|Air Photo Study
Christmas Sixty Years Ago
by Dorothy Helferty - Mainstreeter December 1985
|The sound of sleigh bells in the frosty night air echoing up and down
Main Street as horse-drawn sleighs bore children and their parents to Midnight
Mass at Holy Family Catholic Church is a special memory for Jim C. Chambers,
83 Springhurst Avenue
The church situated on Oblate Avenue was parish church for the Chambers family and the Catholic community of Ottawa East at large. Sixty-nine years old this year, Jim has vivid recollections of Main Street 60 years ago. Sharing the nostalgia of former days is his brother, Bill, who is 70 years of age and lives on Toronto Street. Both Jim and Bill were born in the family's first home on the corner of Concord and Lees Avenue.
"I remember that sound very well," Jim recollected. For all of us, old and young alike, it signaled the climax of the pre-Christmas season - Christ-mas Day - and for us children, the coming of school holidays.". Following the service, the horses would be waiting to take people home. Some who lived nearby as Jim and his family did, would walk home, their shoes making crunching sounds through the drifts of snow on field and street.
Christmas morning meant the opening of "stockings a" hung by the chimney with care" and the discovery of hidden treasures, Mecchano sets, boys books, hand-operated toys, sweets, and other good things.
As today, a Christmas tree held the place of honour in the home. "Some
of our friends set tiny candles on the tree and lit them, but because
of the fire risk, ours had none. Tiny figures of the Holy Family, deer.
and other animals, baubles and bells and tinsel and red and green streamers
in garlands around the tree made it a thing of. beauty. And, of course;
there would be an angel or a star on the very top of the tree."
"Our games were just great, "Jim recalls, "and we "lived so close to the river that we often came home for din-ner at noon and didn't even take our skates off. It was such fun and we just had to get back to it as soon as possible."
The Chambers children went to Holy Family School, a four-room school where St. Paul's University parking lot is now situated. Each room had two classes and went to Grade VIII.
Christmas festivities started off with a school concert and a tree-trimming
held in the basement of the church. Most of the chil-dren participated
in recitations, songs and skits in front of proud parents and friends.
And, of course, Santa Claus made an appear-ance and distributed gifts.
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