We could all use all use a little extra holiday cheer this year. And just because we can’t go out to events and gatherings, doesn’t mean we can’t recreate some of the Christmas magic at home. Just ask Joyce Paul — she has mastered the art of creating holiday magic without leaving the house. The St. Albert resident has been upholding the spirit of the season by building an incredible miniature Christmas village for over 20 years. Paul, along with the help of her family, starts assembling the mini holiday village and lighting it up every year in November — and it’s as magical as it sounds.
It all started with the Stargo Set under the tree, and later became a tabletop display. Now, the fully assembled village takes up six shelves, and features an extremely detailed and intricate collection of items — a post office, a hockey rink, a candy shop, a bank, and more. Fittingly named Joyceville by Paul’s granddaughters, it mirrors a typical Canadian town.
While Paul is unable to have a gathering with her family this year, the village serves as a reminder that she’s never alone. Throughout the years, her entire family has been contributing to the improvement and growth of the village that now holds a special place in Paul’s heart. Despite the distance, she feels a strong connection to her family whenever she looks at it.
“It makes me feel very, very happy,” says Paul. “I mean, a lot of people are in depression right now, but I’m not. All I have to do is look at my village, there are so many things to look at. To me, it’s like having my family with me, because so many of them have helped build this village. I feel like they’re with me, even if I’m not with them. ”
Like any good magician, Paul is always glad to have an audience. Not surprisingly, in the past years, all guests have been in awe of the village upon seeing it — and many who walked in, would “stop dead in their tracks, because they couldn’t believe how big and nice it is,” and of course, proceeded to take photos.
Though the village is not seeing any visitors this year, Paul is happy to have it on display for herself and the family members she lives with. Each year, she adds one or two new pieces to her village, purchased from stores like Walmart and Home Depot (or gifted by her family members). This year, Paul has added the TD Bank branch, the Prince Wales pub and a bigger skating rink. Her personal favourite remains the Ferris wheel, however. And she doesn’t plan on stopping growing her collection anytime soon.