Remembering Christmas in the mid-1920s

A little boy’s Christmas memory from more than 90 years ago is featured on the Star’s editorial page today

A little boy’s Christmas memory from more than 90 years ago is featured in the Star this week.

“It was Christmas Eve in our house on the Matsqui Prairie. I will always remember those words from my dad,” said Ernie Poignant, still drawing at the age of 98. Poignant, who first created the cartoon for the now-defunct Maple Ridge Gazette in the mid-1970s, included it in a fundraising book he self-published in 2013 titled Poignant Moments.

He’s offering the cartoon as a gift to Star readers this year.

“I hope people get a kick out of it. After all, Christmas is about family and special memories,” said Poignant, a noted amateur historian in Abbotsford.

Recalling the genesis of the cartoon, Poignant said the gentle reminder from his father in the mid-1920s resonated with him for decades — especially around the Christmas season. The cartoon, in an era before electricity, depicts an exchange in front of the Christmas tree with his dad, Albin, while his grandparents, Carl and Hulda look on. The family lived in what was then a Scandinavian settlement in north Matsqui, which is now part of Abbotsford.

After the tree was lit, the family then enjoyed meatballs, hard tack crackers and pastries as gifts were handed out. Poignant says he remembers receiving “a wind-up toy train and track.”

The following afternoon the family had a traditional Swedish Christmas meal.

“There was no turkey. We’d have ham and some fish,” said Poignant.

After drawing cartoons for several publications and newspapers for more than 60 years, Poignant remains active with his pencil and paper. As part of Canada Day celebrations this year, he entertained people of all ages at Mission’s Heritage Park with his interactive Initial Drawings.

”I can’t move like I used to, but I’ve still got all my marbles,” said Poignant, who will be celebrating Christmas this year with his family around an artificial tree with electric lights.

Star editor Gary Poignant is Ernie Poignant’s son.

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