Welcome to Sparkyville.
This picturesque mountain village is home to farms, a church, an ornate mosque, a towering windmill, two outdoor skating rinks and a brand new shopping mall.
Never heard of it?
Maybe that’s because Sparkyville pops up once a year at Christmas time on large tables in Ann de Jong’s living room on the Matsqui Prairie. A white table cloth serves as a snowy earth; model homes, buildings and human figurines populate the town; a wooded mountain range even stretches over de Jong’s couch.
The 89-year-old has engineered the growing town over 35 years, adding new buildings, town squares, roads and people as years go by.
In homage to the local outlet closing, de Jong installed a Sears location in 2017 and laid out an entire shopping mall around it on the Sparkyville outskirts – the corner of one table.
De Jong says she enjoys the process of reconstructing and expanding Sparkyville every fall but what she most looks forward to is the reaction from its visitors – the young tourists are her favourite.
“As children come, they see every little detail,” she says. “They sit on their knees and they look in the house and I get so much enjoyment out of it.”
Sparkyville is named after Sparky, a since deceased pet bird. Like its name, almost every element in town has a backstory – the mosque is out of respect for Abbotsford’s diverse community, while the windmill honours Holland, de Jong’s country of origin, and a First Nations settlement acknowledges the area’s original inhabitants. Mr. and Mrs. Claus even call Sparkyville home – their cottage is a favourite among children, de Jong says.
Soon to enter her ninth decade, de Jong says she isn’t sure how much longer she’ll be able to maintain her position as chief planner of Sparkyville, but she plans to keep explanding and maintaing it each year, “so long as I can.”
Sparkyville stays in her living room until the end of January each year before being packed pack up into a series of large bins until next Christmas.
“To me, it is Christmas,” she says.