What was Christmas like on P.E.I. added than 100 years ago? The abbreviate acknowledgment is: very different.
Store-bought presents were scarce, abounding homes did not accept a Christmas tree, and the blithe barbecue usually featured a goose rather than a turkey. Those are accepted themes, and Island seniors aggregate their claimed belief of Christmases accomplished with P.E.I. historian Dutch Thompson.
Dorothy Palmer was built-in in 1904 and lived to be 94. Her ancestor was ambassador of Charlottetown in the 1920s and had the aboriginal car on Dorchester Street.
Her mother Mary Jane was a abundant cook, and back Dorothy was a babe at Notre Dame Convent, she told Dutch that Christmas was her favourite time of year.
“When I was about 14 or 15, we’d get out of academy about half-past three and it was alpha to get dark, and a few of the girls we’d airing up Richmond Street and we’d attending in the windows at Stanley Brothers and Moore and MacLeod, and we’d appear bottomward Sunnyside and go into White’s Restaurant and get an ice chrism or some array of a treat,” Palmer said. “The windows would be all busy and lit up.”
One absorbing footnote: afore 1900, the shops in England were consistently accessible on Christmas Day. In his acclaimed diary, Samuel Pepys wrote that on Christmas Day 1662 he bought chip pies from the bounded chef because his wife was ill. And two centuries after in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge bought a award-winning turkey on Christmas morning for Tiny Tim and the blow of the Cratchits.
One change in attitude over the years — the goose was the awkward beastly attractive over its accept as Christmas approached, not the turkey.
“We consistently had a goose at Christmas, always,” recalled Hilda MacDonald from Selkirk. She was built-in in 1904, the babyish in the ample close MacPhee ancestors of 10 children.
“We consistently kept a lot of geese, but we consistently kept one for Christmas. So you’d accept a big blimp goose for Christmas, asset pudding, everything. Christmas was a big, big day.”
Turkeys were adamantine to accession and were mainly a affluent person’s aliment until the 1950s, Dutch said. Again a vaccine was begin that apparent a ache problem, and turkey became the accepted meal at Christmas.
Queen Victoria’s administration began in 1837 and Canadians can acknowledge her and her bedmate Prince Albert, who was German, for abounding Christmas customs. She beatific Christmas cards and she admired turkey at Windsor Castle for Christmas.
For ambrosia anybody at the table got a applique man, a German Christmas tradition.
The MacRae sisters from French River grew up in a ample ancestors and lived in a lighthouse. Four of them — Evelyn, Joan, Mary and Isobel — batten to Dutch in 1996 and aggregate Christmas memories.
One of the sisters recalled their ancestor and a acquaintance consistently went to McEwens Island to shoot birds in November. They’d appear home with two dozen brant — small agrarian geese — and the accouchement would backbone and apple-pie them and put them alfresco in the alarm belfry to freeze.
Irene MacNevin was built-in in 1900, and said “an angel and an orange” were the agitative things in her Christmas stocking.
Sheldon Dixon from North Tryon recalled accepting an orange and an angel too, as able-bodied as a baby cast bag of chrism candy. Others said award bonbon was a highlight.
“We aloof got one affair for Christmas,” said Isobel MacRae, abandoning she got “a nice brace of slippers, and I anticipation that was appealing good.” She said her ancestors fabricated their own toys and “made our own fun.”
“We had added fun than any kids, I’m sure,” added actuality sister Evelyn.
The MacRaes additionally recalled apples and oranges and basics and raisins in their stockings.
Pansy Reid lived to be 100 years old. Built-in Pansy Myers in 1898 in Millview, she grew up bottomward the alley in New Perth and Brudenell. Her ancestor was a blacksmith and a country vet, and he was acceptable with animals — alike reindeer, it seemed.
“We all waited for Santa Claus — we’d apprehend him on the roof,” Reid said. She never did see those reindeer, but says she heard them.
“Christmas morning was a big time, you’d be up early, see what’s in your stockings, I assumption deathwatch everybody up. I acclimated to get a baby and some bake-apple and candies. A little bassinet with appealing things in it and things like that, it wasn’t too bad.”
Kay Wood from Victoria was one of a ancestors with bristles girls and three boys — the presents she remembers were practical.
“It was usually a pencil box or article like that we could use, crayons or article like that.”
Christmas copse weren’t all that accepted on P.E.I. until the aftermost 75 years or so. Most Islanders did not accept Christmas trees growing up.
Dutch speculates that ability accept article to do with so abounding Islanders accepting Scottish roots, and the big anniversary in Scotland is New Year’s. Christmas copse are an English custom affected by George III, who became baron of England in 1761 and was from Germany (he was Queen Victoria’s grandfather).
“We never had a tree. I anticipate my mother was a little abashed it ability go afire — with that abounding accouchement beneath her feet!” recalled Kay Wood. Copse 100 years ago were lit application absolute candles, back there was no electricity.
“When I affiliated my bedmate Howard Wood, we said we’d consistently accept a Christmas tree, and we did, and I still do!” On a ancillary note, Kay and Howard’s house was the aboriginal one in Victoria to get electric power.
There was no Christmas timberline in the MacPhee home either, said Hilda MacDonald.
“Hang your stockings up then, there’d be no trees,” MacDonald said. “Get up afore aurora in the morning, your stockings [would] be all abounding of everything! Oh Christmas, a abundant day!”
“We’d consistently be apprehensive back the Christmas timberline was activity up,” said Mary MacRae. “And we’d get up Christmas morning and the tree’d be up and all trimmed! Dad consistently got the timberline the night before.”
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