The lead up to Christmas is a special and exciting time for many families. The library has even contributed to the fun with our seasonal displays at both our Holland Landing and Mount Albert branches! In days gone by, there used to be several happenings in Holland Landing which celebrated the season; one of these celebrated events was the annual Christmas concert at the Holland Landing Public School.
Christmas concerts started at the school in 1927, when a new addition to the building was added on to the rear of the school. Fundraising initiatives would be undertaken in the months leading up to December, and the concert would draw participants from all the students in the school, from Grades 1 to 8. A former student named Grace Watts (nee Lepard) recalls many such Christmas concerts in her youth.
In her book, she informs the reader that the Christmas concert “was presented on the evening of the last day before school closed for the holidays. A temporary platform was erected at the front of the classroom with skits, choir presentations and a visit from Santa Claus forming the evening’s more than “two-hour programme”. (Many will remember the ‘angel’s costumes with wings’ that were made for the pageant by Mrs. Betty Brittain, wife of the senior grades teacher). The room was always filled to capacity …[and] a large tree, beautifully decorated and resplendent with real candles, stood in the corner of the room. The candles could be seen ‘flickering and glittering’ all over the tree!”
Additionally, students would draw names and place gifts for other students under the school tree. When Santa would come during the concert, not only would each child receive his or her gift but would receive an orange as well. This was a rarity as they were difficult to ship to northern climates (and therefore expensive) and was in very limited supply.
Figure 1: Family and friends attending a Christmas concert c. 1930's. Photo retrieved from Britannica Imagequest.
However, in later years the Christmas concert was discontinued in the school, since there were too many students attending the school and so renovations had to be undertaken to expand the school. It had to be moved to a new location, but where? Luckily, the Holland Landing Community Memorial Hall had been finished in 1948, with the efforts of many people in the community. So, in 1949 the school children presented the Christmas concert in the “new” community hall. It met every requirement for this event as there was good staging, a separate practice area and lots of seating space for proud parents to come and witness their children in the concert.
Do you have any fond Christmas concert memories from this school? If so, please let us know in the comment section below!