The Lumber Elves debuted in 1955 as the stars of a Christmas window display for Peterborough Lumber on Monaghan road in Peterborough, Ontario. The six, 2 1/2-foot mechanical figurines were constructed of wood and paper mache.
The elves became a popular holiday destination for 60 years often creating traffic jams along the street as cars drove by slowly to see the annual display.
According to one town resident “It wasn’t Christmas unless you walked from Sherbrooke Street to Monaghan Road for the elves. Then you knew it was Christmas time.”
The elf set up included a cook holding a spoon, water pump operator, a wood chopper and a squirrel. The wooden figures, likely made around 1900, reportedly came from the Eatons store in Toronto.
The Lumber elves went into retirement after Cashway (formerly Peterborough Lumber) was sold to RONA.
In 1994, local Frank Bertrand purchased the elves and cared for them, repairing and rebuilding the elves when necessary.
The elves were then placed on display at the local Festival of Trees, until that event folded around 2012 and once again the elves were retired from the public eyes.
Bertrand had contacted the Peterborough Centennial Museum, as well as the Archives and the Canadian Canoe Museum to find a new home for the nostalgic elves, but both institutions declined his offer.
In recent years, Frank Bertrand made a deal with J. R. McGee who owned a Chevrolet car dealership in Peterborough. Mr. Bertrand decided to hand them over to Mr. McGee and his brother David in exchange for a $5,000 donation to his favorite charity – Make a Wish Foundation.
The vintage elves are set to relaunch during the Christmas season of 2015/2016 at McGee’s dealership at Clonsilla Avenue and Goodfellow Road. A contest to name each one of the elves was proposed.