Saturday, November 07, 2009

r.b. pratt, man with right conception of things

A couple of days ago I got a new document from Ralph Pratt, my dad's cousin, who lives in Winnipeg. He is the family go-to guy about our one relative of public achievement (and the man he is named after), my great grandfather, Ralph B. Pratt. Back when I first started blogging I posted some photos of train stations he designed, then later on a church. Ralph keeps me topped up with what he discovers as a government employee in the town where the senior Ralph made his mark. This is the latest thing: Deer Lodge. It started life as a hotel, then during WWI was converted to a military hospital. It remained as such until after WWII and is now, apparently, a geriatric care facility? I know there are Winnipegonians who read this blog. Can you tell me anything about the place and how it looks now? It looks pretty uninspired, architecturally, from the photos, yet well-designed in a conservative, dignified and undemanding way. Quasi-interesting factoids:

War hero Tommy Prince stayed there. And there is another famous trainee from England who dated the hospital's radiologist's daughter. The trainee went on to become the Hollywood actor known as Richard Burton.

(Coincidentally I was flipping through channels and discovered Look Back In Anger on TV earlier today.) Anyway, what I love best about reading these old documents is the affected, formal use of language. I particularly love this testimonial from a sort-of Winnipeg Who's Who from 1913:

Mr. Pratt is a member of the Adanac Club and the
Winnipeg Canoe Club and takes an active interest in all kinds of outdoor sports. His easy dignity, his frankness and cordiality of address, with the total absence of anything sinister or anything to conceal, foretoken a man who is ready to meet any obligation of life with the confidence and courage that comes of conscious personal ability, right conception of things, and an habitual regard for what is best in the exercise of human activities.

As a person who also obviously possesses "
an habitual regard for what is best in the exercise of human activities" I must be related to the guy. Then there's this of course. And this.


Blogger Ellen said...

Ha, most certainly you are, possessing a right conception of things as well. Also, I see a bit of family resemblance. Little bit of you and eldest son I think.

7/11/09 9:26 p.m.  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Andrea, Deer Lodge is a great place! I worked there for a bit before getting into Dialysis. They have a website (click here). It's quite a large long term care and rehab facility and is the place where WW is doing his rehab right now.

How very cool that your relative was the designer. The original building (as in your photo) doesn't exist anymore, I don't think. It is now a very large and quite modern facility. And gives the very best of care. I was duly impressed when I worked there at how hard the staff works to keep the residents in the LTC parts in the best possible shape - I didn't see a single bed sore on anyone. And some of the folks I worked with were bedridden and not at all cognitive of what was going on around them.

7/11/09 9:48 p.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

How fantastic to be finding things out about an ancestor like this.

8/11/09 12:20 a.m.  
Blogger self taught artist said...

it does look dull and uninspired yet strong and sturdy. very lodgy, now a care facility...yuck.

8/11/09 2:50 a.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

I wonder if anyone's told Chris that your forebear was the architect? I think he'd like to know that. (Donn...are you listening?)

8/11/09 5:21 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Ellen: Actually more like younger son. I saw my cousin today (another of his great granddaughters) and it was freaky how similar our senses of humour are. She may be a chaplain but she is rather irreverent. (I'm an art nun.)

Ponita: Thanks for the link! I'm guessing the old Deer Lodge is not hidden in there any more. What a shame. But the testimonials on the site are brilliant. I wish my dad was in there!

Caroline: He has lots of grandchildren and great grandchildren and a few of us are interested in this sort of stuff so it's only a matter of time before we can all connect the dots I figure.

Paula: Sounds like a good one, though.

Dinah: I'm not even sure Chris remembers me after suffering such a devastating experience. I'll go onto FB and send Donn over...

8/11/09 5:58 p.m.  
Blogger Brian the Mennonite said...

Whenever I drive downtown Winnipeg I take a look at that one building I know is your Gpa's. It's the best one there. And that train station in Morden that's now in the museum is one that I've been to many times. I've always fantasized about going there again and offering to buy it and turn it into a home. Good luck with that though, huh?!

8/11/09 6:30 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Brian: The Electric Railway Chambers is a cool building. I've seen some great photos of it -- my favourites are the ones at twilight when the lights are on. That and the railway stations are my favourites.

8/11/09 7:36 p.m.  
Blogger Donn met twee n's said...

Small world eh? Wow.
The Deer Lodge connection is amazing..I will tell Chris.
DLC still hosts our local Veterans and there are military memorial plaques and stautes everywhere.

I was a commercial leasing agent and I am familiar with the ERC and it is cool..actually Whateverpeg has a nice collection of turn of the century buildings...

Brad Pitt filmed his Jesse James movie here. I know an extra who didn't know who Pitt was and still managed to have a scene with Brad & Casey Affleck :)

Whateverpeg was in a race with Chicago to become the transportaion hub of North America and then the damn Panama Canal changed evrything.

8/11/09 9:42 p.m.  
Blogger Heather Plett said...

I've been at Deer Lodge several times too. It used to be primarily a veteran's hospital, but now it just has one wing for veterans. Back when I worked for Veterans Affairs Canada, I was involved with several veteran ceremonies at Deer Lodge, including presenting some of the veterans with medals.

Like others have said, it looks nothing like that now, but it still has a bit of beauty. For one thing, it has an atrium up on the top floor that has a really lovely view of Portage Avenue and the Assiniboine River heading into downtown.

There's another old building on the grounds of Deer Lodge (I wonder if your grandpa was involved with that one) that is still in its original form and there's been quite a movement to try to have it refurbished into its former glory. Because of its old and interesting architecture, it's been the scene of several movies, including (I think) Shall We Dance (with Richard Gere), and I believe a Patrick Swayze dance movie (though my details might be off).

I just discovered that there's an Andrea Pratt living in Winnipeg. A relative of yours, perhaps? ;-)

9/11/09 7:17 a.m.  
Blogger Heather Plett said...

With a little digging I found out the old building that still stands on the same grounds is the Women's Tribute Memorial Lodge.

It doesn't look like Grandpa Pratt designed it.

9/11/09 7:24 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Donn and Heather: Thanks for all the additional info. I knew you Winterpeggers wouldn't fail me! (And no -- that doesn't look like one of Ralphie's designs, Heather -- but it *is* an interesting building.)

9/11/09 1:42 p.m.  

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