Ogilvy’s Christmas window Display is a Christmas memory

Ogilvy's Christmas window

Ogilvy’s Christmas window Display – It is always a bitter-sweet moment when saying goodbye to an old friend – and in this case even a new friend, as young and old bid adieu to Ogilvy’s famous Christmas window display. After over 70 years of adding that special magic to the holiday season, the mechanical jumping frogs, donkeys, monkeys and teddy bears of the Mill Forest and Enchanted Village – that many have grown to love, will be moving to a new home at the McCord Museum.

Ogilvy’s Christmas window

The good news is the display will still be on exhibit for free at the museum every holiday season – and although it is uncertain what it will look like, they are aiming to keep it as close as possible to the original set-up.

Ogilvy’s is merging its operations with Holt Renfrew and the owners say they made the decision to end the annual display because there is concern about space – as the Ogilvy building is being expanded to house the new operation. A company spokesperson said they decided to donate the collection, along with $50,000 to the museum, as their expertise will help them care for the toys. The money will be used to restore the toys and put together the new exhibit.

Back in 1947, James Aird Nesbitt who was in charge of the traditional Christmas window displays at Ogilvy, commissioned German toymaker Steiff to create two animated holiday scenes known as ‘The Mill in the Forest’ and ‘The Enchanted Village’. The displays included dozens of handcrafted mechanical toy animals and more than a hundred moveable parts. Although the displays were refurbished in 2008, they remain pretty much the same today.

As a child, it did not matter what faith you followed or not – seeing the display was magical in itself. Traditions do slowly disappear or change with time, but what it is important is how it was ingrained in our minds and hearts, becoming a part of who we are.

A spokesperson for Holt Renfrew said, as they move on to become ‘a luxury shopping destination, they are making way for new traditions’. Let’s hope they find a way to remain true to the spirit and magic that graced our city for decades.

As for the jumping frogs, Christmas donkeys, monkeys and teddy bears – it seems fit for them to spend their later years in a museum dedicated to the preservation, study and appreciation of Montreal’s history.

What are your memories of the first time seeing the display?

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