Ottawa's Michael Morin, a lifelong public servant, is nearing retirement — but his new role is just beginning.
Some say he's made for it.
Morin, featured in a CBC Radio documentary on The Current, will slip into a vintage Santa suit this year, completing the look with shiny black boots and his own — very real — long, white beard.
It's Morin's first holiday season being Santa, and he's preparing to spread his love of Christmas to everyone he meets.
He's got big boots to fill, in more ways than one. The outfit first belonged to Jimmy Lomax, Hamilton's legendary Santa, who was admitted to the Order of Canada for his decades of work with Operation Santa Claus, a charity Lomax ran with his wife.
When Lomax retired he passed the role on to Larry Lantz, who wore the suit until his death in 2013. Lantz co-founded the charity Santa Canada, which sought to help terminally ill children celebrate Christmas one last time, no matter the time of year.
Morin first met Lantz during a social gathering in the summer of 2013, Lantz's husband Myke Hutchings said.
"Larry was very quiet that night," he said. "Michael tends to be a very quiet individual too, so they just sort of gravitated towards each other."
As Lantz fought pancreatic cancer, Hutchings asked him what he'd like to do with all the Santa paraphernalia.
"One of the last things he said is, 'I want you to keep the Jimmy Lomax suit and give it to Michael Morin when he's ready,'" Hutchings said.
And now, Morin is ready.
"I knew the suit belonged to Larry, but when I found out where it originally came from, I was really humbled by the whole thing, to think that I'm following in the footsteps of these great Santas, these great people," he said. "I do feel like I'm part of their legacy."