Dan Kenkel thinks he has over 60 nutcrackers, but can’t be sure. They do not all make it out on display every year. Some in his collection are expensive German originals, and others are much cheaper. Those displayed on the piano each year stand guard proudly. He isn’t really sure why he has the collection. “Maybe it’s an adult excuse to buy toys,” he said. “Maybe it’s a bit of my German heritage. I have always been drawn to them. And so I started to collect them. I’m also not an easy person to buy Christmas presents for so nutcrackers became something that was an easy option for my friends and family.” Each nutcracker has a story. One nutcracker is broken and scarred. His story is almost a eulogy, but he was rescued and, although he has no nose or arms, still joins the other nutcrackers. “One year when we were moving, a box of Christmas decorations fell off the back of my truck on Highway 1,” said Kenkel “Before items could be rescued, the nutcracker was run over and received some significant damage. He has tire marks on his head and lots of scrapes and broken parts. The kids named him “owie guy” for his numerous injuries. He is the least valuable, but he may be my favourite.” /SUBMITTED PHOTO

Beanery 2 owner Donna Perkins didn’t set out to have a collection of nutcrackers. But, when they opened the cafe about 16 years ago, she set out a few as part of her Christmas decorations, and now her collection contains more than 50. “People saw them, and started gifting them,” said Perkins. “I usually get one or two a year. I pick up the odd one here and there too, if I find unique ones.” Perkins’ collection stands as tall as three and half feet, all the way to her tiniest nutcracker standing only about an inch tall. He is a fully functioning hand carved piece that came from Germany. The second tallest came to her at a Ducks Unlimited Dinner. She had tried her hardest to win it. When her brother Jim won it, he sat it down in front of her and said ‘I can’t think of anyone who deserves this more.’ A CN worker, after realizing she didn’t have an CN type representation in her collection went home and pieced together a rail worker nutcracker complete with a CN hat and a signal lantern. / ANDREA ARNOLD