By Wendy Sure, you can find Santa in just about any mall these days, but one of my favourite places to find him is at the Cumberland Heritage Museum Vintage Village of Lights. The Museum, which depicts rural life in a circa 1920s-30s village setting (think Upper Canada Village on a smaller scale), is located at 2940 Old Montreal Road; just 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa – and mere minutes from Orléans.
Since November 30, when the switch for the thousands of twinkling lights adorning the heritage buildings was flipped on, the Museum has been open to welcome the young and young-at-heart on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 3:00-8:00pm. There are still two more weekends to enjoy the magic of the Village (December 13, 14, 15, 20 and 22 – note that the Museum does not seem to be open on Saturday, December 21). The cost of admission is $7 per person or $18 for a family. Having enjoyed our visit last year, our family will be heading out this weekend to experience the festivities once again!
Last year, upon arrival, the kids (then ages 2 and 6) were given pennies to purchase vouchers at the General Store for cookie decorating and two crafts, as well as a map to find the buildings on the village site where the activities would take place. Before leaving the main reception building, they were given the opportunity to send a Santagram at the Village telegraph office, but opted out of this activity, having already written and sent letters to Santa via snail mail!
Dashing through the snow (from building to building - it was cold that night!), enjoying the warm glow of the lights, the kids decorated and devoured gingerbread cookies, made tree ornaments from buttons and pipe cleaners, and built and painted wooden planes with the help of friendly museum staff. We toured the site in a horse-drawn wagon while singing Christmas songs, and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate by a bonfire. And, of course, we had a visit with the man in red himself – no line-ups, and no photographer or fee – definitely bring your own camera!
The actual program of activities for this year’s Vintage Village of Lights may vary from those described above; let me know if you make it there and what you think! I will be sure to check back in with a report on our visit too. Nevertheless, if the Museum follows last year’s winning formula for a magical night, a visit to the Cumberland Heritage Museum will definitely make many spirits bright!
For more information, including directions to the Museum, visit: http://ottawamuseumnetwork.com/index.php?page=cumberland-heritage-village-museum ; or https://www.facebook.com/cumberlandmuseum .