Santaville on Christmas Eve

Santaville, Martins River, Nova Scotia
Santaville, Martins River, Nova Scotia
Santa fixing the lights on his tree on Christmas Eve. Hey, shouldn't you be driving your sleigh tonight?

You can’t miss it as you drive along Highway 3 through Martins River. It’s Santaville, a fantasy landscape of lights around and behind the home of Eddie Aulenbach. During the Christmas season, he spends his evenings in his Santa suit, happy to give tours through the grounds: the little cottages and chapel and Santa’s Workshop, all filled with vintage toys and decorations.

My son and I had a tour of Santaville a few years ago, and he was enchanted, though a little scared to say very much to Santa so close to Christmas. Home grown entertainment to be sure, without the production values of a big mall display. But the magic of coloured lights on a dark, dark night, a personal tour from St. Nick himself, and a little stuffed toy (previously loved) at the end of the visit, are enough to please a small child.  I enjoyed seeing decorations and toys dating from my own childhood. And it’s free.

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Santa. In 2002, Aulenbach was charged with unsightly premises by the Municipality. (I’ll concur that the charm of the place is more powerful at night than during the daytime.) The charges didn’t stick, and the Municipality got a lump of coal in its Christmas stocking. Then in 2004, the century-old house burned down in an uninsured fire. The local community held fundraisers, and a generous person donated a mobile home, and so Santaville was saved again – earning some very good children extra special presents the following Christmas.

Do you have childhood memories of Santaville, or have you taken your children through it?  If so, please leave a comment below.

(Photos taken with a Fujifilm FinePix F1800.)

Christmas in Mahone Bay

St. John's Lutheran Mother & Daughter Choir
St. John's Lutheran Mother & Daughter Choir, taken from the back of the church with a Fujifilm FinePix F1800, which has an 18x optical zoom. This photo was taken hand-held, from the back of the church, and isn't even at full zoom.

Don’t ever imagine that life in the more rural parts of Nova Scotia is devoid of fine cultural experiences.  In fact, there is more going on in many communities than a busy person can take in, and often it is all the richer for being home-grown.

Such was the case tonight when the St. John’s Lutheran Mother & Daughter Choir, directed by Leslee Barry, presented their Christmas Concert.  The beautiful, large church was packed.  No wonder: the music was very fine, with interesting, complex arrangements well executed, and very accomplished instrumentalists accompanying the choir. Much money was raised for the local food bank, and everyone went home satisfied, and in fine Christmas spirit.

Photos taken with a Fujifilm FinePix S1800 digital camera.

church interior
Christmas concert in St. John's Lutheran, Mahone Bay, one of the "Three Churches". Taken at wide angle (28mm) with the Fujifilm FinePix S1800.

So much the better for knowing several people in the choir!  That’s the human scale of life here in Nova Scotia.

House on Edgewater St., Mahone Bay
House on Edgewater St., Mahone Bay, between the churches. I was impressed by how the S1800 could take pictures at high ISO settings (here ISO 800) allowing after-dark, no flash, no tripod photography like this.