Manitoba at Christmas is an anthology of holiday memories in Manitoba, from the days of the earliest explorers to the dawn of the 21st century. Some stories are heartwarming, some sad or poignant, and some funny.
We start with the earliest Christmases recorded in what is now Manitoba, written by explorers in search of a passage to the Far East. We then have accounts from lonely fur-trading outposts, where the holiday observances were often simple in nature---a glass raised in honour of the occasion and a remembrance of loved ones back home.
We move on to the establishment of the Red River Colony which ushered in the settler era. We will read of courageous pioneer families like the Averills, trying to survive the harsh winters of Manitoba while making the most of the holiday season. Then came the dawn of the 20th century, the Great War, the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Depression, and then World War II. Manitobans were anxiously waiting to hear news of their loved ones after the fall of Hong Kong on Christmas Day in 1941, yet they tried to observe Christmas as best as they could under the circumstances.
As the calendar pages fall away, we make a trip to Eaton's in its hey-day, with its doormen and white-gloved elevator operators, and join our younger selves as we dash upstairs to see Santa's Toyland. Advancing through the latter half of the 20th century, we visit a succession of communities, from Steinbach to Bakers Narrows, and remember special times there.
So pull up a chair and throw another log on the fire, as we remember Christmas as it once was in the Keystone Province.