This site portrays life in the Wood’s Christian Home, for some seventy years, a home for orphan and disadvantaged children just west of Calgary at Bowness, Alberta. (also see  http://www.homerspot.wikifoundry.com the informative site created by and for Homers, that is ex wood’s kids. This virtual exhibit also uses time lines to describe the history of the home and its development. There are links to videos, images and other resources.

I entered the home as a four-year-old in 1946. Like many, I had a single parent, my father, who could not care for me. The home shaped my childhood in unusual ways. If you wish to learn more about me, scroll to the bottom of this page.

To provide a more thorough portrayal, I recently added the memories of other former girls and boys. Overall in creating this exhibit, my aim was to celebrate the spirit and resilience of the kids who lived there. The home was a remarkable place; like something out of Dickens, a happy family for many and a hell hole for some. Its evolution mirrors the failings and the progress in caring for Alberta’s needy children.

This place was remarkable in my time for its striking duality. Wonderful and awful things happened there. A good number of children from my era might regard it as the best place they ever knew. Many of them, and I include myself, came out of dreadful circumstance. I came into the Woods, as a four-year-old, on November 4th, 1946. I left, after completing grade nine, in the spring of 56.

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                                    A SPECIAL TRIBUTE AND DEDICATION

Dedicated on this day, December 8, 2018 to the memory of the many old boys and girls who have gone home, and especially to the memory of William Lawrence Davidson.

Elsewhere on this site I have remarked on qualities many ex Woods kids seem to share; namely resilience, spirit and courage. No one I believe exhibited those qualities more than William Davidson, also known as Billy Davidson and later in life, as Kayak Bill. He died on an island off the coast of British Columbia on December 8th, 2003. The body was not found until some three months later, under drift wood, on a storm threatened beach. His remains had to be removed post haste owing to that threat. The cause of death was a bullet wound to the head. The coroner declared  that the cause of death was indeterminate. It is not known if it was by his own hand or someone else’s act. No one has knowledge whether or not Billy was alone on that night. The Goose Island group in December must be one of the most desolate and lonely places anywhere. The last entry on his diary was from the day before, December 7th, 2003.

Billy was at the home, as a smaller boy, while I was there in 1953 to 1956. He stayed on until graduation. He then became a near legendary mountain climber in the front ranges of the Rockies and later in his life, in the incarnation of Kayak Bill, as an epic solo ocean kayaker on the outer Pacific Coast of British Columbia. He was in this later life mostly reclusive, living for lengthy spells in rough shelters on the remote islands. Find a link, below, to a concise biography and tribute to perhaps the most remarkable of Homers: A Tribute to Billy

 

 

                                ABOUT THE CREATOR OF THIS WEBSITE

Frank Dwyer is the curator of this exhibit site and author of much of the content.  He is now seventy-eight years old and retired. Frank lived in the home for most of ten years, leaving after he completed grade nine in 1956. He lives in Kamloops, B.C. Canada, with his wife Janice.

Note: If you wish to contact me please use the contact page where you will find my postal address. Regrettably, I deleted the email link feature after being pestered by constant sales pitches and malicious messages.

FIND ME: In the header photo on the welcome page,  I am with the threesome in the front row – being first from the right with the black top and new overalls. I am five years old. The photo was taken in front of the little boy’s dorm in the spring of 1947.

 


                                                                       Photo Credits

NOTE: Header photographs  are copyright, courtesy of the Glenbow Archives, Glenbow Museum, (Calgary. Alberta). I obtained permission to scan a large numer of images in the Wood’s collection, for a non-commercial website (of my creation), one intended to convey the history of the W.C.H. Reproduction of a print of Hextall mansion house courtesy of the artist R. Treacy who once  gifted the print to this author. All other photos are copyright of the late Art Jeal,  former manager of the Wood’s Christian Home. I had scanned and restored Art’s slide collection for his, and also for his families benefit as well as for my own publishing use at a later date.  Frank Dwyer

 

One of the old boys from 1946-56

Author of Passing Innocence, creator and curator of these exhibit pages..

12 Comments on “About this site

    1. One of the old boys from 1946-56
    1. One of the old boys from 1946-56

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