West Pubnico, NS - A family tradition, connected with a beloved playhouse-sized gingerbread house, is continuing in West Pubnico after the loss of a woman who took great joy in having children visit it.
The house, made of wood and trimmed with holly, a heart and candy-cane cutouts, was built by Annis and David Surette. Large enough for children to enter, treat bags for each awaited inside.
Yvette d’Entremont, a member of the West Side Improvement Society, remembers taking her grandchildren there and meeting the Surettes.
“They were very quiet people, not people you’d see out in the community a whole lot. They kept to themselves and did nice things,” she says.
Aniss sewed the cloth treat bags for the gingerbread house and put a bag of chips, some chocolates and three of her home-baked gingerbread cookies in each before tying the top with curled ribbon.
On Aug. 15, Annis lost her life in a tragic collision at an intersection on Hwy. 103.
The following month, d’Entremont found herself sitting next to David’s sister, whom she knew well, at the Dennis Point Wharf during a visit by the schooner Bluenose.
The subject of the gingerbread house came up and they both agreed that the tradition would be difficult for David to handle alone.
D’Entremont suggested the society could help.
“I said look, if the family wants us to, we can use the gingerbread house and do everything exactly the way they did it.”
The family was “very pleased” by the offer but had one request – that Annis’s recipe be used to make the gingerbread cookies.
So D’Entremont put a call out for volunteers to bake the gingerbread cookies, posting it on social media around 8 a.m.
“By noon time I had offers to bake over 2,000 cookies. You should see my freezer,” she says.
David still had about 80 or 90 material bags that people had returned after children ate the treats, but more were needed.
Some of d’Entremont’s friends are good seamstresses and they started stitching.
The final count was 503 bags, with 447 bags stuffed with chocolates and chips, and cookies ready to add from the freezer. During the month of December, youngsters with their parents are invited to visit the gingerbread house and receive a treat bag.
In addition to arrangements for the gingerbread house, the society worked towards having a Christmas tree for the community in front of the rectory next to St. Peter’s Church in West Pubnico.
“The tree was donated by 86-year-old Sonny Morton, who used to own a Christmas tree farm,” says d’Entremont. “He was as proud as a peacock.”
David was asked to light the Christmas tree at 6 p.m., on Wednesday, Dec. 5, weather permitting.
Annis’s kindness will be a sweet memory for those who knew her.
“Her tradition is going to live on, let me tell you. The community’s not letting that go,” said d’Entremont.
For more info
Check the West Side Improvement Society Facebook Page for updates on date and time for Christmas tree lighting.