Submitted by Trudy Janssens
Twenty-five years ago we had the opportunity to purchase an antique coach from British Columbia. We decided that it would make a good prop for our photography business in Saskatoon. On our way past Chilliwack, the wind caught us off guard and the carriage blew apart. We loaded up the pieces from the ditch and reassured each other that someday we’d put the pieces back together. We safely stored the windows, doors and wheels in the studio garage for many years.
Once we had built a new garage in Meota, Leo promised that the first project he’d tackle was to restore the coach. He made the call to transform it into Cinderella’s coach. With experience that he learned from building a barn roof with his dad, he proceeded to form the wooden ribs into the pumpkin. He dreamt of completing a carriage that his granddaughters would be excited to ride in. With Covid 19 keeping us in Meota full time, he was able to redesign the chassis so children would be comfortable entering and exiting. A hand-crafted crown topped the pumpkin.
Our grand daughter pitched in and helped paint as Leo came up with a hitch that would connect it to our old quad. I worked on comfortable seating and fretted about how to finish the coach’s interior. Before our granddaughter returned to Calgary, Leo’s “dream came true” and Siena was the first to ride in the Cinderella coach with her friends in Meota. As children, they weren’t too concerned with masks or social distancing.
As July 1 approached, we knew we should take the coach out to give others an opportunity to have a ride. Meota’s Children’s Bike Parade was cancelled and it rained all morning, but by four o’clock the clouds had cleared and we made the call to have two friends who were celebrating their 60th birthdays be the designated drivers for the coach.
Children appeared from all corners and filled the coach with smiles and giggles galore. As we drove around Meota we heard spectators comment that they were happy to see some people excited about Canada Day! Before you know it, a little green Beetle joined the parade followed by Leo in his white convertible, just in case I had issues with our old quad quitting en route.
The next day we were asked to go for another spin around town because several of the Meota seniors wanted to see Cinderella’s coach. As we rounded the corner by Meota’s Do Drop Inn, the quad quit again. I had forgotten to set the gas lever and I was so happy Leo was following in his car. Grandparents ran to greet us and asked if I could give their two grandchildren a ride. Six-year-old Bella Thomson and her two-year-old brother were welcomed aboard. Before you know it another little girl dressed in her Cinderella dress was following behind on their golf cart.
As I dropped Bella off, she said, “You made my dream come true! I’ve always wanted a ride in Cinderella’s coach.”
Nevaeh VanEe came next, fully prepared in her Cinderella dress! A perfect way to wrap up the season with many dreams come true.
Many people in Meota are wondering why Leo built this coach and what will become of it. For Leo, it’s a dream come true to build it. For the children who know Cinderella’s story, it’s a chance to participate in the fairy tale. For the 60-year-old birthday girls, it’s become a wonderful memory. There’s more finishing that will be done. Gold paint, diamonds and glass slippers are on hand to bring it to the next level. Next year there will be more children with fancy dresses and hopefully better weather. Parades will resume, (old) men will dream dreams and hopefully bring them to completion.