Montrealers have been spellbound by the mechanical displays in Ogilvy’s department store window every Christmastime since 1947. The Bavarian scenes, custom made by the German toy manufacturer Steiff, feature dozens of handcrafted animals working and playing.
In 1911, the firm began producing mechanical windows featuring moving animals, which stores could rent or purchase to order – an effective way of entertaining children while promoting their merchandise. James Aird Nesbitt, who owned Ogilvy’s department store from 1927 to 1985, bought two – The Enchanted Village and The Mill in the Forest.
Similar to those of department stores in other parts of the world, like Macy’s in New York or the Galeries Lafayette in Paris, these window displays are among the last of their kind in North America.