Tag Archives: museum

Souris Will Swing Again – 2012 Update

Reid Dickie

A year ago, in the summer of 2011, the Souris River wreaked havoc on the little town that bears its name (Souris means ‘mouse’ in French) leaving its valley and many amenities in ruins, including the town’s main tourist draw, the swinging bridge, a historic achievement but a small nightmare for people with height and balance issues.

This year plans have been set to rebuild the historic swinging bridge: footings in by the fall and cabled spanning completed when the river freezes. It’s good news for the beleaguered little town.

In my August 9, 2012 video report find out what’s up with Souris’ free-range peacock community and know, just know in your heart, that the Sowden Castle, now Hillcrest Museum, is filled with provocative and precious relics that resonate from all our pale-face pasts as the ancestors ventured onto the broad western frontier. Feel the wind burning your face, squint at the unbelievable brightness of the sun (sans chem trails) and feel the deep down sacredness of your own flesh, your own moment. To watch my video update on the swinging bridge, peacocks and peahens (say it out loud) and the Sowden Castle click the pic of the peahens (say it out loud again, go on, you want to) below.

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Fort la Reine Museum, Portage la Prairie

Reid Dickie

UPDATE APRIL 9, 2015

Fort la Reine Museum in Portage la Prairie is one of the most progressive and inventive museums in Manitoba. Their Lennon/Ono exhibit last year drew the curious. Always looking for new wrinkles to make use of the museum’s collection, this week I received an email from them suggesting “get married at our museum.” What a novel idea!

Fort la Reine i do

They have all kinds of interesting venues to actually hold your wedding including a couple of heritage churches. You can get wed elsewhere and use the museum as the setting for your wedding photos with various amenities available. I Do details are on their website. Even if you’re not getting married the museum is a worthwhile stop, just off the TCH on the east side of Portage.

ORIGINAL REPORT

Under an overcast sky, the mighty Avenger and I took a spin westward on the TCH to Portage la Prairie last Friday. A quick shop of PLP’s thrift shops, it has three, yielded just four classy 1950s glass tumblers @ $1 each at the MCC. A slow cruise through Island Park, literally a park on a large island in the middle of the Assiniboine River, and a pause for a Horts got me homeward bound. But not before a stop at the Fort la Reine Museum on the east side of PLP. The gate and all the buildings were open but Tracey Turner, the museum’s curator and manager, said they don’t officially open until Monday, May 7.

The evil-looking device next to the barber chair is an early electric hair curler!

I spent half an hour roaming the sprawling museum which is comprised of 27 different pioneer buildings and items brought into the site creating the feeling of a village.  Heritage purists disparagingly refer to these kinds of museums as “petting zoos.” They believe that heritage value exists only when the place is in situ and that value disappears when a building is moved. Not being a heritage snob, I like the clustering of buildings from various times and uses. Fort la Reine Museum displays all the qualities that I appreciate in a museum.

Such as? The pleasant feeling of an early pioneer village. When you enter there is a row of old buildings as you might find on a main drag of a prairie town around 1900. The pictures at the top are of the interior of the museum’s general store. Also on site are a replica of Fort la Reine (the original was built by La Verendrye in 1739), a red barn, St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church, fire hall, print shop, school, doctor and dentist’s offices and West Prospect Church.

Specific items on display include a York boat, Musketeer aircraft and several houses. The houses range from a reproduction of a  trapper’s crude shack, the Paul family’s log house built in 1879, the Hourie house built in 1890, the Burton house from early 1900s and the Douglas Campbell home. Each house represents an improvement in accommodations and demonstrates the development of prairie architecture from rude shacks to elegant Queen Anne Revival style homes.

The museum has a significant railroad component which includes the private rail car of Sir William Van Horne, the flamboyant general manager of the CPR, a superintendent’s car, a signalman’s shack and a caboose.

Another reason I like this museum concept is, without it, most of these buildings would have been destroyed, converted into sheds and granaries or left to rot into the prairie. Even though they aren’t in their original location, they do still exist thanks to the museum.

Tracey Turner told me they are doing something new this summer. In July and August the museum will host an exhibition about the various traveling vaudeville shows that crisscrossed the country in the early 1900s. Called Voices of the Town, Vaudeville in Canada, the exhibit is on loan from the Peterborough Museum and Archives. I’ll provide more information about the exhibit when its opening day draws nearer.

Meanwhile, the Fort la Reine Museum offers plenty to see and be amazed by. There is lots of space for the kids to run about, fascinating one-of-a-kind exhibits and friendly knowledgable staff. The museum makes a terrific Manitoba day trip. Find out more about the museum here http://www.fortlareinemuseum.ca/

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Filed under Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Hope, Manitoba Heritage, Museum, Pioneer Village, Pioneers, Roadside Attractions

White House, Carberry, MB

Reid Dickie

I have previously featured this house on the Houses page. This post will update, elaborate on details and replace the original entry.

White House, 510 Fourth Avenue, Carberry, MB

Carberry, MB has retained an enormous amount of its built heritage relative to most Manitoba towns. Two blocks of historic buildings with architecture dating back more than a century on Carberry’s Main Street have been designated as Manitoba’s first Provincial Heritage District. Walking down the town’s main drag is a rare and exhilarating experience for a heritage buff. I spent a couple of days in Carberry last summer photographing most of their remarkable buildings, including these new pictures of the White House.

The White House has stood on a corner lot on the outskirts of Carberry since about 1900 when James White built it to reflect his Ontario heritage where Queen Anne style developed its own permutations. White moved from Ontario in the 1880s, settling in Carberry where he was a contractor, sash and door manufacturer and business owner. In addition to his own home, he built his factory, the Charlie Sear Block at 19 Main Street in downtown Carberry and the town’s Presbyterian, Methodist (United), and Anglican churches. An inventive fellow, White devised a system that diverted waste steam from his factory to heat his nearby home.

Take a moment to drink in the overall Seussian effect of this Queen Anne Revival beauty. Fanciful yet formidable, subtlety and exuberance unite in striking accord on the Manitoba prairie. Notice its expansive harmony and superb craftsmanship. The picturesque roofline features double gables with a shallow pitch between them. Under the gables, bull’s-eye windows are perfectly centred between substantial brackets, each of which features a delicate drop. The peaks of the gables contrast with the smooth arc of the bargeboard below. The design on the elaborate bargeboard, the triangle and dot, is replicated on the upper verandah.

The colours are intoxicating. The distinctive red brick came from the brickworks in Edrans, MB where James White’s wife, Margaret, apparently had connections. The brick has developed a lovely patina over the century that accentuates the contrast with the rich white brick detailing. All windows are topped with elaborate headers in white brick, each with a drop, like on the brackets. Two belt courses in white brick gird the house and the bull’s-eyes are accentuated by the solid white brick enclosures. Every corner is loaded with white brick quoins. Notice the subtle use of the colour black on the building in the small details on the verandahs, window sills and lintels and under the gables.

The verandahs are exceptional despite being under repair. The arcade of arches on the upper level mimics the shape of the bargeboard and the arches over the windows. Both verandahs sport turned posts all around. The small porch over the rear door is delicate and adorable with its widely-spaced dentil and little picket balustrade.

Notice how the quoins next to the top and bottom of each window join up with the white brick header giving the appearance the window is supported from above. The design is almost hieroglyphic.

In addition to the variety of shapes in the brick design, each window features diamond and triangular shapes and a frame of square coloured panes. The exterior condition of the White House is remarkable. It is now part of the Carberry Plains Museum located next door to the house in the brick building James White built for his sash and door factory.

Quick Carberry fact: For a number of years starting in 1940 the British Royal Air Force operated Service Flying Train School #33 near Carberry. Among the thousands of airmen who trained there was actor Richard Burton.

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Filed under Carberry, Heritage Buildings, Houses, Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers

12 Days of Christmas Day Twelve

Once St. Luke’s Anglican Church, now The Plum, Souris, MB

The plum in your Christmas pudding! The Souris area was barely settled when the former St. Luke’s Anglican Church was constructed in 1883. As the community grew, two additions were built. There is an enormous amount of Gothic detail in this tiny building: the jerkinhead gable end, double and staggered triple lancet windows and doorway. The L-shape is typical as is the fieldstone foundation. The additions were demolished in 1989. The Souris and District Heritage Club acquired the original 1883 section and relocated it to its present site. It sits perched halfway down the Souris valley and, in plum and chocolate colours, is unmistakable, almost edible. The Plum is now a museum where guides in period costumes offer lively story-tours.  There is a tearoom with a terrace overlooking Victoria Park Bird Sanctuary. Watch a very short video clip of this building that I shot this summer.

“Although it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas to you”

Reid

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Filed under Churches, Day Tripping, PRAIRIES

Star Mound School “Learn to labor and to wait”

Reid Dickie

I have written about Star Mound in the Sacred Places series with mention of the old schoolhouse that sits next to the beaver mound. Located in extreme southern Manitoba near Snowflake, Star Mound School opened in 1886 and closed in 1962. Moved six times in its existence, the one-room schoolhouse now rests as an excellent hands-on museum on a historically significant site. The school museum retains the original desks and fixtures, books and pictures. All that is missing is the blackboard. The building is simple wooden rectangular box with steep gable ends. The porch was a later addition. The decorative features of the small flared pediments over the windows and indented frames painted red add charm.

Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and departing leave behind us, footprints in the sands of time.

Let us then be up and doing, with a heart for any fate, still achieving still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait.

In addition to a beaver-shaped burial mound, possibly one of only two in the country, the top of Star Mound offers a spectacular 360-degree view of the prairies. Rolling hills cut with treed breaks flow off to the north, shadows of massive lazy clouds slide across the land, the garish colours of the monoculture glow. Explorer La Verendrye witnessed this vista; artist Paul Kane made sketches from this vantage point. Instead of tractors, half tons and toxic canola yellow, their landscape had buffalo, tipis and tall rippling grass. Had they come in spring, they would have found the sides of Star Mound glorious with crocuses.

Today the site also offers a number of buffalo rub stones, a geodetic survey marker denoting the place’s relationship to the Canada/US border, a small picnic area, constant breezes coming up the hill and a peaceful oasis to commune with Spirit. Step out of the wind and into education as it was a hundred years ago.

Find more stories about Manitoba schools on my Schools page.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Pioneers, Roadside Attractions, Sacred Places, Spirit, Wisdom

Big Beaver, Saskatchewan

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Reid Dickie

As the sign says, there actually is a place called Big Beaver, Saskatchewan, located on the Missouri Coteau at the western end of the Big Muddy Badlands. The 2006 census said there were 20 people living in Big Beaver, maybe a couple fewer today. In its heyday – the 1920s – Big Beaver boasted 300 people, a six-room schoolhouse and four grain elevators, including, in 1925, the biggest inland grain terminal in the British Empire.

Today Aust’s Store is the hamlet’s only business. A classic country general store – their motto is “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it” – Aust’s offers the full gamut of merchandise. Groceries, farm supplies, stationery, clothing, garden supplies and a myriad of stuff you need fill three large joined wooden boxes. Each room has its own distinctive odour, rich and rural. There is even a “coffee shop” with classic advertising and a few locals who love to jaw with strangers. Have a cool drink, relax and chat in Aust’s. Then have a boo in the Big Beaver Museum and Nature Centre which offers sandstone concretions, native hammers, hatchets and pemmican stones along with a collection of stuffed local critters. They have a very good softbound book with area history that is worth buying at about $14. Big Beaver has a small campground, a rodeo every July and is right in the heart of the Saskatchewan Holyland. This is my video panorama of downtown Big Beaver.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Local History, Prairie People, PRAIRIES, Roadside Attractions, Sacred Places, Saskatchewan

Happy Birthday Alex Rosales

 Many Air Canada passengers to Chile, Japan, just about everywhere have experienced Alex’s hospitality. In the picture at the Dali Museum in Figueres, just outside Barcelona, Alex seems pretty confident that whatever laid that egg is long gone. In a Dali minute, everything can change. I have had many elegant and sumptuous meals at Alex’s table. He is an amazing chef and host! Today I wish him the happiest of birthdays! It’s only a number, Alex. Besides, you still look 25! With love, Reid

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