Christmas stories from readers across the Prairies

Christmas concerts in one-room schools; what it’s like to play Santa Claus; a winter train ride and other reader stories.

In January, we will be taking an in-depth look at the movement toward electric cars; how Saskatchewan and Manitoba are preparing for the transition, and the current challenges drivers of these vehicles face. Some critics say the two provinces need to do more to incentivize electric vehicle adoption.   

Also, in the New Year, I will share a short documentary I’ve been working on, which I’ll post online, that looks at those over 100 who live in long-term care in Regina. 

Before we take a break for the holidays, here are several Christmas stories from readers.

One reader shares his experience of playing Santa Claus; another shares his memory of an epic train ride; two readers recall Christmas concerts in one-room schools, while two others reflect on time well spent with family.

GETTY IMAGES.

Doreen, from Pinawa, MB, writes about how her mom, a teacher at a one-room school, used to use the Eaton’s Christmas Tree Shopping Service to order gifts for all her students. 

Gloves or mitts might run about 40 cents; combs or handkerchiefs about 25 cents, and expensive gifts such as a purse for an older girl might run as high as 60 cents. The Eaton’s staff would pick out and gift wrap everything, labelling each by the intended age group and whether suitable for a boy or girl. All the teacher had to do was write the pupil’s name on the tag attached to each gift.

Read the whole story.

The train from Weyburn to Winnipeg

Chris, from Northeastern Manitoba, shares his story about taking the train to Winnipeg in 1955, which was a 16-hour trip back then during extreme cold.

The adventure started the day before we boarded the train in Weyburn. The 20-mile car trip took all day. I remember that my sister, Sally Boyle, crashed into the back of the front seat when the car hit a hard snow drift. Sally injured her mouth. This was in the days before seat belts.

After a few more miles, the car got stuck, and Dad had to walk back to Colgate and get Mac Kitson and his team of horses to pull us out.

Read the whole story.  

Reverie

Local, independent, in-depth.

Our Prairie stories.

Jeanne, from the Regina area, shares her memories of a Christmas concert from her youth in a one-room school.

Cutters drawn by sleek steeds slash the snow’s surface.

Wagonloads of large families, tousled in hay-filled wagons drawn by magnificent creatures with hairy gallon-paint-can-sized feet, coming to a halt as the team heeds, “Whoa, Nellie.”

Horsey smell is everywhere.

The sweaty, steamy flanks and frosty breath exuding from the equine colossus intermingle with winter’s biting air.

Jing, jing, ring, ring, jingle of festive bells, clinking of harness hardware interspersed with groaning horse collars, and the incessant creaking of wooden tongues announce the community gathering for the annual theatrical performance.

Greetings, hallos, backslapping, and handshaking add to the convivial spirit as horses are tethered, blanketed, and given oat-filled feedbags or are tossed an armload of hay.

We enter the transformed schoolhouse into the only theatre that most of the immigrant farmers will ever know.

Read the whole story.

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