The Great Ceremony of the Burning Christmas Trees
January 18, 2022
Through the late 1960s, a lot of people were really proud that Canada had become a nation. At that time, middle-aged adults could remember the Statute of Westminster, granting the Dominion full legal freedom from Great Britain, and at the time of the Centennial the Canadian Flag was only two years old. A Canadian Constitution would have to wait another fifteen years. Many people could remember when Canada was just a British colony, when sweeping decisions that would effect everybody’s life were made in London. The Centennial was such a big deal that the celebrations lasted the entire year. The United Church started things off with a midnight service of meditation and prayer. Then a few weeks later, the Fenelon Falls Women’s Institute recorded the first public spectacle to celebrate Canada’s independence:
“In mid-January the Great Ceremony of the Burning of Christmas Trees at Lakeshore Park [Garnet Graham]—on a perfect winter evening about 500 people gathered to watch Rotarians and others feed the flames with untold numbers of trees for an hour or more. The children were given free rides in Ski-doos by generous owners. It was amazing how quickly some kids would be unloaded and back up to the ‘boarding station.’ The shyer youngsters didn’t fare so well.”
For the rest of the year, just about everyone in Fenelon Falls made their unique contribution to celebrating Canada’s Centennial.
The Tree Burning was an annual event into the 1970s, often associated with the winter games. Lloyd Kelly is fondly remembered dragging Christmas Trees from all over town, two at a time, to add to the burn pile.
For more interesting local stories, check out Fenelon Falls’ Tweedsmuir History: