Store choir delighted all listeners

From our December 2018 issue

By Gladys Simpson – Rapid City, Man.

In the early 1950s, I went to work at the Hudson’s Bay store in Winnipeg, Man. That fall, one of my co-workers asked if I would like to sing in the Christmas choir. I had no idea what she was talking about, but soon found out.

The choir started practicing at the beginning of November in preparation for their debut on the mezzanine steps two weeks before Christmas. The doors opened at 9 a.m., rather than 9:30, so customers could come into the store to listen to the carols.

It was a wonderful way to start the busy day that was to follow, even though it meant rolling out of bed a half-hour earlier. People were always so appreciative. They would shake our hands and thank us when the half-hour was over.

On Christmas Eve, a half-hour before the store was to close, the escalator going to the second floor was shut down. The choir assembled there and sang carols as the customers were leaving. In most cases, we had to stop singing so that the people would leave.

Voice sent shivers

I shall never forget those wonderful memories. When I mention it to people my age, many say everything stopped in the morning wherever they were when the Bay choir came on the radio. The carol singing was on the radio every day during those two weeks!

Bill Calder, the store engineer, had a beautiful bass voice. His rendition of O’ Holy Night sent shivers down one’s spine.

Besides having the opportunity of watching people’s enjoyment of the performance, each member in the choir got two extra days holiday, for taking the time to practice and being on hand every morning to sing.

I hope there are still people around who recall those special days.

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