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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Art of the Christmas card and seasonal Victorian events

   One-Tank Trip for Dec. 5/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The “holiday season” is a time for reflection with numerous ways to step back in time to remember those cherished days of yesteryear.
   Remember when sending and receiving Christmas cards was a holiday tradition, with strings of the greetings adorning living room ceilings?
   Sending cards now is somewhat out of vogue with the advent of Facebook, texting and $1 postage stamps.
A.Y. Jackson designed this Christmas card and is among those on display. (McMichael Canadian Art Collection)
   The McMichael Canadian Art Collection notes that cards were “widely recognized as a form of gift giving and spreading holiday cheer, combining inspirational imagery with heartfelt messages.”
   They were works of art and the gallery in Kleinburg, north of Toronto, is showcasing ones designed by Canadian artists of the mid-20th century.

   “This House Was Made for Christmas” is an exhibition on through Jan. 31 with a “rare opportunity” to see works of art in greeting cards, some of which have never been displayed before.
   Members of the Group of Seven and their contemporaries along with Painters Eleven, including Jack Bush and Harold Town, are represented.
   Many cards represent the artist’s fine-art practice while others reflect rare personal imagery meant for private viewing by family, friends and colleagues.
This Christmas card was designed by A.J. Casson in 1927. (McMichael Canadian Art Collection)
   “These cards demonstrate the important role that commercial work and printmaking had on the careers of many Canadian artists who were able to promote their work by way of their printing practice,” said exhibition curator Sharona Adamowicz-Clements.
   The exchange of commercially printed holiday cards dates back to 19th-century England.
   The custom allowed people to remember family and friends during a special time of year and affix their best wishes on paper through word and image.
   In time, artists were commissioned to design cards that allowed them to share and promote their work with the public.
   This nostalgic reflection shows an array of styles in text and imagery – from traditional holiday images to religious and historical motifs. mcmichael.com; 1-888-213-1121

   Happy trails to you
   Shopping for that special gift is a major part of the season and the Stratford Tourism Alliance has its Victorian Christmas Trail.
   The holiday tradition provides opportunities to “explore new shops and see unique gifts in a friendly atmosphere,” said Cathy Rehberg, marketing manager.
Looking for that perfect gift along Stratford’s Victorian Christmas Trail.
   The shops are dressed up for the season, offering “distinctive presents . . . and inspiring holiday gift ideas,” she added.
   The trail package, costing $25 and valid through Dec. 20, includes six vouchers that can be redeemed at a choice of 17 shops.
   Selections include giant hand-made peppermint candy canes, locally made brittle, French macaroons, chocolate made using pedal power, holiday preserves, buttery Christmas cookies and flavoured olive oils.
   There are distinctive art cards, Victorian Christmas postcards, one-of-a-kind costume fabric keepsake ornaments, ultimate Christmas socks, aromatic teas and a wide assortment of personal products. visitstratford.ca/VictorianTrail; 1-800-561-7926.

   True Victorians
    For a look at how the ancestors celebrated a Victorian holiday, there’s Woodside National Historic Site in Kitchener, Dundurn Castle in Hamilton and Castle Kilbride in Baden.
Parks Canada welcomes visitors to seasonal events at Woodside National Historic Site. (Parks Canada photo)
   The sites are decorated as they were years ago with Woodside, the boyhood home of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s 10th prime minister, filled with family heirlooms and period reproductions.
   Operated by Parks Canada, visitors are invited to festive programs and can explore the “richly decorated rooms” until Dec. 19.
   It’s a step back to 1891 with games, crafts and activities “just like ‘Willy’ King and his family would have,” said Alisha Campbell of visitor services. pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/on/woodside/index.aspx; 1-888-773-8888
   Dundurn National Historic Site, a 40-room 1830’s Italianate-style villa, was home to Sir Allan Napier MacNab, railway magnate and premier of the United Canadas.
Dundurn Castle
   A Victorian Christmas event until Jan. 3 shows a mid-19th century family celebration. There are also evening tours and a New Year’s celebration on Dec. 27. hamilton.ca/attractions; (905) 546-2489
   “Christmas at the Castle” is being marked at Kilbride, west of Kitchener, until Jan. 3 as the 1877 grand Victorian home is decked out in its holiday finery.
   This is the former residence of James Livingston, a Member of Parliament and flax and linseed oil mills owner. castle.kilbride@wilmot.ca; 1-800-469-5576


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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