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Recalling the magic of Christmas on Christian Island

Tracks in the snow on the roof of family's little house were evidence that Santa and his reindeer had visited

Jeff Monague, a former Beausoleil First Nation chief and current park manager of Springwater Provincial Park, where he helps educate students about First Nations life, provided the following story about the magic of Christmas.


Growing up in a First Nation (Christian Island, Georgian Bay) community in the 1960s meant for some very tough times. 

Chronic unemployment and no economy to speak of meant for very sparse times for all. We were poor.

We (parents, five brothers) lived in a small two-bedroom house with no running water, electricity, or other amenities enjoyed by the larger society.

Books became an escape for me and I read voraciously. Through books I learned that Christmas time was different for the rest of the world and I truly began to question Santa Claus and the magic of Christmas.

Our Christmas tree did not ever seem as magnificent and present filled as the ones I had seen in books.

One day, over dinner, I sat questioning Santa’s existence and how he couldn’t possibly ever come down our chimney. We had a woodstove! 

My parents assured me Santa was real and that his magic allowed him to enter our house as well. I was becoming a non-believer. 

I informed my family that I would investigate whether Santa actually came down our chimney on Christmas morning.

On that Christmas morning, I didn’t even bother with our presents and I gathered my brothers and, together, we dressed quickly and went out into the cold. I took them far enough away from the house so that we could see the rooftop. If there were no tracks, there was no Santa and no magic of Christmas.

There had been a fresh fall of snow but when we looked up on the roof of our little house…there were tracks! Slightly buried, but it was clear to us that Santa and his reindeer had been on our roof! We cheered and ran back into the house to tell our parents.

Years later, I knew what my parents had done for us. They created the magic of Christmas! 

I had tried to do the same for my kids when I became a parent, but I knew, I had some big Santa shoes to fill.


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