Honouring the memory of Mrs. Claus – Wrapping up joy in the name of Agnes Michon

By Rosalind Russell – Today the Espanola Lions Club will wrap up their Agnes Michon Toy Drive (at the Espanola Legion starting at 10 am this morning) for another year and deliver toys to children throughout the North Shore Corridor this weekend.
Agnes would be so proud.
Agnès was better known as Mrs. Claus to the people of the area. Living in Baldwin Township for decades, she lived and breathed Christmas year-round!
I interviewed her many times when I was writing for a newspaper and it almost became a tradition to visit with her every year just before Christmas to see the house. Every bit of room in her home shared the Christmas message from Santas to creches, snowmen to snow mice, Christmas carol music to the chime of the bells, and so much more. The Christmas Village sprawled across several rooms. The candles twinkling lights, and Christmas music, melted into your skin infusing you with the Christmas Cheer of the season. It was infectious.
And her laugh, she was always laughing. Her face would light up when she would show me her gifts and toys to go to the Lions Club Drive that literally were stacked to the ceiling. She would take an old doll, repaint it, make its clothes, even its new wig if it needed it, and wrap it up in love for another little girl to fall in love with. If she had to repair a toy truck or something mechanical, she told me she had secret elves who would help with the repairs. Once returned to her, they would get a bright layer of paint and under the tree they went.
I wish I had access to all the photos I took over the years. They would now be on microfiche at the Espanola Public Library. Her home and the gifts were absolutely astounding!
The Lions would have to send a contingent of vehicles to her home to pick them all up for wrapping and delivery in time for Christmas. They literally would be lined up outside her home for pick up.
And after Christmas, her holiday spirit continued. For many years, 26 in all, she would spend the rest of the year collecting, refurbishing, repairing, and getting toys ready for the toy drive. It not only filled her days, but it also ensured she always had friends and family stopping in. She would put them to work painting this, repairing that, and attaching a bow. Agnes was an avid quilter and her needlework was amazing.
I still have a doll she gifted me about 15 years ago. It is in my bedroom tucked away. It plays music and every once in a while I give it a twirl and simply listen and reminisce.
As a journalist for the last 45 years, I have met and interviewed many people. Agnes was always a highlight, a wonderful way to cap off another year of generosity, sharing, and caring.
I miss Agnes, I miss our annual Christmas tea at her home, I miss her infectious smile and her tinkling laugh, I miss her exuberance and her love of the season. I am not the only one.
She gained her wings in 2021 at 82 years of age.
But, her spirit lives on now as the Agnes Michon Toy Drive, and the laughter and joy of her love for Christmas is seen in the eyes of the children who still get that wonderful gift under the tree.
Thank you, Agnes, and Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine.

Photo: Agnes Michon photo courtesy of the Michon Family. Family group photo and all the toys gathered in 2023 courtesy of Espanola Lions Club.


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