Skip to main content

B.C. woman loses bid to have giant Christmas decoration returned

This stock photo shows an archway similar to the one described in a recent decision by B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal. (Credit: Shutterstock) This stock photo shows an archway similar to the one described in a recent decision by B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal. (Credit: Shutterstock)

A fight over ownership of an eight-foot-tall Christmas display – featuring a lighted archway held up by a pair of toy soldiers – was recently settled by B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal.

The central question in the dispute, tribunal member Peter Mennie's Nov. 15 decision explained, was whether the large, luminous display was a loan or not.

Erin Schonert was seeking the return of the archway, which she said she lent to her friend Myrtle Cloutier in 2014. Schonert was downsizing following the death of her husband, she told the tribunal, and was looking for someone to hang on to it temporarily.

"She says that she offered to loan the archway to Ms. Cloutier until her children were older and had a place of their own to display the archway. She says the archway was originally purchased by her ex-husband who is now deceased, so it has sentimental value for her children," the decision says.

Cloutier, for her part, told the tribunal that the decoration was given to her outright – with no promise of it ever being returned

"She says that she uses the archway each year as part of her Christmas decorations and has invested in spotlights to light up the archway. Both Ms. Cloutier and her husband say they would not have agreed to take such a large and heavy item if it was only being loaned," the decision says.

The sheer size of the item, Rennie's decision said, was one factor that made it more likely than not that it was a gift and not a loan.

"By all accounts, the archway is large, heavy, and difficult to transport. I find it unlikely that Ms. Cloutier would have agreed to take the archway temporarily given the time and effort require to load and unload the archway," he wrote.

However, the tribunal also found that Schonert had forfeited ownership of the archway even if it was not a gift.

The tribunal said it was not provided with any evidence that Schonert asked for the archway's return before 2022 – although Schonert did argue that she had asked for it once before in 2018.

Even if that had been the case, the decoration had been legally "abandoned," according to Rennie.

"On Ms. Schonert’s own evidence, she loaned the archway to Ms. Cloutier until her children could use it. She says this was May 2018 when she requested the archway. She took no further steps to retrieve the archway for over four years," the decision said.

"The fact that an owner wants their property back after several years does not mean that they did not abandon it earlier."

Schonert's claim was dismissed and Cloutier was allowed to keep the archway. Top Stories

PM pans Poilievre for 'pulling stunts' by threatening to delay MPs' holidays with House tactics

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre is threatening to delay MPs' holidays by throwing up thousands of procedural motions seeking to block Liberal legislation until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau backs off his carbon tax. It's a move Government House Leader Karina Gould was quick to condemn, warning the Official Opposition leader's 'temper tantrum' tactics will impact Canadians.

Stay Connected