One woman’s act of passion still shines

The nativity scene as is stands today in the Civic Square. It was created to keep the real meaning of Christmas alive in a sea of dazzling lights: the birth of Jesus Christ. The first 11 pieces were built in 2005 and five more pieces added in 2006 to complete the scene.

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

It was one of her final acts of passion, and gifts to High Prairie.

Some have forgotten, but many still remember that the nativity scene that is the centerpiece of High Prairie Light-Up each year was completed with the help of Gwen McLaughlin.

The 11-piece scene was completed with loving hands, all while McLaughlin was battling cancer, which eventually took her life on March 23, 2008 at the age of 56 years.

Former husband Jim Trevors says fondly that his wife began working on the display in the fall of 2005.

“She was undergoing cancer treatments at the time,” says Trevors. “Her determination and will to get the project finished gave her a real purpose.”

When interviewed for the story in 2005, McLaughlin deflected credit. It was typical of her nature.

“Being the type of person not to be in the limelight, she gave full credit to those who were also instrumental on the project,” says Trevors.

The scene is comprised of Mary, Joseph, the manger, two shepherds, two sheep, a cow, donkey, angel and a star.

Every inch of every piece of the display is literally a labour of love.

McLachlan, who was a High Prairie Beautification committee member at the time, said they all started on the project in early October. She added WinterLights chair Marian Porisky came up with the idea to enhance the Civic Square display.

“It’s based on the Peace on Earth theme,” said Porisky.

“We can’t have that without a nativity scene,” she added.

McLachlan quickly agreed to take on the project and found the people to help her make the project a reality. Work was completed in the family garage.

McLachlan did the preparation work including sanding and painting. Backs and Fisher also painted while Wyllie was the handyman, cutting the wood to outline the figures. Fisher also does some staining.

Porisky sang the praises of the volunteer group at a WinterLights meeting Nov. 7, 2005. She called the display “fantastic” and praised the efforts of the dedicated volunteers.

The following year, the Three Wise Men, a camel and The Little Drummer Boy were added to the display, which is still enjoyed and appreciate by many today. Many families have their pictures taken at the display each year during Light-Up celebrations.

“It is very gratifying 11 years later to see the nativity scene holding up so well in a place of prominence in the Light-Up display,” says Trevors.

“I am sure it brings back many memories for town residents.”

Gwen McLaughlin puts the finishing touch on one of the characters in the nativity scene being created for High Prairie Christmas Light-Up in 2005. McLachlan, Hazel Backs, Arnie Wyllie, and Val Fisher worked diligently on the beautiful 11-piece scene that still graces the celebration each year.

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