Christmas village brings joy to family


Each piece tells a story

A Cochrane couple’s teeny-tiny Christmas village is bringing heaps of holiday cheer to all the neighbours, friends and community members who see it.

“They’re just so marveled. It sort of brings them back to the true sense and feeling of Christmas,” said Richard Whitford of his elaborate decorative display.

“It’s the glimmer that comes in people’s eyes,” Betty, Whitford’s wife, chimed in with a smile.

Pocket-sized children sledding down a hill, little fishermen on a lake, teensy windmills and snow-capped trees, slight snowmen and Santas, mini horses pulling sleighs, an itty-bitty bright Ferris wheel and so much more make up the whimsical scenes Whitford has been amassing for more than 20 years.

The intricate tiered display – currently set up in the lower level of the Whitford’s Riverview home for their visiting grandchildren to enjoy – is more than 10 metres long and nearly four metres off the wall. It takes the couple a full three days to put the village together.

“I do the little stuff and I do the packing and unpacking – but this is his baby,” said Betty of her holiday-loving husband.

Whitford first began collecting curios after spotting a small ornamental house in a Christmas store in Banff. The miniature home reminded him of his time at a residential school in Fort Resolution, where the nuns would make festive houses out of cardboard for the children.

“We all wanted to get in the sisters’ good books, so we said, ‘I’ll help (make the houses),’” Whitford remembered. “I’m blessed for the sisters. It’s a gift.”

Today, more than 80 treasures make up the Whitford’s tiny town. The couple has purchased some pieces themselves, while others are gifts from friends, relatives and neighbours who have seen the panorama and want to contribute.

“They all have meaning,” said Betty.

In the past, the lovely landscape has been laid out at the Seniors on the Bow Centre for the public to take in and enjoy. Next year, the plan is to share the scenic display at Ronald McDonald House, where Whitford hopes ill children who might not make it home for Christmas can still have a generous helping of holiday joy.

“It makes me feel good,” said Whitford. “I get the joy and appreciation out of people enjoying it.”


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