Thursday, 19 October 2017

Christie Biscuits, Part 2

[photo © Debra She Who Seeks, August 2017]

Continuing on from Tuesday's post, here's a few family photos taken over the years that feature the Christie Biscuits ad loitering in the background:

This one probably dates from World War II or very shortly thereafter. That's my Mom leaning against the car, taking a break from waitressing or cooking in the hotel, judging from how she's dressed. She was the chambermaid too!

This is my grandma and me in her flower garden in the mid-1960s. You can just see the "u" and "i" of "Biscuits" peeking out from behind some trees that were growing there at the time.

And finally, here's a great autumnal shot of the ad, probably taken in the early 1980s. That's my grandpa in the red baseball cap, sitting in the garden amidst the empty flower boxes.

During my brief stopover in Saskatchewan this summer, I was so glad to see that Christie Biscuits still faithfully abides all these many years later, like a dear old family friend.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Christie Biscuits, Part 1

During World War II, my maternal grandparents sold the family farm, bought an old country hotel in a small Saskatchewan town and went into the hospitality business. I spent a lot of time at this hotel when I was a kid. I have some good stories and fond memories of those days.

Here's a great photo of the hotel that I found on the internet, looking exactly as I remember it:

[photo by Lawrence Hutchinson, taken in 1981, found here on Flickr ] 

But the topic of my posts today and on Thursday is not actually the Queen's Hotel per se but instead, the brick building in the photo which you can see to the right of the hotel, on the other side of my grandma's flower garden and hedge. This large commercial building was built in 1907 for J.P. Beauchamp & Co. as a store. In later years, it served many other functions, including as a telephone operators building and a community hall. But no matter its purpose, the building's most notable feature was always a huge painted advertisement on one side for Christie Biscuits, Purest of All Pure Foods.

One of the small prairie towns in which I found myself this summer was precisely my old Saskatchewan stomping grounds. The Queen's Hotel is gone now, an empty lot all that remains. The hotel burnt down in a 2003 fire that occurred about 15 years after my grandparents ceased owning the business. And of course, my grandma's flower garden is long gone now too. But look what's still standing!

[photo © Debra She Who Seeks, August 2017]

And on the side of the building, the antique painted ad still proudly proclaims its Christie Biscuits slogan. Okay, so maybe it's faded now and has seen better days but then again, haven't we all?

I assume that ad was painted in 1907 when J.P. Beauchamp had the building constructed. Given that his corporate name was painted right above it, this theory seems plausible. So now in 2017, the building and the ad are both 110 years old.

In Thursday's post, I'm going to share some old family photos of the Christie Biscuits ad that were taken over the years.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Lady of the Lake Teacup Truck

Whenever I'm in Brandon, Manitoba, I stop at one of my favourite places -- the Lady of the Lake Shop, Cafe and Pub. It has been a beloved gathering-place in that small prairie city for at least 20 years. My Mom, sister and I have enjoyed many happy times together at this store and restaurant in days gone by.

A couple of years ago or so, this marvelously whimsical "Teacup Truck" first appeared outside its doors . . . .

As you can see, every square inch of this old flatbed truck is covered with broken china mosaics, cups, saucers, teapots, decorative plates, china figurines, doodads, baubles and junky gewgaws!

This is my favourite side of the Teacup Truck. I hate to think of how many hours of work with a glue gun it took to create this!

Here's a couple of closeups of the driver's side fender and hood. I can make out six teapots (I think) and one pitcher . . . .

. . . and a teeny-tiny rack of billiard balls, which I love!

The Teacup Truck sits outdoors all year long in the sun, rain and snow. I'm pretty sure the vehicle doesn't run and was towed to its current location. From the Lady of the Lake website, here's a "before" photo of the Teacup Truck prior to its artistic rebirth. I believe that the woman who is waving while standing on the running board is the store owner.

[All photos © Debra She Who Seeks, July 2017, except for the last photo © Lady of the Lake]

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Vilna Pool Hall and Barbershop

In June when I drove up to Kalyna Country, one of the small towns I stopped in was Vilna, Alberta. The town has done a beautiful job of preserving and restoring its old pool hall and barbershop. I simply HAD to stop and see it because, you know, I DO love playing pool!

Built in 1921, the structure also contained the town's barbershop at the front of the building. These counters and cabinets are all original and now display various artefacts of past times.

A restored barber's chair sits facing a small sink and mirrors in an alcove near the wood-burning stove which heated the building in the winter.

The pool hall still features its four original turn-of-the-century pool tables -- the two large ones at the back for snooker and the two smaller ones at the front for billiards. When not in use, the tables are covered so as to keep the felt in good condition. The ceiling and walls are the original wooden lathe construction. The building also has its original oiled wood floors (oiled periodically to keep the dust down).

The pool hall and barbershop were, of course, an exclusively male bastion for much of its history. No women allowed!

According to the town's website:

There were lots of fights in the pool hall. "The walls were red with blood" from time to time and several cues were broken. Women never entered the pool hall in the early days, as it was "no place for a lady".

However, ladies were allowed to enter an associated dance hall in which live bands apparently played "snappy music" -- but it soon burned down after some riotous event and was not rebuilt.

The pool hall still has many of its original cues and balls, along with their respective cabinetry. In the old days, it cost 5 cents for a game of billiards using Boston balls (solids and stripes) and 10 cents for a game of snooker.

You can see the cabinet's antique veneer in this (sorry, kinda crooked) close-up, plus the old Boston balls mixed in with the newer ones. The old balls have larger numbers, circled in black.

Unfortunately, My Rare One was in Manitoba at the time so she was not on this trip with me, or we definitely would have rented a table to play a couple of games! Because yes, this is STILL a FUNCTIONING pool hall, not just a recognized historical attraction!

[All photos © Debra She Who Seeks, June 2017]

Monday, 9 October 2017

Listen Up, Tom!

It's Canadian Thanksgiving today, so here's some free advice to turkeys from Mark Anderson of Andertoons about how to avoid The Big Chop!

There are several techniques you can try, such as --

1. Blackmail:

2. Bribery:

3. Playing on social insecurities:

4. Hightailing it out of town:

5. Lawyering up:

6. But if all else fails, Tom, take the bastards with ya:

Friday, 6 October 2017

NEVER Let Anyone Tell You . . .

. . . that there is NO JUSTICE in this world.

It is, in fact, located in southwestern Manitoba, Canada.

[Photo © Debra She Who Seeks, July 2017]

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Small Prairie Town Travels

This seems to have been my summer for poking around various small prairie towns in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. I'll post about some of them over the course of this month.

In June, I had occasion to drive a couple of hours northeast of Edmonton to the region known in Alberta as "Kalyna Country." This is rolling, fertile farm country where the Parkland area of the prairies meets the Boreal Forest. Historically, the area was settled a little over a hundred years ago by Ukrainian immigrants, who are still the dominant cultural group in the area. Their enduring presence can be seen most strikingly in many beautiful small Orthodox Christian churches, like these two in Smoky Lake with their silver and copper onion domes:

"Kalyna" means "highbush cranberries" in Ukrainian, so I assume they must be plentiful in this region (or were plentiful when the settlers first arrived). However, pumpkins are clearly KING in Smoky Lake nowadays, judging from these giant pumpkin sculptures in Pumpkin Park.

An appropriate image for Halloween month, wouldn't you say?

[All photos © Debra She Who Seeks, June 2017]

Monday, 2 October 2017

Standard Mop-up Operation Following "Help" from HRH

Hello everyone -- Debra She Who Seeks here. Yes, I'm finally back! So now, as the post title suggests, just a bit of housekeeping to take care of and then we'll return to regularly-scheduled programming in the days to come.

1. Extorted Tokens of Appreciation
First of all, many thanks to my dearly departed cat, Her Royal Highness, for rather unexpectedly fulfilling her promise to write 3 guest blog posts during my absence. I didn't think she'd actually do it, but she surprised me. As payment for her industriousness, she demanded that I give her a beautiful new diamond tiara and an expensive gemstone necklace. She does love to keep up with those other Royals, you know. On my dime, of course.

2. Apology
Secondly, I must sincerely apologize to readers for the rude, crude, abusive and foul-mouthed posts which HRH produced in my absence. She has absolutely no filters, morals, tact or anything else to act as a check on her unbridled opinions. I'm deeply sorry if any of you were offended.

3. Legal Disclaimer
And thirdly, on the advice of legal counsel, I am obliged to state the following. Do not, under any circumstances, follow any of the advice or directions published in HRH's inspirational quotations post. Any actions undertaken or not undertaken as a result of anything whatsoever contained in that post are at your own personal risk. No liability for damages attaches to this blog or to blog management. So do not bother suing me.

Moreover, despite HRH having substantial assets like that new diamond tiara and gemstone necklace which could easily be used to pay damages, she says not to bother suing her either. Now that she's over the Rainbow Bridge again, she is beyond the reach of any court. Accordingly, here is HRH's final word on the subject:

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Blah Blah Blah Number Nine

Hello everyone. Her Royal Highness the Cat here once again. Before my human, Debra She Who Seeks, selfishly disappeared and stuck me with this stupid guest blogger gig, she told me I absolutely MUST post something on today's date. She mumbled blah blah blah number nine or similarly unintelligible gibberish to that effect. But frankly, who was listening? Not me.

So now I'm trying to remember what number nine refers to. Hmmm . . . .

The Nine Circles of Hell?

That's certainly what this thankless and unpaid guest blogger job has been like for moi.

A Cat's Nine Lives?

Unfortunately, all nine of mine are used up or I could escape this indentured blog servitude via the Happy Despatch.

The Nine Rings of Power?

I wish I had just ONE preciousssss ring so I could disappear too.

*heavy martyred sigh*

How tiresome this all is. Okay, okay, just let me rack my brain a little more . . . .

Ohhhh, now I remember!

Ninth Blogoversary!

Yeah, that's right. Today this blog is nine years old.

Big whoop-dee-doo, right? It's so strange what humans get all worked up about.


Friday, 1 September 2017

InsPURRation from Moi, HRH

Hello everyone. Her Royal Highness the Cat here once again from the Afterlife, filling in as Guest Blogger for my lazy human Debra She Who Seeks who has irresponsibly buggered off for a couple of months.

While I have your momentary attention, I feel obliged to impart some feline wisdom to you. Please take each and every one of these inspirational quotations to heart and perhaps you too can approach the spiritual heights on which we cats reside.

Hahahahahahaha, just kidding. You'll never attain that kind of enlightenment, being mere humans instead of cats. Nevertheless, for Bast's sake, just try to learn what you can from them with your substandard brains and inferior comprehension.

My blessings to you all.