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It’s interesting to review a little bit of early Woodward’s history…

Store and city grew up together


Tracing the growth of Woodward’s Department Store Ltd. was like watching the growth of the city of Vancouver—they both grew up together. The store was part of Vancouver since the city was six years old.

The founder of the business, Charles A. Woodward, entered the merchandising business in 1870 in a log cabin on Lake Huron. In 1892 he moved west and opened his first store in Vancouver in a building at Westminster Avenue and Harris Street (Main and Georgia Streets). Twelve years later he moved to 101 West Hastings at Abbott, which was on the fringes of the city’s business district.

The Hon. William (Billy) Culham Woodward, Charles’ eldest son, entered the business world with the Royal Bank when he was 16 years old, serving in Cuba and South America until 1906 when he joined the department store staff as a junior clerk and bookkeeper at the age of twenty-two. Charles’ youngest son,  Percy (Puggy)  A. Woodward, as a lad of fourteen, worked with the construction crew digging the foundation for the new store. He left school at the age of seventeen and started full-time work at the store as a salesman. Puggy went on to become Merchandise Manager in charge of Store Operations ---Billy was Vice-President, and in his father’s absence, he was in charge of the store.

 The store was increased to five storeys in 1908 and a wing added in 1914. The self –serve groceteria was installed in 1919 and the store extended through to Cordova  Street in  1925. Four years later another storey was built and in 1930 a parking garage was added with a pedestrian tunnel connecting the store. In 1937 the lower main and sub-basement were added on the Cordova Street side and further additions were made in 1939. In 1947, an additional 132,000 square feet was added to Store #1-Vancouver—the 7th and 8th floor was completed and the Groceteria enlarged..

 Management of Woodward’s passed on to the Hon. W.C. Woodward in 1937 after the death of his father.  His brilliant career in the city was interrupted only by overseas service during the First World War. He was a former B.C. Lieutenant governor of B.C., former president of the Vancouver Board of Trade and director of the Bank of Canada and Royal Bank. In the Second World War he served with the ministry of Munitions & Supply in Ottawa –he refused to accept even the expense money which the government offered its “dollar-a-year men”.

When W. C. was away from the store, P. A. Woodward, Vice-President of Woodward Stores was in charge. He was considered a brilliant merchandiser whose genius made a major contribution to the firms success. Mr. P.A. Woodward retired in 1956 and died in1968.

W. C. ’s son, Charles (Chunky) Namby Wynn Woodward went to work for the Company in 1946 after his father asked him “Are you going to be a cowboy all your life or are you coming to work for the Company”.  Mr. C.N. worked in many areas of the company learning the business—Merchandise Office, Buying, Store Management-- and was very involved in the Company’s expansion over the following years.

Mr. W.C. Woodward died on Sunday, February 22, 1957 in Hawaii. At the age of thirty-two, Chunky found himself President and Chief Executive of the fourth largest department store chain in Canada—all the stores being in British Columbia and Alberta.

In 1974, Mr. C.N.’s son, John Woodward,  joined the firm in sales in Store #1and his other son, Christopher (Kip) Woodward,  joined the firm in 1977 in the Calgary Food Floor-- Store #9

The Woodward’s Store #1 is now in the process of being torn down to make way for the new “Woodward’s Project”. Only the original Woodward’s –the renovated six storey building of the glory days of 1908 will remain as part of the project. There are four distinct buildings surrounded by public spaces and urban parks and built upon a podium of vibrant retail: the W-43 storey building (residences and Club W); the W-32 storey building (residences); the 1903/1908 6-storey heritage building (retail, offices, daycare centre); and SFU (school for the contemporary arts).

The Developer of the “Woodward’s Project” intends to preserve and portray some history of Woodward’s in the new building complex. They are presently holding workshops with several Woodpens’ members involved, along with a facilitator from Commonwealth Historic Resource Management Ltd., to hear thoughts and memories—they are looking for personal stories that will help make an interpretation of Woodward’s come alive. We will keep you posted in future Hotlines.  The new Woodward’s Project will be completed in 2009—one year before the 2010 Winter Olympics.   The Project should be the start of a revitalized Downtown Eastside!


A summary of Woodward’s store openings is as follows:

1892--March --Woodward’s on Georgia and Main in Vancouver

1902--The company was incorporated as Woodward Department Stores Ltd.

1903--The store #1—moved to a new three storey wooden frame building at 101 West

             Hastings at Abbott.

1919--Opening of Woodward’s self-service Groceteria in Store #1.

1925--Expansion of store #1 to entire block from Hastings to Cordova Street.

1929--Store #1 was enlarged to six storeys.

1926--Store #2 --opened in downtown Edmonton, Alberta.

1930--Store #1-- Parking garage built, and pedestrian tunnel connecting it to the Food 

             Floor on Cordova Street. 

1947--Store #1--7th & 8th floor completed and Groceteria enlarged.


1948--Store #3—Port Alberni Store

1950--Store #4-Park Royal,--Park Royal Shopping Centre—Canada’s first suburban

            Shopping Centre

1951--Store #5 - Victoria –a small store with specialized departments

1954--Store #6-New Westminster, B.C.

1955--Store #7- in Westmount  Shopping Centre in Edmonton, Alberta

1959--Store #8 Oakridge Shopping Centre built, 41st & Cambie St., Vancouver

        -- Woodward’s Marine Division at Coal Harbour in Vancouver

1960--Store #9 Chinook Store in Calgary, Alberta

1963--Store #5 Victoria—Relocation and expansion of Victoria Store to Mayfair

             Shopping Centre –a full line department store and Food Floor

1964--Store #10 Kamloops, B.C.

1965--Store #11 in Northgate Shopping Centre in Northeast Edmonton

1966--Store #12 in Guildford Shopping Centre in Surrey, B.C.

        --Store #13 in Prince George, B.C.—Parkwood Mall

1969--Strathcona Distribution Centre in Edmonton.

1970--Store #14 in Southgate Shopping Centre in Edmonton, Alberta

1971--Store #15-Market Mall in Calgary, Alberta

        --New Parking Garage-Store #1, the Coggery and Mapleleaf House on Water St.


1973--Furniture Fair, Burnaby, B.C.

        --Mapleleaf House opens in Victoria across from the Empress Hotel

1974--Opening of new Edmonton Centre Store on site of the original store #2.

        --Store #16 Arbutus Village Square Food Floor, Vancouver, B.C.

1975--Store #17 Lethbridge, Alberta

        --Store #18 Seven Oaks- (Clearbrook) Abbotsford, B.C.

        --Store #19 Cherry Lane in Penticton, B.C.

--Richmond Distribution Centre in Richmond B.C.

--Furniture Fair, Edmonton, Alberta

-- Mapleleaf House opens in Arbutus Village Square, Vancouver, B.C.

1977--Store #20 in Lansdowne Park Mall, Richmond, B.C.

1979--Store #21 Coquitlam Centre, Coquitlam B.C.

1981--Store #22 Bower Place, Red Deer, Alberta

        --Store #23 in Sunridge Mall in northeast Calgary, Alberta

        --Store #24 in Woodgrove Mall, Nanaimo B.C.

        --Relocation of the Kamloops Store #10

1982--Expansion of the Southgate Store #14 and Shopping Centre  

        --Completion of the new Distribution Centre, New Westminster

1984--Redevelopment of Oakridge Centre and expansion of Store #8

        --Opening of first Abercrombie and Fitch Store, at Oakridge-licensed for Canada by


1985--Store #26 -West Edmonton Mall store and Food Floor, Edmonton, Alberta

        --Updating of the Westmount Store #7 and the Southgate Store #14 in Edmonton

        --Updating of the Chinook Store #9 in Calgary and the Lansdowne Store #20 in

           Richmond B.C.

        --Abercrombie and Fitch store opened in West Edmonton Mall and in First Canada

           Place, in Toronto, Ontario

        --Woodwynn Stores (Bargain stores) opened in Port Alberni, B.C.; Guildford

           Centre, Surrey, B.C.; Westmount Centre, Edmonton, Alberta

        --Woodward Realty Limited acquired by Cambridge Shopping Centres Limited

1986--Store #28- Metrotown , Metrotown Mall in Burnaby, B.C. 

        -- Woodwynn store in Courtenay, B.C.  

        --Updates on ParkRoyal Store #4, West Vancouver; Mayfair Store #5, Victoria,  B.C.

and Guildford Store #12, Surrey, B.C.

        --Canada Safeway acquires the majority of Woodward Food Floor operations

1987--Store #29 Millwoods store opened in Southeast Edmonton, Alberta

        --Updating and major renovations to Store #15, Market Mall, in Calgary, Alberta .

        --Woodynn Store in Langley, B.C.

--Abercrombie and Fitch store opened in Montreal

1988--Woodwynn Stores opened in Renfrew district, Renfrew St. and 1st Ave.

            Vancouver;  Maple Ridge, B.C.;Kelowna, B.C. and North Vancouver, B.C.

1989—Woodwynn Stores opened in Salmon Arm, Nelson and Trail, B.C.


**The author of this summary for the HOTLINE was not able to determine which stores were numbered  Store #25 and Store #27. If anyone has the answer, please let us know.