Tag Archives: Winnipeg

Winnipeg Poetry Slam 2015 Final Eight

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Reid Dickie

The final eight poets who will slam for the four spots to represent Winnipeg at the Nationals have been decided. The Handsome Daughter hosted the second semi-final round last night where seven poets slammed, four went through to the finals.

The eight finalists are Tharuna Abbu, Julia Florek, Shelly Genthon, Mike Johnston, Rob Malo, Larysa Musick, Amber O’Reilly and Kortnee Stevens.

SUPPLIED Photo  Schoolteacher Mike Johnston is ManitobaÕs provincial slam-poetry champion.

The top poet last night was Mike Johnston (left), Manitoba’s 2014 slam poetry champion. His word and presentation are unique, collegial and compassionate. Click Mike’s pic to see him perform Question Box from last year’s finals.

The second place finisher was young Tharuna Abbu who slammed two personal moments from her life with elegance, enthusiasm and marvelous control. Her first poem made me cry. Unfortunately I don’t have video of Tharuna.

You’ll just have to go to The Park Theatre on Wednesday June 3 to hear her and seven other fine performers slam their best works. The event starts at 7:00, doors open 6:30, admission is $10. Bring a friend.

Read my post on last week’s first round of semi-finals.

UPDATE: Read my post on the finals on the results of the finals

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Found

My friend Candis’s store on Corydon. Check it out!

FOUND 1

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March 29, 2015 · 5:50 pm

Mid-Century Winnipeg – The Cave Supper Club

Wpg Earle Hill & His cavemen at Cave Club 1937

Taken in 1937 in Winnipeg’s Cave Supper Club (likely located where Giant Tiger is at Donald and Ellice), Earle Hill and his Cave Men are about to entertain the evening crowd. There were also Cave Supper Clubs in Vancouver and Edmonton (it was a chain). Stalactites and huge mushrooms were prominent motifs in all of them.

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Filed under 1930s, Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Music, Winnipeg

La Verendrye School, 290 Lilac Street, Winnipeg (1909)

LA VERENDRYE 5

Imagine Winnipeg in its boomtown days – 1890 to 1915. The population grew by thousands every month. Immigrants, mainly from Europe, converged here, some passed through for points south, west or north. Others saw their opportunity in this brand new city at the confluence of two old rivers.

Over two decades of post-railway bustle that changed a floodplain into a city, almost fifty schools were built to educate all those new western Canadian children. Between 1900 and 1913, school enrolment increased 200%, from 7,500 to 22,000. By contrast, enrolment during the 1950s baby boom increased 25%.

laverendryeschool2One of Winnipeg’s grandest old schools from the boomtown era is La Verendrye School (left, not long after it opened) in Fort Rouge. Though residential and business areas quickly grew up around it, when it opened in 1909 La Verendrye School was on the outskirts of the city. Reporting on the school’s cornerstone laying on July 8, 1909 by Ward 1 Trustee F.C. Hubbard, the Manitoba Free Press reported, “Yesterday visitors journeyed to the ground or within 100 yards of it by electric car and found there was still something of Winnipeg beyond them, though the streets lose some of their garb of traffic and dwellings are hidden in areas of native bush.”

In the early 1900s, education was viewed as a panacea for ignorance and the buildings in which it occurred had to reflect that optimism and hope. In contrast to the few wood frame homes around it, the scale and solid mass of La Verendrye School still provides a feeling of promise and stability.

Centred perfectly between Jessie Avenue and Warsaw Avenue on Lilac Street, the location takes full advantage of having an empty square block without competing buildings. Based on a design by School Division Architect and Commissioner of School Buildings J. B. Mitchell and constructed of local materials, La Verendrye School is a commingling of Queen Anne, Romanesque Revival and Classical Revival architectural styles.LA VERENDRYE0001

The school’s weathered exterior is pale dun-coloured brick with Tyndall stone trim set on a raised limestone foundation. The façade features end wings with wide semi-circular windows accentuating Dutch gables (right).

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The front entrance (left) is very formal with a shallow pilastered portico topped with a cut stone balustrade. Above that an arched tri-part window leads the eye upward toward the school name carved in stone and beyond to the dramatic arch with ball pinnacles (below).LA VERENDRYE 3

 

 

 

 

 

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The side entrance on the north side of the building (left) has a deeper portico with similar balustrade under a Dutch gable with a bull’s-eye window. The south side entrance is obscured by the gym.

 

Although the street face of the school is utterly symmetrical, the rear view LA VERENDRYE 005reveals Mitchell’s asymmetrical use of space (right).

Mitchell’s objectives were student safety and adequate natural lighting. The corridors are wide with plenty of exits and large windows flood the classrooms with light. Though not the originals, the façade features leaded stained glass windows. Most of the rooms still have original pressed tin ceilings.

The total cost to construct the 20-room school was $81,184. Contractors Saul and Irish were paid $69,920 to build the school. The Steam Power and Heating Company got $10,200 to install the state-of-the-art heating and ventilation systems with stylish arched vertical vents midway up the walls, a giant step up from rooms heated by stoves. Though proposed, a third floor caretaker’s suite was never built.

la verendrye duncanThe school’s first principal was David Merritt Duncan (left). Duncan had been classics master at Winnipeg Collegiate Institute and later would principal at the new Kelvin Technical High School. A founder of the Community Chest, Duncan became Superintendent of Schools for the Division in 1929, succeeding Daniel McIntyre.

Obliged to accommodate mentally handicapped children, the school system struggled to find workable solutions. In 1914, La Verendrye School was the site of a program called “Opportunity” which brought handicapped children together in special classes. Over the next decade, various methods were tried, with 300 children attending classes by 1926.

Anna Gibson, who had a school named for her, was a novice teacher at La Verendrye School in 1918 when the Spanish flu hit Manitoba. She volunteered to help in a hospital and succumbed to the flu within a few weeks.

The gym was added onto the south side in 1964, a benefit to the students that offered the drawback of precluding the building from being named a heritage site. In the late 1980s, the school was saved from demolition by an area parents group.

Operated as a high school for two years, La Verendrye became an elementary school to handle the overflow from Fort Rouge School. Today La Verendrye is the oldest school in Winnipeg School Division continuously used for students.

Among La Verendrye School’s century plus of alumni, you will find Terry Fox’s father, Rolly and artist Nathan Carlson.

Named after early Quebec explorer, Pierre Gaultier de Verennes, La Verendrye School is one of a handful of early schools not named after stalwarts of the British Empire. Since 1983, the school has offered French Immersion classes for Nursery to Grade 6 students. Today 310 students attend École La Verendrye taught by 31 teachers.

The centennial of La Verendrye School occurred in 2009. To quote the school’s website, “In June 2009, École La Vérendrye celebrated its centennial with a major community barbecue and carnival, as well as numerous historical projects. A circa-1909 heritage classroom was made a permanent part of the school, offering students from across the Division a chance to experience history in an immersive environment.” Due to increased enrolment since the centennial the heritage classroom no longer exists as it was needed for a regular classroom.

PROFILE

La Verendrye School

Built 1909

Additions 1964

Materials: buff brick and limestone

Style: Queen Anne, Classical Revival two-storey

Architect: J. B. Mitchell

Contractors: Saul and Irish

Original cost $81,184

Current assessed value $3,240,000

Acreage 3 acres

 

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Filed under Education, Schools, Winnipeg

Earl Grey School, 340 Cockburn St. N, Winnipeg (1915)

EARL GREY 3 (2)

Reid Dickie 

UPDATE: April 15, 2015. This is Earl Grey School’s centennial year. They will be holding numerous events in mid-May. Check out the celebrations which include the presence of the Grey Cup here.

A few years ago, before this blog existed, Linda & I used Winnipeg’s old schools for our 12 Days of Christmas. The school articles originally appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press starting in 2004. I have expanded and updated the features, added many more pictures and helpful links. I begin the series with one of my all-time favourite  buildings.

There is no better place to begin my series about Winnipeg’s grand old schools than standing here in front of Earl Grey School’s glorious façade with its asymmetrical towers above the entrances and contrasting brick and limestone details. Earl Grey School is my alma mater, though not in the usual way. I was raised and educated in rural Manitoba and never attended any Winnipeg schools. Let me explain.

At the beginning of 2004, I had surgery, which required a long recovery time. As part of my recuperation, I decided to take three months and teach myself everything I could about architecture. My aim was not to design and build buildings but rather to recognize and describe various architectural styles, details and eras.

Being a lifelong learner I had done this before, teaching myself about subjects as far ranging as spirituality, nanotechnology and futurism. As a writer, I find broad knowledge and studied references essential.

EARL GREY SCHOOL 2Once I began to learn architectural terms and designs from library books and online, I needed to find explicit examples of them in the world. I live two blocks away from Earl Grey School and had walked by it for 25 years without really seeing it. With my new-found appreciation of the built environment, suddenly Earl Grey School “existed.”  I saw it for the first time now that I was able to describe it and appreciate its wonderful style and detailing.

Since then, I have often walked around Earl Grey School with my clipboard, noting its roofline and masonry style, its fenestration and glorious entry towers.  I took pictures of it to study at home, researched its architect and was given a thorough and gracious tour of the interior by Principal Gail Singer. At Linda’s urging, I started to write about it. My first “This Old School” feature in the Winnipeg Free Press was about Earl Grey School back in late 2004.

Earl Grey School is one of Winnipeg Schools architect J. B. Mitchell’s spectacular ones – huge, beautiful and expensive. I wrote extensively about J. B. Mitchell.

Settled handsomely at the corner of Cockburn Street and Fleet Avenue and towering above its neighbourhood, Earl Grey is truly one of Winnipeg’s grandest old schools. It was constructed during Winnipeg’s boom time when population growth on the newly opened prairie was exploding.

EARL GREY SCHOOL

Detail of decorative arches on rear of Earl Grey School by school architect J. B. Mitchell. There are ten arches in this picture!

On July 3, 1914 the City of Winnipeg granted the school board permit #2244 to build a school on the west side of Fleet between Helen (now Cockburn) and Garwood. Construction began in 1914.  Total cost was nearly $186,000, an enormous amount of money for a school. To replace Earl Grey School today would require at least $4 million. The 2.4 acre lot the school sits on was a relative bargain at $7,559. That’s about $152,000 today.

The result was Earl Grey School – three-storeys tall with 25 rooms and able to accommodate 675 students. In 1915 Earl Grey, as this section of Winnipeg is known, was a burgeoning neighbourhood with large wood frame houses sprouting everywhere on streets freshly cut from the surrounding pastures still dotted with a few greenhouses.

Let’s take an architectural tour of the place. While my pictures provide context and some detail, to get the full impact of the building and appreciate its complexity you need to walk around it, be there with it.

Like many of J. B. Mitchell’s schools of the time, Earl Grey School’s design is loosely based on British Board schools from 1870 to 1900. These massive solid buildings became symbols of progress and enlightenment, qualities that Mitchell felt were essential to Canada’s future. When you look at the building, its impact is one of stability, openness and hope.

Earl Grey School’s architectural imprint is an eclectic mix of styles as were British Board scan0004schools of the late Victorian era. Architect Mitchell combined Romanesque, Gothic and even a few Queen Anne elements to make the school an exceptional delight. The combination of styles captured the public imagination and became representative of the Enlightenment.

Typical is the red brick exterior with Tyndall stone details. Set on a tall limestone foundation, this stately building’s facade features two dramatic towers above the entrances, their height difference a hint of the complex symmetry of the building. The rear sections of the U-shape plan are uneven sizes to complement the uneven towers.

EARL GREY TOWER 1The pavilions on which the towers sit are identical with deep smooth limestone arched entrances and the monograms E and G. As you ascend the stairs, the muscular arch with its robust curved keystone draws you deep inside to a sheltering alcove before you pass through the elegant doorway into the school.

Moving upward both towers feature limestone quoins, two small multi-diamond-paned  windows, a larger rectangular window with limestone surround, a scroll under a short pediment at eave level. Each pediment has a stone emblem inscribed with The Maple Leaf our
EARL GREY TOWER 2Emblem Dear and God Save Our Gracious King.

The stubbier south tower (above) has pilasters, corbelling, a smaller window with a stone sill and a parapet dressed up with Dutch gables pierced with round lights. The taller north tower (right) sports a false balustrade in limestone beneath an arched window under fine corbelling in an inset. Its uneven parapet sports Dutch gables with small lights.

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Earl Grey School’s glowing facade.

The façade section between the towers is fascinating. Here the use of two slightly different colours of bricks is used to great effect. Notice the fenestration. The foundation has six wide arched windows with segmented heads allowing plenty of light into the basement. Above, five bays separated by pilasters, capped at the second floor level, sport 36 rectangular windows with limestone sills and stained glass transoms.  Effective brick detailing on the spandrels is a lively addition. A stone belt course runs across the façade at the third floor. Craved in limestone and bracketed by rosettes are the words The Earl Grey School. (I don’t think the sneakers hanging from the name were part of Mitchell’s design.) Thereafter a compelling vertical sweeps up past the school name to the only two dormers with peaked roofs. Beyond, sky’s the limit!

Another dramatic feature, typical of early J. B. Mitchell schools, is the strikingly exuberant use of arches all around, especially on the dark-roofed dormers – sixteen in all – that face every direction. There are window arches, arched insets, curved entranceways, Dutch gables and arches within arches.

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The two-and-a-half-storey-tall arches over south side entrance – arches within arches.

Notice the side entrances. On the north, two narrow doorways are surmounted with a deep curved inset. Its small balcony has an iron railing. Two windows, the top one arched to complement the feature, are set in the indentation. On the roof directly above, an arched dormer takes your attention to the huge blue sky. A similar entrance experience occurs on the south side.

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Elegant arches of Dutch gable surmounting the south rear entrance. Even the steps are arched.

At the rear of the building are two entrances each with its own masterful design and execution. Each has a pair of doors separated by an arched window deep inside a raised porch with a wide fanciful archway. Above, stepped corbelling and yet another variation on the arches theme, a Dutch gable, complete both entrances. Notice the interplay between the brickwork in the corbelling, the wall behind it and the outer rim of the arch with three rows of headers. The north entrance is now obscured by the gymnasium.

Earl Grey rear view

Inside the rear U of the school, the white terra cotta detailing stands out against the red patina of the brick.

Most of the decorative features are inexpensive, not requiring special materials or artisans. The exception is the upper detailing on the inside corners of the rear sections. A variation on a Dutch gable with modillions is set in a white terra cotta wall panel with false limestone balustrades and brackets.

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In this rear view the delicate asymmetry of Mitchell’s plan is obscured by the brick gymnasium. Note the arched dormers.

If you’ve ever wondered what one million bricks look like in one place, look at Earl Grey School. That’s how many contractors W. M. Scott and Company needed to build the original building, not including the gym. The bond is a tight American bond with every fourth row headers, requiring more bricks. Usually American bond has fifth, sixth or seventh row headers. The builders used 1,000 EARL GREY BRICKWORKcubic metres of concrete to create a concrete slab and concrete joists. There are 325 cubic meters of limestone on the school, 9000 square meters of superficial plaster. The lot has 114 feet frontage to a depth of 164 feet. The cornerstone was placed on October 2, 1914.

Two of Mitchell’s major design concerns were safety and lighting. Made of fireproof material with wide hallways and many exits, the building satisfied all safety requirements when built and still does today. At one time Earl Grey School had spiral metal fire escapes, basically chutes in silos, to evacuate the third floor in case of fire. Read my feature Cheap Thrills and Fire Drills on spiral metal fire escapes on Winnipeg schools.

Large plentiful windows provide sufficient light and provide cross-ventilation. Earl Grey had Winnipeg’s first direct alarm connection to a fire hall. The school library opened in 1941, an intercom system was installed in 1958 and the new gymnasium was completed in 1965.

The school was heated by coal furnaces in the basement which burned mud-like Souris coal requiring much stoking and shoveling. On cold winter nights, the firemen worked all night to heat the school.

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One of the rooms of the custodian’s suite as it looks today. Most of the rooms still have remnants of garish flower wallpaper, popular in the early 1900s.

The need for a constant presence to mind the furnaces and maintain the building meant a custodian’s apartment was provided in the attic of Earl Grey School. The custodian and his family lived in the large scan0002apartment, using a separate entrance. The last live-in custodian left in the early 1950s. The school was converted to gas in 1961.

In this picture the dormer windows of the dilapidated apartment offer a fine view of a mature neighbourhood, very different from the young suburb springing up when Earl Grey was built. Read my feature article about custodian suites in several of Winnipeg’s old schools.

EARL GREY ENTRANCE  INTERIOR

The striking Art Deco double entrance inside Earl Grey School.

Once you pass through the Art Deco entrance, the interior of Earl Grey School is a strikingly practical design with wide hallways, tall ceilings and dark wood paneling carried throughout the building. Stairways have wrought iron railings and wooden banisters polished smooth by decades of childrens’ hands. Skylights brighten the third floor and the custodian’s apartment. And more arches! In a design rarely seen today, the school’s warm air vents are vertical arches.

For many years the school’s gymnasium had shared the basement with the woodwork and metal shops and two classrooms but its low ceiling precluded sports like volleyball. There were no change or equipment rooms. A new gym was proposed. Built by contractors B. F. Klassen Construction Ltd., the large gymnasium on the school’s west side was completed in October 1965. The bricks on the gym, though not matching the school’s brick, complement both buildings. The gym’s chevron roofline less so.

Earl Grey gym

Gymnasium built in 1965 with chevron roof.

EARL GREY HIS OWN SELF The school is named after British nobleman Albert Henry George Grey, the 4th Earl Grey (left). A popular personage, (at one time he was Chief Boy Scout of Canada), he acted as Governor-General of Canada between 1904 and 1911. An avid sports fan and a strong advocate of fitness and health, Lord Earl Grey initiated the Grey Cup in 1909. Earl Grey tea is named after the position, actually the 2nd Earl Grey, not EARL GREY STEENspecifically our Earl Grey.

The first students attended Earl Grey School in September 1915. Over its almost hundred-year history, the school has educated thousands of children and produced many illustrious alumni, among them lawyer Robert Steen, (right) who was a Manitoba MLA in the 1960s and Winnipeg’s 38th mayor from 1977 to 1979. In 1980 The National Film Board produced a documentary about Steen called The New Mayor. Another Earl Grey alumnus is mcluhan youngmedia philosopher and fusionary Marshall McLuhan (left) who received all his formal education in Winnipeg. Among McLuhan’s major contributions are his Laws of Media. Musician and social activist Neil Young (below), the soul of Buffalo Springfield, the Y in CSN&Y, also attended Earl Grey School.

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At one time, both signatures on Canadian paper money were Earl Grey graduates: James E. Coyne (below) was the second Governor of The Bank of Canada (1955-61), and John R. Beattie, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada. This $20 from the 1950s has both signatures.

EARL GREY JAMES E COYNE

EARL GREY SIGNATURES

Another Earl Grey graduate was journalist, spy and frankpickersgillWWII hero Frank Pickersgill. A film called Canadian Special Operations Executive Stories of WWII documents the exploits of Pickersgill and other spies. Watch it on YouTube.

In 1919, Earl Grey School became the site of a major educational innovation; it was the first Junior High School in Canada. Read my feature article on how this came to be. 

Today Earl Grey School educates 220 Nursery to Grade 8 students, about one-third of its capacity, with 28 staff members. Asked to characterize her school, Principal Gail Singer said, “We’re a close-knit family, creative and innovative.”

Still the scene of innovation, since 1995 Earl Grey has offered an all-girls program for grades 7 & 8 that has a strong academic focus and emphasize math, science, and technology. Research indicates that girls can benefit academically in an all-girls environment where they are encouraged to take risks and to develop positive self-esteem.

The school features state-of-the-art computers (they are the iPad generation now) and science labs that benefit all students. In 1999 Earl Grey School was made a member of the Network of Innovative Schools.

Always ready to innovate, today Earl Grey School participates in Building Student Success with Aboriginal Parents which aims to increase the involvement of Aboriginal parents in education. ABC Montessori School is also located in the building.

Earl Grey School’s centennial is next year! If you are an alumnus of Earl Grey School, please call the school office at 204-474-1441 or email eg100@live.com to add your name to our 100th anniversary contact list. Celebrations are planned for May 15 & 16, 2015. To prepare for the centennial, a school yard beautification project is underway. While maintaining its proud historic connections, Earl Grey School continues to look to the future.

Simply by being there, Earl Grey School taught and inspired me. Special, familiar and precious, a neighbourhood icon, it galvanized my attention and gave me wisdom, educated me. Because of that, I will always think of Earl Grey School as my alma mater.

Profile

Earl Grey School

                                                Built 1914/1915

Addition 1965

Materials: red brick and limestone

Style: Gothic Revival, Romanesque Revival three-storey

Architect J. B. Mitchell

Builder W. M. Scott and Co.

Original cost $185,548

Rebuild cost $3,622,604

Current assessed value $4,169,000

Acreage 2.4 acres

https://www.winnipegsd.ca/schools/EarlGrey/Pages/default.aspx

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Filed under Architecture, Education, Heritage Buildings, Schools

School’s Out Forever – Margaret Scott School & Sir John Franklin School

DEMOLISHED WINNIPEG SCHOOLS

Reid Dickie

MARGARET SCOTT SCHOOL

825 Alfred Avenue

1920

Margaret Scott School as it appeared just after opening in 1920

Margaret Scott School as it appeared just after opening in 1920

This North End school, part of Winnipeg School Division #1, was built in 1920 with the understanding it was a temporary school to be used for that purpose for just 20 years. History didn’t cooperate with the Division’s intentions and Margaret Scott School served its community well for nearly 70 years. On February 12, 1990 students, past and present, bade farewell to their alma mater by releasing an ocean of fuchsia-coloured helium-filled balloons into the blue prairie sky. After this emotional send-off, the school was pulled down a few weeks later.

Margaret Scott School was a relatively large school for the time with 15 classrooms, assembly hall and a library. It was built for the substantial sum of $126,618, expensive considering the post-war slump the city was experiencing. It was a one-storey L-shaped red brick building with abundant windows to maximize classroom brightness. Each classroom had six tall, multi-paned rectangular windows. The school’s architect John N. Semmens used a variation on Collegiate Gothic style. The main entrance featured limestone pillars, an arch set inside a broken pediment and a fanlight above the doorway featuring radiating muntins.

Somewhat later picture of Margaret Scott School with landscaping and flagpole

Somewhat later picture of Margaret Scott School with landscaping and flagpole

Margaret Scott School was among the first Winnipeg schools to have a kindergarten. The Free Kindergarten concept had been around since 1890 but it wasn’t until the early 1940s that Boards finally saw the value and foresight of kindergartens in schools. Margaret Scott’s opened in 1944.

Side view of Margaret Scott School

Side view of Margaret Scott School

In the late 1950s, Margaret Scott School suddenly vanished, or at least its name did. In April 1957, its name was changed to Isaac Newton #2 and it began accommodating junior high students of the baby boom. In 1963, its name and curriculum was changed back to Margaret Scott School, an elementary school, a role it played until it closed in December 1989. Nursery to Grade 6 students from the school were transferred to Isaac Newton. Margaret Scott School was demolished in February and March 1990.

Margaret Scott

Margaret Scott

The school is named after another local heroine who made sacrifices for the greater good and set a high standard of volunteerism. Ontario-born and educated, Margaret Scott (1856-1931) came to Winnipeg in 1886 to take advantage of our healing climate after she suffered a breakdown from exhaustion in Montreal. She devoted her life here to helping the sick, homeless, needy and imprisoned, and established the Margaret Scott Nursing Mission in 1904. Her Mission, through generous donations from Winnipeggers, aided the sick and suffering until it was absorbed into the Victorian Order of Nurses in 1943. Margaret Scott was instrumental in establishing the Little Nurses League.

Staff of nurses on the front steps of the Margaret Scott Nursing Mission at 99 George Street, Winnipeg.

Staff of nurses on the front steps of the Margaret Scott Nursing Mission at 99 George Street, Winnipeg.

Revered almost to sainthood – she was known as The Angel of Poverty Row – her contribution to the city was so great that a school was named for her while she was still alive, a rare occurrence. Margaret Scott attended the opening of her school.

Though her school is gone, Margaret Scott is well honoured with the Margaret Scott Nursing Mission bursary for nursing students at the University Of Manitoba School Of Nursing. Until amalgamation of the hospitals into the Health Sciences Centre in 1973, there was a ward in Winnipeg General Hospital for the treatment of ailing nurses named after Margaret Scott. About 1948, Helena Mac Vicar published a tribute book to Margaret Scott entitled The Margaret Scott Nursing Mission, Winnipeg.

She died in 1931. Buried in St. John’s Cemetery, Margaret Scott’s epitaph reads, “If in trying to serve God, I have been privileged to cheer and comfort others, my highest aim has been attained.”

 PROFILE

Margaret Scott School

Built 1920

Demolished 1990

Materials: red brick and concrete

Style: Collegiate Gothic one-storey

Architect: J. N. Semmens

Original Cost: $126,618

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SIR JOHN FRANKLIN SCHOOL

386 Beaverbrook  Street

1921

Sir John Franklin School

Sir John Franklin School

After WWI, the new Winnipeg suburb of River Heights started to grow rapidly. By 1921, it needed a substantial school. The School Board owned four acres of land on Grosvenor Avenue between Beaverbrook Street and Lanark Avenue where it built Sir John Franklin School from a design by architect J. N. Semmens. Fraser and MacDonald were the general contractors on the project.

It was a modest one-storey, five classroom plan with many Gothic Revival features Semmens often used in his buildings. Original design cost $52,000 to built which was carried out by contractors Fraser and MacDonald.  Several additions were made in 1934 and 1951. It served the community as an elementary school until 1989 when the Board closed it. Passed to Sir John Franklin Community Centre to maintain, it was demolished in June 1990. The site is still green space.

Side view of Sir John Franklin School

Side view of Sir John Franklin School

The school’s namesake is the British officer and explorer John Franklin (1786-1847) who, on two expeditions, mapped the northern coastline of the North West Territories and Yukon. For this, he was knighted and awarded the governorship of Van Diemen’s Land; today we call it Tasmania.

Sir John Franklin

Sir John Franklin

In May 1845, he began an ill-fated expedition seeking the North West Passage and was never heard from again. After two years, search parties were sent out but it would be twelve years before the mystery was solved.

In 1859, the bodies of Franklin and 23 of the original 128 crew along with a written account were found on King William Island. Their ship trapped in early ice, they set out on foot toward land, apparently resorting to cannibalism to survive. None survived. Postmortems on the cadavers suggested a factor in the expedition’s failure might have been lead poisoning from inadequately tinned food. Whether Franklin actually found the North West Passage is a matter of some conjecture.

Though his school is gone, Franklin is honoured well and often in Winnipeg – a street and a community centre bear his name – and remembered as the man who, at least, proved the existence of the North West Passage. 

PROFILE

Sir John Franklin School

Built 1921/1934/1951

Demolished 1990

Materials: brick and concrete

Style: Collegiate Gothic

Architect: J. N. Semmens

Contractors: Fraser & Macdonald

Original cost: $52,000

Find more Manitoba schools on my Schools page.

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Filed under Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Schools

J. B. Mitchell – NWMP Corporal, School Architect, Visionary

mitchell_jb5

Reid Dickie

The policeman trekked into the Canadian West with the North West Mounted Police on a mission of law and order. The architect designed over forty schools in a prairie boomtown. The visionary helped bring enlightenment to masses of immigrants newly arrived and hungry for a fresh and better life. History would eagerly record the exploits of all these people and history has, except, in this case, all three are the same person.

James Bertram Mitchell was born in Gananoque, Ontario in 1852. He joined the Canadian militia as a bugler at the age of 14, rising to Micthell_2corporal by 1870. Upon promotion, J.B. Mitchell was assigned to guard the Welland Canal at Carlton, Ontario against a Fenian invasion of Canada, an event that never took place. During his time in the militia, he met Colonel George A. French, soon to be the head of the newly minted North West Mounted Police. It was a defining meeting for the young Mitchell.

At age 18, Mitchell returned to civilian life and studied architecture at the Montreal Institute of Art for three years.

No longer able to ignore reports of lawlessness in the west – the Cypress Hills Massacre was the latest example – Prime Minister John A. Macdonald created the North West Mounted Police in 1873.

Macdonald modeled his police force after the Royal Irish Constabulary, a ‘police-styled’ force but with a military bearing. Their first task was to shut down the whisky trade at Fort Whoop-Up. Whisky was causing violence and upheaval in Indian camps and white outposts. It triggered fights among rivals, friends and family. The NWMP were instructed to stop the whisky trade, establish friendly relations with the aboriginals and entrench Canadian law over a 300,000 square-mile territory. This awesome task was assigned to fewer than 300 men, not an army but a constabulary.

Young Mitchell had read newspaper accounts of the difficulties at Red River and the whisky problem in the West so, when the NWMP was announced, he was delighted to discover his friend Col. French had been chosen Commissioner in charge of the force. Stemming from his desire to serve his country and his strong sense of adventure Mitchell enlisted and at age 21 and was assigned NWMP regimental number 50, E division with the rank of Staff Constable.

The NWMP departed Fort Dufferin, now Emerson, MB on July 8, fort duff1874. During his time with the force, Staff Constable Mitchell was present at the signing of treaties with the Cree and the Six Nations led by Chief Crowfoot. His name can be found among the signatures on Treaty 6.

In 1877, J. B. Mitchell’s three-year hitch with the NWMP was over. He had fulfilled his contract with the government and gained firsthand experience of the Canadian West, how enormous and filled with possibility it was. The only thing that matched the hardship of the trek was the exhilaration Mitchell felt from the whole experience. Out there on the vast and subtle plains, he gained a unique perspective that would serve and inform his worldview.

Having passed through Winnipeg during his time with the NWMP, when Mitchell returned to civilian life, he remembered the opportunity he felt existed in this new prairie city. He settled in the Point Douglas area.

mitchell carttonHe was elected to the Winnipeg School Board in 1888 and in 1892 appointed Architect and Commissioner of School Buildings and Supplies. Along with his contemporary, School Superintendent Daniel McIntyre, J. B. Mitchell designed and created what some saw as North America’s safest and most architecturally eloquent collection of schools. Together the two men oversaw the design and construction of forty-eight Winnipeg schools and numerous additions. During his tenure, Mitchell witnessed the value of school buildings grow from less than $350,000 to nearly $10 million. Odds are, if you went to school in Winnipeg, you sat in a classroom designed by J. B. Mitchell.

It was Winnipeg’s great boom time – 1890 to 1914 – when population growth on the newly opened prairie was exploding. School enrolment jumped from 5,000 to 40,000 requiring thirty-nine new schools to be built over those 24 years.

To accommodate the massive influx the public school system underwent a huge transformation. At the time, Canadians’ pride in the British Empire was at a peak. A great enlightenment, reflected inSOMERSET SCHOOL women’s suffrage and free and universal education, was sweeping through western institutions. Education was viewed as a panacea for ignorance and other societal ills and the buildings in which it occurred had to reflect that optimism and hope.

Known as a stalwart of the Empire with enlightened views about education and the need for healthy learning environments, Mitchell’s 006_3design concerns were student safety, spaciousness and eloquence. He created many school designs that embodied all of these optimistic values.

Mitchell spoke of his feelings on this subject: “There is nothing too good for the children, and it should be known, appreciated and remembered by every parent in this Dominion that education is more important than good streets, roads or sidewalks, and more public money should be spent to thoroughly equip the children for the battle of life than is now being devoted to that purpose.”

Influenced by British Board Schools, Mitchell created powerful, KELVINstately buildings that he felt nurtured the physical and intellectual potential of all children, no matter what their country of origin. British Board Schools were massive red brick buildings, usually three storeys, with similar design and layout. Hundreds of them were built between 1870 and 1900. Their style captured the imagination of the public and became the defining characteristic of enlightened education. J. B. Mitchell used the Board Schools as his basic design, enhancing the already handsome EARL GREY TOWER 1buildings with decorative details from Queen Anne, Gothic, Classical and Georgian Revival architectural styles.

Always eager to learn new techniques and designs, Mitchell traveled across Canada and the United States, touring educational facilities and discussing their design with his peers. He brought home many new ideas for his schools. But always foremost in his mind was that fundamental education would be provided, children would be enlightened and all of Canada would benefit.

Fittingly, Mitchell and McIntyre retired in 1928 after an association of forty years. Both men have schools named after them, honouring their contribution to education and architecture in Manitoba. Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute was opened in 1923, J.B. Mitchell School in 1956.

As a Colonel, J.B. Mitchell saw action at St. Eloi and Vimy with the 100th Winnipeg Grenadiers in World War I. Colonel Mitchell outlivedmitchell quuen all of his old NWMP comrades to become the last surviving member of the original force. When he died on November 15, 1945 at the age of 93, J.B. Mitchell left Winnipeg “not less but greater than he found it.” Mitchell is buried in Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg (Section F, Plot 12, Grave 4).

Thanks in no small part to the visionary ideas of J.B. Mitchell, Winnipeg gained national recognition for the excellence of its school system and the innovative designs of its high quality, well-built schools. The system and its buildings stand as a testament to these creative, positive energies. They are a legacy, not just of bricks and mortar, but of enlightenment and human development that defines our heritage through the minds of past students and creates our future through the minds of today’s students.

31 Winnipeg Schools designed by J. B. Mitchell

name, year built, years of additions

  • Gladstone School #2 – 1899/1902, demolished 1963-64
  • Somerset School – 1901 “permanently” closed 1972, demolished 2005
  • Alexandra School – 1902/1950-51 demolished 1969
  • Carlton School #2, 1903, demolished 1930
  • Pinkham School #2 – 1904 burned & renovated 1945
  • Strathcona School #1 – 1905/1911 demolished 1963-64
  • John M. King School #1 -1906/1918 demolished 1964
  • Luxton School – 1908/1915, 1948, 1988
  • King Edward School #1 – 1908, demolished 1975
  • Lord Selkirk School #1 – 1908/1921, 1965
  • Clifton School #1 – 1908, on site of Isaac Brock School, moved to Dominion Street 1913, demolished 1949
  • Aberdeen School #2 – 1909/1955, 1961
  • Cecil Rhodes School #1 – 1909/1951-52
  • Greenway School #1 – 1909/1960
  • La Verendrye School – 1909/1964
  • Kelvin High School #1-1910/1963, design similar to St. John’s High School, demolished 1966
  • Lord Roberts School #1 – 1911
  • Lord Selkirk School #2 – 1912
  • St. John’s Technical High School #1 – 1912/1960, 1963, 1966 demolished original 1912 sections in 1967, design similar  to Kelvin High School
  • Principal Sparling School -1912/1986
  • Laura Secord School- 1913/renovations 1988-90
  • Isaac Brock School – 1914
  • King Edward School – 1914, demolished 1976
  • Earl Grey School – 1915/1965
  • George V School – 1915/1948, 1951
  • Julia Clark School – 1918 demolished
  • Greenway School #2 – 1919
  • Ralph Brown School #2 – 1919/1960 demolished 1989
  • Lord Roberts School #2 – 1919/1923
  • Robert H. Smith School #1 – 1919/1929 demolished 1992
  • David Livingstone School – 1922/1957, 1968

Find more stories about Manitoba schools on my Schools page.

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Live-In Custodian Suites in Schools

Reid Dickie

Because of the method used to heat schools, usually a coal furnace that required stoking day and night, many of Winnipeg’s grand old school built a hundred ago had living quarters on the top floor for the custodian and his family. The first school in Winnipeg with a Laura Secord Schoolcustodian’s suite was Laura Secord. Other schools that offered accommodations for the caretaker were Earl Grey and Isaac Brock.    Located in the building’s large attic or garret, the suite had direct access to the furnace room, typically by a separate narrow staircase.

Though the last custodians to live in schools moved out in the 1950s,  Earl Grey School retains the rooms from the suite. Located on the northwest corner of the attic, there are seven large rooms off a wide central hallway. Since there is no reason to maintain it (it is securely off-limits to students), the suite has fallen into disrepair. Long empty,Earl Grey Custodian Suite the rooms still have the once-garish, now-faded flowered wallpaper.

The suite is surprisingly bright since only the large rounded dormer windows and skylights, or light wells as they were called at the time, Rounded dormer provides light to suitein almost every room provide light. The views out these windows of the surrounding neighbourhoods as they grew would have been spectacular. Today the view is of a mature forest with sundry houses nestled among the protective elms.

There is a separate entrance for the custodian and his family as wellEARL GREY 11 as six flights of stairs to the basement. The stairways have the original cast iron uprights and oak banisters. This is a picture of the custodian’s stairwell to Earl Grey’s furnace room, still with original light fixture. The floors in the suite look like hardwood but in fact are concrete, striated and painted to appear wood-like.

For the school’s 75th anniversary in 1987, Aileen Gunter, principal at Laura Secord School from 1961 to 1976, recalled an experience with the old custodian’s suite: One day a workman left unlocked one of the doors to this desolate area. The small entrance was discovered by some bright curious Grade 6 girls. They proceeded to set up a playhouse in the abandoned caretaker’s suite. As the area was very old, they could have been in considerable danger. Some time later, their aerie discovered, they were suitably contrite and promised fervently never to so endanger themselves again. They are young women now. I wonder if they still remember participating in The Mystery of the Narrow Staircase.

Find many more stories about Manitoba schools on my Schools page.

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The First Junior High School

Reid Dickie

Think of the last time you were traveling and came across an idea so new, so startling, so perfect that it caused a eureka moment. Superintendent of Winnipeg Schools Dr. Daniel McIntyre, on one of his “reconnaissance” missions to the United States and eastern Canada, was introduced to the concept of the junior high school in 1918. Whether it was a eureka moment or the seed for his thoughtful innovation, the idea make absolute sense to the Superintendent.
Dr. Daniel McIntyreJunior high schools – sometimes called intermediate or middle schools – developed partly as a reaction to the Old World socialization of parents who believed education culminated at Grade 8 and, thereafter, you worked. This resulted in a significant dropout rate at Grade 8.
Educators had long studied the problem of the quick transition from elementary school to high school that occurred after Grade 8. Students often were ill equipped to deal with specialized teachers, note-taking requirements and the independence of subject selection.
The junior high concept also resulted from the realization that children in the 11 to 15 year old range experienced life much differently than they had at a younger age and differently than they would in the future. Hormonal changes in our bodies ignite puberty and its confusions. New worldviews begin to emerge as we deal with our new ability to think about thinking.
During these transitional years, developmentally we experience the birth of mental rules and roles and the ability to take the role of the Other, moving from a purely egocentric worldview to one that is more sociocentric and inclusive. At this stage, we experience a strong need to “belong” thus our passionate attachments to sports teams, musicians, fashions, groups of any kind. As we find our place in the group and we seek our individuality, from that new vantage point grows our self-esteem and the ability to think about thinking. Rampant with possibilities, this stage – Grades 7, 8 and 9 – requires a different approach to education.
In September 1919, Earl Grey School in Winnipeg became the site ofEARL GREY SCHOOL 2 the first junior high school in Canada. Asked to create an experimental junior high curriculum for 400 students, Earl Grey principal J.S. Little introduced teaching methods quite unusual for the time.
Junior high gave students the opportunity to select various subjects as a way of determining their aptitude and inclinations. Part of the experiment was having the students move, not the teachers. This was adopted because the equipment for science laboratories and other specialized curricula was difficult to move. Instead of a text, history students created scrapbooks of clippings from newspapers and magazines.
These early curriculum ideas evolved, through decades of trail and error, into junior high as we know it today. Innovative curriculum ideas and subjects, experiments in classroom design and focus, introduction of guidance counseling and many other concepts have been tried.
The junior high concept proved so successful it was adopted by other Winnipeg schools and within ten years was standard curriculum across Canada. The first Winnipeg school built specifically as a junior high school was Isaac Newton, which opened in January 1922 and housed students previously at Strathcona School. The principal at the new school was William Sisler.

Find many more stories about Manitoba schools on my Schools page.

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Meet Ulysses W. Shart

Pull his finger. Click his moustache.

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Wild Winnipeg Weather

Click the pic to check out my video of the wild summer storm that raged through Winnipeg Sunday evening and see its aftermath on my street.

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Short Westbound CNR Fast Freight Out of Winnipeg

Attention armchair locomotive engineers!

Today you are operating a short Canadian National fast freight westbound out of Winnipeg with an assorted yet precious cargo. Get your striped cap on and click the pic to ride. Chug, chug, chug!

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World Collage Week – Day Seven

Reid Dickie

After the Sunday service at the Squishy Church for Everybody and communal Sacrificing of Common Sense, it’s the Pulp and Pancake Breakfast in the Bally Crawlspaces presented by the International Forestry Industry (their motto is “Do we look oriented?”) who are introducing a new line of edible tree products, basically poorly-disguised sawdust – oak oats, elm nuts, cedar wheat, aspen aspic (yuck, first; and second, who needs or craves or can even be sold fucking aspic in the 21st century? They’ve been smoking their bibles at the Big Tree Club!), pine sugar, willow eggs, teak Tylenol, unknown nanotree additives for cereals, potato chips and anything that fizzes at any time during its processing and/or consumption and yew yogurt. The pancakes are actually irradiated plumped birch bark, plumped ground pulp, and acidophilus infused with the genes of a panther and a ring-tailed chubhyct. What will those wacky biogeneticists think of next?! The syrup is maple, of course. Collage festival week concludes, as usual, with regression: smiting, keening, ulullating, bisoning, quailing, shaling, stoning, and sexual frolic. Hope you can come at least once. These are the last two collages (I could be swayed by public opinion…) of the week.

THEREA’S BLIND TASTE TEST

Her men gathered in the kitchen, each eager to be blindfolded, spun around and fed pot roast with extra pot.

SQUARE ONE

“And this is how you were conceived, son. Do you understand?”

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World Collage Week – Day Six

Reid Dickie

The traditional Saturday morning Rock Paper Scissors Parade kicks off today’s collagic festivities. Four thousand floats are entered in this year’s parade; most are mere inches high, made of paper with paper motors and will likely be stepped on and crushed. Parade tip: listen for the pitiful thrashing of the broken floats’ near-spent springs, their limbs shredding away against unforgiving concrete. In the afternoon, watch a paper-making demonstration using lard, chard and Right Guard in the Cataclysmic Centre’s FU Fate Room. It’s amazing! Saturday night is the all-night street dance. The exact street has yet to be decided but Fido’s Dog Bowl, Fiddle and Ligament Band (non-housebroken line-up) will perform, as promised on the poster. Oh, we forgot to do a poster. Anyway, they are an all-dog band, a must see! The Shagging Feral Inbreds were booked. I hear they are spectacular too, dog upon dog upon dog. Elsewise, see this now!

AWAITING

Cassius thought he recognized the waitress. She smelled familiar when she bent toward him clearing away the drugged imps that sometimes come unglued from the bottoms of the tables. Her name tag said Veronica in fake rhinestones.

MUDDIED

Television works so well due to its predictability. Television says money supplants skills. Television delivers people. Television is a tranquilizer that evens things out. Television allows us to be happily stupid.

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World Collage Week – Day Four

Reid Dickie

I know, I know, we’re all hungover and edgy after the Shred-A-Thon but we need to focus, keep pretending we are actually in control of something/anything and move on. Are you with me on that? Good. It’s more or less a relaxing day today except for those who have opted for the voluntary public flogging which starts at noon at The Forks. I have a low tolerance for paper cuts so shant be attending. Instead I’m spending the afternoon at the forum of people who’ve been struck by lightning more than ten times. The things they say…and wear! It’s an entertainment you won’t soon forget, bluntly said. I haven’t been struck by lightning yet. Have you? Suck up these images, will ya! 

FAB FOUR

Groober wasn’t sure what happened to the previous drummer in the band but he had his suspicions.

BABY’S FIRST VACCINATION

“Time for your DTaP-IPV baby. This’ll keep you healthy and happy with never a disease capsizing your future aromas,” said nurse Guido while injecting Little Ricky with the wrong vaccine. Within minutes Little Ricky saw his whole little life flash before his little eyes: biting grandma’s foot, the hydrogen filled inflatable pool and Glufus, the maniacally-jealous family dog, trying to drown him in the lake.

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World Collage Week – Day Three

Reid Dickie

Today’s big event is the International Shred-a-thon which began at 2:00 this morning worldwide and runs for 24 hours. It’s Cloud Nine for paper fetishists. Due to the Miracle of Technology, the whirring and chewing of millions of paper shredders of all sizes will be heard echoing without stint through the ancient octagonal drums of Our Lady of Ouch Ouch Grotto, one of the area’s major tourist attractions. Here are today’s celebratory collages. Yummy!

TOP TEN CHARTS

She watched the fuzzy dice sway gently back and forth from the rearview as the Chiffons sang “He’s So Fine.” He was large and hot, increased his pace inside her, did a few dick tricks and groaned. She told him to bark like a dog and he always did which made her even hotter and hornier. His face and shoulders were getting red. He was just about to come when…

CAFFEINE PATCH

No time for coffee? Need the caffeine anyway? Try the new Caffeine Patch from Maulco. Slap one on first thing every morning and you are caffeinated for the day. Convenient, non-allergenic, contains no peanuts. Side effects include jitters, shitters and quitters. Extreme but rare side effects include machete-wielding serial killing, exploding penis, taserable panic attacks and/or death.

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World Collage Week – Day Two

Reid Dickie

Collage week celebrations continue! At noon today, join me and the gang down at the Fussy Eaters Clubroom at Sunshine and Suchness. We’ll be chowing down on lymph burgers and yamato juice. Later is the hike through the Recanted PVC Forest, a rebuilt plastic imitation of a forest that once stood there, tree for tree, tick for tick. It’s a remarkable accomplishment in simulacra. Experience it before it’s against the law! Meanwhile, enjoy today’s collages.

NEW WORLD ORDER

“Of course we can convince them that one plus one equals three. They are sheep. They believe what their television tells them to believe. They sit or stand at the touch of a button. They think they are who they are told they are. Of course we can convince them…”

MEDUSA 

While Jack and his drinking buddies watched the game in the living room, Michelle, in the guise of painting the bathroom, was actually communing with Medusa.

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Celebrating World Collage Week – Day One

Reid Dickie

Come join me for a week of collage festivities on readreidread! June 18 to 24, 2012 has been deemed World Collage Week by the International Collagists Enclave (ICE), meeting in Brussels. The designating motion, seconded by the secretive Dry and Darkists, proclaimed that, during this week, the entire planet be recognized as a collage in its own right. The proclamation is lengthy, detailed, merciless tho housebroken and available for consumption on the ICE website at www.thisisajoke.com

Inspired and required by the ICE, I will post two collages daily this week, one colour, one black and white. These are selected from paper collages Linda and I created back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Each will be accompanied by a brief story suggesting possibilities for the image. Do not be limited by the stories. They are merely suggestions. Enjoy!

TRIPLISTS ABOUND

We who divide everything by three, who must divide everything by three, we are the triplists of the world – our vision is pure, our ways quaint and our power unfathomable.

UNFORGOTTEN ECHO

I am smiling down on you from Great Heaven helping you remember something you have forgotten. Have you remembered it yet? Keep trying. Be still. Look inside. It’s there.

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A Day In The Hood Has Left The Building

For a couple of years, a blog called A Day in the Hood reported honestly without embellishment on daily life in Winnipeg’s North End. The blog is no more. This post poignantly explains why and, by doing so, exposes further Winnipeg’s pathetic, embarrassing and dysfunctional city council who have virtually abandoned the North End to gangs, crime and poverty. Now that the bloggers have escaped the North End, follow them on the road.

 

That’s right, we left. My husband and I no longer live in the North End of Winnipeg. We don’t live anywhere in Winnipeg, for that matter. We moved into an RV, a home on wheels. So, why didn’t we just get another house in the City? That’s easy to answer. We can’t afford to live anywhere else. And I can’t live in the North End anymore. But we can afford to purchase an older, used motorhome. And that is what we did. I am not sure where we are going to ‘live’ now. I guess we will travel for a while and see what happens. (Follow our new adventures – Freedom at 51). I would like to apologize to anyone who feels I have let them down with my leaving. But, one has to do what is best for oneself. I can no longer deal with the issues facing me on my street in the North End. It is not just the garbage in my back lane, or the illegal dumpers who think they can leave all their unwanted crap in my neighbourhood. It is not just the sirens, not just the helicopter, not just the constant fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars on my street. It is not just the graffiti now appearing in my lane. It is not just the partying that goes on all night long, and the yelling that we hear on the street. It is not just the drug houses on the street and the youth we see in neighbouring yards where they don’t belong, uttering their threats as they look at us. It is not even just because someone broke into my house in the middle of the night when I was sleeping. It’s the whole package. And I am sorry, but I just can’t do it anymore. We have left the North End for happier times. If you want to know the turning point, the day we made the decision to leave, it was the day I wrote the blog post “The Decline And Fall of Civilization”. That was the day I realized this City cares nothing of the North End, and will do nothing to fix its issues. North End, I wish you all the best going forward. And I pray the City will care enough to save you some day in the future. Good day and God bless.

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Peregrine Falcons Nest in Downtown Winnipeg and Brandon

Another repost as the basic imperative spreads

Peregrine Falcons Nest on the Cliffs of Downtown Winnipeg

Following an alarming decline during the 1950s and 1960s, this spectacular falcon, also called the “Duck Hawk,” is on the increase again, now that DDT and other pesticides that caused thinning of eggshells have been banned. After an intensive program of rearing birds in captivity and releasing them in the wild (a process called “hacking”), this large falcon is reclaiming nesting grounds from which it disappeared a few decades ago. Although their habitat is mainly open country, especially along rivers and coasts and near lakes, a favorite nesting site nowadays is a tall building or bridge in a city. These urban Peregrines subsist mainly on pigeons. Since 1989, pairs of reintroduced Peregrines have nested high atop the Radisson Hotel on Portage Avenue in downtown Winnipeg. Characteristically, Peregrines return regularly to favourite nesting sites. One pair after another has used the same spot in England since 1243. Since 2006, CBC Manitoba has provided a falcon cam in the nest of the downtown birds. Soon the feeding frenzy will begin. Click pic to start live falcon cam.
The Peregrine Falcon has been the favourite of falconers for over 3,000 years, ever since the nomads of central Asia first pursued game with trained hawks and falcons. Extremely acute eyesight, even in dim light, allows falcons to be very effective hunters around dawn and dusk. Peregrines often migrate very rapidly between breeding and wintering areas, flying as much as 500 km per day. A female Peregrine that nested in Edmonton flew to Mazatlan, Mexico, in less than eight days and returned in six days. With the exception of Antarctica, New Zealand, and Iceland, the Peregrine is found around the globe. Twenty-two subspecies are recognized throughout the world. Their great powers of flight have enabled them to establish nesting populations in the Arctic, and as far south as Tasmania, South Africa, and the Falkland Islands. Peregrine Falcon Range Map Peregrines breed from Alaska and the Canadian Arctic south locally through the mountainous West, and sparingly in East. Winters coastally, north to British Columbia and Massachusetts. This post can also be found permanently on my Birdland page.

Peregrine Falcons Nesting in Brandon, Too!

When I posted the first story about the falcons in Winnipeg a few days ago, the Brandon cam wasn’t up and running. Today it is and what a great angle on the future festivities! The nest is situated high atop the McKenzie Seeds Building in downtown Brandon. There are two tabs along the top of the image, one for Winnipeg nest, one for Brandon nest. Click pic for both cams.

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