Ogilvy moves iconic Christmas windows to McCord Museum

Ogilvy's iconic Christmas windows, set up every year at Ogilvy department store in Montreal, will now be on display at the McCord Museum from this year forward, the company said on Wednesday.

Company says Montreal history museum will be able 'to protect, preserve' the historic holiday displays

The displays have drawn Montrealers to the Ogilvy store every year since they were first set up in 1947. (McCord Museum/Handout)

For decades, thousands of Montrealers have flocked to the iconic Christmas windows at the Ogilvy department store on Ste-Catherine Street.

But this year, families will need to head over to the McCord Museum in order to keep that long-held holiday tradition alive, as the historic displays have been donated to the museum.

The displays will be on exhibit at the McCord Museum every holiday season from this year forward, Holt Renfrew Ogilvy said on Wednesday.

The company said it decided to move the displays in order "to protect, preserve and ensure their continuity as a landmark of Montreal's Christmas atmosphere."

The Christmas display in Olgivy window on Ste-Catherine Street was typically set up from November to January. (CBC)

It also made a $50,000 donation to the McCord Museum Foundation to help maintain the mechanical displays.

"Thanks to its highly-skilled restoration team, the McCord Museum will be able to revamp, restore and continue the tradition of the windows for the pleasure of all Montrealers for years to come," the company said in a statement.

A decades-long Montreal tradition

The first Christmas windows went on display at Ogilvy in 1947. 

Constructed by German toy company Steiff Co., they were made of more than 100 moveable parts, including a variety of animated stuffed animals.

The two scenes – "The Enchanted Village" and "Mill in the Forest" – aimed to "illustrate the traditional aspects of Christmas," the company says on its website. 

The displays are made up of more than 100 parts, including animated stuffed animals. (McCord Museum/Handout)

The window displays were featured at the store between mid-November and early January every year.

Suzanne Sauvage, president and chief executive officer of the McCord Museum, said conservation experts on staff will be able to maintain and restore the displays if need be.

Sauvage said she remembers going to see the storefront window herself as a young girl with her mother.

"Then I took my nieces. Now I take the children of my nieces and I go myself, by myself, every year," she told CBC's Homerun.

Sauvage added the window displays have become "part of the history of Montreal now."

"And it seems like the natural home for them is the McCord Museum, the history museum of Montreal."

With files from Kristy Rich and Melissa Fundira


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