16th. Century France
and Early French Canada
By 1914, Santa Claus was known across Europe as well as North America. The Santa of France, Pere Noel, was a kind gift bringer who traveled about the countryside by donkey.
He would leave gifts in the shoes placed by the fire place or Nativity scene, by good boys and girls .Sometimes treats for Père Noël's donkey were left in return.
The first French immigrants to Canada brought their Père Noël customs with them to celebrate Christmas in their new, adopted homeland.
Soldiers of the First World War received comfort from a visit from "Père Noël" in the form of supplies, moral support and in 1916, (as reported by a French magazine), "a sleigh full of beautiful women" !*
*Santa Claus: A Biography by Jerry Bowler
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