Christmas Fairytale Vignettes

December 18, 2016
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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 2022 display runs from November 12, 2022 to January 8, 2023 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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  • Reply
    December 18, 2016 at 8:55 am

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

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 21, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      Terry, I have vague memories of seeing them.

    • Reply
      November 29, 2022 at 9:11 am

      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.

      • Reply
        Donna Janke
        December 1, 2022 at 11:08 am

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

  • Reply
    Ken Dowell
    December 18, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Looking at these you can envision the families all bundled up against the cold looking at these holiday window displays. Great that they’ve been preserved.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 21, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      Ken, it is nice they’ve been preserved. I wonder how long they will be able to maintain them.

  • Reply
    Anita and Richard @ No Particular Place To Go
    December 19, 2016 at 2:31 am

    These are charming and I can easily imagine myself as a child looking forward to seeing these annual displays each Christmas. They really are magical! Anita

  • Reply
    Donna Janke
    December 21, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Anita, they are a lot simpler than the technological displays we see today, but they are still magical.

  • Reply
    Susan Cooper/
    December 21, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Hi Donna, this is so cute to me and I’m and I’m an adult. I can’t imagine how much kids would simply love this. Very very cute. I hope kids today are still read the wonderful fairy tales we read as kids. What a fun place to go.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 26, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      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,

  • Reply
    RoseMary Griffith
    December 24, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      December 26, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      RoseMary, I’m glad this added to your holiday mood, The vignettes are fun and nostalgic and whimsical.

  • Reply
    Bev Foster
    January 5, 2017 at 4:42 am

    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

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      January 5, 2017 at 10:03 am

      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.

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