ARICHAT: An annual holiday fundraiser for community groups will take place this weekend on Isle Madame.
The Isle Madame Historical Society and the Friends of St. John’s Arichat Society are teaming up for Christmas House Tours of homes and buildings around the island on November 24 and 25 from 1-5 p.m. This year’s event will feature an historic theme.
Those taking part in this year’s tour are Herman and Norma Boudreau of Arichat, Elaine Boudreau of Arichat, the Cutler House in Arichat, the St. John’s Centre for the Arts in Arichat, and Claire Bonin in D’Escousse.
Anne Leavitt, with the Friends of St. John’s Arichat Society, explained that this is the first year her group and the historical society are involved in the tours.
“In large part, it will benefit our organizations but the thing is that every year the idea is to hand the event off to another organization or group or organizations so that it remains as a continuous source of fundraising, but also enjoyment in the community year after year,” Leavitt noted.
In keeping with this year’s historic theme, Leavitt noted there are two historic properties included in the tour, the Cutler House which is a provincial Heritage House and the St. John’s Centre for the Arts which is a municipally-designated historic property.
Although the tours started as a way to get people into the Christmas spirit, Elaine Boudreau said she has been decorating her home for the past two decades, and gradually, it also became a fundraiser.
“We’ve done it for the churches, of course, we’ve done it for the historical society, we’ve done it for the cancer society, we’ve done it for the school,” Boudreau recalled of opening her house to the public at this time of year.
Boudreau said the tours allow her to expresses her love for Christmas and showcase her ability to recycle.
“It’s my love of Christmas but it’s everybody else’s decorations because my house is recycled,” she explained. “I will take broken trees and make new trees out of them using logs from the woods. I will do upside trees when they don’t look good hanging the other way, I’ll do whatever it takes.”
This year Boudreau is offering 15 rooms of Christmas decorations, all with an historic theme, completely different from what she’s done in previous years. She expects approximately 100 visitors during the weekend.
“I have a set of sleigh runners made by Larry Keating down at LeNoir Forge years ago and I had a coffee table out of it,” Boudreau noted. “But this year, I have an old fashioned sleigh with a horse pulling it, yes in the middle of my room.
“I have an old chair downstairs that was Senator Miller’s.”
Leavitt was equally enthusiastic about the former Anglican church in Arichat.
“The folks who are doing it up are doing it up as a kind of Dickens Christmas, and I think among other things, they are going to have people in costume, characters out of Dickens’ novels,” Leavitt teased.
“I don’t know what to expect, it just sounds fun.”