Santa Claus and his elves had already been setting up a workshop in some large department stores for some years when he had his first parade through the streets of Montreal in 1925. Staged at a cost of $100,000 by Eatonís department store, this first parade was a huge festival for children and grown-ups alike. The celebration was actually organized into two different events.
A month before the event itself, Eaton started to announce on the radio through "Santagrams" that Santa Claus was coming. Daily bulletins followed his progress from the North Pole to Montreal. This tradition was maintained right up to the mid-1950s.
The second part of the celebration was the arrival of Santa Claus and his parade through the working class areas of Montreal. The final stop before Eatonís department store in centretown was the highlight of the celebration. On a platform especially decorated for the occasion, the companyís directors, including President John David Eaton, greeted the distinguished visitor with great pomp and ceremony. Climbing down his long ladder, Santa Claus entered the store to set up shop in "Toy Town" and meet his small fans every day until the "final opening day".
During the 1950s, the Dupuis FrŤres store organized its own parade for Francophones in the east end of Montreal. Using Eatonís tried and true formula, Dupuis also introduced its own "radiograms" and its "Toy City" beginning in 1927. At both Eatonís and Dupuis, children could have their photograph taken with Santa Claus, take a train ride to the "Land of Dreams" or meet the Christmas Star Fairy.