A Christmas Tradition in Kenora Since 1931

Christmas in Kenora would not be the same without the Christmas tree lit up on Main Street.

If you’re traveling through downtown Kenora, Ontario anytime after the second or third week in November, you’ll see a majestic, massive Christmas tree at the corner of Main and Second Streets.

The first time a Christmas tree was ever placed on Main Street was back in 1931. The man behind it was Joseph Derry, the proprietor of Derry’s Palace Theatre. 

For most residents today, the Christmas season starts once the tree is lifted into place on Main Street. Not that long ago, the tree was just put up and the lights were turned on without much fanfare. The last few years, however, have seen a Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony spearheaded by the Harbourtown Biz.

A great shot of the tree on Main Street by Chris Barre of Skycam UAV.

Children and adults alike head downtown for the lighting of the tree. It has turned into quite an event. The crowds gather, listening to Christmas carolers, Santa arrives and greets the children. When it’s time, everyone counts down and the beautiful tree is lit up.

After photos with Santa in front of the twinkling tree, everyone heads to the Lake of the Woods Museum for hot cider and cookies. The museum is beautifully decorated, and everyone strolls throughout the museum admiring all the decorated Christmas trees while listening to some live music.

For most people it all seems quite simple, you put up the tree, watch the tree lighting and then enjoy the view for a few weeks. But it’s actually quite a huge undertaking each year. 

Residents submit applications each year for their trees to be considered for Main Street. There are many factors that are considered: size, height, width, etc. Once a tree is chosen, you don’t just quickly put it up. We’re talking about a humongous tree that needs to be transported on a flatbed truck. It's a massive undertaking.

Ray Edwards and CJ Edwards and Son Ltd have been volunteering their time for many, many years. The tree is carefully cut down and the tree must be placed and transported on the truck without ruining any branches. It’s quite the feat. After getting a police escort to the temporarily cordoned-off Main Street, the tree is lifted off the truck and into place. 

The tree is being transported to its location on Main Street. Photo: KenoraOnline 

In 2015, the tree held special significance for one Kenora resident. The majestic blue spruce was donated by Don Brown of Superior Street in Keewatin. The tree was in fact planted by Kristen Hansen and her family in the Spring of 1975, making it 40 years old. The below photo shows the tree just after it was planted in 1975 and then the same tree later as Kenora's Christmas tree in 2015. 

Kristen in front of the tree in 1975 and then again in 2015!

Kenora Hydro puts up many lights each year. This year, they had the most lightbulbs ever! There are thousands of lights; around 7,000-8,000. Below, CJ Edwards & Son is placing the tree on the truck before it heads downtown.

One can't help but smile as they turn the corner onto Main Street and see the tree.

If you'd like a copy of the main cover photo by Kim Pirie-Milko, the print and other wonderful photos of Northwestern Ontario are located on her website at naturescapephoto.ca

About Erin Rody

I grew up on Black Sturgeon Lake in Northwestern Ontario. I am a staff writer for the Sunset Country Travel Association. Through my articles I hope to entice you to visit the wonderful region I call home. We are all about outdoor adventure; with 70,000 lakes and rivers and a whole lot of forests how can we not be? Whether you like to fish, hunt, canoe, kayak, boat or go camping, Sunset Country has something for you. Enjoy!

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