Christmas has always been a special occasion for the residents of Shawnigan Lake. In 1900, the Koenig Hotel on the village waterfront hosted the first Community Christmas Tree event. In 1910, the celebration moved to the brand new Shawnigan Lake Athletic Association building and the tradition continued for another 66 years. Every Christmas, supper, entertainment and games were provided for the children. There was a giant Christmas tree to delight the children and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus.
For many years every child, from infancy to 14 years old, received a present. In the fall, a committee of women from the village would canvass the area for donations and then draw up a shopping list of presents for each child. They would shop locally first and then make a trip to Victoria for the remainder of the list. Occasionally, an overnight stay in Victoria was required to complete the shopping.
Sometime in the 1940s, the tradition of gifts was dropped from the festivities, and thereafter, the children received an orange and a bag of candy. After Christmas, in 1976, it was decided that the village had outgrown the event. The number of children, which had swelled to 500-600, was beyond the regulation capacity of the hall. With the expanding population in the area it was decided that the Community Christmas Tree event was more suited to a village and no longer applied to the larger community.
Over the last thirty years, a community Christmas event has taken place in most years but sponsored by different groups and held in different places. For many of those years an outdoor Christmas tree on the corner of Shawnigan and Shawnigan-Mill Bay Roads was the focus for the Christmas celebration. Here, the community gathered to sing carols and to visit with Santa. Later, the celebration moved to Mason’s Store, again with a special tree and a visit from the jolly old elf. In addition, every year, our Shawnigan firefighters provide the community with the much anticipated Santa Run that brings Santa and his sleigh out to local neighbourhoods on the top of a fire truck.
For the past number of years, the “Village Light Up”, held early in December, has brought a community Christmas celebration back to the village. Food, music, a beautiful tree with lights and, of course, a visit with Santa, makes this a special occasion to, once again, gather in the village with neighbours and friends.