WOLFVILLE, NS – A tour of several historic homes in Wolfville has offered people a unique insight into what Christmas looked like a century and a half ago.
The Christmas Home Tour, organized in support of St. John’s Anglican Church, took guests on Dec. 9 to three houses in Wolfville and Grand Pre, each decorated in a traditional Christmas style. The tour was Canada 150 themed, and decorations were designed to look similar to how they would have appeared 150 years ago.
Marcel Morin’s house, known as the Jeremiah Calkin or Biggs House, has a special connection to Christmas – the family moved there on Christmas Day 2006.
“It’s amazing to live inside a historic house like this,” said Morin.
A piece of Planter history
Morin and his wife Angela, along with their daughters Bronwyn and Solange, moved from Vancouver to settle into the house.
Morin is Acadian, and feels a special connection to the house, which was built by Calkin, a Planter, on a former Acadian foundation.
The house’s original feature is its great room, where the fireplace and thick ceiling beams are still showcased.
The house will be 250 years old in 2018, and was moved in 1988 from its original location in Gaspereau to its present location on Old Post Road.
Since Christmas is so special to the family, they were thrilled when tour organizer Vicki Harris asked them to take part.
“We’ve gone for a traditional look with our decorations, and they all together create that old timey feel,” said Morin.
A house that shares its town’s name
Meg Townsend, husband Stephen Schneider and daughter Evangeline Schneider live in a historic DeWolf home – formerly occupied by members of the family Wolfville is named for – that sits on Main Street in town.
The family has lived in the house for more than six years. Townsend grew up in the town, and has many memories inside the various historic homes that line the street.
This was her main reason for wanting to take part in this year’s tour and showcasing the house, which originates to 1855.
“People love coming to Wolfville because it has a beautiful main street, but not everyone has had the opportunity to really see inside the houses,” she said.
Traditional features in their décor included sleigh bells hanging off door handles, small handmade nativity scenes, and fires throughout the house.
A less traditional but unique ornament also sat in the tree’s branches: a police car, hanging for Townsend, who was formerly a police officer in Wolfville.
“This is a special time of year for us, and I’m glad people are enjoying our house,” she said.
A rectory and its church
Reverend Sandra Fyfe lives in the St. John’s Anglican Church’s rectory with her husband, Jim, and children Emma and Alec.
The church is celebrating 200 years of worship this year, but the house itself dates to 1864, and was not originally a rectory.
Fyfe added several traditional touches around the house, including lace ornaments and real candles clipped to the Christmas tree’s branches, pinecone garland decorating the stairs, advent candles and traditional place settings at the table.
A small, carved Santa Claus – known as the New Life Santa – also sits atop the fireplace mantle, made for her by her husband when she was expecting her first child.
This Santa is one of several personal decorations Fyfe blended in with the traditional, adding a personal touch to the house.
“These decorations bring people a sense of how people lived over 100 years ago. People remember growing up sitting by the fire and stringing popcorn,” said Fyfe.
“This rectory has always been well used to welcome people over the years, so it’s a home that’s meant to be shared in that way.”