Making of a tradition…

By Sandra L. Brown

December 21, 2017 12:30 PM

When still living in their home country of England, the Barr Colonists dreamed of an old fashioned Christmas with snow. 
Not the freshly fallen snow which melted to “snow broth” the following day as they were used to, but real honest to goodness lasting snow. 
Perhaps the sight and sounds of children sledding down a steep hill or maybe it was more the childlike awe of watching the falling snow from the whiten sky.
Possibly their dreams included the sound of jingle bells ringing from a horse drawn sleigh gracefully gliding over the snow.
They certainly got more than they bargained for on the Western prairie.  Along with this fulfillment of their dream came a desire to maintain traditions of Christmases gone by. 
They desired to bring everyone together on Christmas Day or Boxing Day “to observe the festive season in a way that would prevent a feeling of loneliness and isolation.” 
Starting with their first Christmas together in 1903; traditions were readily established.
The first year folks brought their own cup, saucer, cutlery and plate to partake of the generous offerings assembled by all those gathered at Halls Store. 
This gathering was a blessing as they battled homesickness and adjusted to a new life far from home. 
It would remain forever etched in their minds. Santa Claus was escorted by members of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police to distribute presents to the youngsters waiting by the brightly decorated Christmas tree. 
It would have been a sight to remember as seen through the children’s eyes.  One precocious child excitedly exclaimed, “Why, it’s Mr. Jones.” 
Needless to say, the same Santa Claus arrived year after year.
The second Christmas dance of the season was held at the Masonic Hall on Dec. 29, 1905. 
Tickets sold for 75 cents and supper was included. 
To welcome in the new year a masked carnival was held on New Year’s Day with prizes awarded for the best costumes. 
Entertainment including a live band was scheduled at the skating rink.  Admission onto the ice was 50 cents and spectators were charged 25 cents to watch the festivities.
Proprietors of the Red Store on Main Street wished everyone a happy and prosperous new year. 
Reassuring town folks they were here to stay; their prices would assist in ensuring long term friendships within the town and surrounding area. 
Hall’s Big Store offered a 25 percent discount on ladies’ winter wear if customers paid in cash.
Medical Hall on Broadway provided folks with a varied selection of items alongside their drugs and pharmacy sundries. 
They were also home to a circulating library containing 500 volumes of the latest works by best authors.  Imported and domestic cigars were ordered in lots of 20,000 and they were able to share a discount with their customers. 
A large supply of photography supplies was expected soon and Christmas stock was already merchandised. 
A few years later, about 300 folks turned out to enjoy an evening Christmas meal together in the Immigration Hall. 
Across the way, there was standing room only inside the tastefully decorated parish with its evergreens, flags and Christmas tree. 
After the musical programme, gifts for the children were handed out with some well-dressed young ladies helping. 
The Archdeacon expressed words of appreciation to those responsible for the festive program, entertainment and preparation, many of whom had generously worked very hard giving of their services, time and money.
Traditions are often timeless and represent a true reflection of the folks creating them.  Steadfastly supported by its community, Lloydminster folks have created many traditions through the decades. 
The festive celebrations of Christmas link us to our loved ones whether they are near or far. 
There’s accompanying warmth felt deep inside each of us leading to the renewal of these close ties.
As each memorable year ended with the prairie land caught in the grasp of winter wonderland, it brought with it the highly anticipated holiday season. 
Lloydminster’s early settlers did not despair but welcomed it with open arms. 
They stood together and created everlasting traditions during those long cold winter months. 
To exemplify a true definition of community, an attribute which truly stands out in Lloydminster history is the timeless tradition of coming together and celebrating.  Merry Christmas!

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