Photos: Highlights from Prince Albert Christmases past

Eric Bell
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Published on December 22, 2013

A Christmas message to the many Canadians overseas during World War One, December 1917.

Published on December 22, 2013

The Daily Herald Christmas edition, 1925.

Published on December 22, 2013

A man looks over the many parcels to be delivered in Prince Albert during Christmas 1935.

Published on December 22, 2013

A child eyes a pinball machine at a store in downtown Prince Albert, 1935.

Published on December 22, 2013

Two women try their hand at a new pinball device in downtown Prince Albert, December, 1935.

Published on December 22, 2013

An advertisement in December 1943, asking Prince Albert residents to remember the men fighting overseas.

Published on December 22, 2013

Prince Albert MP John Diefenbaker wishing his constituents a Merry Christmas, 1955.

Published on December 22, 2013

Santa pays a visit to local seniors in 1965.

Published on December 22, 2013

City Hall, now the Prince Albert Arts Centre, decorates for Christmas in 1955.

Published on December 22, 2013

A sale selling baking and preserves to raise money for Christmas hampers in 1965.

Published on December 22, 2013

P.A. schoolchildren perform during a carol festival, 1975.

Published on December 22, 2013

Santa visits a P.A. daycare, 1975.

Published on December 22, 2013

Picking out a Christmas tree, 1989.

Published on December 22, 2013

Audrey Gould braves the chilly weather to solicit donations for the Salvation Army in 1989.

Published on December 22, 2013

Rivier students perform at a Christmas concert, 1994.

Prince Albert residents have enjoyed and celebrated the spirit of the Christmas season for as long as The Daily Herald has been recording news. To see how people in P.A. have celebrated the holidays over the years, we dove into the Daily Herald archives to highlight some of the city's forgotten holiday celebrations from 1917 up until 1994.

1917-  December of 1917 was the fourth wartime Christmas during the First World War, and many Prince Albert men were overseas fighting. The Daily Herald editor  at the time wrote on Christmas eve that “a fourth Christmas season witnesses the world still depressed by the horrors that the great war has inflicted, and at the moment there does not appear to be any indication of a finality to the struggle. The coming year will be an anxious one in proportion to the great decisions that are at stake.”

1917- The front page of the newspaper on Dec. 20 urged Prince Albert residents to send gifts to their boys fighting overseas, writing  that “to each homely but comforting service kit for our boys let us add a bit of red ribbon, a word of cheer-- Merry Christmas. To us not over yonder it may seem a bit far-fetched, but boys are boys to the end of their days, and they do love Christmas.”

1925- The people of Prince Albert were urged to donate to the Christmas Travellers Fund, an annual fundraiser in the city to provide Christmas to less fortunate families in the area.  The paper praised four girls, Freda, Velva, Jessie and Eileen Brooks, who managed to raise a sizeable $14.55 by organizing a fundraising dinner.

1925- Disaster struck on Christmas day in 1925 when the Tanner family lost their home on 15th Street West to fire. The Daily Herald wrote that “Christmas toys, furnishings, and much clothing were all destroyed by either flames or water. Most of the furniture was a total loss with the exception of the stoves and no insurance was carried. Wearing only their housedresses, the family was huddled close to a haystack trying to protect themselves from the cold. Neighbours and friends were quick to extend hospitality to the Tanner family until they could figure out what they were going to do next. “

1935- The entire nation had fallen on hard times, and the great depression had taken its hold on the city, as was evident when Christmas fund donations hit an all time low. Only $365 was collected in 1935 for the fund, down significantly from the $1,600 collected the year before. Still, the city was in high spirits, as the Dec. 14, 1935 paper writes:

“It’s colour, colour everywhere. Perhaps that is what gives Central Avenue such an atmosphere of Christmas, particularly as daylight fades and the lights are turned on. Stroll down Central Avenue at this time of day. The cultured lights, festooned across the street, neon signs and the brilliantly lighted stores turn the air into a multi-coloured haze and give the first impression of fairyland that carries the prospective shopper out of his everyday cares, right into the spirit of Christmas. The streets are crowded with people from every corner of the district. People searching for Christmas gifts. People who know what they want, but all intent on Christmas shopping.”

 1943- Christmas spirit was low in P.A. as the city and the nation entered its fifth Christmas at war. Once again, many of the city’s men were fighting overseas. The Daily Herald editor at the time writes that despite missing loved ones, “hearts are happy and spirits are high in the confident hope that before next Christmas sends Santa on his annual rounds, the war in Europe will have ended with the defeat of Hitler and his beasts with the unconditional surrender of the Germans.”

1943- An advertisement encourages P.A. residents to do their part in fighting Hitler. The ad reads:  “Let us not fail the boy who waits tonight on a wind-swept hill. Let us try to match his job with ours. Let us work harder in mine and field and factory. Let us buy more and more Victory bonds and resolve now to bring him home before another Christmas comes.”

1955- Christmas was a dangerous time to be on the highways with 68 people killed in car accidents across the country during the Christmas weekend. Canada fared better than the United States, which saw almost 600 deaths in car accidents across the country during the holiday season.

1965- When asked if the true meaning of Christmas was being lost in the modern era, several residents voiced their opinions, including Earl Stuart of  18th Street who said “We’re getting further away from the old style of Christmas but I don’t think the true meaning has been lost. As in everything else these days, it’s becoming more modernized.”

 1965-  A successful tea and bake sale was held at Holy Family hospital to raise funds for Christmas hampers. The annual event was deemed a success, with Mrs. E Casey and Mrs. K. Klingler coping with the large line of patrons waiting to but baking and preserves.

1975- Store shelves across P.A. were having trouble staying stocked with popular toys, blaming the problem on the increase in T.V. advertisements geared towards children. Dolls remained a popular toy with girls “despite International Women’s Year and much discussion of sex roles.” Dolls were popular with boys as well, as the G.I. Joe was quickly vanishing from store shelves in the city.

1975- Asking what children wanted for Christmas resulted in a variety of answers from local children. Dale Channon, 6, was hoping for the game “Mousetrap” while 9-year-old Sharon Witcombe only wanted records for Christmas “and not much else.”

1989- Audrey Gould was a dedicated volunteer for the Salvation Army’s Christmas kettle campaign. Gould braved freezing temperatures to stand outside the Liquor Board Store on First Avenue for 9 days in a row. The Salvation Army allowed Gould to stand outside “at her insistence, and on the promise that she try to go inside and keep warm.” Gould was originally not allowed to go inside the Liquor store to warm up, but the store eventually conceded and allowed her to “stand in the warm area between the inner and outer doors.”

1989- The movie “Christmas Vacation” starring Chevy Chase was held over at the Famous Players Theatre due to popular demand. The comedic film proved to be a hit, and is still popular to this day.

1994- Boxing Day in P.A. was a busy one, and the malls were filled with shoppers looking for deals. Hundreds of people flocked to the Bootlegger store in Gateway mall, but lines moved more smoothly as stores were open for a full 8 hours compared to only 5 hours in 1993.

 1994- Bud Krestianson wanted to thank residents of the Prince Albert area for their help in the search for his daughter Ashley, who went missing from the Tisdale area in July.  A massive search was conducted and the eight-year-olds remains were later found by a hunter in late September. Noting that Christmas was to be a very difficult time for his family, Krestianson said he wished he could send everyone who helped a Christmas card, but decided turned to the Herald instead to give thanks.  

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