This weekend I spent reading two short books, the second of which was Christmas in Ontario: Heartwarming Legends, Tales and Traditions by Cheryl MacDonald. This was a donation to the library which we couldn’t use. Although I haven’t had it kicking around my house as long as Shampoo (I only picked it up this year), I wanted to read it before the upcoming Christmas season. MacDonald gathered stories about Christmases past and present in the province of Ontario. I especially enjoyed her pioneer tales of first Christmases in a new country. She is upfront in asserting that “Ontario has no truly unique Christmas traditions”, and that all of our yuletide mainstays have been brought over from our earliest settlers. The most interesting part of this collection is the history of “Jesous Ahatonhia”, or the “Huron Indian Carol”, the first Christmas carol written in North America. I also enjoyed learning about longtime Christmas traditions in Ontario small towns. Toronto is best known for its Santa Claus Parade, yet there are many other events and light shows that take place all over the province.
2010 will be the first year that real-life Santa Claus Jimmy Lomax will not be running around Hamilton giving toys and good cheer to those who are less fortunate. MacDonald wrote Christmas in Ontario in 2004, when Lomax was still channelling Santa’s spirit, however this summer Lomax had to announce that due to illness, he will not be flying his sleigh across the Hamilton sky this Christmas season. MacDonald tells the story of Lomax, how a childhood illness nearly killed him and how a hospital visit from Santa changed his life.
A slight book of 125 pages, Christmas in Ontario gives a taste of hometown and real-life local memories past and present of the most joyous season of the year.