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Monday 1 April 2024

Eclipse of 1979 - A Spectacular Sight

One week from today on March 8, 2024, there will be a Total Solar Eclipse. News reports are full of the upcoming event and the State of Emergency that has been declared in Niagra Falls, ON due to it. I recall one on February 26, 1979 so I went back to the Reston Recorder archives online to find out what they had to say about that one.  The period of totality then began at 10:40 am and lasted two minutes and 47 seconds.  

Fort La Bosse School Board consulted with Dr. Roy Brown and discussed what they should do to prepare at a meeting on January 17, 1979.  The intensity of the light when part of the sun's surface is covered was thought to cause irreparable eye damage. Devices had been created for viewing that included boxes, welder's glass and special mylar glasses.  Dr. Brown stated the position of the Ophthalmology Society of the Manitoba Medical Association that the only safe way to view the eclipse is on television.  Given this advice, the school board passed a motion that viewing of the eclipse would NOT be allowed in any of their schools that day. Arrangements will be made to confine all students within the school in windowless rooms. (Pity to the poor teachers of the day!)  If parents chose to assume responsibility for their child's safety, they could keep them home that day with a signed letter to the school informing them. 

Text of the article above from the March 1, 1979 edition of the Reston Recorder:

It was an eerie feeling when darkness fell and the street lights came on Monday morning. This happened during the total eclipse phase when the moon blocked out the sun and left only a ring of light.
The eclipse seem to start slowly as the moon moved across the sun from the south and it became progressively darker, although even when total it was more of a twilight than a complete darkness.
Once the total period was over it seem to become lighter quite quickly.
During the over two minutes of the total eclipse one star to the right of the sun was visible. During the period of totality the temperature dropped noticeably, by ten degrees according to one observer.
For many the eclipse was a “once in a lifetime” experience and will long being remembered.
The event attracted many people to the district. At Pipestone there were two telescope set up for viewing and all along No. 2 Highway many people parked to watch the sight. A number from the United States chose Broomhill, which was right in the centre of the eclipse path, for viewing.
Birds chirped merrily before the eclipse but we’re noticeably silent during the darkness only to resume their activity when the sun came out again.
Clear skies prevailed during eclipse despite gloomy forecasts for cloudy skies.

David Braddell wrote a column for the Recorder called Outdoors Only at that time and after the eclipse, he called it "the unique experience of a lifetime".  He and his wife and their two children (junior members, fully authorized he said!) viewed the event on a ridge north of Reston, taking turns with 2 homemade viewers made with welder's glass No. 14 in box frames. He has a most detailed description in his column in the March 1 newspaper, if you'd like to read it for yourself. 

I vaguely remember being in the gym in my school in Oak River that day although some had cardboard boxes and went outside to watch. I don't recall a televsion but if there was it would have probably been a 12 inch portable one with rabbit ears and tinfoil! The diagram to the right can be found in the same paper with instructions for assembly.  
Just a disclaimer for my readers - I will not be responsible for any problems as a result of faulty assembly of the Sunscope.  You might be able to find coverage on television that day! 

Monday 18 March 2024

That Old Familiar Sight

That Old Familiar Sight 

Clipped from Thursday, July 30, 1964 edition of The Golden Star from Golden B.C. Page 9

The following editorial was written by Russell Manning of the Reston Recorder and won the Manitoba Weekly Newspaper Association award for the Best Original Writing In the W. J. Memorial Trophy competition. 

With the advent of the water and sewer system in Reston, one should pause and consider the disappearance of that old building in the back yard which has served for so many years. This was the scene of many a decision making trip.

This was the place where one just sat and thought. This was the place where one contemplated the wonders of nature. Here was the seat of philosophy,  it will be gone to be replaced by an antiseptic throne of splendor, located in a rather institutional type of room complete with tiled walls. No longer will one be able to watch the rays of sunshine streaming through the cracks in the walls and wonder about the many particles of dust that danced in its beams. Gone too, will be that cold trip in the winter time, when one didn't pause to contemplate the wonders of nature, rather, one contemplated on getting the job done in the shortest possible time, so that the warmer climes of the house could be reached in the shortest possible space of time.

And gone too, will be the flies that have a special affinity for that place of philosophy. Ah, yes, these modern conveniences may have their advantages, but they will never replace that outdoor institution as a place of philosophy! No sir! Never!.

Sunday 4 February 2024

E.H. Berry’s Cole Car

Stock Image from

Reston Recorder Article from August 1956 - Sells 1924 Cole Car

Mr. E. H. Berry's Cole car, which will be well remembered by those who lived in the Reston district in the 20's and 30's, has been sold to Ralph Welch of Roland, Man.  He took delivery on Thursday of last week. 

The eight passenger Cole sedan is a 1924 model and was purchased by Mr. Berry in 1926.  A Mr. Hurst of Winnipeg was the original owner and the vehicle cost $5210 when new.

It has a V8 motor, quite common now but a rarity in 1924.  The upholstery is a broadcloth, and it has fold down seats in the back for additional passengers. Two extra wheels and tires are mounted on either side, just forward of the front doors.  

Mr. Berry drove the car many miles, including an extensive tour of Eastern Canada.  It was last used in 1937, and has been in a shed since then.  

Mr. Welch will restore the car and its eventual destination is a museum. 

Edward Hanlon Berry along with his father Anson and brothers Fred, Harcourt, Lewis D. and Lawrence were important businessmen and builders of the area at the turn of the century.  Using the search feature in the very top left corner of this page will take you to other Historic Reston Bricks and Boards posts about the Berrys. 

The photo below shows Bertha and Edward surrounded by their ten children, spouses and grandchildren in the 40's (copied from a post on Ancestry by Andrea Allard).  Not much wonder they needed a big car!  Further information is always welcome. 

Back row- left to right - Gladys, John, Benson, Patricia, Earl, Edison & wife Loretta, Reg & wife Gwen, Burton Front row-Wife of Egbert Dorothy, Egbert & son Floyd, Bertha, Ed holding granddaughter Gail, Marjorie & her husband Noel Clarke

Sunday 14 January 2024

The Infamous Reston Siren

The locals of Reston today barely blink at the sound of the siren daily at 12:00 and 6:00 pm. Out of town visitors often ask - what’s that about?  I’ve been asked if I’d run across anything about it in the papers, and here’s what I found.  More information is welcome, as always. 

The early days describe the school bell as being used to get the town’s attention so I’m sure it was used for fires as well.  It was suggested in September 1906 that the school bell be rung daily at 7 am and 6 pm. The young town of Reston got serious about the need for fire protection after the disastrous fires of 1906 that destroyed the bank.  In 1910, a brick building was constructed on the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Thirds Street.  Arriving by train in September that year was a pair of fire engines, ladders and a curfew bell.  A tower for the bell was part of the design along with a night watchman’s quarters and a jail cell.  You can see it in the picture below taken from the roof of the stone grocery store in 1940.   

According to a news story in a September 1910 edition of the Reston Recorder, the brave firefighters filled an old stable full of dry straw, wood etc. was lit ablaze with the help of  coal oil to demonstrate the apparatus to the townspeople/taxpayers. When the hoses quickly extinguished the fire, it was relit with some holes punched in the building to get it roaring.  Again the flames were doused and the expense to the town was approved by the attendees. 
The December 1910 paper says the town bell is rung 15 minutes before the afternoon and evening church services on Sundays as well as for daily curfew at 9:00 pm. The Curfew Bylaw Number 461 is printed below. 

Apparently the more rapid the ringing, the worse the fire was. It was used to ring in the New Year as well as having some unauthorized use for Halloween tricks. The bell was replaced with an automated one on top of the Municipal Office.

Stories of fires in town are sprinkled throughout the years and in 1947, there were no fires according to an article.  It goes on to say that for 1948 - Jack Cuthill was Fire chief.  The committee included L. Armstrong, Les Parker, J. K. Robertson, Reg Berry, E. Robertson, C. E. McMurchy and F. R. Manning were reappointed for the following year and the following notice was printed in the paper.

Once the local telephone service was sold to MTS in 1954 for $1.00 the duty of sounding the siren went from Pipestone Municipal System employees to those from the Manitoba Telephone System as noted in this advertisement.  The local company made a profit from its beginnings in 1906 until the 30’s and was a liability to the RM after that. Those long term valued employees mentioned include Edith McDonald, Florence Holton and Les Parker as troubleman. 

 Reston remains famous for its siren still ringing twice a day, noon and six pm. Firefighters are paged through their phones now but it still rings when more members are needed. The doors to the old fire hall faced north onto Second Avenue but it was later remodeled to have the doors looking west onto Third Street. It was torn down in 1968. Vehicles grew more modernized and larger, new space was needed and the firetrucks were stored where the municipal shops are now. A new firehall was later built with several bays and training and meeting room.  The siren rings loud and clear from the Municipal Office twice a day.  In fact, it's my deadline for this story so...