Celebrate the season at Rutherford House


Ever wonder what Christmas would have been like during Edwardian times? Visit Rutherford House on Sunday, December 6 to find out.

The Rutherford family celebrated Christmas a little differently than most people today. For one thing, the house wasn’t traditionally decorated as one might expect—Alexander Cameron Rutherford, Alberta’s first Premier, was very fond of trees. He felt that trees should not be cut down (which is why there’s a tree planting tradition to every University of Alberta graduation ceremony). So instead of a pine tree, the Rutherfords had a Christmas cactus that bloomed with beautiful pink flowers just in time for the Christmas season.

This tradition continues at Rutherford House today, so something to keep an eye out for when visiting!

The Rutherford children also received two presents each year—a large one and a small one. The small present was opened after the Christmas day meal and it was hidden inside a basket in the middle of the dining room table, which they called the “Christmas Pie”. A ribbon led from each person’s place setting to their present inside the “pie” but for Mr. Rutherford, it was always a book. The family also indulged in traditional Christmas crackers, made by Mrs. Rutherford herself.

Visitors will enjoy festival Christmas music, a tradition carried over from the days when Mrs. Rutherford and her daughter Hazel filled the house with piano music of familiar holiday carols and hymns, storytelling, delicious baked treats and warm cider. There will also be an opportunity to make a Christmas craft, which you can take to give as a present to decorate your own home!

In the spirit of the Rutherford family, the site is also a drop-off location for the United Way. Bring along a donation of new or gently used warm winter clothing items (until December 15).


When: Sunday, December 6 from noon until 4:00 pm

Where: Rutherford House, 11153 Saskatchewan Drive (University of Alberta campus)

Admission: $6 for adults, $20 for a family, $5 for seniors and $4 for youth aged 7-17. Children six and under are free.

For more information, please call 780.427.3995 (or dial 310.0000 for toll free access within Alberta), email us at Rutherford.House@gov.ab.ca, or visit Rutherford House’s website.

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