Tag Archives: Manitoba

Reid’s first novel now available at McNally Robinson


With gratitude and love I dedicate this book to my parents, Helen and Bruce Dickie, whose gifts I used every day of my life, and to Linda, who lit my way.

Available now at McNally Robinson


Moments away from puberty, young Jim Crawford begins to discover how his newly effervescent maleness gives fresh meaning and expression to manhood in his family, friendships, community and beyond. Set in a small Canadian prairie town just as the tumultuous social and cultural changes of the 1960s begin, Play the Jukebox is a character-driven story entwining bright wholesome and dark pathological expressions of masculinity. As his own unique gifts reveal themselves, Jim learns the heights and depths to which men will go to defend family and future and how shared experience creates diverse forms of camaraderie between men and women.

Jim’s life revolves around pop music and records. The 45 – the little record with the big hole – is king; radio disc jockeys, record players and jukeboxes spin the seven-inch discs constantly. He discovers intimate links between hit songs and his own development as he travels from town to town changing the records in jukeboxes with Percy Peel, a mystery media mogul who leaves lasting impressions on Jim. As they did for millions of 1960s youth, The Beatles play a defining role as one of Jim’s change agents.

McNally Robinson: If you are coming into one of our stores, we suggest that you confirm that the book you want is in stock by emailing the location nearest you: Grant Park, Saskatoon, or by phoning the location nearest you.


Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Fiction, Friendship, grief, Hope, Humour, Love, Manitoba, Manitoba Heritage, Movies, Music, Prairie People, PRAIRIES, Radio, shaman, shamanism, Spirit, Winnipeg, Wisdom

My Cathedrals


Reid Dickie

We moved to Shoal Lake in 1957 when I was eight and I left for the city at nineteen. Those are formative years when one grows from an egocentric to sociocentric worldview, taking the role of the Other, starting to think about thinking and finally feeling like a citizen of the planet. Just before I left home, my father said that no matter where I roamed or what I accomplished in my life, I would always think of Shoal Lake as my hometown. He was right.

My cathedrals were somewhat more humble than the stone behemoths the word usually conjures. Though it was a town of 800 with five spired churches (Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Baptist, Anglican, United), my cathedrals were the movie theatre, the town hall, the high school, the ice rink, the train bridge and the spruce grove by the lake.

The only cathedral left standing today in 2015 is the grove of spruce trees that decorate a slow incline up and away from the water’s edge at the north end of the lake. They were planted in 1928 as part of the village landscaping. The trees wrap around the closest thing the lake ever had to a beach, vulnerable to the prevailing, often harsh, northwest winds. During their eighty-seven years, the trees have adopted a slight lean away from the wind.  It’s not a thick grove but an airy and light stand with sky at the top end and water at the bottom. Underfoot lies decades of brown needles thatched in slow decay.

By the 1960s the spruce were at their most verdant, early maturity brought a luscious deep green to the shore when viewed in perfect morning light. It was under these sheltering branches that many rites of passage and epiphanal moments occurred for my friends and me. Here bonding moments so serene, proving moments so intense and our  love for the whole wide world, created new beings out of us. Boundless expressions of song sang with spruce gum and lake water in the hot sizzle of the metal camp stove, our incense and laughter echoing beyond the trees into the starry night. Acoustic guitars strummed to bleeding during long rambling confessions of angst, love and guilt, inspired by the Doors’ The End. In this confessional, the trees listened patiently, ever returning each of us to sanctity, to grace.

Today the trees are past maturity; their trunks three-quarters bare of branches, the foliage now a rickety umbrella high overhead. The bare overripe spruce are easy pickings for wind; they creak now even in small breezes. Crushing windstorms from the northwest break off the old trees regularly. Yet they remain my one cathedral, still bending in the wind, becoming more majestic in their age and decline.

To walk among them now is to hear the echoes of old friend’s young voices and see them splashing in the shiny water; it is to hear the blues played on a harmonica at the edge of a prairie lake by a farm boy whose father works him like slave. During spring break-up on the lake there are a few days when tinkling needles of ice produce the sound of delicate wind chimes as they float in the cold water, playing counterpoint to the trees combing sighs from a passing breeze. When I walk among these trees today I am among friends, closer to the wisdom of age and experience that we intuited as youth but only recognize now as we grow long in the tooth.

How we worshiped with vigor and hope at that church of green timber! Confusing, hormone-befuddled days turned into evenings of comradeship, peace and caring, of understandings that curious youth bring only to each other. Spirit lived in my cathedrals then and still does today. The link we share with our past when using the local knowledge of a place and its landmarks allows us to discover Spirit in yet another form.

Even though today grass grows thick over my parent’s graves in Shoal Lake Cemetery and I have few friends left in the town and fewer reasons to return, Shoal Lake is still home in the sense of it being the repository of my growing and changing. It is where memories reside. It will always be home to the cathedrals that played significant roles in my youth, cathedrals that time and progress have taken away. When I left Shoal Lake, I forfeited the right to own my cathedrals anywhere but in memory. As it should be.


Filed under Ancient Wisdom, Churches, Hope

Inside Birtle Indian Residential School 2014


Reid Dickie

UPDATE June 28, 2015 The remains of the residential school and the land it sits on have been put up for sale on Kijiji. Price reduced from $99,000 to $79,000 CDN. Here’s the link

Perched on the edge of the Birdtail River valley above Birtle, MB stands the ruins of an Indian residential school. Built in 1930, this two- and three-storey red brick and limestone building was the third residential school in the town. The 1882 school burned down in 1895. The 1895 school, near this site, was demolished and replaced with the present building. Closed in 1972 and largely abandoned to the elements since, today the place is a fascinating shambles. In June 2014 I took pictures and video of the school inside and out. BIRTLE 005Smashed glass brick basement windows. Thoroughly vandalized, there are few unbroken panes of glass left on the building. BIRTLE 002Rear view of the building.  BIRTLE 004Appropriate graffiti on old shed next to school. BIRTLE 030The facade of the three-storey section of  school.  BIRTLE 010Smooth limestone pointed arch over the front entrance.  BIRTLE 029Just inside the front door looking out.  BIRTLE 025Remains of a colourful mural on the wall inside the front door.  BIRTLE 028Hallway to large auditorium. BIRTLE 014Ice cube trays on a decomposing couch with evidence of fire on the floor. Several small areas in the building have been blackened by fire but it’s mostly masonry with little to burn.   BIRTLE 012Well-graffitied auditorium.   BIRTLE 019Ruined elegance. Once-stylish over-stuffed armchair now oversees the peeling of the floor tiles.BIRTLE 024Bird’s nest atop hanging metal ceiling fragment.  Pigeons, robins and swallows use the place to roost and nest.BIRTLE 021The one remaining unbroken urinal in the building.   BIRTLE 023View out third floor window of pretty little Birtle in the valley below.


This archival picture shows the school not long after it was built in 1930.

Click here to view my five and half minute video tour of the school.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Photography, Schools

Prairie Caravan Tribal Belly Dancers at 2014 Medieval Festival

Snapshot 4 (17-08-2014 12-46 PM)

Reid Dickie

Located in Winnipeg the Prairie Caravan Tribal Belly Dancers are a troupe of women of all ages who have a desire to study and expand the tribal belly dance form and to present it to modern audiences at festivals, events and fundraisers.

Snapshot 6 (17-08-2014 12-47 PM)The troupe was a high point of the afternoon’s activities at the 2014 Cooks Creek Medieval Festival. Their joyful energy and positive spirit shone through the whole performance.

I featured a short excerpt from their performance on my festival video report. Click any picture to watch my video of their entire opening dance, just over 5 minutes.

Check out their website.

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Filed under Festivals, Manitobans of Note, Prairie People

Hoop and Holler! Huh?

Reid Dickie

The Hoop and Holler Bend “last resort” release of water is spinning again in the heads of Manitoba’s disaster bureaucrats but it’s serious this time.

In 2011 a small cut was made in the bank of the Assiniboine to “take the pressure off the Assiniboine.” Less than 1000 cfs were released at the cut, making it more of a publicity stunt for a government facing reelection than flood mitigation.

The river is carrying more water this year than in 2011 and the bureaucrats are saying 5000 cfs will flow through the cut, quickly recreating Lord Selinger Lake on thousands of acres of planted cropland. The government thinks fiat flooding is better than uncontrolled flooding because it affirms the illusion they are in control of the situation. Nature still bats last.

This is from my May 15, 2011 post: The Hoop and Holler Bend, where the intentional breach was made, has an interesting history. Geographical Names of Manitoba says it was named for the “wild parties” held there. At one time back in pioneer days, a school sat near the site. It had an accompanying barn for the ponies and horses of students. The school was closed and moved but the barn remained and was used for barn dances and such. Often fights broke out between drunks at these dances and the neighbours could hear them “whooping and hollering,” thus the name. The barn was torn down or burned in the 1950s.

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Filed under Flood

First Spirit Sands Hike 2014

yellow hoary puccoons and mauve avens

Reid Dickie

The humidity drove the temperature above 30 degrees today which proved perfect weather for a sauna-like hike on the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park. As I arrived the horse-drawn covered wagon ride was just ending for a group of enthusiastic elementary school kids from the Cartwright/Mather area.

Because of our late spring all the wildflowers along the trail are a month behind. Usually in bloom by late April, the hoary puccoon and three-fingered avens (bright yellow puccoons and pale mauve avens in pic above) are just now coming into blossom. Lots of colour among the emerging grass from field and shade violets, anemone  and white velvets, colloquial names for lovely little blooms. Out on the dunes the odd sand dock offered its shy colours. The trees were full of birdsong tempered by the occasional welcome breeze to cool the skin. As usual, today the sands were at least 5 degrees hotter than the lowland around them.

The last few days, as I tweak a screenplay to complete its second draft, I’ve had the nagging feeling I should be doing something I’m not. Not something in the future, but right now. The drive to Spruce Woods and the hike to the sands cured that feeling. I found my antidote yet again along the sandy trail among the old spruce and on the hot sand.

There is talk of plowing up the overgrowth on the sand dunes to give them more of a WOW factor. Today I got the idea to create a video of the areas that could be de-forested, so to speak, to return the sands to a pre-growth condition. I’ll shot it on my next visit.

Thank you Great Spirit for another perfect day.

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Filed under Natural Places, Parks, spirit sands

Spruce Woods Park Flood Update

Reid Dickie

What news there is appears to be good!

According to the latest daily flood update from the province the water over Highway #5 has receded and the highway has been reopened. Repair crews are working on the highway.

Apparently damage to the rest of Spruce Woods Park is minimal. The ice jam that caused the back-up remains on the Assiniboine River but for now poses less of a threat. As the rivers break-up more ice jams are likely.

The high water advisory remains for the Assiniboine from St. Lazare, where it is joined by the Qu’Appelle River, to Portage la Prairie. Overland flooding due to ice jams is possible along the river. While the Red River appears to be comfortable between its banks so far this year, that pesky Assiniboine, unpredictable and bendy, is full of surprises. Be aware.

The Portage Diversion is operating in an attempt to manage the ice on the lower Assiniboine.

The Whitemud River between Gladstone and Lake Manitoba is rising quickly and at the top of its bank in Gladstone. Area residents need to heed the high water advisory and be vigilant for flash flooding.

So far daytime temperatures are well below normal and below freezing. This is will slow the melt rate and possibly mitigate the run-off. Seasonal temperatures are predicted for later in the week.

Today’s flood update from the province completely ignores the current status of the Souris River, one of the rivers mostly likely to flood, and what’s happening in The Pas. These are two areas the province knows will flood. Where’s the info?

More updates to come…

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Filed under Flood

1960s Texaco Jingle

Vancouver plus 758

Reid Dickie

I shot this perfectly restored Texaco sign in front of a business on the outskirts of Dauphin, MB with the threatening sky beyond. This sign has a nostalgic meaning for me. My dad was a Texaco consignee (he sold and delivered gas to farms and service stations) for 10 years in Shoal Lake, MB. I grew up there and worked with him, even delivering fuel myself when I got my license. Dad wore a Texaco uniform and cap that featured the big red star with the green T emblazoned on the white circular background. The slogan of the day was, “Texaco. You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.” This is a re-post because I finally found the 1960s Texaco jingle that uses the above slogan. Click the pic to view the 20-second tune.


Filed under 1960s, Family, Roadside Attractions

A Vickers Viscount in Garland?


Reid Dickie

Garland, Manitoba is a tiny place settling into the bush near The Ducks, as locals call the Duck Mountains. Garland consists of a store, post office, hall, some churches, a few nicely tended yards around little cottages, the sweet smell of prairie air and a Vickers Viscount airplane parked in the middle of it all, looking more than a little like it just landed. This is the kind of anomaly that sparks my curiosity so I went off in search of the story.

I didn’t have to go far. Don Fyk lives two miles from Garland on the family farm. Don’s family homesteaded in the area; several of his relatives are buried in the little cemetery on the highway at his GARLAND VONDAROSA PICS 024turnoff. Don, a pilot and airplane buff, farms, does repairs, heavy construction, crop dusting and grows a variety of buckwheat much sought after in Japan, his biggest market. He’s an amiable fellow, hard-working, successful with a fine sense of humour. We sat and had coffee in his office one afternoon in the summer of 2013 and he told me the story of the Garland airplane. That’s him and his aircraft in the picture above.

Back in 1982 Don’s brother-in-law was looking to build a new cabin,
GARLAND VONDAROSA PICS 023 something different. He considered a log cabin but went after the idea of an airplane fuselage as the living space. After searching around, they found two Vickers Viscount airplanes at Teulon in Manitoba’s Interlake; both had been cannibalized, neither were in good condition. However, they managed to combine parts from both and come up with a whole aircraft. He bought the airplane for $700 then faced the mammoth task of transporting it from Teulon to Garland, a distance of 380 kms.

Don, his brother-in-law and other family members, with the help of a consultant, dismantled the 8 tonne airplane, took off the wings and tail feather, building special dollies to load the pieces on several trucks. In early May, 1982, the five-truck convoy received a special permit to transport the load down major highways, passing through viscount 2The Narrows then heading north of Dauphin. Don was surprised that people turned out at every little town to watch them go by. Even the Winnipeg Free Press covered the trek which wound up taking 12 hours.

For the two weeks needed to disassemble the airplane, it took aboutViscount as long to reassemble it on the large lot in Garland where it sits today, chained and anchored down against strong winds. Interior renovation began. They gutted the aircraft, laid carpet, connected it to hydro for lights and electric heat, added a stereo system, air conditioning, all the amenities except running water. The front area accommodated a living room, behind that a galley kitchen and at the viscount 1955-TCA-Vickers-Viscounttail end a bedroom. The grounded Viscount hosted many a party since landing in Garland. The guest book for the aircraft cum weekend getaway includes dozens of people who stayed in the plane over the years. 

In recent times, Don’s Viscount hasn’t been used much. A couple of years back the plane was vandalized on the interior but Don plans to restore it when he has the time. He pays about $300 a year in taxes for the lot and aircraft. Don has had offers from people who want to turn it into a bed and breakfast but he feels very attached to the plane. The novelty of the aircraft and its incongruent location will continue to draw the curious, like myself, to little Garland. For now, it will stay as it is – a startling surprise in a prairie village.  Good!

tca logo

Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) was the first North American company to fly Vickers Viscounts starting April 1, 1955 on its Montreal to Winnipeg route. By November of the same year TCA Viscounts were serving fourteen North American cities. The aircraft flew North American routes for TCA until 1974. Don Fyk’s aircraft belonged to the TCA then Air Canada fleet. Both the logos were painted over when Don bought the plane but the paint has since peeled away revealing both names.

viscount don

This is a picture of Don Fyk’s plane, identification number CF-THB, when it was still part of Air Canada’s fleet taken July, 1967. My thanks to Ken Fielding for the pic.

What was the original appeal of the aircraft?

It was a game changer!Viscount TCA ad The Vickers Viscount revolutionized passenger air travel when British engineering conglomerate Vickers-Armstrongs introduced it in 1948. Instead of a piston engine, the Vickers Viscount used a Rolls Royce Dart 510 turboprop engine, a new form of propulsion. 

Piston engines were noisy, smelly and couldn’t provide a smooth ride. The Viscount changed all that with its turboprop system. It was much quieter with fewer vibrations, the cabin was pressurized for comfort, the ride was smoother and oval panoramic windows offered a view from your plush and adjustable seat. Flying had become comfortable, even glamorous. The plane was designed for medium-range flights with 24 to 48 passengers.

The Viscount became one of the most profitable post-war transport aircraft. Four hundred forty-four of the luxury liners were built, six were prototypes and the rest went into service worldwide.   

viscount cockpit

Viscount interior

This picture shows what the original Viscount cockpit looked like with its wide front and side views, instrument panel and seating.

This is the interior of the Viscount cabin in 1950s-modern primary colours. Comfort was built into every aircraft. This is what Don’s plane would have looked like when it was still in service.

According to vickersviscountnetwork.net there are 47 Viscount airframes left in the world, fifteen in museums. Along with his, Don thinks there are three other Viscounts in Canada: Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg has one, one in British Columbia Aviation Museum in Sidney and one in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa .


I took my video camera to Garland and shot a short four-minute tour that includes a walk around the outside of the airplane with close-up views. Click on the picture of VV and me above to watch.

viscount ott

A few other videos of Viscounts. The first one shows the aircraft loading passengers then starting its engine. The second video shows a Rolls Royce Dart 510 turboprop engine that’s been removed from a plane being started. The last video shows a vintage Viscount making its final flight and landing in 1996.

I am grateful to Don Fyk for sharing his story and part of his busy day with me. To end off, a direct quote from Don about flying, “I have my faith in my airplane like I have my faith in God. You cannot doubt it for a second or the what if will kill you.”


Filed under 1950s, Day Tripping, Local History, Manitobans of Note, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions, Year-End Review 2013

Manitoba Hemp Harvest


Reid Dickie

Hemp is grown largely for its seed and/or fibre although all the plant can be used productively. Since ancient times, hemp has benefited humanity in myriad ways physically, mentally and spiritually. Only recently has it been demonized to support the avaricious aims of corpo-fascists.

Hemp is promoted in Manitoba by the Parkland Industrial Hemp Growers Co-op (PIHG) in Dauphin. As its website says, “PIHG is a producer co-op that is in the business of growing and producing industrial hemp for grain and fibre. Members are well experienced in growing hemp and have modified conventional equipment to efficiently and effectively grow and harvest hemp for grain and fibre. PIHG sponsors a industrial hemp plant breeding program to supply locally adapted hemp varieties for Manitoba and other parts of Canada.”

Click the pic above to view my 1:50 video of the harvest underway south of Dauphin.

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Filed under Ancient Wisdom

Manitoba Flood Cams 2013

Reid Dickie

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

It’s Virtual Flood Season again in Manitoba!

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

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

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

rr floodway

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Filed under Flood, Manitobans of Note, Winnipeg

Kowalchuk Block, 38 Main Street, Carberry, MB


Reid Dickie

Another mixed use heritage delight in Manitoba’s only designated heritage district.

Set on a stone foundation, this fine red brick building complements and enhances the heritage value of this side of Carberry’s Main Street. Built in late 1890s at the same time as its neighbours, the first floor accommodates businesses and the second floor provides apartments.

Set in American bond, as is its northern neighbour, the Forbes Building, the Kowalchuk Block combines red and buff brick for detailing, and sports interesting corner pilasters, segmented arched upper windows with drip moulding in buff brick and corbelling under the cornice.

The first floor has large bright display windows and an attractive recessed doorway along with access to the second floor.

Quido Garro, one of Pa Tuckett’s long time friends,  lived in an apartment in this building in the 1920s. Pa remembers knocking back plenty of home brew with Quido. “He knew the best bootleggers and hooch makers within twenty five miles in every direction. Don’t get me wrong. I cherished his friendship, too.”

What’s this series about?

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Filed under Carberry, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Eight

Holy Eucharist Ukrainian Catholic Church, Rosa, MB 

Rosa Church

Reid Dickie

Modestly similar in profile to the Hutsul style of churches found in western Ukraine, the little church in Rosa strays from the traditional with its long nave, facade towers and vestibule. Set among trees and the graves of past parishioners, a two-tiered, double-belled belfry Rosa facadestanding nearby, the church conforms to the cruciform floor plan with a small dome over the crossing. Corner towers and the peak of the gable sport small cupolas apexed with metal crosses.

Of wood frame construction on a cement foundation, its original imitation brown brick cladding was replaced with white siding in 1982. Many Catholic churches were covered in unattractive fake brown brick as protection against the prairie winters. Removing the fake dark covering and replacing it with white siding changes the whole aura of the church, its light finally able to escape the asphalt siding.

Ukrainians arrived in the Rosa area of southern Manitoba after 1900.  Holy Eucharist Parish was founded in 1924 and construction of this Onion domeschurch began. The head carpenter was Petro Skrynski assisted by parish volunteers. Total building cost of the church was $2400.

The iconography and wall treatments inside Holy Eucharist were done by Winnipeg painter Hnat Sych between 1926 and 1934. Though modest in size, its eighteen wooden pews can accommodate 100 people.

Watch my 1:49 video for a view of Holy Eucharist from all angles.


Filed under 12 Days of Christmas 2012, Churches, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Six

Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church, 162 Central Avenue, Ste Anne, MB


Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church


Reid Dickie

Imposing and ambitious, Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church is the focal point of little Ste. Anne, its presence a venerable landmark along Dawson Road, one of the first surveyed trails into the West. Four years under construction – 1895-98 – this massive complex resulted Side elevationfrom a design by Joseph-Azarie Senecal, much favoured architect and builder of prairie Roman Catholic churches of the time. Symbolizing the cross, Senecal’s floor plan is cruciform.

Drawing from Romanesque Revival – style architecture, the church is loaded with elaborate detail executed with high-quality craftsmanship. The brickwork alone is enthralling. The entire building is encircled with corbelling under the cornice that seems to drip off the walls. Belt courses of raised brick entwine the place and the rounded openings are topped with segmented sprays and labels.

Facade of Ste. Anne'sThe facade with its striking entry tower apexed with a complex and beautiful steeple effortlessly creates a wondrous sensation of ascension. The double wooden doors and elaborate fanlight above begin your heaven-bound ascent.  The large window above the door, smaller in size but the same design, draws your attention upward to dual windows bracketing a statued alcove. The roofline accentuated by corner towers with their ornate pinnacles, brick corbelling along the Ste. Anne's steeplecornice and balustrades leading to the central tower add a rush of upward energy culminating with the double-belled steeple. The metal-clad multi-tiered steeple has a pleasant rhythmic feeling that adds to the smooth bliss of ascension.

One reason why the ascension works so well on Ste. Anne’s is because Senecal was familiar with the Golden Section, the old way of using ratios and relationships in building design. This ancient way of seeing explains why some buildings evoke a magical, uplifting feeling and other don’t. Using the Golden Section creates an accord between our bodies and our enclosed spaces. Jonathan Hale wrote an enlightening book called The Old Way of Seeing. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in architecture. Ste Anne Roman Catholic Church’s comfortable presence springs from Senecal’s use of the Golden Section.

Side viewSenecal’s other design work in Manitoba, much of it convents and hospitals, includes churches in St. Leon (1895), Gretna (1897) and Holy Ghost Church, Winnipeg (1899) and St. Francois Xavier (1900). He was the contractor, not the designer, on Saint Boniface Cathedral (1906).

Renown artist Leo Mol (Molodozhanyn) painted the images in the nave and sanctuary interior of Ste. Anne’s. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get pictures of the church’s interior. It’s on my list for next summer.

Pre-Confederation, this parish was established in 1859 to serve Metis and French settlers, some of whom inhabit the cemetery around the church.

For a 360 degree view of Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church’s exterior watch my  2:52 video.


Filed under 12 Days of Christmas 2012, Churches, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Five

Brick Italianate House, Ninga, MB


Buff Brick, Ninga


Reid Dickie

My summer travels took me to places I’d never been before, like Ninga, Manitoba. Not ninja, Ninga, apparently the Chippewa word for mother.

This lonesome seemingly deserted buff brick house caught my attention and I took one picture of it, the one above. So everything I say is based on seeing this one elevation.

The roofline is the foremost Italianate feature. Its low pitch hip jousted by the sweet angles of the matching gables evokes a smooth and gentle, almost erotic rhythm against the prairie sky. It sings!

The under-eave colour appears to have been reddish brown, which would have contrasted richly with the pale buff brick and feel right at home under the milky brown of the shingles. The pairs of tall windows under the gables have simple brick headers. The bricks overall are laid in common running bond.

The main floor conveys several elements of Italianate style such as bay windows  It appears to have two of them but closer inspection reveals the one on the left of brick construction is incorporated into the body of the house and features the main entrance.  The one on the right is a wooden addition, a back porch painted in trim colour.  The bays are connected by a narrow but elegant verandah.

Oh, the verandah: the brackets are a contrasting green to the reddish trim. The low pitch of the roof in sighing reverence to Ninga, for surethe roofline above and the trio of turned squared-away pillars doing their important work slowly succumb to the creep of the foliage, already obscuring the stairs and entwining the bench against the wall. Although the house remains in reasonably good appearance, the straggling strands of long-dead Christmas lights and the invading overgrowth herald its tomorrow, its future tangled in the vines and vicissitudes that encroach on its presence, that threaten its being. Only the prairie wind can determine how apt this all is.


Filed under 12 Days of Christmas 2012, Heritage Buildings, Houses, Manitoba Heritage

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Four

Emerson Baptist Church, Third Street, Emerson, MB


Reid Dickie

Using concrete as a building material dates back to 200 BC when Romans used it to bind stones together. At one stage in the evolution of concrete blocks, between about 1900 and 1920, molded blocks were cast right at building sites to the specifications and quantity deemed by the designer. This type of production allowed for a wide variety of sizes and textures for the face of the block, the other sides Date stonesmooth and easy to install. Often itinerant crews went from village to village offering their services, sometimes contractors owned or hired block making companies of which there were dozens all over the province. Schools, houses, commercial buildings and the occasional church were constructed of molded concrete blocks. Emerson Baptist is an excellent and rare example.

Winnipeg architect Hugh McCowan drew up the plan for the church. Among McCowan’s other designs are the Kay’s Building on McDermot and the Stovel Building on Princess in Winnipeg as well as several schools in rural Manitoba. The contractor who built Emerson Baptist was well-known in the area. David Wright, one-time mayor of Emerson, constructed the Front facadechurch in 1905 from concrete blocks made on site.

Several sizes of blocks compose the church. Mainly elongated blocks with rough surfaces to simulate actual stone were used in the body of the walls. Smooth long and short blocks accentuate the corners, all openings and string courses. The contrast between the textured and smooth blocks is pleasant and settling.

The front facade has three increasing heights that begins the sensation of ascension. The pyramidal caps on the elevated corners, the elegant gable along the cornice above the triple narrow windows and the corner entrance tower with its steep roof topped, as are all roof peaks, with an elaborate pinnacle complete the ascent. It’s a beautiful choreography of your attention that flows naturally all the way to heaven.

Holy Trinity windowsAbout the roof, I am generally not much of a fan of metal roofs. This is purely aesthetic and rather moody on my part but I do get their value: long lasting, durable, low maintenance and effective – they keep the rain off the hymn books. In the case of Emerson Baptist, the green metal roof deters little from the overall building. Though appealing, the church’s roofline is not its main feature.

The windows and main entrance are peaked in the Gothic Revival style, each peak blunted by a keystone. The smooth surfaces usedRoofline with pinnacles around the windows and front entrance have an interesting relationship with the quoins on the corners, a major feature of the detailing. Glass panes are multi-hued. In this picture you can see the ivied wall and the carved pinnacles atop the three roof peaks.

Emerson Baptist is one of the heritage sites where I shot a copious amount of pictures. Watch my 2:01 video to see it from its many wonderful angles.

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Filed under 12 Days of Christmas 2012, Churches, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage

Twelve Days of Christmas Day Two

Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church, PR 201, Sundown, MB


Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church


Settled comfortably into its pleasing and tranquil church yard, Sts. Front viewPeter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Church has served Sundown area parishioners since it was constructed in 1940. Based on similar churches in western Ukraine, Sts. Peter and Paul is attractive with its large squat central dome, dual banya towers and the cruciform plan. The large dome opens into the nave of the church. Atop each of the trio of metal-clad domes, symbolizing the Holy Trinity, is a three-bar metal cross. The peak of the roof adds a fourth cross. The straight-onBell tower view of the facade is an irresistible path to ascension.

A free-standing bell tower featuring a cupola and louvered openings completes the ecclesiastical compound.

The church’s interior, of which I was not able to get pictures, is richly ornate, featuring original iconostas, iconography and wall surfaces by John Pushka. Pushka, who came from Angusville, MB, painted other church interiors in Manitoba including the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church of the Ascension in Angusville, Lakedale Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church in Silver Creek, and St. Nicholas Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Church in Gonor.

I shot lots of pictures of this church and used them to create a 2:14 video showing Sts. Peter and Paul from all angles. Enjoy.

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Filed under 12 Days of Christmas 2012, Churches, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers

Twelve Days of Christmas Day One

Johnson House, 446-7th Street, Brandon, MB 




Reid Dickie

In 1880, Samuel and Edwin Johnson moved from Seaforth, ON, where they ran a successful family hardware store, to Brandon with the same intention. The brothers built their store on the south east corner of Ninth Street and Rosser Avenue in 1885 and Johnson Hardware operated there until 1959. Under Edwin’s skillful management, the store prospered, making Edwin a prominent citizen of the city.

In 1904 Edwin commissioned one of Brandon’s up and coming architects, William A. Elliott, to design a home for him and his family. Elliott, who went on to design dozens of buildings all over southern Manitoba, was just making a name for himself in Brandon when approached by Johnson. The resulting house is a beauty!

Begun in 1904 and completed in 1906 by builder C. Lillington, the Johnson house is a superb example of Queen Anne Revival architecture, the dominant home design style of the period. The main focal point is the veranda that wraps around the feature corner of the Johnson house Brandonhouse. Its low pitched roof is supported by Classical columns. The veranda pediment with the cowl and anchor detailing is repeated on the dormers. The tan bricks are laid in standard running bond; all openings feature rectangular, segmented or semi-elliptical brick arches and windows have limestone sills. The oval window with its four keystones is striking. Don’t miss the pairs of sweet scroll brackets under the dormer eaves.

The house was inhabited by the Johnson family for 72 years. Beautifully maintained, right down to the patterns in the shingles around the veranda foundation, kudos to its present owners for their dedication to preserving local heritage.


Filed under 12 Days of Christmas 2012, Heritage Buildings, Houses

Calvary Pentecostal Church, 141 Main Street, Carberry, MB

Reid Dickie

Manitoba’s only designated heritage district encompasses two blocks of Carberry’s Main Street. This is our last stop in the district on the west side of the street.

Other than its modesty, the most striking feature of the former Pentecostal Church is the marvelous mottling effect of its tricoloured bricks. The three shades – a light tan, darker tan and darker reddish-brown – create a woozy visual dance that is most noticeable on the street facade and tower. Expertly laid, staggered vertical rows along with the squat square entry tower create the sensation of ascension in a modern but reserved way.

The tricolouration of the bricks is used with especially delightful results around the openings. The surrounds of the pointed former window, side window on tower and the front entrance combine headers and stretchers in a simple but visually stimulating fashion. The rounded side windows are topped with a similar but more subtle spray. Though intentionally plain in mass and detailing, the brickmanship makes the place jump.

Built largely by congregation volunteers in 1942, the resulting church demonstrates their determination to remain stalwart. Set back from the public sidewalk and impressively positioned on its lot, the former church adds yet more eclecticism to Carberry’s heritage district. Its design arose from several sources. Notice the combination of Romanesque Revival and Gothic Revival styles, the latter above the modified front window and the former over every other opening.

Pa Tuckett told me, “My second boy Zeke got hitched in that church in the late 40s. She was a sweet innocent girl named Shyla. Zeke was 19 and she was 17 and they had six kids that lived before Zeke turned 30.”

Today the building serves as a law office. Its former occupants include a cafe and clothing store.

What’s this series about?

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Filed under Carberry, Churches, Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Local History, Manitoba Heritage

Three More New Church Videos

Reid Dickie

I always shoot many more pictures than I can use in posts so I’ve assembled the extra church pics into short videos and uploaded them to my YouTube channel.

You get to see contextual views of how and where the building sits, shots of it from many different angles and some sound to accompany the vision. I have featured all three churches in blog posts. Click on the church name to read my blog post. Click picture to watch the video.

St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Minnedosa, MB  2:17

Griswold United Church, Griswold, MB  2:01

St. Anne’s Anglican Church, Poplar Point area, MB  2:26

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Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers