wind, the voices of the pioneers and their descendants tell their poignant tales. Farm folk recall their struggles against the elements. Town folk recount interpersonal conflicts and complexities. There is no music but for the lonesome prairie wind. A beautiful dance of sadness and joy ensues.

When you drive down a country road and see a lonesome old farmhouse, sun-baked and tumbling down, or a broken-down rusty half ton on a rise or an abandoned red barn, don’t you wonder what happened in those places, to those things? Maybe you even start making up stories about them. That’s what I did. I found sixteen such places on the prairies and let their stories arise in my imagination. The Lonesomes is the result!

A forty-seven minute docudrama eighteen months in the making, The Lonesomes is a creative extension of my interest in heritage. The sixteen original stories, ranging in length from one to Image from The Lonesomesfive minutes, span more than a century of history, roughly 1890 to 2005, from pioneers opening the harsh prairie and early railroading to second and third generations living complex lives in small towns and villages. The stories tell of the desperate births of people, towns and ideas, mysterious barns, trickery, magical windmills, memories of machinery, revenge and bizarre deaths.

The Lonesomes is a place where rusty old farm equipment suddenly spouts poetry, where the blue vastness of the prairie sky frightens a woman to death, where an innocent red barn is revealed as the scene of an old mystery, where a defeated small-town mayor sheepishly tellsBarn from The Lonesomes his odorous story, where two retired telephone operators have a chance encounter with life-changing results and where a pair of long-abandoned grain elevators have a wonderful dream.

I hired professional actors to voice the roles and recorded them at state-of-the-art Video Pool Studios. The sound quality is exceptional thanks to Michel Germain, an extraordinary audio engineer. The actors brought their best game to The Lonesomes. I’m thrilled to have my characters brought to life so thoroughly, so convincingly.

I shot all the images in HD digital myself. Visually The Lonesomes ranges from subtly changing still life to montage to live action always suggesting the location where the story occurs. The images are simple; the raw, explicit stories blow through them like the restless prairie wind.

This is much bigger than my YouTube stuff. Since I have a financial investment in it, I’ll explore the commercial potential of the piece. My plan is to market The Lonesomes in several ways. The options are many: from apps to E-books, on-demand TV to film festivals. I will keep you apprised. It’s a little too early for a preview but stay tuned to a blog near you.

Particular Posts

Another year of posts done, about 180 in all, covering the length and breadth of my interests. These are some of my best posts of the year with links to the original articles.

January

Early in the year I started my reporting on Carberry and its unique heritage position in Manitoba. An example is this incredible
Canadian government postergingerbread house built by James White. Starting in the late 1800s, the Canadian government advertised free land in the west to fill up the newly acquired North West Territories  I created the TV commercial for their ad campaign. If you think Winnipeg’s current mayor is a sleazebag, he’s carrying on a well-established tradition begun by our first mayor, Francis Cornish. Find out what I mean.

February

I reported on another bit of Carberry heritage – their vintage Louis Riel statueoctagonal agricultural display building. A rarity in Manitoba. On the 20th, Louis Riel Day,  I celebrated the day with two posts about the two Louis Riel statues that have had prominent places in Winnipeg. First statue, second statue. I ended our leap year with the first of several posts about Manitoba Heritage Under Duress, showing a couple of examples of damaged and disappeared sites.

March

Early in the month I posted a piece I had written a few months after my double-bypass heart surgery in 2002. The palpable power of an online prayer circle that formed around me for the surgery aiding the success of the procedure and speeding my healing afterwards is recounted in Nothing Virtual About It. On the 15th, in a grateful post called Lucky, Very Lucky, I wrote about the pattern of luck that has shaped my life. Last winter I watched a series of documentaries from the library and reported on four excellent ones – Gasland, Buck, Exit Through the Gift Shop and Catfish. I recommend them all highly. I Bruce's first albuminadvertently created one of the most popular posts when I wrote about Bruce Springsteen’s first two albums. Included with my thoughts on his music was a highly revealing photograph of a young, mostly naked Bruce taken by Lynn Goldsmith. Now when anyone searches springsteen naked, which happens surprisingly often, they find my post. I’ll bet one or two have even read the article. The post is called Forcing a Light, one of my best titles.To end the month, in case you missed memo, I posted a short video on why it’s called a combine.

April

The month began with a report on my beloved Spruce Woods Park Kevin Richardson kissing a lionand its state after the snow. This is the first of many park reports over the summer. It is love. That’s the only explanation for this amazing relationship between a man and 38 lions, a video I reposted from the internet. It will make your day. I posted about another great documentary called Waste Land – turning garbage into art. The Manitoba Escarpment, a geological step upward as you proceed west across the prairies, offers some spectacular views of the old lake bed below. One is at newly created Alexander Ridge Park near Miami, MB.  On the 15th, I posted Convergence – 35 Years Ago Today.  It commemorated the day Linda and I moved into a little house on Lorette Avenue – our first home together. We stayed there a couple of years. The house is gone now but not the Super 8 I shot out its front window.

May

Reports from the road started in earnest this month as my summer travels got underway  The Fort La Reine Museum on the east side of Portage la Prairie is a terrific museum. I hiked the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park about 30 times last summer and Hoary puccoon along the trail to Spirit Sandsdid two reports this month: the first about the park’s recovery from the floods of 2011, and the second post on my hikes so far. We’ll take any excuse for a long weekend in Canada and Victoria Day is a prime example. I explain why we celebrate the day. I suppose it’s because of its general outrageousness, but this Email from an Old Friend draws views for all kinds of reasons.

June

I started my posts about one of Manitoba’s heritage gems, Carberry One fine Carberry buildingand the turn-of-the-century buildings lining its main drag. The first three buildings on the street are here, here and here. In an early report from along the road, I covered a drive I took up to Dauphin and beyond. I did a report on an alluvial fan which has garnered a surprising number of views. People wanna know! I ended the month with something for armchair engineers – chug chug chug.

July

I kicked off the month with another report from the road, this time
Trinity of light in aisle of a churchfrom a tour through southwestern Manitoba including Spirit Sands and Brandon. In July I reported on six more of the fine old buildings along Carberry’s Main Street. The best way to access all my reports is to choose Carberry in the categories. A provocative title about what happens after death caught some views thanks to Dr. Kenneth Ring.

August

Two trains and two trestle bridges provided some excellent video as did my exploration of two bridges, one trestle, one swinging, over the Structural support for swinging bridge over RoseauRoseau River. Another road report from southern Manitoba including Miniota, Hartney and Spruce Woods Park. The dog days of summer found me reporting from southeast of Winnipeg. A veteran thrift store haunter, I celebrated the 40th anniversary of MCCs (Mennonite Central Committee) thrift stores. Based on years of seeking out and exploring often remote heritage sites, I make some observations in a post called Sex and the Solitary Heritage Site.

September

My reports from Carberry continued this month and I also wrote about heritage sites that have been lost for various reasons. I repostedThe staircase that killed Percy Criddle my Map of Dying from the Tibetan Book of the Dead followed by two more road reports. The first offers interesting pictures from here and there; the second has a dozen pictures from around the province with my short write-ups. Language always fascinates me and the hobo code, a series of symbols that transients in the first half of the 20th century created, resulted in a popular video. I explored a spooky old house inside and out, resulting in another original video.

October

The appeal of ruins along the road was expressed in several original Wooden statue of Katerivideos including one called Portals to the Past, which combines live images with harrowing sounds. My curiosity about language found me exploring Diner Slang, food to the nth degree. I wrote about two more buildings in Carberry’s heritage district this month. Things to do along the road included Reid’s Roadside Junk, which meant filling a small box with highly miscellaneous items and leaving it somewhere out there, all documented on video, of course. On the 20th, I wrote about the impending canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha in the context of Leonard Cohen’s second novelBeautiful Losers, in which she is a central character.

November

I elaborated on a post I found online about Friendship, adding a few items gathered from my life. Desperate for free stuff to fill the ever-increasing white space between their ads, the Winnipeg Free Press ran the Friendship post in their Sunday edition as blog of the week. Later in the month I posted a piece about digital executors and new forms of memorializing yourself after death called Log Off in Peace – Cyber Wills and the Virtual Beyond.

December

In a repost from the internet, which I called Mayo = Life, a succinct explanation of our basic empty awareness ensues. I celebrated the second anniversary of this blog on the 11th. As the year ends, the blog’s view count is more than 182,000 in just over two years. Thank you one and all! The tradition of the 12 Days of Christmas began in the 14th, this year heritage churches and houses alternated daily until Christmas.

The Future

The immediate future will see 31 short absurd videos – one a day, every day, like a pill, throughout January. The series called Sorry Notes to the Future starts January 1st. I plan to kick back in January, let the blog ride with Sorry Notes and focus on some other projects I’ve been putting off. Thereafter, expect more heritage reports from this year’s travels and loads more of the other guff you’ve come to expect from RRR.

I wish you only happiness in 2013 and may you awaken each day with this kind of determination in your spirit.

Today!

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Filed under Heritage Buildings, Linda, Manitoba Heritage, Year-end Review 2012

Portals to the Past

Reid Dickie

The road is long. In fact, it cannot be stopped. Sometimes, across open prairie, the road is obvious with lines and arrows; sometimes the road disappears into the bush or grass but it’s always there, unstoppable. The road possesses the souls of those who travel it in a particular way, not as a path or a conduit but as a Holy Mile, The One Mile, The Only Mile, Unending, Endurably Far, Replicating Itself to The Vanishing Point.

Yet, beside the road, the haunted souls of the long gone find solace and sanctuary in the tumbledowns, the neglected and abandoned places that once danced with the rhythms of lives but now succumb and succumb. Visit six lonesome places by clicking on the pic.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Ghost Towns, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage

Look What I Found While Driving Around

Reid Dickie

“I’ll be driven, eyes always moving, riveted to the task…” 

– Gordie Downie

My list of heritage sites to visit and record all over Manitoba has largely been satisfied. More organized than ever, it was a highly productive summer of “working the list.” I just calculated my mileage for the season and the mighty Avenger and I, well, myself and three mighty Avengers, have logged almost 23,000 kms, all but 1,000 of them in Manitoba. I got to see amazing country this year, discover special places that few Manitobans know about then report them here on my blog. Thanks for reading my blog, by the way. I am grateful every day for your attention.

With my trusty, battery-sucking digital camera by my side, I’ve captured some odd, surprising and occasionally astonishing images along my path. Here are a dozen of them with brief commentary about each one.

Old Cook Stove in Abandoned Stone House

Sure, I haunt the occasional tumbledown farmhouse out in the middle of now here, sure I do. I’m not usually the first to satisfy their curiosity about what’s inside the old place. A little stone house sits atop a small rise along Hwy #21 south of Hartney. I’ve seen this old house most of my life since my grandparents homesteaded nearby. This summer I stopped at it for the first time for pictures and video. Beyond the Keep Out sign, this old wood stove was the first thing I saw through the door. I took a few shots of the interior, largely wrecked. The inset is a shot of the house. Expect more about this place on my blog and YouTube channel.

Stillborn Graves at Camp Hughes Cemetery

The little cemetery at Camp Hughes has but 26 graves in it dating from 1916. Sadly, more than half are the graves of children. Some died in infancy, others stillborn and unnamed. Several graves are simply unknown.

Strange Cloud on Prairie Horizon

No, it’s not an atomic bomb test. It’s a gigantic cloud of smoke slowly rising from a field of burning stubble. This is a common sight in late summer, ominous and beautiful at once, most are not this spectacular. I shot this traveling south out of Winnipeg along Hwy #75 in late August. I watched it for miles as the cloud grew and changed shape.

Criddle Vane in the Rain

One hot afternoon during one of my dozen visits to the Criddle Vane homestead this summer, a prairie thunderstorm came over with plenty of lightning and thunder, a little rain but no wind, just a smooth calm passing. I took this picture of the Criddle Vane house through the rain-spattered windshield of the Avenger. Percy Criddle was very wary of storms and prided himself on the lightning rods, imported from England, that adorned the roof of this house. The inset shows the house after the rain.

Wind Sculpted Formation at Spirit Sands

During a hike on Spirit Sands with my dear friend Chris Scholl, we came upon this beautifully sculpted arch on the upslope of a dune. We’d had variable winds, that is, winds from directions other than the prevailing northwesterlies, which may have accounted for this small miracle in sand.

Assessment Roll Information for Negrych Farm 1901-1930

If there was one site I visited this summer that left me in awe of how our ancestors lived and survived on the harsh prairie, it was the Negrych Homestead north of Gilbert Plains. Its ten original log buildings date from the late 1890s when the family arrived there, most of them in Ukrainian vernacular style. Each building houses materials the family improvised and used for decades. This assessment roll information traces the family’s assets for thirty years from 1901 until 1930. Click on the picture to enlarge.

Old Headstone in Wawanesa Cemetery 

Humble and plain, corroding against the weather and the years, this little stone caught my camera’s eye in the cemetery at Wawanesa. What story could this stone tell?

Gathering of the Clans Picture

Being a full-blood Scotsman, this nicely framed illustration of the Gathering of the Clans had special meaning when I discovered it in one of the buildings at the Fort la Reine Museum in Portage la Prairie. Click pic to see entire image.

Herald Angels at Immaculate Conception, Cook’s Creek 

This isn’t my photograph. My friend Kevin Uddenberg took this picture using his smart phone which has HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology. The quality of the colours and the definition of the images is almost three-dimensional. By contrast look at the inset which is my picture of the same angels taken on the same day and time as Kevin’s picture.  The difference is obvious and substantial.

The Hemp’s as High as an Elephant’s Eye and… 

Rewilding W. C. Fields for smartass purposes with bashful aplomb. During my summer travels, I noticed that the only area of the province that concentrated on growing hemp in any quantity is north of Riding Mountain around Dauphin. This verdant crop you see was growing directly behind my hotel and stretched for acres to the horizon. Besides being easy to grow and low maintenance chemicalwise, there is another sound reason why so much hemp is grown in the area: the Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers Coop is headquartered in Dauphin.

The Staircase That Killed Percy Criddle

We return to Criddle Vane homestead to wind up this odd excursion. Insufferably brilliant or brilliantly insufferable, whoever Percy Criddle was, the beginning of his exit from this life was a tumble down the stairs you see here. After moving both his families from London, England to a patch of sandy soil south of present-day Shilo in 1882, Percy spent 35 years eking out a living largely due to the true genius of his children. During a severe blinding case of Erysipelas that Percy acquired in the spring of 1918, he groped his way to the top of these stairs and tumbled the full length of them, injuring himself terribly. He died ten days later at age 73 and is buried in the family cemetery a couple hundred yards from his house. This is Percy’s headstone.

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Filed under Blog Life, Day Tripping, Earth Phenomena, Heritage Buildings, Humour, Manitoba Heritage, Manitobans of Note, Pioneers, spirit sands

Manitoba Heritage Under Duress

Reid Dickie

I was going through my photographs of  Manitoba heritage sites and came across this piece of Manitoba heritage that was lost to vandals in 2004.

Glenboro Canadian Pacific Railway Water Tower, Railway Avenue, Glenboro, MB

 

The very best example of an octagonal wooden railway water tower in Manitoba stood beside the tracks from 1904 until its destruction by arson in 2008. This design, the Standard No. 1 Plan was pioneered by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1903 and quickly became part of the Manitoba landscape. Between 1902 and 1925, the CPR constructed 75 water towers in the province every 80 kms (50 miles) which was how far a steam train could travel before needing water.

The Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism offers further details on the site: Constructed in 1904, the Glenboro structure is the best surviving example of an intact, fully-equipped water tower in Manitoba. The adjacent pumphouse fed water to the tank inside the water tower. A coal-burning boiler powered an interior water pump and prevented the water in the tank from freezing. In 1939 this pumping mechanism was replaced by an electric motor and pump installed inside the tower. A ball, or “float”, glided along a pole atop the tower to indicate the level of the water in the tank. The cedar water tank, with a capacity of 181,840 litres (40,000 gallons) of water, rests upon a framework of large wooden support timbers. By the late 1950s, the railway companies converted to diesel-powered locomotives which made the water structures obsolete. This tower once stored the community water supply for the Village of Glenboro.

Alas, the old water tower was burned to the ground by arsonists in April, 2008 and its rich and consequential heritage value went up in  smoke. Several other fires were set in Glenboro the same night. Glenboro is plagued by a firebug who set several fires previous to the destruction of the water tower and since, recently in the summer of 2011.

Because of the in situ value of heritage sites, they are often in an isolated area without close human habitation or they are vulnerable due to lack of physical protection. Another Manitoba heritage site that has recently been vandalized is the Criddle Vane homestead near Shilo. The old house Percy Criddle built in the late 1800s today stands empty and open, its windows smashed and replaced with plexiglas. My post on the Criddle Vane homestead is here and you can watch my video tour of the house and surrounding area here.

You might also be interested in the research done by Westman Paranormal which has recorded some of the spirit events inside the Criddle Vane house.   

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Filed under Heritage Buildings, Local History, Manitoba Heritage