It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the McCaig family home.

Bright lights and a generous collection of outdoor festive decorations adorn all corners of the Sunnyside Street, Haliburton property. Inside, husband and wife team, Rob and Laurie, have transformed their little slice of rural paradise into a winter wonderland that looks like it was pulled straight out of their favourite Yuletide movie.

The crown jewel is a custom-made, 175-square-foot Christmas village the pair have been building since the early 1980s. They have affectionately dubbed the scene, which fills a large portion of their basement, ‘McCaig-R-Ville’.

“Christmas has always meant a lot to our family. My mom always loved it, and she passed that spirit down to me,” Rob said. “We like to go big around the holidays, and this village really has become a tradition of ours, over many, many years.”

Propped up across several fold-up tables, McCaig-R-Ville is a sight to behold. The village boasts 42 buildings, including a thriving downtown that features a community centre, town hall, police station, library, post office, bakery and a selection of locally-themed and inspired stores; nine mountain ranges, which Laurie carefully crafted with papier mache; two train stations, where carriages circle gleefully on a loop half covered with tunnels; and a lookout tower that Rob said is styled after the 100-foot tall structure that overlooks the Frost Centre in Algonquin Highlands.

More than 500 ‘residents’ can be spotted across dozens of scenes – there’s a moving dancing hall that plays festive music on repeat, hockey rinks made from old glass cabinets, and two churches that recreate services Rob remembers from his childhood.

In designing the surrounding lands, McCaig embraced the Highlands’ natural beauty, scattering dozens of small trees, camp sites and wildlife around the display.

“Dollar stores have been good to me when it comes to little things I’ve needed for some of my sets, and for the characters. The buildings can get expensive, though,” said McCaig, who said he’s probably spent a couple thousand dollars on his collection over the past 35 years.

He works full-time on the village for three weeks each year in early November, coming up with new designs and features. The latest arrivals are a news stand, skate rental kiosk and several horse-drawn carriages.

The display will remain intact well into the new year, with McCaig saying he usually takes it down after the Super Bowl in February. He had hoped to welcome area residents into his home this year to see the village, but with the high number of COVID, flu and RSV cases, he decided to postpone.

“We really want to introduce McCaig-R-Ville to Haliburton County. It seems such a shame to have this here and not share it, but I think it’s important that we stay safe this winter.”

McCaig said. “I’ve already got ideas percolating for next year, and we will definitely open this up, and hopefully introduce a donation component so that we have something to give back to our hospitals and food banks.”