Christmas Fairytale Vignettes

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Christmas Fairytale Vignettes

A bit of nostalgia viewing decades-old fairytale vignettes on display
at the Manitoba Children’s Museum

The 2023 display runs from November 18, 2023 to January 7, 2024 at the Manitoba Children’s Museum

Over the Christmas season, the Manitoba Children’s Museum in Winnipeg stages a special exhibit – fairytale vignettes which were once a highlight of Eaton’s Christmas display.

Christmas Fairytale Vignettes: Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty

Eaton’s was a Canadian department store opened in 1869 by Timothy Eaton, a Scottish immigrant. It was once Canada’s largest retailer with stores across the country. Its catalogue made it to almost every home in Canada. I remember hours spent dreaming over its contents and creating furnished mansions for my paper dolls with furniture cut out of old catalogues.

Christmas Fairytale Vignettes: Hansel and Gretel
Hansel and Gretel

Eaton’s Winnipeg store opened in 1905. It was the first Eaton’s store in western Canada. Christmas was a special time at the store. People went downtown to look at the holiday windows, the displays in Toyland and the fairytale vignettes in the ninth floor annex. The moving papier-mache and fabric fairytale figures and the painted backdrops were a holiday tradition for generations. When Eaton’s went bankrupt in 1999, a private citizen ensured relocation of the vignettes to the Manitoba Children’s Museum.

Christmas Fairytale Vignettes: Rumpelstiltskin
Christmas Fairytale Vignettes: Mother Hubbard
Mother Hubbard

Buttons below the vignettes activate movement. The movements are a bit jerky. The displays are quaint and dated in terms of modern day technology, but there is still something magical about them. Shortened versions of the fairy tales accompany each vignette.

Christmas Fairytale Vignettes: Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Although the exact age of the vignettes is not known, they are well over forty years old. Keeping them refurbished and in good working order must take a fair bit of care and work. Most of movements still worked, but I did notice at least one non-working part. Baby Bear didn’t move when I visited, although the floor under him indicated he did move at one time.

Christmas Fairytale Vignettes: Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood
Christmas Fairytale Vignettes: The Little Match Girl
The Little Match Girl
Christmas Fairytale Vignettes: Elves and the Shoemaker
Elves and the Shoemaker
Christmas Fairytale Vignettes: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

There are fifteen vignettes in the collection. The Manitoba Children’s Museum is open daily with the exception of some holidays. It is located at The Forks in downtown Winnipeg.

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Eaton's Christmas Fairytale Vignettes: A bit of nostalgia viewing decades old fairytale vignettes once a highlight of Christmas as the Eaton's store on display at the Manitoba Children's Museum, Winnipeg, Canada #Winnipeg #Canada #Manitoba #Christmas

PIN ITEaton's Christmas Fairytale Vignettes: A bit of nostalgia viewing decades old fairytale vignettes once a highlight of Christmas as the Eaton's store now on display at the Manitoba Children's Museum, Winnipeg, Canada #Winnipeg #Canada #Manitoba #Christmas

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  1. Looks interesting! Although my family was an ‘Eaton’s” family, I don’t remember seeing these. Thanks for sharing.

    1. These fairy tale vignettes are a wonderful memory of my childhood that I still cherish to this day. Every year on a frosty winter’s eve in December, my family would make the trip downtown to visit the Eaton’s store and take in all the glorious Christmas lights and beautifully decorated window displays.

      1. Angela, having these on display at the Children’s Museum may mean they become a wonderful childhood memory for a new generation.

    1. Susan, I don’t know how much kids today read fairytales, but there was a grandmother reading the shortened version beside each vignette to her young granddaughter the day I visited the exhibit,

  2. These are such utter fun! I’m glad I’m reading them on Christmas Eve—the whimsy of these vignettes add to my holiday mood. Thanks so much for sharing. I’m glad they weren’t lost when the stores closed.

  3. It would be interesting to know how old this display really is. I am 61 years old and when I saw this display yesterday it hit me with so many memories of Christmas past, I was very young when i first saw this display and I was thrilled to see it again.So glad it has been preserved

    1. Bev, it would be nice to know the exact age and story of how these vignettes came to be. I was not able to find that information when I researched the vignettes. But I too am glad they’ve been preserved. They’ve brought back memories for a lot of people. And are maybe creating new memories for some.