Santa Claus is Coming To Town

Sadly, Edmonton’s indoor Santa parade has been cancelled this year. But, there is talk of moving it outdoors next year. I hope it does, it would be a great example of Edmontonians embracing the philosophy of the Winter City Strategy and having some winter fun!

Outdoor winter parades were once common in Edmonton – we have plenty of evidence at the City of Edmonton Archives. All you need to do is make sure you dress well and bring a blanket or two, as demonstrated below by the kids enjoying a Santa parade in 1949.

EA-600-3415f “Santa parade” December 3, 1949

EA-600-3415f “Santa parade” December 3, 1949

The Archives has many parade applications like this one from Eaton’s.

Eaton’s 1948 application to hold a Santa Claus Parade – RG-11, Series 7, Subseries 7.3, File 230

Eaton’s 1948 application to hold a Santa Claus Parade – RG-11, Series 7, Subseries 7.3, File 230

I’m always interested in what can be learned from these documents. From names and signatures to details like the parade route (which seems a bit convoluted) and how many floats and people were in the parade. You can also see what issues the City’s administration cared about. The second last paragraph states that the applicant must ensure that “no articles bearing offensive or disloyal inscriptions are used.” I wonder what constituted disloyalty?

EA-600-1770b “Christmas Parade sponsored by T. Eaton Company” December 4, 1948 This image is looking west down Jasper Avenue, the float has just passed 100 street. Santa appears to be missing from his sleigh.

EA-600-1770b “Christmas Parade sponsored by T. Eaton Company” December 4, 1948 This image is looking west down Jasper Avenue, the float has just passed 100 street. Santa appears to be missing from his sleigh.

At any rate, I doubt there was any danger of expressions of disloyalty in the Santa Parade. It looked like a lot of fun in the image above, taken on the south side of Jasper Avenue just east of 100th Street. Today the World Trade Centre Edmonton building has replaced the building with the pillars on the right side of the picture. The other pillared building in the background still stands; it used to be Hops Handbags (the bottom half of the pillars were removed though).

The Archives online catalogue is full of images of Santa, my favorites feature skeptical children. We also have some great images from creative holiday promotions by the Hudson’s Bay Company. For example, they celebrated the modern age of aviation by bringing Santa to Edmonton first by plane and then by helicopter. Of course, he then went to their toy department where he gave out gifts and took special requests from Edmonton children.

EA-600-3220b “Santa arrives at airport” November 20, 1949 According to the Edmonton Bulletin hundreds of children cheered as Santa’s plane landed in Edmonton.

EA-600-3220b “Santa arrives at airport” November 20, 1949 According to the Edmonton Bulletin hundreds of children cheered as Santa’s plane landed in Edmonton.

 

EA-600-3320c “Santa arrives at airport” November 20, 1949 Santa went from the airport to the toy department of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s downtown store. It looks like he went in an open car - you can see it decorated with ribbons in the bottom of the picture.

EA-600-3320c “Santa arrives at airport” November 20, 1949 Santa went from the airport to the toy department of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s downtown store. It looks like he went in an open car – you can see it decorated with ribbons in the bottom of the picture.

EA-600-6148a Santa’s helicopter landing on the roof of the downtown Hudson’s Bay Company, November 18, 1950. The image is looking southwest and the tower of the first Presbyterian Church on 105th Street can be seen. The banner says Meet Santa Claus at the Bay!

EA-600-6148a Santa’s helicopter landing on the roof of the downtown Hudson’s Bay Company, November 18, 1950. The image is looking southwest and the tower of the first Presbyterian Church on 105th Street can be seen. The banner says Meet Santa Claus at the Bay!

EA-600-6148b

EA-600-6148b November 18, 1950 Santa on the Hudson’s Bay Company roof just before he officially opened the store’s Toytown Ranch.

Do you have any memories of Santa parades, especially outdoor ones? Would you go if they hold one next year? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

 

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About the Author
Elizabeth Walker
Elizabeth has a Masters of Archival Studies from UBC and she’s been the City’s digital archivist since September 2010. She’s passionate about outreach and increasing engagement between the Archives and the community.
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