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.
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.