The Island’s own Father Christmas

Island Santa, written by Sheryl McFarlane of Victoria and illustrated by Sheena Lott of North Saanich, is the story of the Santa boat, about a small vessel that takes a red-clad Father Christmas and his sack of presents to small coastal communities.

All proceeds from the sale of the book go to help support Jeneece Place.

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The book is inspired by the late Vancouver Island philanthropist Kaare Norgaard, who, every December, would deck out his boat, the Blue Fjord, with Christmas decorations and take Santa Claus to small coastal towns.

Island Santa is also a story about one small boy who hitches a ride on the Santa boat, helping out at its various ports of call on his way to be with his sister, who is sick and has gone with their father to a hospital in the city.

The boy, after his boatside adventures, meets his father at Jeneece Place, identifiable by the native totem inside the door.

Jeneece Place is the 10-bedroom living facility for parents to stay when their children have been admitted to Victoria General Hospital, the main hospital on Vancouver Island for serious pediatric cases.

Island Santa sells for $19.95 and is available at bookstores across Vancouver Island.

Also included in the back of the book are notes detailing the accomplishments of Jeneece Edroff, now 18.

Despite a diagnosis of neurofibromatosis, a progressive disease that is destroying her spine, Edroff became a fundraising phenomenon. She started collecting pennies as a child, and by 16, had collected more than $1 million.

Island Santa also includes a short article on Norgaard himself, whose Blue Fjord is clearly identified in many of the book’s illustrations. Norgaard died in 2005 at the age of 89.

The Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, formerly the Queen Alexandra Foundation for Children, hopes the children’s book will become part of a Christmas tradition for families.

“There is a real Island Christmas story here,” said Ron Hewitt, chief executive of the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island.

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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