OTTAWA -- It’s a tradition that stretches back decades.

Vivianne Slade’s mother started putting a Christmas village under the tree in 1978. It was simple, made up of seven cardboard and paper buildings on a field of cotton batten snow.

Slade still has that village, proudly on display in her Orléans home every Christmas. It has inspired her to collect her own village. Starting in 1993, Slade’s own village has grown to the point where it takes up a room in her house.

“It’s a passion. It’s something that really means a lot to me to be able to do something now that I’m retired. it keeps me busy and it makes the kids, grandkids and neighbours kids happy when they come in to see it,” Slade said. “We started under a tree and it started to grow. I had it in the dining room where it grew so much I was either entertaining the family or keeping the village in the dining room and not hosting.”

Each year she spends about six weeks setting it up. It’s meant to reflect a simpler time, before the hustle and bustle of today’s world. The one exception to this is a small Tim Hortons restaurant placed beneath a golden star.

Tim Hortons

“A few years ago my sister passed away and Sylvie was my biggest fan for the village. She had to be the first one to see it before we showed it to anyone,” Slade said. ‘She was an avid Tim Hortons drinker so we got the little Tim Hortons and I put it in the village with her picture underneath, so my sister lives in my village all though the holidays with us.”

In years past the village drew family, neighbours and visitors from as far away as Quebec City to the Slade’s house. This year due to the pandemic, the Sladess have had to find a new way to share their Christmas spirit. They posted in on their Facebook pages so those they care for can share this tradition no matter where they find themselves.

“My message is Christmas is such a short period of time in the year, but it’s the most wonderful and magical time of the year,” Slade said. “If I can bring a smile to one kid or one adult just by looking at the village, it’s made my holiday really come true.”