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Tremblay with 8-year-old Dana Abozmal. Photo: Karen Kelly
Tremblay with 8-year-old Dana Abozmal. Photo: Karen Kelly

Ottawa social worker is also Santa

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With the requisite white beard and round belly, Raymond Tremblay looks like Santa Claus, even when he isn't wearing his red suit.

Tremblay is the official Santa for Canada Post, and the Rideau Centre in Ottawa. He's also Santa at his day job at the Shepherds of Good Hope, a homeless shelter in Ottawa.

Tremblay employs the same skills as a social worker as he does in the red velvet suit.

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Tremblay with Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay and his wife.  Photo provided by Raymond Tremblay

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8-year-old Dana Abozmal grins from ear to ear as she takes her place on Santa's lap. Her eyes take in the famous red suit, bright blue eyes, and ZZ Top-worthy long white beard.

Santa is also known as Raymond Tremblay. He's a 69-year-old who works at homeless shelter, along with his Santa gigs. He says he takes his role as Santa seriously.

You could say the job runs in his family. Tremblay's mother played Mrs. Clause.
His family also ran a bar that was popular with lumberjacks, or bush workers, in Northern Ontario.

One of the surprises of visiting Santa in the Rideau Centre is that the line is filled with adults-- mostly college students. Saad Bahbahani, from Kuwait, sits on Santa's lap wearing a striped toque and a candy cane in his shirt pocket.

Tremblay says his favorites are the international students who come to visit.

On Christmas Day, Tremblay returns to the Shepherds of Good hope, a homeless shelter near the Byward Market. He says the Christmas celebration at the shelter rivals the mall.

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