Looking up at the crystal-frozen waterfall on a bitterly cold day in 1981, trying to find some fresh water as our water pipes had also frozen along Little Nimmo Bay, I said to myself, “we need to get out of here!”

The wood stove was fiercely fighting against the bitterness of winter as we had blocked off our one room to contain the heat. In the corner, we had set up the most beautiful tree with handmade decorations and we had managed to do some Christmas baking. However, at this point, we realized that we would not make it until Christmas out here…

What to do? Santa had already been sent a letter to the North Pole telling him (or her) exactly where we were, so herein lies our dilemma – it was December 23rd and Craig and I could not spend another 2 nights waiting for Santa to arrive. The predictions were calling for it to get even colder as the days went on and the bay was freezing over!

Knowing that the Alert Bay Coast Guard Station was our only form of communication to the North Pole (and the world) – something had to be done. They were our vital link to Santa!

Fraser was old enough to understand that we had to leave but he worried that Santa may not find him in Port McNeill, so we helped him to call the Coast Guard station and ask if they could connect us to the North Pole in order to ask for a holiday favour.

Could Santa and his reindeer come early so that Fraser and his brother, Clifton, Mommy, and Daddy could escape the cold and retreat to the warmer, balmy climates of Port McNeill? The Coast Guard replied that they would work on a connection and see if they could patch Santa through on Channel 26 so that Fraser could make his very special request.

Sure enough, half an hour later, they made the connection over marine radio direct to Santa himself! He was very obliging as he explained he had first-hand experience at being cold and Ho-Ho-Ho! He said, “hang those stockings and get to bed cause Santa Clause comes tonight!”

So in 1981, Santa came early to Nimmo Bay and with the help of good friends in Port McNeill, we escaped our frozen paradise to let the martins, herons, and other wild creatures celebrate Christmas on their own.

Words: Deborah Murray