Happy Memories of Christmases...


The Christmas season is here, and like everyone else, I am preparing for the big day, making new memories with my precious granddaughters, and also recalling Christmases of my childhood long past.

One such happy event was the time my mother took my younger brother and myself to Halifax to see Fantasyland.

Fantasyland was a presentation of Nova Scotia Light & Power. Originally presented in the basement level at the old Capitol Theatre building and later in Scotia Square, it was seen and enjoyed by many youngsters in the 1960’s – early 1970’s (http://www.halifaxhistory.ca/).”

I was around twelve years old, which would have put the year at 1965, and my brother Clarence, would have just turned six.  

It was a time when people dressed up to go out, and Mom, ever-aware of the importance of appearances, made sure we were clean, tidy and dressed-up for our big Christmas adventure.

We walked down to the bus stop at the bottom of our street. The Dartmouth city busses went as far as Eastern Passage, and that was our way to town back at that time.  The bus came along. We boarded and Mom put the correct amount of change into the metal contraption beside the driver. We rode this bus all the way to the main depot, which at that time, was near the Dartmouth Ferry Terminal. From there we transfered to a bus going to Halifax. This bus took us to another beloved place in my memory, the old Capitol Theater, located on Barrington Street, at the bottom of Spring Garden Road.

In the basement was set up a glorious and magical display called Fantasyland. This was a creation of the talented group of folks from the Nova Scotia Light & Power Company.

This was the height of technology for that day. Everything was operated by electrical and mechanical means, and for Christmases of the 1960s, this was as magic as it got. Thanks to Mom, we got to enjoy this most fantastical experience of childhood Christmases. Our eyes danced from animated snowman to hopping elves, from moving backgrounds and little critters seeming to scamper about. It was truly a land of magic and fantasy in that place and time.

As this lovely memory crossed my mind, it also caused a bloom of other beautiful thoughts of days gone by.

I was reminded of the magnificent Capitol Theater, which has long since been torn down to make way for today’s Maritime Centre. This was a great loss of history to many, but the Capitol Theatre lives on in memory as one of the finest places to visit in Halifax.

Opened in 1930, the Capitol Theatre was designed in the old English castle theme.  I fondly remember being silently greeted by a real suit of armour, which always stirred my imagination.  I marveled at the ceilings, transformed into skies of blue with clouds and stars. The carpets were burgundy with ornate golden designs. The richly-grained dark wood trim and paneling were so magnificent that their resplendent beauty still lives on within me. These wonders and more were all to be seen before entering the seating areas. This elegant place of splendor now only lives in memory, and in mostly black and white photos at historical sites.

Memories of happy times are a gift we can give ourselves during these busy days leading up to Christmas.  Take a moment, find a happy Christmas memory, and enjoy a moment of reflection.

(Diana O’Connell writes for pleasure and loves happy memories. You can reach her at dianaoconnell@hotmail.com or at her website: nana.land)