Monday, 31 January 2011

Manitoba is hell in Die Hölle von Manitoba

In 1943 a pure and good Manitoba was invaded by the Germans in 49th Parallel. A decade later ... (cue movie trailer voice-over guy) ... Manitoba was just. Plain. Hell ....

Die Hölle von Manitoba (the Hell of Manitoba) was a 1953 West German Western. It wasn't shot here and not really set in Manitoba as we know it. It was a generic town in the generic American 'wild west'. Strangely, the title of the English release had the opposite meaning: A Place Called Glory where, it seems, that the town's name is Glory and Manitoba is relegated to some regional reference.

The story follows two gunfighters who meet in a neighbouring town and decide to team up to rid Manitoba / Glory of a particularly bad crime problem. Little do they know that by being the two fastest gunslingers in town they must face each other in a duel to the death at the town's annual celebration.

"Manitoba" was one of five West-German westerns by the same producer and starred former Tarzan actor Lex Barker. To see a video clip from Die Hölle von Manitoba.

It was Manitoba's second appearance in West German pop culture in two years. In 1951 West German tennis star-turned singer and actress Marika Kilius had a hit with Zwei Indianer Aus Winnipeg (Two Indians from Winnipeg). Here is the 1963 version - I couldn't find one from 1951 so I am not sure if the ditty got better or worse with age.

Why Manitoba / Winnipeg references ? I've blogged before about Europeans loving stuff called Winnipeg.

Friday, 28 January 2011

The King's Speech - The Winnipeg Version (UPDATED x 2)

King George VI at Manitoba's Government House (source)

There is a Winnipeg version of 'the King's speech' and it took place less than four months before the 'wartime rally' speech featured in the Oscar nominated movie.

In Spring 1939 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth made a month-long Royal Visit to Canada. According to the CBC the couple were treated like 'rock stars' (obviously a modern reference !) with huge, enthusiastic crowds at every stop along the train route.

There were brief Manitoba stops at Brandon, Carberry and
Portage la Prairie. Their main stopping off point, though, was Winnipeg on May 24, 1939 - Victoria Day !

Waving to the crowd from the balcony of the Legislature (source)

The Royals arrived at the CPR station at 10:30 am then went off to a 'meet and greet' reception at City Hall. From there it was the Legislature
for meetings and a reception. Lunch was held next door at Government House and at 1 p.m. the King went to a broadcast room set up on-site to deliver a Victoria Day address to his 500 million subjects (give or take) around the Empire.

"Winnipeg, the city from which I am speaking, was no more than a fort and hamlet upon the open prairie when Queen Victoria began to rule. Today it is a monument to the faith and energy which have created and upheld the world-wide Empire of our time".

According to a reporter's note that Macleans discovered, the speech went off well.

At the CNR Station (source)

After a couple of hours of private time the couple and their entourage, which included Prime Minister King, Premier Bracken and the Lieutenant Governor, went on their afternoon program that included visits to Polo Park race track, Assiniboine Park, St. Boniface City Hall, Deer Lodge Hospital and Kildonan Park. From there it was back to the train station and by 7 pm they were back on the rails.

For that day, during the King's speech, Winnipeg was literally the centre of the Empire !

Manitoba Motorcade (source)

Here is the King's speech in its entirety, patched together from the Winnipeg Evening Tribune of May 24, 1939:

Related Media:
May 24th, May 25th Editions, Winnipeg Tribune;
- Radio news clip of Winnipeg visit CBC Archives
- Royal visit to Toronto, Winnipeg British Pathé (vid);
- The King's Speech: Royal broadcasts BBC Archives;
- Royal Visit of 1939 NFB Documentary (54 min).

Also, you can hear original audio of the September 3, 1939 speech featured in the movie "The King's Speech". Unfortunately, I can't find audio of the Winnipeg speech.

UPDATE (Jan 28):

A great source of photos, though some are quite dark: "
Their majesties visit to Manitoba: A pictorial record of the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the province of Manitoba on May 24 and June 4, 1939"

Also, some more about the Brandon stop:

The Royal Train was to pull into the CPR station at 9:50 pm the evening of May 24th. Expecting tens of thousands of visitors the city put on a day long affair of sporting events and other entertainment. Pacific was closed off and the platform was flood lit to allow the event to take place at the station.

The crowd was estimated between 9,000 and 10,000. Almost 7,000 were area schoolchildren who were brought in from around Western Manitoba to see the Royal couple.
Aside from the schoolchildren there were 500 girl guides and boy scouts, a 300 member honour guard with representatives from each town in WestMan and a special meeting section for 'old timers', the pioneers who helped settle the area. Thousands of others lined the route and had come from as far as South Dakota.

The Royal party, which also included Prime Minister King, were greeted at the train by Mayor Young. The program was informal, just to meet a few dignitaries and government officials from the area. The couple were taken by the sight of such a large crowd, the largest in the West so far, that they held up the official program for a half hour while they wandered through the crowd.

The train pulled out around 11 pm and Brandon partied through the night at numerous social events, culminating in a dance at the airport: .
"A dance at the Brandon airport and other entertainment features maintained the tempo of the celebrations with most of the adult younger citizens creeping to bed in the early hours of the dawn". (WFP May 25, 1939)

During one of the dances the mayor received a telegram:"The Queen and I would like to thank all of the citizens of Brandon for the wonderful reception they gave us tonight. Signed, George RI"

Prime Minister King would record in his diary of the Brandon visit: "Wonderful cheering. A long bridge overhead crowded with people. The hour: 11 at night." (Source).

Update Feb 11, 2011:

Lindor Reynold's column in the Free Press includes the audio of the Winnipeg Speech.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

CBC goes back to CanCon

cbc_logos 30 - 40s
Bill Brioux notes that the Mother Corp is lurching back to the all CanCon prime time. That means Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune get the boot. (It BETTER not mean that Corrie is leaving, too ?!).

Brioux points out that the two have been pretty good to the CBC and even for their CanCon by bringing them into prime time with over a million viewers already tuned in. There aren't a lot of non-hockey related shows that can do the same. Things like Mercer or Dragon's Den can deliver those numbers but are a once a week hits. Coronation Street at the current 6:30 lead-in slot is pretty nichey at about 700,000 viewers.

Still, I don't feel that bad for the loss. I really hope that the CBC gets back to some basics with their line-up.

I've always been a fan of PBS. Over the decade as television has gone low brow, they have done things like expand Nova to two shows (the other being NOVA ScienceNow). Their "reality TV" offerings have been things like History Detectives and Antiques Road Show.

In just the past year they revamped some of their long-standing offerings without going bottom market.

The PBS Newshour got a complete overhaul and Frontline, their flagship news magazine which doesn't resort to the campy background music and silly over-dramatizations of the fifth estate et al, actually expanded to go year-round.

Their weekly Americana offerings continue to shine and are really something that I wish the CBC would try to emulate.
American Masters and American Experience are the way a broadcaster can "reflect (insert country name here) and its regions to national and regional audiences" (source: CBC mandate). As a bonus, I can't imagine them being nearly as expensive to produce as a one hour drama.

Locally, the CBC has shown that they're willing to pluck (for better or worse) people with a track record from other networks, such as John Sauder and Janet Stewart. Nationally,
CBC Newsworld smartly lured Lang and O'Leary from the century-plus section of the TV dial.

Maybe they want to look to other networks for high brow programming. Either rescuing something smart languishing on a low budget cable channel and looking to places like PBS to see that there is life after Jeopardy!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Get to know a city committee: The Museums Board

City Hall - Council Building
The bloated, surly elephant on the city hall schedule this week is, of course, city council on Wednesday. Here's the agenda, use the top-left box to navigate.

There is one other wee meeting that didn't make that version of the schedule and I thought I would give the committee a little plug (and maybe do this on a regular basis). Before you feel sleepy and decide to surf off and check out something more interesting, like perhaps a wheel of cheese ripening, this is an important committee.

Fire Fighters Museum  of Winnipeg

City of Winnipeg Museums Board

RESPONSIBILITY: "... implement(ing) the City’s Heritage Preservation Policy (to ensure the ongoing preservation and coordination of Winnipeg’s museum resources and assets) and to audit the ongoing operations of the museums that receive grant funds and in-kind services from the City".

IN OTHER WORDS: It doles out the approximately $1m in city museum funding and has a modest operating budget of less than $75k for a support staff and the printing and distribution of an information pamphlet on our museums and advertising in places like the Leisure Guide.

MAKE-UP: Eight members. A five-member citizen board, outgoing chair is Diane Haglund, archivist with the University of Winnipeg. Other citizen members: DeLloyd J. Guth; Maureen Krauss; Daniel Orlikow and Judy Wakefield. There are also three non-voting members of the city administration.


- It's a new-ish committee, created in 2007

- In 2010 the city distributed the $1m to thirteen museums to fund operational costs: Barber House; Dalnavert; Fire Fighters Museum; Grants Old Mill; Historical Museum of St. James-Assiniboia; Manitoba Children’s Museum; The Manitoba Museum; Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum; Oseredok Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre; Ross House; Transcona Historical Museum; Seven Oaks House Museum and the Western Canada Aviation Museum.

NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, January 25th at Noon in the North Committee Room of city hall. (Agenda).

Winnipeg Police Museum


The city is a pretty big player in the history filed, more so than I thought.

Add to the million in funding to museums, there is i
n-kind costs for places like the Winnipeg Police Museum, located inside the city police training facility, and Manitoba Transit Heritage folk who store their buses at the Transit garage on Osborne. PLUS the funding of groups that don't fall under this committee's banner like the city's Historic Buildings Committee, City Archives department and outside groups like Heritage Winnipeg.

Minto Armouries
Of course these 13 funded by the city aces and collections others out there not on the list. They are dedicated to dedicated to the utilities, sports, businesses, regions of the city, aboriginal groups, cultural groups, military regiments etc. that all make up part of our city's history.

London Transport Museum
I've blogged a few times in the past about Winnipeg's less than stellar job of maintaining and promoting our urban past. In A City's Transportation Heritage I take a look at London's newly revamped Transportation Museum and how it really tells a lot of the story of London's development. In Winnipeg's Urban Past I look at some of our existing museums that have fabulous collections but neither the space to display them or the proper storage to protect them.

I'd one day love to see the city really get behind a 'Winnipeg Museum' (the old airport would have been a great place for one). I don't necessarily mean a 'new museum' that would cherry pick the 'gems' of existing collections leaving groups without them, but perhaps a revolving showpiece centre that could act as a starting off point to visit these places in more detail. A giant sized version of what the city does with the front cabinets at the library.

Considering it's taken a decade or so to get the zoo redevelopment process off the ground, I know that it would take probably twice that long to get people serious about a museum for urban Winnipeg. Still, at least having a museum board in place could one day be a jumping off point for discussion.

Directory of Manitoba Museums AMM

Sunday, 23 January 2011

West End History: 667 Ellice

Before (source)

The building at 667 Ellice Avenue has been part of the community for over 50 years and is getting quite the re-do.

It was built in the early 50s when the YMCA decided to expand programming into the community, rather than have everything at one central location. A number of 'Community Ys' were established during this time including St. James, St. Vital and North Winnipeg.

The Ellice facility was built with an eye to expansion - two more floors could be added and an elevator shaft was roughed in. Things didn't turn out for the West End Y, though. By 1968 it was closed.

ca. Jan 2011

The space was subdivided into seperate office and retail space and housed many tenants over the years. Examples: The Liberal Party (68-69); the Manitoba Sports Federation and the Manitoba Film Classification Board. In 1981 the building was the Christmas Cheer Board headquarters.

In the 1990s it held mostly community offices, including a YMCA daycare program on upper floor. Controversy erupted in 1997 when a massage parlour was allowed to rent the main floor section. After a brief uproar the parlour moved out.

Last year the building
went up for sale for $550,000.

Proposed design (source)

The new owner is
the Native Women’s Transition Centre, who will relocate their offices from Aikins Street.

The upper floors will be Kihiw Iskewock (Eagle Woman's) Lodge, a "long term transitional facility for Aboriginal women who have experienced incarceration and/or have been in conflict with the justice system". It is a partnership between the Transition Centre, C.L.O.U.T and the Elizabeth Fry Society. There will be 15 rooms, 35 beds, and clients and their children will be able to stay for up to three years while they integrate back into the community.

It is expected to open by summer 2011

Interior photos of the renos see Three Way Builders.
For more on Kihiw Iskewock

The building reopened in Summer 2011

667 Ellice
October 2011

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Motorists, pedestians beware: Back to the 1940s.

It was a nasty holiday season for vehicle-pedestrian collisions (including here, here, here, here) leaving three dead in the city and nine throughout the province. The police traffic unit was exhausted from the carnage.

In related news from December, the new Winnipeg Police Cadets will have the power to enforce jaywalking laws and the Free Press ended off the year with an editorial about the dangers of both poor planning and jaywalking: "
And while Montreal may hold the title, Winnipeg must be a close second when it comes to jaywalking, even across eight lanes of speeding traffic. Nor is it unusual to witness pedestrians stepping into a crosswalk without checking to ensure it's safe".

Winnipeg Downtown pedestrian crossing

Could 'jaywalking' become a hot-button issue for the 2010s? Decades ago it was front page news.

Particular attention was paid to the problem in the late 1930s. Shaking off the economic ravages of the Depression, the personal motor vehicle began to make real inroads (no pun intended) and cities experienced growing pains as the two tried to co-exist.

A 1939 U.S. study said that two-thirds of pedestrians struck were breaking some sort of traffic law at the time. A Winnipeg Tribune July 1939 editorial concluded that this showed "...a strange quirk in human nature. Motorists generally are coming to accept the traffic regulations as inevitable but pedestrians still want to be free." Action was needed.

Manitoba Calling, ca. 1946 (source)

In 1936 an informal school safety patrol system was created at Greenway School to combat the large number of industrial trucks traveling in and out of the Burnell industrial area, which included the Greyhound garage, scrapyards, a lumberyard and the Canada Bread plant. The program got noticed and within a few years became the formalized
School Safety Patrol program we know today.

A front page count-up in the Trib.

Road safety awareness, usually aimed at pedestrians, became front and centre. The Trib posted the number of accident-free days on their front page. Regular '
safety grams' were published with the comics section. The campaign did seem to have an impact, initially. Winnipeg got North American attention for going a record 228 days without a vehicle-pedestrian accident in 1939 !

Still, as the number of people and vehicles grew, so did the number accidents. I couldn't find one source for historic pedestrian fatality numbers, so here they are cobbled from newspaper sources of the day: 1940 - eight; 1941 - thirteen; 1944 - twenty-six total vehicle accident deaths, nineteen were pedestrians; 1945 the number of vehicle accident deaths province wide increased by 81%.

Winnipeg Tribune, July 18, 1944 (source)

The jaywalker was painted as the ultimate urban evil-doer. Public officials railed against them, the media even tried to shame them into submission by sometimes posting photos of them in the paper. The city tried to tax the issue away in 1941 by skyrocketing jaywalking fines in
one of four high-traffic stretches of Portage Avenue or Main Street to a whopping $53, (almost $750 in today's dollars).

The problem persisted and many felt that jaywalking was simply endemic among the population. Was it due to the extra wide streets requiring a lot of time to cross ? The cold winters making the wait for a break in traffic unbearable at times ? A rural town background of many citizens where crossing the street was allowed as a courtesy by drivers ? What about that legendary wild-west heritage for sin and turning a blind eye to laws ?

Winnipeg Tribune June 12, 1943 (source)

It wasn't until the mid 1940s that the idea that drivers and city planning may have a role to play in the equation. In the above article, despite the screaming headline, it appears that bad drivers were certainly part of the problem during that drive-along. In 1945, the head of the Chiefs of Police organization visited Winnipeg and, though the headline pronounced "City of Jaywalkers", he actually noted some major flaws such as the fact that we didn't use 'walk lights' or have pedestrian islands in the middle of the wide streets. Also, the practice was for motorists not to give way in intersections when turning !

In 1945 and 1946 a number of safety studies and recommendations began to make their way through the civic and provincial levels. The city looked at building more sidewalks at dangerous stretches of road. Lighting and pedestrian barriers were being studied for others. Horizontal parking along major routes was taken to task. The province began improving the Highway Traffic Act to included a pedestrian 'statement of rights' and the novel idea that "The aged, half-blind, deaf, and low-reflex action persons would find it difficult to get a driver's license." (Source Free Press, January 31, 1946).

Interestingly, numbers did begin to drop after this. In 1949 the number of fatalities dropped to two, and in 1950 was up to nineteen.

Today, we fare better. According to MPI the number of pedestrians killed in all of Manitoba between 1992 and 1998 was 120. StatsCan says Manitoba had just 10 pedestrian fatalities in 2001 and that average put us at the lower end of the provinces.

An increased focus on jaywalking by authorities and the media and a couple of 'big headline' vehicle-pedestrian stories coming up, (one being the Disraeli pedestrian bridge span, the other what to do with Portage and Main in 2016 when the forty-year agreement to close the intersection expires.

It could lead to the issue of jaywalking being top of mind again. perhaps even to 1940s levels !

Section 88 "Traffic Control Signals" MB Highway Traffic Act
Pedestrian Safety Tips MPI
The jive on jaywalking The Manitoban
Wpg pedestrians making streets unsafe The Uniter

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Seriously, MUCH ?

Last year CTV applied to the CRTC to make major changes to MUCHMUSIC, including abandoning music videos in favour of 'lifestyle' television shows. In other words keeping up with the MTVses. The change would "better position MuchMusic to adapt to the business realities of audience fragmentation and changing technologies" said their application.

I was trolling the high level channels and stumbled across the station that was once part Moses Znaimer, The New Music, J.D. Roberts and Strombo and came across: Pants off Dance Off "Muchmusic's fun new series where people dance their pants off, literally, in a battle of nerves, stamina and ...most importantly... NAKEDNESS!"

For the sole purpose of possibly updating my Demise of Much post from last year, I decided to stay tuned for a bit.

Well, the show isn't exactly as billed. The intro and website talk about nakedness but it's 18 - 21 year old men and women in front of a green screen dancing down to generously cut underwear while a video plays in the background.

In the world of low-end teen music station programming (even for CanCon) this is probably as low-end as you can get. It made The Hills look like powerful drama.

They do a little interview with the 'contestants' and I think it's fair to assume that none of them will have the problem of reaching the pinnacle of the legal or medical community just to have this come back to haunt them.
Still, the weird things people will do for their 15 minutes of fame.

To read more about this riveting CTV/MUCHMUSIC show (or to sign up as a contestant !) here's their
web page.

Monday, 17 January 2011

A sad anniversary for the West End

If you've been past the University of Winnipeg's Ellice Avenue entrance you may have noticed tree and stone in the park across the street. It is a memorial to the nine people who died in the Haselmere Apartment fire of January 18, 1974.

In terms of loss of life, it still stands out as one of Winnipeg's most devastating fires. There was the St. Boniface College dorm fire in 1922 that killed ten and the Medway Court fire in 1943 that claimed nine. I cannot find an equal since 1974.

Two years ago I did a feature post about the fire to mark the 35th anniversary of this forgotten tragedy. If you happen to drive or stroll past today, take a moment to remember.

Old school philanthropy: A look at the Carnegie Library

Carnegie Portrait
Within a week we saw the physical dismantling of one our largest philanthropic corporations and the celebration of the 90th anniversary our largest philanthropic foundation.

For Winnipeg Downtown Places this week I thought I would go old-school and look at one of three library buildings funded by a great philanthropist who never even set foot in Manitoba.

Friday, 14 January 2011

The Winnipeg Foundation's 90th anniversary

This year is the
Winnipeg Foundation's 90th anniversary and to kick off celebrations they are having community festival on Sunday at the Manitoba Museum.

In a city without a huge number of corporate head offices, the Foundation is an unsung hero, doling out millions - over $20m in 2009 - to community projects, organizations, scholarships, capital campaigns etc. across the province. You've probably been involved with a few of them and not even known it. To see the funds that they administer or manage check out their website or the 17 page listing in their 2009 annual report !

Here is a little background on the Foundation:

The Winnipeg Foundation is Canada's first community foundation. It began in 1921 when
William Forbes Alloway, then 51, provided a cheque for $100,000 (about $1.25m in 2010 dollars) to kick start the fund. In the accompanying letter he wrote: "I owe everything to this community and I feel that it should derive some benefit from what I have been able to accumulate."

Alloway circa 1925 (source)

Alloway was a Winnipeg pioneer. Born in Ireland, his family settled in the Montreal area when he was a toddler. He came to Manitoba in 1870 as a militiaman to quell the Riel's uprising and settled in Winnipeg. He held many jobs including policeman, veterinarian, tobacconist, auctioneer and transportation supervisor. He also had a couple of stints on city council.

In 1879 he partnered with Henry Champion to form what would become Canada's largest private bank with two locations on Main Street. In 1919 the bank was sold to the Commerce Bank of Canada and Alloway became a very rich man.

At the time of his donation the Winnipeg Free Press wrote:

Mr. Alloway's full-handed debt of loyalty to the welfare of the city of which he is one of the oldest citizens will provide a continuing agency of practical good....The example he has given is one for other citizens to follow. The spirit shown means even more than the amount given."

Since that day people have donated to the Foundation. In 2009 they established 148 new funds, the most created in a single year. (

W.F. Alloway Canadian Dictionary of Biography
History and Timeline Winnipeg Foundation
Alloway and Champion Historic Buildings Committee

Speaking of signs, another landmark gone ?!

Perth's Sign
A new addition to the blogosphere, Winnipeg Girl, has noticed yet another funky retro sign gone from the urban landscape ! Sigh ...

Speaking of things gone, the final edition of West Central STREETS is ready to hit the streets. See the Uniter story here and my blog post here.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Signs, signs. Not everywhere a sign.

Boyd Building Jumbotron
I don't feel too badly for the Boyd Building owners and the city's decision to have them remove their sign. Actually, even using the term 'sign' is a misnomer. It's a stadium-sized television on which to sell and display ads !

Portage Avenue, St. James ca. 1967 (source)

Genser's Funriture 2
Portage Avenue ca.1950s

I'm not an anti-sign guy. Actually, I think that signs can make a streetscape look busy and fun. Here and on my travels I am constantly looking out for great signs and I wish Winnipeg that would actually loosen up a bit on restrictions to allow for more creativity and street overhangs.

The 'jumbotron' is another thing all together.

I remember that the Aspertron (can we still call it that ?) and APTN sign had restrictions regarding their content. They could promo or show what their owners had to share, not provide general advertising space.

Aside from the whole size and permit issue with the Boyd sign, they also went ahead and rented the space to advertisers. Add the two together and, hey, what business wouldn't want to make a few bucks by hanging out a permit-free television screen to advertise to passing motorists ? Forget those black signs with the neon letters !

I'm sure that the city permit route was a frustrating and painful one. Still, it's pretty hard to sneak by a 12 x 8 jumbotron and figure it wouldn't be noticed.

Portage Avenue
Soooo ... not sure what you were thinking but good on the city for standing firm. While you're at it, for good measure, bring back the jellybeans to your empty lot while you're waiting to build your parkade !

Boyd Building Spanking John Dobbin
Some building-hung signs from my travels:

The Mount
Downtown Winnipeg
Gladstone Manitoba
Del's Electric, Princess St
The Pal
Austin Texas - South Congress
Neepawa, Manitoba
Starland Theatre
Olympia Cafe Sign
Camden Market
Brandon Downtown
Oriental Theatre, Chicago
Happy Days in Rivers !
Camden Market
Glenboro Manitoba