Houde treasures toy tractor he received one Christmas

Paul Houde says he enjoyed the rides to church in a caboose in the winter.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Reflecting on Christmas memories as a child, Paul Houde first mentions the fun ways to get around.

“I remember the old days when we went to Christmas Eve mass in Falher in a caboose,” says Houde, 84, a lifetime resident of Falher, who makes his home at the Villa Beausejour.

It wasn’t’ a train caboose on rails.

“Two horses pulled a covered sleigh,” Houde says.

“We had a small stove inside to keep warm.”

He is the only son and second youngest of four children of Alphonse and Germaine Houde.

Christmas Eve mass at the Paroise St. Anne Catholic Church in Falher was also memorable.

“We had a nice mass and a choir of 20-25 singers,” Houde says.

“Nothing compares it to today, it was lively.”

Sometimes someone would play a violin.

“When we got home, we always had a present to open,” Houde says.

He has one fond memory of special gift.

“One time I stayed home, I didn’t’ go to mass,” Houde says.

“I was maybe five years old.

“I was looking all over the house for my present, but I couldn’t find it.”

Then the big moment came.

“When Mom and Dad got home, Dad gave me my gift,” Houde says.

“It was a toy tractor, a Caterpillar, red, about one foot long.”

It was something that lasted for a long time.

“I played with that toy tractor for six years, until all the tracks fell off or wore out,” Houde says.

The Houde household always had a Christmas tree.

“Dad and I used to go into the bush and get a tree,” Houde says.

“Usually the best trees were in the ditch.”

He said the tree was decorated with something.

“I can’t remember if we had lights at first,” Houde says.

Christmas dinner was served at noon.

“We always had turkey, sometimes ham, meat pies, and homemade bread,” Houde says.

“When we children got older, we had wine.”

He also remembers a special trip to visit an uncle and aunt.

“One Christmas, we took the steam train to Dawson Creek,” Houde says.

“We left at around seven o’clock at night and arrived about three or four in the morning.”

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