Sudbury's Official Santa on TV

Look Mom, I'm On TV!
For well over three decades, another very traditional and most anticipated live broadcast was a daily feature in the few weeks leading up to Christmas Eve.  CKSO TV welcomed Santa Claus into its television studio to sit and chat with visiting children in front of a live camera.  The children would line up hoping to sit on Santa's knee before the half-hour broadcast was up.  The set was always festive, beautifully decorated with Santa's big red chair front and centre.

Santa, none other than Sudbury's official representative of the big guy from the North Pole, was Wilf Salo.  Wilf was the real deal!  His friendly, welcoming, charismatic demeanor made him a natural for the job.  He appeared to be all knowing and in a very genuinely manner when it came to children, their own hearts, and not to mention an endless list of surnames with which he knew or was acquainted.  Wilf was known for his ability to say "Merry Christmas" in 14 different languages!  No one could be surprised by his knowledge of the people and area as Wilf had been so involved with the community, having volunteered with all kinds of organizations in one way or another.

Wilf Salo was born in Ishpeming of Northern Michigan on March 9, 1909 where his parents landed coming over from Finland about 1903.  Ishpeming was a big Finnish area about some 180 miles from the boarder.  His family moved to Copper Cliff in 1912 and shortly after, moved to Sault Ste. Marie.  Wilf went to school at Magpie Mines until 1918.  His family had moved back to Sudbury in November of that year.

Wilf married Nellie Purnu 1927.  They had one child, Joyce, who excelled as a figure skater gaining recognition in Canada.  She also taught skating.  Her career inspired the book, "The Bells on Finland Street".

Wilf had numerous jobs throughout the years, however he was stationed at Silverman's Store from 1929 to 1965, a total of 36 years!  It was in 1965 that he established the Soucie-Salo Safety Supply Company on Lorne Street in Sudbury.

For Wilf Salo, being Sudbury's official Santa came about quite by accident.  In 1934 Silverman's toy department had created a promotional campaign which would have Wilf dress up and play the part of Santa!  Being so well received as Santa, and discovering he was in his element, Wilf began to think of the happiness he could spread throughout the entire area by dawning the red suit and visiting charities, hospitals, police, fire and service club functions and so on.

Wilf retired in the late 1980's.  On his 85th birthday, in 1992, Wilf was honoured at a gala party held at the Four Points Inn.  Wilf's motto was, "everyone should put something back into the community."  Wilf lived what he believed and for that had come to receive countless accolades, awards, metals and civic citations.
Sudbury's official Santa Claus was on the job for over a half-century.  He passed away later in 1999.

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