Tag Archives: history

École Provencher, 320 Avenue de la Cathedrale, Winnipeg (1906)

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Reid Dickie

École Provencher’s history extends back to the earliest Catholic school in the Red River settlement. About 1818, the first missionary in the region, Father (later Bishop) Provencher (below), used his chapel as a

Bishop Provencher school where he taught boys the four Rs: reading, writing, ‘rithmetic and religion. In 1844, the Grey Nuns assumed responsibility for the school. Ten years later, Father Taché asked the Brothers of Christian Schools to take over the boys’ education in the bishop’s residence while the girls attended school in the Grey Nuns’ Convent.

In 1886, the Oblate Order, who had taken over from the Brothers in
1860, erected a fine Colonial Revival style two-storey wood frame school (below) with an unusual open arcade entrance and stairway
ECOLE PROVENCHER 18860001under a peaked roof. The hipped roof of the school sported a lovely cupola featuring another open arcade, a substantial pinnacle and a school bell. This school, teaching bilingual courses, was located in a wooded area at Taché and Provencher. It shares its genesis with St. Boniface College.

When the Grey Nuns resumed instruction of the boys in 1886, the school’s name changed to l’Academie Provencher. The Schools’ Act of 1890, brought in by the provincial Greenway government, created one school system administered by a Board of Education with its own minister. After this, the Grey Nuns handed jurisdiction over to the St. Boniface School Board. In 1899, Bishop Langevin invited the Brothers of the Marianist Order to staff the school.

The Marianist Brothers offered excellent education and a variety of extra-curricular programs including a cinema club, savings bank, bowling and school newspaper.

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In 1906, the School Board constructed a school at the site where École Provencher stands today on Avenue de la Cathedrale. It was a modest three-storey brick and limestone building, featuring an entry tower surmounted with an elegant ogee roof. The central 12-room portion of the current building is the original 1906 section (above). Note the students working in the school garden.

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Built in 1912, the west wing doubled the size of the school to 25 rooms. In this picture (above) the 1906 central section with 12 rooms is on the left. The west wing, on the right, added in 1912, doubled the size of the school. Here you see the original roofline with cresting and dormers and the original tower topped with ogee roof.

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In this picture (above) taken between 1912 and 1924 you can see the original structure (far left) with the west wing (centre) added on.

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The first principal of the new school was Father Joseph Fink (left), whose portrait hangs in the school hallway. Popular and progressive, Father Fink initiated a horticultural project using garden plots in front of the building.

To this end, on the third floor, two of the classrooms have large multi-paned skylights, now covered over by the metal roof. Originally, these two rooms were used to grow bedding plants and seedlings for the school garden. The skylights created a greenhouse effect in the rooms so students could learn about horticulture. They would have been very bright rooms with four big windows plus the skylight in each.

The basement of the school had shops for teaching industrial arts. Dating back to 1911 this could be the earliest shop class taught in Winnipeg. By 1915, the school offered a complete high school curriculum.

There is a large third-floor gymnasium in the east wing that oncePROVENCHERscan0008 was used as classrooms. It is noticeable from the outside by the bricked-in windows (right). A row of elms was planted along the front of the school in 1909. Some remain today.

In the middle of the night on January 4, 1923 École Provencher caught fire (below). By noon just a gutted shell remained. The St. Boniface School Division lost their offices, which were located in the school. The Board quickly rebuilt. The school we see today opened January 14, 1924, a year and ten days after the fire.

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Post-fire, the school increased in size with the addition of the east wing. The tower lost its crowning roof; the roofline lost some of its pitch and its dormers, replaced with a tall plain parapet above a tiered cornice.

I should mention the difference in the building’s coloration in my pictures. École Provencher celebrated its centennial year in 2006. In the spring, there were tours of the school, displays and tents for special events. One of the major plans and a most fitting centennial project was sandblasting the façade, restoring it to its original condition. The northwest winds, which have buffeted the brave face of the building for over 110 years, brought in extra smoke and pollution. The other three sides are not as dingy as the front though they benefited from the cleaning. École Provencher’s splendid façade is now even more striking since the cleaning. I shot the school before and after the sandblasting which accounts for the variations.

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As you see in this pre-sandblasting picture (above), the 1924 addition of the east wing created a fine balance to the façade of this massive and stately structure with its five bays including the end wings. The façade and rear are symmetrical without pilasters. The pilasters begin at the corners and offer expression to the sides with their elegant doorways. The rear facade of the school (below) is a modest echo of the front.

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École Provencher combines Second Empire massing with Classical Revival elements to create a feeling of stability and potential. The buff brick is laid in American bond, every sixth row is headers. It sits on a rough limestone foundation; the same stone used for lintels, sills and the belt courses around the building. Smooth limestone expresses the more refined detail on the school.

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The front entrance pavilion (above) uses round and square Classical columns of smooth limestone to contrast with the rough limestone of the foundation and to welcome you into an enclosed porch. The double doorway into the school is surmounted with a sensual arch filled with a segmented window and accented with an outer arch of smooth limestone. Over the entrance the school’s name is carved in smooth stone.

provencher tower As you proceed up the entry tower (left), a section of smooth limestone is broken by a pair of rectangular windows. Above an elaborate arched alcove houses the carved datestone – 1906. The next brick section has four small windows with limestone lintels. A course of rough stone grows into a smooth stone Classical cornice surmounted with a parapet. Nine shapely balusters in smooth limestone accentuate the top of the tower.

École Provencher has remained without additions since 1924, making it one of the few Winnipeg schools to have survived nine decades in its original form.

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Notice the east and west entrances have different detailing. The pediment and the pavilion details on the end of the west wing are from the earlier school (left) while the east wing entrance (above) on the post-fire addition, is less elaborate.

École Provencher’s interior is among the most spacious in Winnipeg. The dimensions of the classrooms are 24′ by 32′, that’s 768 square feet! The hallways and most classrooms have 12-foot ceilings, which feel airy and open, accentuated in the classrooms with tall doorways and large plentiful windows. The hallways have a row of high horizontal rectangular windows into the classroom.

Most of the floors and stairs throughout the school are terrazzo: chipped stone and marble set in mortar then polished. It lasts forever. There is assorted frosted and mottled glass in various interior windows.

This is a very large school. At the height of its enrollment in fall 1954, fully occupied it taught 1,050 students. Part of the Louis Riel School Division, today École Provencher’s 23 staff provide French Immersion and English Language Arts to about 150 students from K to 6.

Provencher School Cadet Corp 1952

The Sacred Heart Cadets originated in 1911 and received their military affiliation the next year. When their uniforms and rifles arrived, the Provencher School #323 Cadet Corps became formal in March, 1912. The picture (above) shows Corps cadets from 1952.  The school basement doubled as a firing range. Some of the heating ducts still have dents from stray bullets.

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The cadet band (above) from 1952. The Corps’ old drum, along with the school’s trophies and memorabilia, are displayed proudly in a striking stairwell vitrine. The Corps was disbanded in November 1964.

provencher gab royAmong the illustrious alumni of École Provencher is a true Canadian celebrity, acclaimed author Gabrielle Roy (left). Not a student, Roy was a Grade 1 teacher at the school from 1930 to 1936. She wrote fondly about her days as a schoolteacher.

Artist and sculptor Tony Tascona (below right) remembers Roy as his first teacher. The class pictureprovencher tony tascona (below centre) was taken in 1932 and shows École Provencher Grade One class along with their teacher, Gabrielle Roy. He was born in 1926, so it’s likely one of the students is Tony Tascona.

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Hockey was a prime physical activity at École Provencher. Once the skating rink at the rear of the school was flooded and hockey season started, the Provencher Paladins took to the ice, becoming senior champions in 1946. They used a room in the school basement with a separate entrance and low seating to put on their skates and equipment and exit directly to the rink.

During the 1950 Flood, l’Institut Collegial Provencher (the school’s name since 1929) accommodated 250 evacuees, becoming one of a dozen Winnipeg schools pressed into emergency flood service.

As a Collegiate, the school offered bilingual education. When St. provencher joseph_brunsBoniface became increasingly francophone in the 1950s, the school principal, Brother Joseph Bruns (left), advocated for more French instruction. J. H. Bruns Collegiate bears his name.

To honour Bishop Provencher, in June 1953 a bronze plaque of his face was placed on the large fieldstone in front of theProvencher scan0004 school. Unfortunately a thief made off with the plaque.

The first lay principal, Marcel Lancelot, took over in 1967. The large gymnasium on the third floor and a huge library in the basement were projects Lancelot accomplished in 1968.

Here is the school’s 2014 mission statement: As a French Immersion school, École Provencher strives to provide a safe and respectful learning environment which develops the acquisition of the French language, useful knowledge, skills and attitudes essential for responsible citizenship and lifelong learning.

PROFILE

École Provencher

Built 1906

Additions 1912, 1924

Materials: buff brick, limestone, concrete

Style: Second Empire and Classical Revival three-storey

Current assessed value $3,672,000

Acreage 2.1 acres

 

 

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Filed under Architecture, Education, Manitobans of Note, Schools

UPDATED – Carberry’s First Annual Heritage Festival August 9 & 10, 2013

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Reid Dickie

UPDATE: More events have been added and new details are available for Carberry’s First Annual Heritage Festival. The two blocks of Main Street that comprise Manitoba’s only designated Heritage District will be closed to traffic for festival events from 2 to 5 pm on Friday and 11 to 5 pm on Saturday.

FESTIVAL ACTIVITIES BOTH FRIDAY AND SATURDAY

  • self-guided walking tours of Carberry’s architectural gems;
  • display of vintage cars and farm implements at Carberry Plains Museum from 2 to 7 pm Friday and 10 to 7 pm Saturday;
  • hour-long cemetery walking tours at 3 pm;
  • Friends of Camp Hughes, a WW1 training camp, will have a display in the Legion about the camp’s history;
  • street buskers will perform;
  • artisans will have booths selling their wares;
  • lots of fun activities for kids – games, face painting;
  • get your picture taken wearing a vintage hat, have some lemonade on the verandah of the gingerbread house and help support the museum;
  • there will be demonstrations of wool spinning, taxidermy, felt making and intuitive readings

FESTIVAL ACTIVITIES ON FRIDAY

  • a decorated bike parade with prizes and fun at 3:30 pm;
  • cut a rug to fiddler Mark Morisseau and his band at the old time dance from 7 – 11 pm in the hall. It’s an all-ages (no alcohol) event so bring the whole family. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for students.

FESTIVAL ACTIVITIES ON SATURDAY

  • Farmers Market from 9 to 11 am with plenty of fresh local produce;
  • celebration of naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton’s birthday at the Seton Centre from 11 to 1 pm with lunch and birthday cake;
  • high tea in the afternoon;
  • apron fashion show;
  • flea market;
  • a new community mural will be installed;
  • many businesses will feature special heritage-priced items;

ORIGINAL POST

If you got it, flaunt it! One of the basic adages of self-promotion.

From the angle of heritage preservation, there are very few Manitoba towns or cities that can match Carberry for sheer heritage chutzpah. The town of 1670 boasts Manitoba’s only designated heritage district, two blocks of Main Street containing 30 original buildings constructed between 1896 and 1930. This summer, the town is inviting everyone to the First Annual Carberry Heritage Festival – Friday and Saturday August 9 and 10. They have plenty to celebrate!

I love this idea! It’s original, ambitious and appropriate for the town. I have called Carberry Manitoba’s Heritage Gem and written extensively on this blog about its attractions. (On the Category menu there are 44 posts about Carberry) The town is a major day tripper destination for heritage buffs. If you are a heritage buff and haven’t been to Carberry, shame on you. Their heritage festival is a great opportunity to see the real deal.

The two-day festival has a growing slate of activities planned:

  • Seton Centre will be celebrating Ernest Thompson Seton‘s 153rd birthday with cake, lunch and other events;
  • Friends of Camp Hughes will have a display set up in the Legion and self-guided walking tours of Camp Hughes site, 16 kms west of Carberry off Hwy 351;
  • The Carberry Plains Museum will have a display of antique vehicles and farm implements at the museum;
  • The James White gingerbread house (top picture) will serve lemonade and cookies on the Verandah along with a vintage hat show;
  • The Magic Bean Coffeehouse will serve high tea and present an apron fashion show on Saturday afternoon;
  • Gerry Oliver will demonstrate felting and sell his wares; Pat Lovatt will sell her hand made alpaca items;
  • On Saturday morning there will be a farmer’s market with plenty of fresh produce by then on sale, along with lots of crafts and handmades.
  • Aboriginal events feature dancing and singing;
  • Kid’s activities will include face-painting;
  • Joe at Offbeat Antiques will hold a flea market, bargains galore;
  • buskers will appear at various times and places on Main Street;
  • Friday night an old-time dance will be held in the hall. It’s an all ages (no alcohol) affair so bring the tykes and the grannies and whoop it up to fiddler Mark Morisseau;
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    Click the pic to make Mark and his band play a medley of fiddle tunes.

  • more events and activities still in the works. I will add them as they get green lit.

Announcing this festival is a bit of a scoop for me so thank you to the Carberry Heritage Group for allowing me that honour.

Alert your heritage network to this new wrinkle in celebrating a local past. See you in Carberry in August.

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Hayfield – A Manitoba Ghost Town

Reid Dickie

   

Part 1 of 3

Hayfield History

     Hayfield, Manitoba no longer exists. It’s gone, expunged, vanished. Located 10 miles south of Brandon on Highway #10 and 4 miles west on Hayfield Road, Hayfield sat at the western edge of the Brandon Hills just as the hills begin their final smoothing into farmland. Hayfield was west of the enormous broadcasting tower near the eastern edge of the Rural Municipality of Glenwood.

    An article in a September 1906 issue of the Souris Plaindealer stated, “Hayfield is to be the name of the new town on the Brandon Saskatchewan and Hudson Bay Railway, northwest of Carroll. A. Wilson will be the pioneer merchant of the future city, having decided to establish a branch store this fall.” Despite the best efforts of all the storekeepers and area residents, the City of Hayfield was not to be.

An early picture of Hayfield with the store on left, then barn and church. The railway station is obscured by smoke from the locomotive but the water tower is visible behind the train. The elevator was on the left out of the picture.

   The original store was built on the future site of Hayfield even before the railroad tracks were laid. In 1906, A. Wilson and his sons, Guy and Red, built the two-storey wood frame store. With the arrival of the Great Northern Railroad (the subsequent name of the BS & HB Railway), Hayfield began to grow. The store, which included a post office, did a thriving business.

    Over the years, Hayfield General Store became an important meeting place for the community. With the store open from morning til night, neighbours visited while shopping, discussing issues of the day. Besides groceries, hardware and dry goods, you could have a sundae in its ice cream parlour. My father used to call the men who sometimes gathered at the store in the evenings the Hot Stove League, no doubt due to their vast wisdom and willingness to share it.

    The Great Northern Railroad built a station at Hayfield in 1907. The busiest place in the community after the general store, the railroad station served residents and visitors for 22 years before being relocated to the place known as “The Diamond,” three miles west of Carroll. This was where the Canadian Pacific and Great Northern Railroads’ tracks crossed. Here it was known as Griffin Station and continued to operate until 1933.

   Station agents at Hayfield over the years included Bill Lauterwasser, Mr. Henderson, Glen Carter, Gordon Maxwell, Mr. Lenarz and Bill Oty. Hayfield was one of the water stops for steam locomotives. A water tower was built north of the station and water was piped in from a spring located a mile to the north. GNR built two residences at Hayfield for company section men and their families.

Bustling Hayfield Railway Station in 1908 alive with prim and proper children, ladies in picture hats and gents in bowlers.

     The McCabe Grain Company began construction of their Hayfield elevator in the fall of 1906 but a severe winter delayed completion until the spring of 1907. The company placed railcars on the siding in the fall of 1906 so farmers could deliver their grain but it didn’t move until the following spring.

     The McCabe Grain Company supplied a residence for its Hayfield elevator agents. That house was later moved to Carroll then to east of Log Cabin as a private residence for the Flickwert family. The elevator continued serving the area until the railroad ceased to operate. McCabe closed the elevator in 1935 and tore it down the following year. Some of the material was used to build the Newstead Elevator, which operated until 1982 and was demolished in 1986.

   Some of the agents who ran the McCabe Company elevator in Hayfield were Charles Davidson, Bill Cameron, Bill Rathwell, Bill Porteous, Sweeney Bergeson, Bob Anderson and Curly Law.

    Baptists built Hayfield’s first church in 1910. The building included a baptism immersion tank and all the church furnishings. However, due to lack of Baptists, it became a Union Church in 1912 and served all denominations until 1925. Thereafter, the building became Hayfield Community Hall operated by a board of trustees consisting of Aaron Johnson, W. E. Lawson and William Cameron. The hall was used mainly for whist drives and dances. In 1957, the year the Dickie’s closed the store for good and left Hayfield, the hall building was sold by tender to Russell Cunningham who moved it to his farm.

   In 1929, Hayfield’s new rink opened. Surrounded by an 8-foot fence with a small opening on the east side for spectators, the rink was situated southwest of the store. A small shed accommodated skate changing. For many years, the rink was flooded by water tanked in from a spring north of Hayfield. Ron Sopp witched a well in 1940 just south of the store and thereafter, the well supplied rink water. A gas engine ran a lighting system for night skating and hockey games. Saturdays were a popular skating day. Sometimes hockey players spent the whole afternoon clearing the snow off the rink for a night game. Teams from Kemnay, Brandon, Beresford, Carroll, Roseland, Brandon Hills, Little Souris and Souris played hockey in Hayfield.

    The original builder and owner of Hayfield Store, A. Wilson, sold the business to another man named Wilson – J. B. Wilson who also owned Simmington’s Store in Brandon. J. B. hired Robert Scott to run the store. Scott eventually bought the store and ran it on his own for five years. The next owners were the E. C. Drury family who sold out to yet another Wilson – Mr. & Mrs. Vic Wilson who were proprietors longer than any other owners.

    Vic Wilson had an Imperial Oil dealership and sold International Harvester parts. Vic started the first mail delivery service for the Hayfield district in 1915, developing two routes. Mail was delivered using teams of horses. Wilson constructed a barn just north of the store to house the teams. The first mail carrier was T. Upton who was paid $600 a year for his services, which include four horses. Going the extra mile for customer service, on mail delivery days, area residents could phone the store with their grocery orders and have them delivered with their mail. Vic installed the hand-pumped gas bowser in front of the store.

   Other mail carriers over the decades were Vic Wilson, E. Lawson, W. Turner, Frank Beckett, Donald McCollum, Harold Rogers, Jack Davis, Alf Lovatt, Morley Lovatt, Bob Lovatt, Harold Brown, E. Canning, Wilmot McComb, Bruce Dickie and Lawrence Murphy.

    In the 1940s, the Wilsons sold the Hayfield store to Steve Kowilchuk who sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Ermine Canning in 1946. After Mr. Canning died, his widow sold the store to Bruce and Helen Dickie in 1952. Our family was the last to operate a store in Hayfield. In 1957, we held an auction sale to liquidate the stock and sold the building to Lawrence Murphy who continued to operate the post office and mail routes until January 8, 1968. The store had operated continuously for 51 years.

   Lawrence Murphy sold the property to Alice Magel and her son Mike in 1982. They occupied the place for a few years but by 1991 the building was vacant, its story almost over.

Hayfield as it looked in the early 1990s, just before it disappeared.

    The store and the barn in Hayfield came to a sad but useful end in the 1990s when firefighters-in-training from Brandon and Souris used them for practice. They set the buildings on fire then put them out, set them on fire then put them out and so on until they were gone.

    All that remains of Hayfield today is a small bluff, a little patch of gravel and the elevation for the ¼-mile lane overgrown with grass, all surrounded by fields and pasture. The name remains in Hayfield Road as the sign on Highway #10 states. Once a home to hopes and dreams and a popular oasis for locals and travelers – it existed for almost 90 years – Hayfield has now vanished into memory.

All that’s left to remind you of Hayfield

You can find my boyhood memories of living in Hayfield here and my experience attending a one-room schoolhouse here.

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Filed under 1950s, Family, Ghost Towns, Life and Life Only, Manitoba Heritage, Prairie People

Manitoba Heritage Building – Octagonal Wooden Silo

Reid Dickie

Octagonal wooden silo, Rural Municipality of De Salaberry, MB

Ghosts of a bygone era, their scale puny by today’s standards yet there is a mystery, a dense past contained within the weathered and lichened boards. This example, given a sensuous curve over the decades, is situated in the Rural Municipality of De Salaberry in southern Manitoba, one of three such structures in the RM. The local heritage buffs proudly refer to them as “our litttle Eiffel towers.”

Octagonal wooden silos and barns were  built mainly between 1850 and 1900, the advantage being the interior corners were less acute creating more storage space. Typically, polygonal silos  – some were 16-sided – had a hipped roof like this example, sometimes a dormer on the top as here which was used to fill the silo. More often a trap door covered the ingress opening.

The relics in De Salaberry RM were likely built around 1885 by the original landowners and used well into the next century. The silos were formally turned up when the RM conducted an inventory of local heritage buildings in 2009. They discovered 65 potential heritage sites from silos to churches to houses to various architectural styles that represented the various ethnic groups who settled the region, including French, Metis, Hutterite, British and Ukrainian.

Check out the fate of another octagonal grain silo near Carberry.

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Mom’s Grade 11 Exams from 1930

Eighty-one years ago, when my Mom was taking Grade 11 at Strathclair Collegiate in the little village of Strathclair, MB she wrote these three final exams: Literature, History and Physics. They are dated and timed and every Grade 11 student in the province would have written the exam at the same hour. Not only is the depth and detail of knowledge expected from the students very much from another time, but the paradigm shift of what’s relevant to each generation is clear. Plus the limits of our understanding about physics at the time are very evident. (FYI: Ebullition means boiling. I had to look it up) Here’s the challenge then for all us Grade 11 graduates, take your finals now, sweaty palms and all.

HISTORY

PHYSICS

LITERATURE

How’d you do?

For more of her 1930 exams click here.

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DickToolCo Art Actions

For historical perspective on the early art my wife, Linda Tooley, and I created, I have added the first installment of DickToolCo Art Actions, specifically 1977, the first year Linda and I spent together.  I will add a new year every two weeks. You can find early DickToolCo videos on my blogroll.

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