Charles Woodward

Charles Woodward




Class of 1986

Charles Woodward founded Woodward’s Department Stores.

Charles began working as a farm hand at age 14, but was unhappy toiling for others, so he saved up his money and purchased a parcel of land and a cabin on Manitoulin Island in Ontario. When the land proved unsuitable for farming, Charles opened a trading post in the cabin. Before long, unscrupulous suppliers and bad cheques from customers forced him into bankruptcy. Three years later, suffering from many business set-backs, a less impulsive Charles headed to Vancouver looking for a fresh start.

In 1890, when he was 38 years of age, Charles opened Woodward’s, a dry goods store, but within months financial troubles caused him to close that location. He worked hard to repay his debts, and then borrowed to open a new Woodward’s, this time utilizing his own innovative method of merchandising – small specialized departments within one store, and offering discounts. His “department store” concept was a huge success.

By the turn of the century, Woodward’s Department Store was offering mail order and delivery services. In 1926, the now-millionaire Charles opened his second location. Sixty years later, the chain bearing his name included twenty-five stores.

Despite his earlier set-backs, his determination over a forty-year period had brought him the wealth he desired.

Throughout his life, Charles held fast to his belief: “Give the best value and you will win, however bad times become.”

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