January 20th, 2011 Walking Home Pender Street begins! By bringing a great group of kids to Woodward’s

January 20, 2011th 2011 Walking Home Projects Explores the Woodward’s Development Part 2
Presenter and Review By Sam Knopp

Today I had the amazing opportunity to lead a walk for the first time. It felt a little strange, since my role in the program has shifted so quickly from participant, to intern and now… a project team member and presenter? I lack most of the credentials that Walking Home Projects’ past presenters boast, but that realization has only helped me to understand that Walking Home Projects is ultimately about sharing each individual’s experiences of the city.

This week the participants were not Walking Home Projects’ typical guests; instead of our more customary high school group, a (significantly shorter and cuter) group of grade 4-6 students joined us this time to explore the Woodward’s Development, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. It quickly became apparent that these kids were ready to participate with us, as every question Catherine Pulkinghorn and I posed generated a slew of eager responses. The openness of these young hearts was refreshing – older participants, who tend to be more aware of social pressures, often take more coaxing before they feel comfortable enough to voice their thoughts – and allowed Catherine and I to let the kids do a lot of the discovering for themselves by getting them to articulate their own observations about their surroundings rather than simply explaining everything right off the hop. When it came time for me to guide the group through the history of the Woodward’s Department store, I used a similar strategy, sharing tidbits about Woodward’s past and helping them to contextualize the information by drawing connections to the present and their own lives.

Who owns an umbrella? Presenter Sam Knopp talking about Woodward's Department store catalogues (photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

We began in the central atrium of the development and looked back to the history of the department store, which had survived 100 years in the city, the store that grew up with the city (Vancouver itself is celebrating its 125th birthday this year). We looked back to many different things that helped make Woodward’s a household name and cement its place in the identity of the city like the Woodward’s catalogue, which created a loyal shopping base throughout British Columbia by providing items specific to British Columbians like rubber boots and waterproof clothing; its “groceteria”, which brought the first self-serve grocery store to Canada; and of course, the Woodward’s neon “W”, which made such an impact that the city gave the sign heritage status!

Sam Knopp talking about the historic "W" and the fact it weighs 6700 pounds!(photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

Overall, the experience of presenting was deeply rewarding for me. At first, the notion of presenting to any group of people, never mind retaining the attention of a group of young kids, was daunting. Planning an effective and comfortable route, learning how to best project my voice, using the appropriate language and content for the audience, and making that content engaging presented a lot of challenges, but my time with Walking Home Projects and the mentoring from Catherine herself prepared me well for the experience. While the kids made the experience very enjoyable for me by participating in the discussion and asking a lot of questions, I got the sense that the feelings were mutual. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, changes this week when I take a group of more mature students through Woodward’s past and try my hand once again in the role of presenter.

If you’re interested in learning more about Woodward’s Department store and the new Woodward’s Development here are a few other sources that I found to be quite helpful and interesting:





The Map of Where We Went – January 20th, 2011:

January 20, 2011
Visit to the Woodward’s Development with Walking Home Projects
By Diane Macqueen, teacher Maple Grove Elementary, Vancouver School Board

On January 20th I went with my Grades 4/5/6 Montessori class to participate in the 1st of three Walking Home Projects field trips. I am motivated to work with this project because it was such a rich learning experience for my older son who participated with his high school class in a 7 session program with Walking Home Projects during the autumn of 2010, and I generally believe that field trips are educational on many levels. I am excited by the process of discovery that I believe we will all go through – my students, myself, and the Walking Home Projects team. It will be interesting to see what the students post to the blog, and I am looking forward to being a co-participant with the students in this process. Even the process of my having to write a blog post is exciting and scary at the same time; and I think it is good to experience this alongside the students. I have walked, with project Director Catherine Pulkinghorn, through much of what the students will be experiencing, and have already learned a lot myself. But it will all be new again, seeing it through my students’ eyes. I am also excited to be learning alongside the students about some of the history of the city – by being in it.

Day one:

The day started off a bit inauspiciously with an unexpected snowfall and walking through slush to the bus stop. However, the class was excited and enthusiastic – they always love field trips. I always enjoy taking classes by bus as many students don’t normally ride the bus – some have never taken the bus. It ends up being part of the learning experience, and an opportunity to practice good bus etiquette.

Meeting for the first time at the bus stop on the corner of Abbott and West Hastings (photo credit: Sam Knopp)

When we arrived at the intersection of Abbott and Hastings Streets we were greeted by the Walking Home Projects team. As we observed the facade of the old Woodward’s building, a homeless fellow started talking with the students. He is apparently well known to the Walking Home Projects folks. Although the students found the man to be “strange”, I thought he was harmless, and I thought that having exposure to someone like this in some way reveals his humanity. Not part of the program, but definitely part of the experience.

The historic building facade at the Woodward's Development (photo credit: Sam Knopp)

Inside the atrium of the Woodward’s Development I found it interesting to witness the curiosity of the students. There was a menu of possibilities of what they could explore, but what they ALL want to do first is climb the unusual staircase. This experience features in many of their reflections written in the week following the field trip.

The top of the stairs in the Woodward's Development atrium makes a good viewpoint! (photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

The students also found the large “Riot” photo-mural fascinating (by artist Stan Douglas, called Abbott and Cordova, 7 August, 1971), and I was struck by their careful observation and insightful thoughts.

I felt disappointed that I didn’t get to experience the Iqaluit installation in the centre of the Woodward’s atrium, a part of the PuSh Festival, but many students did find it interesting, and particularly enjoyed singing the “snowmobile song”. I didn’t realize that the Northern lights actually make a sound.

Presenter Sam Knopp talking about Woodward's Department Store's "groceteria". In the background is Stan Douglas's work "Abbott and Cordova, 7 August, 1971" (photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

One of the Walking Home Projects’ team members, Samantha Knopp is wonderful, and was animated as she talked about the history of the Woodward’s Department Store, and then the history of the Woodward’s “W” sign which was seen across Vancouver. I appreciate that she made a goodie bag for every student, each containing a photocopy of an old Woodward’s catalogue. Later I was charmed to hear that a parent of one of my students shared with her daughter the history of Woodward’s “$1.49 day Tuesday” – which brought back echoes of my childhood.

A Vancouver icon, the new "W" at the Woodward's Development. (photo credit: Justin C.)

Our visit with curator Sabine Bitter of The Audain Gallery at the Simon Fraser University School of Contemporary Arts was a treat, and a welcome warm respite after being in the cold for a couple of hours. The exhibit “The Long Take” is a bit esoteric in some ways, but the students found their own way to engage with it. I instinctually found myself drawn to pretending to walk along the pathway in the video, and the students followed suit, uninhibited, enjoying the interplay with their shadows.

Curator and artist Sabine Bitter talking about the Audain Gallery (photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

All in all, it was an interesting day. A bit cold, but with lots of fascinating and fun discoveries.

Youth Reviews

Aiden D
On January 20th, 2011 we went to the Woodward’s Development on the Downtown Eastside. We took the number 16 bus all the way downtown. At the bus stop we met our guides, Catherine (she was the one with the hat), Laurie (the one with the recorder), Sam (the student) and Doug.

Catherine asked us to look at an old building. Well, that’s what I thought we were looking at. She said, “What do you see on that building?” It was the old Woodward’s building. Did you know that Woodward’s was named after the family that built it? The building that I thought was old was actually a new building with the old wall still there, so that we could remember the old Woodward’s building. Woodward’s was a famous family store in Vancouver for many years.

Inside the new Woodward’s building was an atrium with a really cool slide. But it wasn’t a slide, it was a staircase. The atrium was a public space with a London Drugs and a Nesters food market. A strange picture of a re-enacted crime scene that happened almost 50 years ago on a street downtown hung in the atrium. After lunch we got to go up the stair case which was about 30 feet high – that was cool. In the middle of the atrium was a metal igloo with a bunch of TV’s playing different little movies. I liked the snowmobile song! There was a funny thing that happened if you needed to get groceries 100 years ago. They had no pick-it-your-self grocery stores. So people made a cafeteria for buying groceries and called it “groceteria”. Outside the atrium Sam took us on a walk and told us the history of the ‘W” (‘W’ means Woodwards). We actually got to see the old ‘W’ in a glass case. Finally we went to the Audain gallery which had about 6 different little skits going on by projectors and everyone was different. I hope the next two parts of the walking home project will be as much fun or more.

The view at the top of the stairs in the atrium (photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

Alisha M
On January 20th we went on a field trip to the Woodward’s building. Our walking guides names were Catherine and a university student of Emily Carr named Samantha. A broadcaster named Lori was recording what people were saying about Woodward’s.
Catherine was talking about the Woodward’s building outside. I don’t really mind being outside but it was raining and snowing. I was wondering what that huge red “W” stood for. While Catherine was talking she told us that the “W” stood for Woodward’s. Woodward’s was a family. They started a business and named it and the building after themselves. Catherine also told us that there was a place in the building where people lived. Then she finally said we could go inside out of the rain. When we got inside it wasn’t that different from outside. It was still pretty cold and the floor looked like a sidewalk. Catherine told us that the building had no heating. It was indoor-outdoor space. There was just a shelter over the building so we wouldn’t get wet in the rain.

Samantha passed out two photocopies of old Woodward’s catalogues and inside there were pictures of shoes and clothing and some food and below each picture there were the prices. I was guessing they were really old catalogues because one pair of shoes was only 75 cents and another pair was 99 cents. 99 cents was a lot of money back then.

Everybody was asking if we could go on the cool stair case. What’s so cool about a stair case? Well the stair case looked like a big swirling slide. Me and Ostara were kind of scared to go on the stairs because Ostara and I are both afraid of heights but we still went up anyway because it looked really cool. At the top we could see the whole building. It was really cool but the scary thing is that if one person shook, the whole stair case would shake and that was really scary. It felt like the whole staircase would tip over or something.

Then Catherine showed us a big structure that looked like an igloo except it was completely metal. Inside the metal igloo there were about seven TV screens. Some people went inside the igloo. Others went with Catherine to learn about the huge mural. In the mural I saw people running away and people getting arrested. It was a really scary scene. Catherine told us that the mural was a re-enactment of a long time ago when people wanted freedom and their own personal space. I thought it would be kind of fun to be in a re-enactment or be the artist telling everybody were to stand and what to do. After that I got to go in the igloo. We had to put on headphones and we pointed it to one of the screens and we could hear what the screens were saying. Me and my friends went to one of the screens and listened to the snowmobile song. It was really funny and the broadcaster recorded us singing the snowmobile song.

After we went went back outside and we looked at the old W. It looked nothing like the new W – all the paint was ripping off the W, but Samantha told us that everybody in Vancouver came to see the old and new W. I wish I had my camera so I could take a picture of the W.

Finally, we went to an art gallery. There were about four massive screens and they were playing a bunch of movies in different languages. One of the screens had a moving sidewalk picture so we pretended that we were in the moving picture because we could see our shadows. At the end we got apple tarts. The tarts were soooooo good and tasty. That was an awesome field trip!!!!!!!!

Sam holding the catalogues she made for the group (photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

Cortnee F.
Our class, went on a field trip to Woodward’s. I learned a lot about Woodward’s. When I went home to tell my mom about it, she said she had a lot of memories of when she was 20ish. She told me it was like a department store, and downstairs was like a modern department store called “The Bay.” She said she went there very often because it was one of the few in Vancouver. There was a commercial my mom remembered about Woodward’s and it goes like: “$1.49 day! Tuesday! $1.49 day! Tuesday! ”

Samantha was one of our guides and she gave us each a tiny paper bag shopping bag, and inside were copies of two catalogues; which was what they used back then to see what was new and how much things cost, like a flier. She also included a lollipop as a treat for us. My little sister asked why things where so cheap, like a pair of nice boots for $3.50. My mom said because back then you only got about $1.00 an hour for work. So basically it’s sort of like $25.00 dollars now. My mom had lots of memories from when she was younger. The Woodward’s department stored went bankrupt and closed in 1993.

The Walking Home Project was very fun to attend. I learned a lot about history. There was a big glass laminated picture in the Woodward’s Atrium. It was a picture from something that happened in 1971, but it was a re-enactment. They re-enacted it because if they used a picture from back then it would be really blurry and old when they blow it up into a huge size. The picture was about a riot and it was about the mayor of Vancouver who wanted to clean up Abbott and Carrall streets; but the young people there wanted it to be their own place, and protested about it. So they put up the picture because the Woodward’s Atrium was a public place and the picture was about people wanting more freedom and a public place to be; now there is a public place.

When I entered the Woodward’s Atrium, I thought there was a giant cement slide, because it was my first time there. It was a stairway in an abstract shape that curved up and you couldn’t see the stairs until you went up close. The whole class rushed up the stairs, and when we went to the very edge there was nothing to support it so the whole thing started to rumble and everyone was scared that it would fall. At the bottom there also is a small pond/fountain thing; there were a lot of coins in the bottom of the fountain.

There were also two screens that talked about rebuilding, but still keeping parts of Woodward’s and the history. If you pushed the sound button you could hear the explanation. There was also an igloo, it was shaped with metal bars but not covered, just the body. Inside was screens and you got to put on headphones and there was this pointer. Whichever screen you point to you hear what it was talking about. There also was this one about a song that goes like “I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW GOOD IT FEELS, TO RIDE MY SNOWMOBILE!!!” and it was a country song. It was my favourite part.

We also went to the Audain Gallery. There was heat so everyone was happy to be someplace warm. Inside was “The Long Take” exhibit, and there were screen projectors that follow a street and everyone’s shadow walked into it, and it seemed like we were part of the video. The videos were mostly about nature. There was one about the 1960’s.

We also went to see the old big “W” They were going to use it again for the new building but when they took a look at it, they found out it was too old, so they replaced it. But they still kept the old one, and we took a look at it on display outside.

The field trip to Woodward’s was very interesting, I learned a lot of new things about old history!

Participants enjoy the exhibit "The Long Take" at the Audain Gallery in the Woodward's Development (photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

Danica A.
On Thursday the 20th of January our class had a field trip to The Woodward’s Building. In order to get there we had to take public transit, in this case a bus. Twenty five kids on a bus is very unusual. We had a very noisy bus ride but it was really fun.

When we got there they started talking about the building. They asked what we saw what we heard and what did we think. Then while answering questions a homeless man came up to us and said “you guys are good people, I’m only 76 and I don’t do much.” Then a lady had to walk him out.

We crossed the street and they did their intros. There was a lady named Catherine. She was like our walking guide. We learned a lot from the things she said. There was a girl named Samantha. Sam for short. She is a student that attends Emily Carr University. I saw a lady with big headphones and a little gadget. Her name was Laurie. Laurie was recording what we said because she was a broadcaster. Doug works for the City of Vancouver in at an office at Woodward’s. He is supporting Cultural services in Vancouver.

They explained the building and how it had a face of the old building. Catherine said if you see Doug waving out the window of his office, you might think he is in a very old building but the building is completely new. The Woodward’s building was built approximately 100 years ago. We went into the Woodward’s atrium. I thought it would be warm but it was the same temperature as outside, just not wet. An atrium is a public space. It isn’t supposed to make you feel like you’re inside. It has a basketball court but it was taken down for The Push Festival. In the atrium I noticed a lot of different things. There was a giant photo, a huge spiral staircase, and there were two grocery stores – one called Nester’s, and the other London Drugs.

The first thing we did in the atrium is we went up the stair case. You could see all of the atrium. It felt very unstable and high. I went down and visited the activity for The Push Festival. You put on headphones and listened to a few screens. My favourite one was the snow mobile song. Next they talked about the giant photo. It was a riot at Abbott and Carrall Streets. It was in 1971. The picture looked really new, because it was a reenactment. It was really big because it was enlarged by an inkjet printer. The next part was that Sam gave us a tour around the building and showed us the big W. It was red and only had 3 lightbulbs left. They replaced it with a new one. Then we went into SFU. That stands for Simon Fraser University. That was the only place with heat. We went to the Audain Gallery and visited The Long Take Exhibit. We interacted with it, and then we ate apple tarts. Then we took the bus back.

There are still two lightbulbs on the old "W"! (photo credit: Justin C.)

Henry H.
On January 20, 2011 our class went on a field trip to Woodward’s . Woodward’s was one of Western Canada’s first department stores. Woodward’s also invented the catalogue for Western Canada. They invented the catalogue so people far away could order things by mail. Woodward’s delivered by truck, boat and even by plane! They delivered by plane because they would parachute the ordered item down!

The new Woodward’s building is much smaller then the old one. It’s not even a store anymore. Instead they just kept two walls and the giant “W”. The original Woodward’s building closed after its 100th birthday. It closed because the company spent too much money and went bankrupt.

The new recreation buildings are the W1 building (the heritage building), the W2 building (the Hastings building), the W3 building, the W4 building and the plaza. At the W1 building there is the Simon Fraser University theater, art gallery, and art building. In the W2 there is a TD bank at the bottom, and the rest of the building are offices. The W3 building has a couple of offices and the rest are apartments for rent. The W4 building is just a bunch of apartments for sale. The plaza has a London drugs shop and a Nester’s supermarket. Plus there is a painting of a riot in gas town. The picture was actually based on a recreation instead of the real one. Inside there is an igloo for watching First Nations videos and a staircase where at the top is a lookout tower. The “W” on top of the building is actually new. The old one is between all five buildings. The old one was too damaged and rusted. The old “W” weighs a total of 6700 lbs. The name of the store actually came from the person who started the Woodward’s company’s last name. That is all I know about Woodward’s.

Many interesting things to see inside the public space of Woodward's atrium (photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

Lisa Y
On Thursday January 20th my class and I went on a field trip to the Woodward’s building. I was very excited because before I went on the field trip I had no idea what and where it was. But after the field trip I learned a lot of things about Woodward’s.

We got there by taking the bus. When we got off the bus we met Sam, Laurie and Catherine. Then we talked about the outside of the Woodward’s building. It looked really old from the outside but they said that they renovated the inside and turned it into an office. I learned that Woodward’s was one of the first department building in B.C. and also the first grocery/department store that you could pick your own food for yourself. They called it the groceteria. I also learned that the Bay in Oakridge mall use to be another Woodward’s location. But sadly in 1993 Woodward’s closed down because of bankruptcy.

When we all of us got into the atrium it felt as cold as outside and Catherine said that it is an inside-outside building and anyone is allowed to go inside. Inside the atrium all of us saw a huge twisting and turning staircase. At the top of the stair case there was a porch kind of thing. Catherine said that you could see a view of the whole atrium at the top. After lunch everybody got to go to the top of the stair case which I thought was very cool.

Inside of the atrium was also an Iqaluit installation from the Push Festival. It kind of looked like an igloo. Inside of it was a couple of TV’s playing videos. In two groups each of us got headphones and a device that when you stand in front of one of the TV’s you would hear the sounds and voices of the videos while you’re watching it on the TV screen. In one of the videos they were playing a song about riding a snowmobile and then we all started singing it.

Inside of the atrium there is also re-enactment of a riot that happened in the 1970’s. The riot was about young people who wanted more freedom and the government thought that they should have less freedom. So obviously that would cause some issues.

Sam, a student a Emily Carr college brought us all outside to see the big red W that use to be on top of the Woodward’s building but they tore it down when they were fixing the building and found out that it was too old to put back up and they couldn’t repair it. So they got a new W and put it on top of the building instead of the old one and left the old one on the ground for people to see. They built a case around the bottom of it so it wouldn’t get even more damaged. There are only three light bulbs left on the old W.

We headed into the SFU building which is kind of connected to the atrium. Inside of SFU we went to its Audain Gallery. The Audain Gallery is a Gallery that has several walls inside and on each wall a different video is projected onto the walls. Some of us tried to include ourselves into the projections somehow. I really enjoyed that.

At the end of our field trip we all paid a dollar for a super delicious apple tart and Sam made us each a little bag with a flyer of things that they use to sell at Woodward’s. Overall I had a great learning experience at the Woodward’s atrium with Laurie, Sam and Catherine.

Catherine showing participants about the Woodward's Development (photo credit: Sam Knopp)

Matthew M.
On Thursday January 21st we went to the Woodward’s building for a field trip. We arrived there by bus and were greeted by our walking guides Catherine, Samantha, and Laurie. After a few short introductions a strange, short, and hairy homeless person came up to us. We all stared at him as if waiting for something to happen both out of fear and confusion. Then he started murmuring to himself over and over again telling us we where “all beautiful people”. After a few minutes of trying to convince him to leave we moved on to the actual building. Once inside we were immediately greeted by a large, non-heated, public, common place.

Once there we were given a surprisingly interesting over view of the building’s history. We found out that the original building used to be a huge department store which was recognized in B.C. as a landmark- especially the big red “W” on top of the building. It also had a special “$1.49 day… Tuesday!” special where everything in the store was $1.49. It was also the first store to have open shelves of food/produce where customers would could come and get the food themselves instead of the style at the time where all the food would be behind a counter, and customers would have to tell an employee what they needed and the employee would go get it for them. Sadly after about hundred years, from 1892-1993, the family-owned company, which at its peak had multiple shops and employed hundreds of people, closed. Facing hard financial trouble and a deflating economy the store spent too much money on a large scale renovation and filed for bankruptcy a little later on. With the massive store gone it left a large vacant space in its wake. Leaving a large amount of people living in the area jobless the economy around the building crashed. The city desperate to fix this tried vigorously to find a developer to convert the building into half “affordable” houses and half condos. After many failed attempts the city finally found a developer who was willing to rebuild Woodward’s into a new building on the condition that the condos would be built at higher density. Unfortunately even after the building was renovated, the economy around it never recovered. The building is now a multiplex and is currently a work space, public common area, university, housing, and shops.

For the second half of our field trip we went to a small division of S.F.U. for an art festival called “PuSh” which is an art festival that comes every year for two weeks. The art we saw was called “the long take” and was collages and creations of videos. Many different genres and emotions were played in the small room that was covered in projectors and videos on walls. My favourite creation of this was a simple video of an overpass. The camera is set so that it looks as if you are walking on the overpass on a joyous warm summer day. I liked it because it was so easy to place myself in the video. I found it a great experience and opportunity to be able to go on this field trip. Hopefully we get to do more!

Participants putting themselves in the videos of the exhibit The Long Take at the Audain Gallery (photo credit: Catherine Pulkinghorn)

Sabrina C.
When we got off the bus, we found our guides. We were talking a bit, when all of a sudden, this homeless person walked up to us and started talking to us. Finally one of the guides ( a broadcaster named Laurie ), had to shoo him away. Then we went in to a public space, also called the Woodward’s atrium. It felt like we were still outside. We ate our lunch there and then went up the winding staircase. After that tiring adventure, we split up. Twelve people, who were very lucky, got headphones, and went in the metal igloo, where there were T.V screens with a video playing, and if you pointed your machine at the television, you could listen to the audio.

The rest of us went to the gigantic photo of a re-enactment of a riot that happened 50 years ago. We talked about it for a few minutes. Then it was our turn to go to the metal igloo to watch the video. The reason I didn’t really enjoy it, was because neither of the headphones worked for me.

Next, Sam ( Samantha ) lead us to the Woodward’s development. She told us a few things, then brought us to the original “W”. It only had three light bulbs left on it. Sam told us that some engineers decided to make a new “W”, but still kept the old one. They put the old one on the ground so that people could have a closer look at the “W”. Next, we went to the Audain gallery.

Inside we met a curator. Her name was Sabine. We went inside to the video place, that were videos that the curator put together. After Catherine handed out apple tarts. After,we were on the bus. We got back inside the school at about 3:05. We packed our homework,(Writer’s notebook) and took off, back to our Home Sweet Home! P.S. I learned later that short people had to sit on the bench to pick up the audio signal.

Please Click Below to hear Walking Home Project‘s Director Catherine Pulkinghorn interpret Stan Douglas’ Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971 with a group of students; Artist and Audain Gallery curator Sabine Bitter talk about curating and the exhibit, The Long Take which showed at the Audain Gallery at SFU Woodward’s from January 13- February 26, 2011: