Mary Clare Massicotte, left, her husband Ron Adams and Ellen Frood from the Community Action Team admire the CAT window that is part of the Trees of Hope fundraiser on Third Avenue at Mar Street. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Mary Clare Massicotte, left, her husband Ron Adams and Ellen Frood from the Community Action Team admire the CAT window that is part of the Trees of Hope fundraiser on Third Avenue at Mar Street. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Christmas windows bring back memories of iconic Port Alberni department store

Trees of Hope serves as a fundraiser for charities, a bright spot for uptown visitors

The windows at the Coulson Group building on Third Avenue at Mar Street are filled with Christmas trees and other decorations, courtesy of a group of charities vying for a $500 donation. When the windows were all lit up Friday night to kick off the fundraising drive, talk turned to the building’s history.

At one time, Woodward’s department store was housed in the building, which stretches between Third and Fourth Avenues along Mar. The windows, according to community chatter, were once a focal point during the Christmas season: the decorations put up to the anticipation of both young and old.

READ MORE: Lunch at Woodward’s in Port Alberni

That fascination with the Woodward’s decorations is the inspiration behind one of the windows this year, explained Mary Clare Massicotte, coordinator of the Community Action Team. The CAT team’s tree features 52 white doves overseen by three intricately crocheted angels. The angels belong to Massicotte’s husband, Ron Adams, and were created by his late mother, Betty Adams, to represent Ron’s family.

“She loved the Woodward’s windows, so that’s why she is part of this window,” Massicotte said. “Her angels are overlooking all the doves.”

Each dove represents a person from the Alberni-Clayoquot region that died from drug toxicity between January and October 2021.

Each window features a Christmas tree and other decorations that depict the character of the charity. A tree in the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 293 window, for instance, features patches from different squadrons. Literacy Alberni’s window includes one of their little libraries and numerous books. The Salvation Army has an angel tree up, and the SPCA has a giant Snoopy with his doghouse.

The Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society’s window has a more sombre message that “not all holidays are merry and bright,’ and features a poster with information for people who are struggling with depression or domestic abuse and need assistance.

Organizations participating this time are: Ty Watson House/ Port Alberni Hospice; Port Alberni Community Action Team (CAT); Port Alberni Association for Community Living (PAACL); Salvation Army; Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society (ACAWS); Port Alberni Family Guidance Association; Literacy Alberni Society; RBC; Royal Canadian Legion Branch 293 (Port Alberni); SPCA—Alberni-Clayoquot branch; Mid-Island Kidney Association (MIKA).

A celebration for the official lighting of the windows was held Friday, Dec. 10. The senior jazz combo band from ADSS, featuring Pallas Cote-Wallin, Grace Dewer, ADSS Totem Spirit candidate Caiden Meyer and Brynn Geddes (who was away playing basketball), played carols. The Salvation Army mobile food truck volunteers handed out hot chocolate, and Santa Claus had candy canes for the youngsters in the small crowd that showed up before inclement weather cut festivities short.

Members of the public are asked to vote on their favourite window. People may do so by scanning a QR code on a poster in each window, or else voting in person during business hours at RBC on Third Avenue or the Coulson Group office at Chances RimRock on Cherry Creek Road. Voting will take place until Dec. 31. The winning entry will receive a $500 donation from RBC.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

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One of the late Betty Adams’ crocheted angels oversees doves on the Community Action Team’s Christmas tree as part of the Trees of Hope fundraiser in uptown Port Alberni. The CAT tree also features a Naloxone kit. The 52 doves represent people who died of drug toxicity in the region between January and October 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

One of the late Betty Adams’ crocheted angels oversees doves on the Community Action Team’s Christmas tree as part of the Trees of Hope fundraiser in uptown Port Alberni. The CAT tree also features a Naloxone kit. The 52 doves represent people who died of drug toxicity in the region between January and October 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

The Alberni-Clayoquot Branch of the BC SPCA has Snoopy in his signature red doghouse as part of their Trees of Hope window in the Coulson Ice Blast building at Third Avenue and Mar Street. Come and vote on your favourite window until Dec. 31, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

The Alberni-Clayoquot Branch of the BC SPCA has Snoopy in his signature red doghouse as part of their Trees of Hope window in the Coulson Ice Blast building at Third Avenue and Mar Street. Come and vote on your favourite window until Dec. 31, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Grace Dewar, right, on piano, Pallas Cote-Wallin on upright bass and Caiden Meyer on bari sax (baritone saxophone) made up most of the ADSS senior jazz combo who entertained the hardy crowd who showed up for the Trees of Hope kickoff on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021 in the pouring rain. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Grace Dewar, right, on piano, Pallas Cote-Wallin on upright bass and Caiden Meyer on bari sax (baritone saxophone) made up most of the ADSS senior jazz combo who entertained the hardy crowd who showed up for the Trees of Hope kickoff on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021 in the pouring rain. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)