Thomas Buckley, author
of The Choir Boy, outside the downtown Sears
store. (Photo by Michael Swan)
- If you’re strolling by the Eaton Centre this
Christmas season, you should know there’s a
Christmas present waiting for you in one of the
It’s not a Nintendo Wii, a
box of chocolates or anything else you might feel
compelled to buy before Dec. 25. It’s just a story
about a St. Michael’s Choir School boy, his family
and the build-up to Christmas. It’s called The
Choir Boy and will be presented in 25 installments
in a downtown Sears store window between Nov. 30
and Christmas Eve. It will also be posted online
Thomas Buckley, the
career trucking company executive who wrote the
story, thinks of his Christmas tale as a gift to
Toronto. In a sense, it’s a gift of the old
Toronto to a new Toronto.
“I’m an east-end
boy,” Buckley told The Catholic
Buckley freely admits he’s part
of an older Catholic Toronto — the Toronto of
Irish, German and Italian immigrants whose lives
orbited around such institutions as St. Michael’s
Cathedral, Massey Hall, St. Michael’s Choir
School, doughnut shops and Irish cops. And he’s
incorporated all that into his story.
8,300-word story is illustrated with photos of all
the Toronto landmarks Buckley grew up with and
that were part of his own family. Buckley was
married at St. Michael’s Cathedral. His mother was
Rose Winterberry, a cousin of St. Michael’s Choir
School founder Msgr. Edward Ronan. Two of
Buckley’s sons were for a time enrolled at St.
Michael’s Choir School, and Rose became a choir
But in his story Buckley also
tackles the new multicultural reality of the city.
In the end, he unveils the values and hopes that
made Christmas so natural in the Toronto he grew
“It’s this warmth I want to share
with Toronto,” Buckley said.
Christmas is still a natural in
The end is a surprise, and The
Catholic Register wouldn’t dream of spoiling the
surprise. But Buckley is only too willing to say
exactly what’s in his story.
faith, there’s hope, there’s love in a doughnut
shop and there’s forgiveness,” he
Buckley never saw himself as a
writer, and he’s the first to say how odd it is
for a guy his age who has made a living in sales
for the family trucking business to suddenly
launch himself into literature. But over the
summer, Buckley found himself with hundreds of
ideas buzzing around his brain.
the ideas came a need to write it all down. By
Thanksgiving he was reading his Christmas story to
his assembled family. They were both astonished
and impressed. Even Buckley’s 18-year-old son told
him The Choir Boy was an emotional
Buckley attributes the whole
thing to divine inspiration.
Sears took on
the story as a way of reviving the tradition of
Christmas store-window displays.
hopes his story helps people to experience what
Christmas should be about.
“In the end, I
hope they come away and say Merry Christmas to the
next 50-or-so folks they meet — and mean it,” he