Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Treasured Christmas archway not to be returned to B.C. woman, tribunal rules

"This is a dispute about ownership of a Christmas decoration."
A B.C. woman won't be getting her Christmas archway back as tribunal rules she abandoned it.

B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal played the Nov. 15 Grinch in refusing to tell a person to return a Christmas archway.

“This is a dispute about ownership of a Christmas decoration,” tribunal member Peter Mennie said in his Nov. 15 decision.

Erin Michele Schonert claimed she loaned a “Christmas tin soldier archway” to Myrtle Laureene Cloutier.

When Schonert asked Cloutier to return the archway, Cloutier refused.

“Cloutier says that the archway was a gift which she is entitled to keep,” Mennie said.

Schonert described the item as eight to nine feet tall with Christmas lights and two large toy soldiers on either side.

“She says the archway was originally purchased by her ex-husband who is now deceased, so it has sentimental value for her children,” the tribunal said.

Schonert said she was moving in November 2014 and did not have a place to display the archway at her new residence.

She said she offered to loan the archway to Cloutier until her children were older and had a place of their own to display it.

Schonert said she clearly communicated to Cloutier this was a loan and submitted statements from family members who said they heard Cloutier acknowledge the loan.

On May 22, 2018, Schonert texted Cloutier asking for her address and stating that she will “pick it up.”

Cloutier said it was stored and difficult to access.

Schonert says she did not ask for the archway again until December 2022 because Cloutier had health issues and later because of COVID-19.

Cloutier claimed there no discussion about a loan and denied there was anyone else at the meeting.

Mennie said it was likely Schonert did make a gift of the archway.

“By all accounts, the archway is large, heavy and difficult to transport,” he said. “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.

“I find it more likely that Ms. Schonert offered to give the archway to Ms. Cloutier because she was downsizing before her move and wished to avoid transporting and storing the archway.”

Also, he said, Schonert’s behaviour after four years was consistent with having abandoned the item.

“The fact that an owner wants their property back after several years does not mean that they did not abandon it earlier,” Mennie said in dismissing the case.