Monday, 30 March 2009

The New Hard Times

The NY Times has a great video feature on it's site called "The New Hard Times".

The Times set up a number of interviews between people that lived through the Depression and the generation hitting the workforce today. There are some interesting stories and comparisons between the two.

The site also invites people to submit their own video interviews and the best ones are featured on the site.

For some Western Can Con check out the CBC Archives (including this this interview with James Gray, writer of Booze, Red Lights on the Prairies, The Winter Years etc.).

I also found this post at Winnipeg Eats regarding Depression era cooking. Mmmm...egg drop soup !

Friday, 27 March 2009

Red River Jig - UPDATED

The Asham Stompers might be the only folks interested in doing a Red River Jig this weekend (at least they're doing it in Sioux Lookout !).

I feel for our prairie neighbours in North Dakota. Revised predictions from this afternoon that the Red will exceed the crest levels of 1997 is disheartening. A scan of the breaking news roll of the Fargo Forum paints a bleak picture of how the evening has been going. (News: At 7 pm the Red broke the 1997 crest level). **Breaking news: prediction of another foot made at 7:30 pm.

There are couple of sites I link to on This Was Winnipeg from the region that show images and memories of floods past.
Fargo History.com has image galleries going back to the 1890's. Digital Horizons.org has a great set as well.

I see a new blog just for the flood has sprung up.

A fellow history blogger, Trish at
St. Vincent Memories, is constantly digging up gems - family stories and photos that include flood related items - proving that flooding is part of our heritage. You can't really tell the story of a family or settlement in the region without talking about floods. Below are a couple of images from her blog - click to link to the entry or go to her blog and search 'flood' !

1948 Flood - Pembina N.D. from St. Vincent Memories

Downtown Fargo has a great essay on Downtown Fargo through the ages with links to stories and photos, both historic and modern, including the recent revitalization of heritage sections of downtown Fargo / Moorhead.

I guess one solace that you can take is that when you're on the prairies the natural disasters that impact you the most can be predicted days, or even weeks, in advance thus allowing for some preparation.

Bonne chance, North Dakota.

1893 - St. Vincent MN (in foreground) and Pembina ND from St. Vincent Memories

For flood images of Manitoba you can also see St. Vincent Memories for posts like Emerson in 1950 and there's also a great gallery of photos, clippings and other resources at Manitoba Pictures.com. Library and Archives Canada also has a 1950 flood page at their site S.O.S. Canadian Disasters.

Lombard Avenue 1950 from Manitoba Photos

I found many more links, both historic and for the current flood. I have posted the historic links to This Was Winnipeg and will update it as I come across new ones. Links for 09 I have put into my blog roll and will update that as well.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Taking Questions on N.Y. City's Built Heritage

There's a great feature in the New York Times called "Taking Questions". From time to time they profile someone and invite readers to submit questions in the comments section. Later that week a selection of those questions will be answered by the profilee.

This week's
Taking Questions features Simeon Bankoff, executive director of New York City's Historic Districts Council and the topic is community-based heritage preservation in New York City.

Manoir de la Cathederale

I follow the City Room section of The Times - it's a great read for all things urban. it's also a reminder that the challenges that cities face - whether New York or Winnipeg - are very similar. Heritage issues are no different. You can see this in the questions posed to Mr. Bankoff. I look forward to his answers later this week.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Manitoba Homecoming 2010 !

Next year will be the 140th anniversary of Manitoba. Most years, Manitoba Day comes and goes without much notice but for at least one city or town the 140th will be pretty memorable.

Town of Winnipeg Beach

For Manitoba Homecoming 2010 communities around the province are invited to send in videos, stories and other forms of nomination for their home town (I guess sort of
Hockey Town - style) to host the official party.

Cute contest and if it gets people more interested in Manitoba Day and Manitoba history, then good on it.

St - Peirre Jolys, MB

The deadline for entries is MARCH 31st 2009 and the announcement May 12 giving the community a full year to plan the shindig !

Somerset MB Wind Farm

I see that Steinbach is pushing it on their site. Other nominees can be seen here. Just three in the running so far !??!? I can think of at least a dozen others that should be on the list !!

Glenboro Manitoba

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Goodbye, You Strange Thing, You !

Every city has their odd landmarks and one of ours was definitely the old sign scaffolding above the Army Surplus store at Memorial and Portage. (See Portage and Memorial in for a Change for a bit of history on that site and the sign).

Well, after a half century or so, it's now in the final state of coming down !
Army Surplus Sign Support

Army Surplus Sign Support

Army Surplus Sign Support

United Army Surplus

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Fouling Your Own Nest

In the latest edition of The Uniter there is a story The Move from the West in which they interview a couple of local business people about some long standing retailers that have left the West End - the most recent being Budget Rent a Car at Ellice and Sherbrook.
Sherbrook Street
It's a topic I have discussed here as well after Safeway and the Bargain Shop left.
Former Safeway
Another Retailer Gone
What raised my eyebrows was the comments by the manager of JS Furniture at Ellice near Maryland. To quote from the article:

"He believes that businesses in the neighbourhood are suffering because the people in the city have a bad perception of the place. “I’ve been working here for 11 years and I have never seen a worse neighbourhood,” Reykdal said....

Reykdal is unconvinced that community groups like the West End BIZ or the Spence Neighbourhood Association can make a change in the community.
“You can talk till you’re blue in the face, it’s not going to change the atmosphere here,” he said."

Geez, buddy, I wonder why people you meet and potential customers would have a bad perception of the place if you're out there singing this song to anyone who will listen !

Business promotion skills:

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, THEMS are Balls

I've got big balls
Oh, I've got big balls
And they're such big balls
Dirty big balls
And he's got big balls
And she's got big balls
But we've got the biggest balls of them all
AC/DC 1976

I've been a little outa touch with the news for the past couple of days. I heard bits and pieces about the AIG bonuses but it wasn't really until today that I read up on it.

Everyone knows the background. AIG lost $99.3b in 2008, ($61.7b of that in the last quarter alone). To keep afloat they had to cut a series of deals with the US Treasury starting with $106b in September. The latest ask was a mere fortnight ago for $30b, bringing the total to date, according to The Wall Street Journal, to $173b.

Last week came some welcome news for AIG execs: it's bonus time to the tune of $163m !! Of that, 73 received over $1m a piece and the largest recipient got over $6m. The payout was crass and a bit ballsy but in more of an uncomfortably swollen, discoloured, 'big balls' sort of way.
What was slightly more impressive was that AIG did it without even the pretence of a bit of PR: no back-against-the-wall sounding press release saying 'we had no choice - it was part of a contract'; no shots of a furrow-browed CEO perhaps asking that their bailout be reduced by $165m even as a token gesture to taxpayers. Their reaction to the furore ? To the Washington Post: 'AIG declined to comment'. To Reuters: 'AIG did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment'. Pretty good in the "well, that took some balls" department.

The more impressive AIG stunt published this week was that it was funnelling some of it's 'wealth' to struggling, even 'toxic', financial institutions. The Wall Street Journal figures that since September 2008 AIG rerouted "... $120 billion in cash, collateral and other payouts to banks, municipal governments and other derivative counterparts around the world." It included $20b to European banks and at least $13b to Goldman Sachs.

Okay, now THAT deserves a tip o' the protective cup.

This one-two combo of AIG will for decades deflate the expression "taking lots of balls" or any derivative thereof. Really, is anything going to be considred that ballsy when compared to the kahunas these guys have ?

Monday, 16 March 2009

Guerilla Marketing Posters

WebUrbanist has a great post on display entitled In Your Face: 10 Intense Public Guerrilla Marketing Posters . Some great, imaginative stuff - check it out !

While you're at it, check out their great collage of culture jamming signs as well !

For Courage and Bravery

The Governor General announced today that a number of Canadians will receive Decorations for Bravery. Here are the Manitobans on that list:

Star of Courage

(awarded for acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril)

Sergeant David John Cooper, S.C., C.D., Winnipeg
Sergeant Dwayne B. Guay, S.C., C.D., Comox, B.C.

On February 16, 2007, Sergeant David Cooper and Sergeant Dwayne Guay, then master corporal, parachuted in extreme weather conditions to rescue a man who was stranded on an ice flow, in the Arctic Ocean, in the Northwest Territories. After a difficult landing due to the strong winds, the two search and rescue technicians made their way to the victim, provided first aid, and set up shelter until help arrived, some 11 hours later.

Medal of Bravery

(awarded for acts of bravery in hazardous circumstances)

Gerard Beernaerts, Winnipeg
Deborah Anne Chiborak, Winnipeg

On April 17, 2007, Deborah Chiborak and bus driver Gerard Beernaerts rescued an elderly woman who was pinned beneath her motorized scooter in the path of an oncoming train, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Witnessing the scene, Ms. Chiborak and Mr. Beernaerts lifted the scooter off the victim, grabbed her around the waist and pulled her from the tracks, seconds before the train arrived. While the victim was unharmed, Ms. Chiborak suffered back injuries during the rescue.

Gerry Kuczek, Winnipeg
Wayne Kuczek, Winnipeg
Harry Prymak, St. Clements
Shaun Harper, M.B., West Vancouver, B.C.

On March 24, 2007, Shaun Harper, Gerry Kuczek, Wayne Kuczek and Harry Prymak rescued a man from a possible drowning after his snowmobile went through the ice, on a river in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba. Mr. Prymak crawled out to the victim and grabbed him, but the ice broke and he too found himself in the water. The other rescuers tossed ropes and lifejackets to them, and tried pulling them out, but the ice kept breaking away. Struggling atop the fragile surface, they succeeded, with difficulty, in pulling Mr. Prymak and the snowmobiler to safety.

RCMP Const. James Allan Munro, Dauphin

On June 4, 2005, Constable James Munro rescued a man from a burning apartment building, in Flin Flon, Manitoba. While on patrol in the area, Constable Munro noticed the fire, called the fire department and proceeded to alert the residents. Not getting a response to his calls, he kicked in the door of one of the apartments, entered, and was soon overcome by the thick, black smoke and intense heat. He crawled inside to locate the semi-conscious occupant and dragged him to safety. Constable Munro continued to alert other residents and assist in extinguishing the fire until all the residents had been safely evacuated.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Assessing Their City - Neighbourhood By Neighbourhood

The New York Times posted a great interactive story earlier this week: the data from a 2008 survey of NYC residents about the city plotted on a neighbourhood by neighbourhood map. The presentation, entitled New Yorkers Assess Their City, is very well done both in in terms of the wide variety of information collected and appearance / interactivity.
Forget the mayor's annual address, now THAT is the 'State of the City' !

There's also an accompanying article to point out the major trends.

One slightly creepy stat that I will throw out is the top three complaints of residents in a collection of the tonier neighbourhoods (SoHo, Greenwich Village, West Village and Little Italy):

1. Street noise 2. Rats 3. Roadway maintenance

versus those in some of the poorest neighbourhoods (Morrisania, Claremont, Crotona Park East and parts of Melrose)

1. Rats 2. Street noise 3. Lack of cultural activities

Well, I guess that's an advantage for us living in a city that's just a blip surrounded by a landscape of rodent food !

One way to deal with rats in NY....

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Happy 63rd CJOB !

On March 11, 1946 radio station CJOB began broadcasting (8 a.m. sharp !). For more on 'OB see my history blog entry.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Finally, Here's the Beef !

Keystone Processors had a media event today to celebrate the their first shipment of beef to retail outlets. I wrote about this last summer when the purchase of the old Maple Leaf hog plant on rue Marion was first announced.

Of course, there will be an even bigger event to come when the facility completes all of the necessary renovations and inspections to become Manitoba's federally inspected beef plant.

In a previous job I was working at when mad-cow struck I was a city boy that had to learn about the beef industry in a hurry. Though I don't keep that up to date anymore I have always followed the meandering path of bringing back beef slaughter / packing capacity to the province.

This is great news to see that they have come this far ! Well, not everyone is happy about the news - how typical of Manitoba ;-) !

Beef Processing Plant Launched in St. B WFP Mar 10 '09
New Beef Plant Eager to Export MB Co-Operator Mar 14 '09

Federal Gov't Provides Loan to Keystone Processors Nov 2 '09 Media Release
New beef plant major news for processors Nov 2 '09 WFP
Putting Some Meat in Our Beef Industry Nov 7 '09 WFP

Saturday, 7 March 2009

The Woodbine (Part 1)

The Woodbine Hotel has been getting a bit of a bashing since a stabbing outside the premises on February 24th, 2009. CentreVenture and the Exchange Resident's Association say they are 'fed up' with the place and the following weekend the FreeP piled on with a story about SRO’s, including the Woodbine, creating drunken disturbances in the areas around them.

Too bad for the Woodbine. A decade or two ago the new owners were receiving pats on the back for cleaning up the hotel’s act and investing time and money into the place. Now, though, The Exchange has upped the ante and the people the Woodbine attracts are not seen as welcome neighbours anymore.

This post isn’t about SRO’s (I have written about them before, though). Instead, it's a look at one of the driving forces behind the Woodbine, Edward H. Hebb.
First, a bit about the hotel …..

It was built in 1878 as Dufferin Hall (or the Dufferin Hotel) Not much is known of Dufferin Hall except that it served beer, was smaller than it is today, and that it’s narrow 20 foot frontage was tucked into the most bustling strip in the city. Around 1881 the name changed from Dufferin Hall to Woodbine Hall (from looking through old papers it seems that there was also dance hall or theatre by the same name at that time which may have led to the change).

Above: c1880 Dufferin Hotel. Below: c1903 Woodbine Hotel.

From Historic Building Committee Report

The proprietors in 1882 were O’Connor and Chadwick and the hotel consisted of 18 bedrooms, a dining room, a kitchen, pool hall and parlour. The bar at the time measured 20 x 31 and the billiard hall an impressive 20 x 135 (which likely took it back to Albert Street) featuring 9 tables. There wasn't a lot of advertising for the hotel but the restaurant regularly advertised (c 1882)

The Woodbine went up for ‘imperative sale’ at an auction on Monday May 7, 1884.

There wasn't anything I could find as to why the sudden sale but but my guess is that it might have had something to do with the health department ....(c 1883).
Jan 24 1883. Wpg Daily Sun

O’Connor and Chadwick had quite a send-off for the old Woodbine – a rowdy series of boxing bouts and, almost a dog fight, until police came to break it up:

It was around this time that Edward Hebb entered the picture.

See The Woodbine (Part 2)

The Woodbine (Part 2)

Continued from part 1

After the sale, the hotel was run by a "Mr. Johnson" for five years, (ownership may have rested with Melville Wood). Under her reign, the hotel saw a number of improvements, the largest being to the restaurant:
Above: Sept 29, 1884. Below Oct 8 1884 Both Wpg Daily Sun.
It was around this time that Mr. Hebb enters the picture.
Edward Hebb was an émigré from Stratford Upon Avon, England and came to Winnipeg with his brother Alfred G. Hebb and two sisters in 1886. Soon after arriving, three months to be exact, he met and married his wife Martha.

Edward was athletic, involved in track and field in his home country and here. He was a member of the Winnipeg Rovers Bicycle Club and a charter member of the Granite Curling Club. Even at the time of his death he was member of a curling and lawn bowling club. Brother Alfred went into the railroad and spent almost 50 years with the CPR, (including a stint on the Countess of Dufferin). He, too, was involved in many sports including curling and lawn bowling.

It was around 1889 that Hebb took ownership of the hotel (often with a business partner also owning a share). The building was lengthened to give it an opening onto Albert street and with that extra space the pool hall was expanded and private rooms were offered.

Above: Feb. 23, 1895. The Voice

The biggest change to the hotel took place after a devastating fire. The Bulman Block fire of October 1904 destroyed the building backing onto the Duffin block (Birt Saddlery). The Duffin was reduced to one storey, the Bulman Block and Ashdown's were razed and extensive damage was done to the Woodbine. (Interestingly, to this day, the Bulman site is vacant and the Duffin block remains just one storey).

Above: Oct 12, 1904. The Telegram (Syracuse NY)
Below: Ashdown's burning. Winnipeg Fire Museum
While rebuilding the top floor of the Woodbine, Hebb and partner decided to add a storey that stretched from Albert Street to thirty feet short of the Main Street frontage providing additional rooms, though making the Woodbine appear only two storeys tall from Main.
circa 1907. MB Archives from Heritage Winnipeg

Even under prohibition, from 1916 - 1927, The Woodbine continued to be a popular spot. New pool tables were brought in, more bowling alleys were added and a barbershop and other retail were on the main floor. The restaurant was still a big feature.

Above: May 15, 1903. The Voice. Below:c. 1915
Above c. 1920 from Heritage Winnipeg

In 1923 another major fire impacted The Woodbine. This time Hebb's rebuilding plan brought about the hotel that we see now. The third storey was extended to the Main Street entrance and the facade was redesigned.
Above: c. unknown. Heritage Winnipeg. Below: c 2008. mrchristian
The constant throughout these years was Edward Hebb. From 1889 to 1942 he spent 54 in charge. When he died, at the age of 73, he was still half owner and the operator of the place. Perhaps, fitting that he died, suddenly, while in the hotel.

At the time of his death he lived at 107 Balmoral Place (currently a parking lot behind Great West Life) and left behind his wife Martha, two sons and a daughter.

At some point after his death, Shea's Brewery took ownership of the hotel, along with many others in Manitoba. That ownership transferred to Labatt's who sold it off in 1965.

It was only on October 19,1985 that the beverage room was open to women - one of the last to do so.

The bar is, of course, still open. I''ve gone in a couple of times on a Saturday afternoon to get a beer and the place is fine. The latest owner has a great collection of photos and other memorabilia from Winnipeg' past mounted on the wall. Definitiely worth checking out.

For more on The Woodbine see the City's Historical Building Committee report.
For more present day pics see:

More Manitoba Video Links !

I've updated my Manitoba history film links list with a few more titles for your viewing pleasure !

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Richler on Winter-peg

Thanks to Zander at newwinnipeg for pointing this out.

In today's Toronto Star travel section is a piece by journalist and author Noah Richler entitled: Warming up to Winter-peg. Behind city's genuine sense of modesty lies a vibrant cultural city.

Despite the mosquitoes, the winter, the panhandlers the parking bans and 1001 other things that people gripe about, I do love this city quirks and all> I've never really understood the peer pressure to have a "Winnipeg Sucks" 'tude to be part of the col crowd.

There's a great line in the article : "If authentic discovery, rather than easy conversation about some proven trendy destination is what you want, then here is a city that absolutely must be visited." Personally, I think that's for any sort of travel. I've had as much enjoyment from a weekend in Dauphin as I had on a weekend in Paris - I still discover and enjoy, just different things and different paces.

It makes for a good read.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Kelly House (Part 3) The Save !

Kelly house seems to have not only sidestepped demolition but actually could have significant renovations and a new longer term main tenant - Heritage Winnipeg !

The item was just presented to a council committee today so all of the details aren't out yet but this seems like it could be a win-win for Kelly House, the owners and Heritage Winnipeg.

2010 -11 Update !

Kelly House
Kelly House
The building was renovated and is now home to Cancer Care Manitoba's campaign offices.

Interior pics coming soon !

My Kelly House Series:
Kelly House (Part 1) Still Standing ...for now.
Kelly House (Part 2) The Creative Types.
Kelly House (Part 3) The Save!
My Kelly House photo album