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Christmas 1887

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by Michael Dawe

Christmas will soon be upon us. It is a time of goodwill, generosity to others, and pleasant gatherings with family and close friends. It is also a time when people like to reflect on long-held traditions and Christmases past.

It is therefore interesting to reflect back to one of those “old-fashioned Christmases” – the Christmas of 1887 when Red Deer was a small frontier settlement with only a few dozen residents.

The town of Red Deer did not exist yet. Instead, there was a small cluster of buildings, located to the west of current site of the City, where there was an all-weather ford across the Red Deer River. The biggest buildings in the community were part of Fort Normandeau, which had been constructed in 1885 during the Riel Rebellion, but which was now manned by a small detachment of the North West Mounted Police.

There was a brand new schoolhouse, but it was not located in the fledgling hamlet. Rather, it was located halfway between the Gaetz family farm, in what is now downtown Red Deer, and the Crossing. The location had been chosen so that the school was an equal distance to walk for the Gaetz children and those living in the main part of the settlement.

The crops had been fairly good that fall. Wheat had been damaged by a mid-July frost. However, other grains such as oats had done well, as had most gardens, particularly with the root vegetables.

Wildlife was particularly abundant that year, thereby ensuring a plentiful supply of fresh meat. The sloughs and lakes had been covered in ducks and other wildfowl. Large numbers of deer could be found, particularly around Antler Hill, Horn Hill and the Divide to the south and east. One farmer reported being able to bag several prairie chickens in a little over an hour.

The weather throughout the fall and into early winter had been generally warm and dry. A series of strong chinooks melted away the little bit of snow which had fallen. By mid-December, however, the weather had turned more seasonably cold and snowy. An estimated 30 cm. of snow fell in the days just before Christmas.

On Christmas Day, most of the settlers in the area gathered in the small log schoolhouse. A large, rather rusty box stove, with pipes running the length of the classroom, provided the heat. A few long, hand-made benches, mostly without backs, provided the seating.

The service was conducted by Rev. William A Vrooman, the young Methodist minister, who had also served as Red Deer’s first certified school teacher. Rev. Leonard Gaetz, who was also a Methodist minister and who was considered by many to be the patriarch of the settlement, gave the Christmas address.

With the oratory and eloquence for which he was famous, Rev. Gaetz spoke of the authenticity of the celebration of Christmas. He reminisced about Christmases past. The small choir then led the congregation in singing Christmas carols and traditional hymns.

Rev. Leonard and Caroline Gaetz then invited as many guests as their home could hold for a Christmas dinner. While the preparations were being completed, the younger folk went down to the nearby river for skate.

After everyone had eaten all that they were able of the enormous Christmas feast, the older men retired to the parlour to argue politics. The women cleared the table, washed the dishes and carried on conversation sf their own. The young men slipped away to another part of the house for a smoke and “amusement”.

Later, everyone gathered in the parlour. The rest of the evening was spent with readings from the Bible and caroling. Caroline Gaetz and young Rev. Vrooman provided the music with a small pump organ and a violin.

It was probably well after midnight when the last of the guests departed for home on their horses or in their sleighs. As they travelled in the crisp cold air, with the clear moonlight, all agreed that 1887 had truly been a Christmas to remember.

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Festival of Trees tickets are for sale now

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29th Annual Festival of Trees

It’s time to experience the magic of Festival of Trees! Celebrate at Festival of Wines, be enchanted by Mistletoe Magic, and enjoy family fun at the all new Festival Pancake Breakfast.

For the last 28 years, Festival of Trees has raised funds for healthcare enhancements for the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and other health centres in Central Alberta.

2022: FUNDING THE INTENSIVE CARE AND CARDIAC CARE UNITS AT RED DEER REGIONAL HOSPITAL CENTRE.

As the only facility in Central Zone with Intensive Care and Coronary Care beds, Red Deer Hospital will be creating a permanent space for CCU and expanding its ICU beds by 8, for a total of 20 ICU beds. Our healthcare system needs more capacity, and this expansion is the first step in responding to the increased demand for high-quality care for patients in the ICU and CCU.

Cardiac enhancements and expansion of bed space have been a longstanding priority for our hospital, and Festival of Trees is thrilled to support the equipment needs in these new spaces by providing CPAP/BI-PAP machines, ultrasound systems, Glidescopes, and much more.

Festival of Wines

We’re not just wines anymore!
Sample flavours from around the world. Local restaurants, fine wineries, craft beer brewers, and select distillers will all tempt you with some of their finest offerings.
Friday, November 25 | 7:00-11:00pm
Tickets $100 including gate admission | 18+

Mistletoe Magic

It has finally returned after a two-year absence! Get back to dining and dancing with your favourite girl with this magical evening of dinner and entertainment for fathers and daughters of all ages.
Daddies and daughters have been making this event a must-do Christmas tradition since 1998. This year we’ve got more fun and games than ever before.
Saturday, November 26 | 6:00-11:00pm
      Tickets $125 including gate admission | All ages

NEW! Festival Pancake Breakfast

Grab a quick bite before you hit the Tree Room this year with a pancake breakfast for the whole family.
Pancakes, sausages, music, and a visit from Santa are all in store.
Sunday, November 27 | 10:00am-12:00pm
Tickets are $15 (13+), $10 (4-12), $5 (3 and under)
Includes gate admission | All ages
                  TICKETS.              
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Community

Tickets on sale! The Red Deer Kinsmen Dream Home Lottery is back for 2022

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For 42 years, the Red Deer Kinsmen Dream Home Lottery has been raising funds for the Red Deer community. As a proud volunteer-based organization, all proceeds for the Lottery go to support local groups, programs and initiatives in Red Deer and surrounding areas. Albertans can once again help the Red Deer Kinsmen share the winning and make a local impact by supporting this important annual community event.

“The Dream Home Lottery is the cornerstone of the Red Deer Kinsmen’s contribution to the community’s greatest needs. Many of the new playgrounds and sporting facilities you see are funded completely or partially with funds raised by the Lottery” – Leonard Sisco, Lottery Chairperson.

This year’s lottery is offering 117 amazing prizes valued at over $900,000. The Grand Prize Dream Home by Alair Homes is in the community of Timberlands
and is valued at $810,000, including furnishings. It features a Scandinavian modern style with vaulted ceilings, a private upstairs master retreat with its
own south-facing balcony, and 2 sizeable bedrooms on the main floor. To encourage supporters to buy their tickets early, there is a brand-new Buick Encore GX AWD OR $25,000 up for grabs as an Early Bird prize. The deadline to qualify for this additional Early Bird draw is December 29th

Other amazing prizes include vacations, epic experiences, home renovation packages, exercise equipment, and much, much more.

Tickets are $100 each, 5 for $150, 15 for $250 or the best chance to win package at 50 for $350.

Also back again this year is the ever-popular 50/50 Cash Raffle where one lucky ticket holder will take home half of the total ticket sales. Last year’s winner took
home a whopping $157,395 in cash.

Tickets are $10 each, 10 for $25, 25 for $50 or 50 for $75.

Red Deer Kinsmen Dream Home Lottery License #575571 / 50/50 Cash Raffle License #575572

The final ticket deadline for both lotteries is February 2nd. The final draws will be held February 16, 2023.

Tickets can be purchased online at reddeerkinsmenlottery.com or by calling 1.833.511.3863.

2022 Red Deer Kinsmen Dream Home Lottery

• This is the 42nd year of the lottery and the 41st Dream Home. Support local and have a chance to win!

Prizes

EARLY BIRD PRIZE
• #1 – 2022 Encore GX AWD OR $25,000 CASH – Deadline: December 29, 2022

o Draw will take place on January 12, 2023, at Stride Management Corp. (12:00 pm)
**Only tickets purchased before 11:59 pm on Dec 29, 2021, will be eligible for the Early Bird

GRAND PRIZE DREAM HOME

The Viking by Alair Homes – 388 Timberlands Drive, community of Timberlands Red Deer, AB
• Valued at $810,000! With furnishings.

ADDITIONAL PRIZES

• 117 prizes worth over $900,000 to be won!
• Prizes include vacations, home renovations, epic experiences, exercise equipment, tech, cash, and so much more!

THE 50/50 CASH RAFFLE

• Win half of an ever-increasing jackpot!
• Tickets are easy to buy – 1 for $10, 10 for $25, 25 for $50 or 50 for $75. Purchasers are not required to purchase a ticket in the Red Deer Kinsmen Dream Home Lottery to purchase tickets in the 50/50 Cash Raffle lottery.
• For a list of charities that benefit from the 50/50 Cash Raffle, please visit reddeerkinsmen.com

Final Draw

• Ticket Cut-off is February 2, 2023 (11:59 pm)
• Final Draws will take place February 16, 2023 at Stride Management Corp. (11:00 am)

Red Deer Kinsmen Dream Home Lottery Licence #606030 / 50/50 Cash Lottery Licence #606031

TICKET PRICES

1 for $100 • 5 for $150 • 15 for $250 and our best value 50 for $350

**Minimum prize value is $100**

Cause

Since 1937 The Red Deer Kinsmen have helped support a multitude of local charities and initiatives in the Red Deer community and surrounding areas. The need is greater than ever this year. Proceeds raised from our generous supporters help improve the lives of thousands of in our community. Go to https://reddeerkinsmenlottery.com/cause/ for a full list of our partners.

Call Toll Free 1-833-511-3863
Order Online: reddeerkinsmenlottery.com

 

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