$1.49 Day Woodward’s. $1.49 Day Tuesday

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Sixty years ago today, CKNW creative director, Tony Antonias  wrote the famous Woodward’s $1.49 day jingle.

Antonias, a New Westminster resident and former Aussie—who like most of us ex pats have kept our accents—started as a copywriter at the station in 1955. He stayed there for the next 40 years—to the day.

As Tony tells it, the jingle came about almost by accident after he hit the key on a new typewriter and it made a loud ding. When he hit it again, it made another ding—yup $1.49 Day. Tuesday.


Tony wrote the jingle on February 17, 1958, recorded it on the Easter weekend and heard it go to air in April 1958 “after Woodwards took six weeks to decide to use it.”

“Everybody wants to know how the $1.49 jingle came to be,” he told me. “I’ve scripted it and I’ve got it on CDs and they love hearing it.”

Percival Archibald Woodward (Puggy) ran the Woodwards Department Stores for many years. It was Puggy who created Woodward’s famous food floor—and with it, turned the entire concept of retailing on its head.

Woodwards ca.1940s. Courtesy VPL 27900

And, it was his idea in 1927 to build a 75-foot-high beacon modelled after the Eiffel Tower to act as a giant billboard advertisement for the department store. The tower held a searchlight that threw out a two million candlepower beam which revolved six times each minute and could be seen from Vancouver Island. When the war hit he was told to remove the tower and the 16-foot W took its place. Puggy predicted that malls were the wave of the future and he was a driving force behind the Park Royal Shopping Centre, which in 1950, was the first shopping mall in Canada.

He died in 1968—10 years after Tony created the Woodward’s jingle. Puggy was a huge philanthropist with an interest in medical research and he left his vast estate to the Mr. and Mrs. P.A. Woodwards Foundation where it continues to do great work.

A Woodwards elevator operator in the 1970s. Photo courtesy Angus McIntyre

If that jingle and the famous whistle is not firmly wedged in your head for the rest of the day—or if you were born after 1992—you can listen to here on soundcloud

From a New Westminster 60th anniversary reception in Tony Antonias’s honour, February 19, 2018. Photo courtesy Jason Vanderhill

© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus.

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  1. What interesting info! Thanks for sharing it. My paternal grandpa, John Williams, was 70 on that famous day in 1958. He would be 130 today but of course he’s long gone. I love dates. I love history. I really loved Woodward’s, esp the fabric department in New Westminster. I still miss that beautiful store. And now I miss Sears….I LOVED department stores.

  2. PS: “To celebrate the jingle’s anniversary, Antonias is having a small reception in the foyer of New Westminster City Hall on Monday, Feb. 19 from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Community members are invited to attend and enjoy cake and beverages at the event that’s taking place prior to that evening’s council meeting.”


  3. Really interesting story! I loved Woodwards! My grandma went there every Friday for years and it was a ritual for my brother and I to get our back-to-school shoes there every September. Still miss it very much!

  4. Congratulations to Tony for this winner of a jingle. And condolences to the readers who miss Woodwards like me.

    About the power of a jingle, Roy Willams (aka The Wizard of Ads) said that a good one results in involuntary recall. For example, some people might have that damn jingle stuck in their heads now after listening to it. Furthermore, radio advertising is more intrusive than TV, print or web advertising because a person might look away or close their eyes, but they can’t close their ears.

    The art of persuasion. I love it. Tony achieved it in spades with $1.49 Day. Tuesday.

  5. I started my career as a Vancouver bus driver with B.C. Hydro in 1969, and we were very aware of $1.49 day at Woodward’s. Loads were heavier, and we had to make sure to have extra tokens and change ready. The eastbound nearside bus stop at Abbott and Hastings was always busy, but even more so on $1.49 day. While at that stop, you could look across the street and see through the main entrance doors into the store. On normal days, there would be space along the main concourse inside the store, but on $1.49 day it was just a solid mass of shoppers. I recall heading downstairs to the Food Floor one time, and all the 15 checkouts were open, with a queue of six people at each one. Before scanners, there was the sound of electric cash registers humming away among the crowds.

    The manual elevators were in the centre of the store, and the senior operator was the “Starter” who normally stood at an information counter near the elevators. She made sure the elevators ran evenly, without bunching. As the cars filled up, she had a set of castanets, and to signal the operator to leave, she would go “clack-clack” with the castanets.. When it got really busy, she would leave her post and run an extra car. I got to know several of the operators, and one in particular because she occasionally rode my bus home after her shift. This was a physical job, as these elevators had to be levelled at each floor manually, and the interior gate and exterior doors opened by hand as well.

    An earlier memory for me were sale days at the Myer Emporium in Melbourne, Australia. Large crowds would assemble on the footpath in front of the store at opening time. Eaton’s in Vancouver had the Trans Canada Sale day, and for several years provided free rides on the transit system to get downtown to the store.

    1. As you can see Angus, I ran the great photo you took of the Woodward’s operator in the ’70s. Fascinated to hear that it was such a physical job. And, I remember those sale days at Myers!

  6. My mother worked at Woodward’s in Calgary for about10 years, ending in 1979. She worked every $1.49 Day through that period. Because the store closed at 6:00, my sister and I were “forced” to learn rudimentary cooking so that dinner could be eaten at a reasonable time.
    (Full disclosure, my sister could burn water. More than once she let vegetables boil dry and scorch. Twice she let a lovely copper kettle boil dry, ruining its shine 🙀)
    My favourite thing was the cheese counter, where I learned about the delicious and vast range of flavours.

  7. Woodwards was our favorite department store. The food floor was excellent. The Christmas displays were unforgettable. I worked nearby the Hastings and Abbot store for many years. Woodwards would cash CP Transport paychecks. I bought a rocking chair at Woodwards when my wife was pregnant which still sits in our living room.
    That jingle used to drive me nuts and now it reminds me the “good old days”.

  8. Loved that jingle – as a child it usually meant a trip downtown with my Mom and maybe a snack at the lunch counter. In the 1970s I used to make a special trip to Woodwards Food Floor just to buy their canned Rum Babas – I still miss those! And of course, the Woodwards Christmas windows were always fascinating – even today those mechanical displays intrigue me when set up at Canada Place during the holiday season. It was a wonderful store and that jingle resonates in my memory.

  9. Oh, this brought back such good memories! My mother and I used to meet at Woodward’s for $1.49 Day and have lunch in the cafe downstairs – french fries and the best toasted cheese sandwich. For a $1.49, no less!

  10. By outing herself as an ex-Australian, Eve will probably attract more comments than usual for this engaging zoom-in on Tony Antonias’s classic jingle.

    But it also resonates in other ways.

    Especially with its downtown location, Woodwards held a special place in the hearts and minds of many British Columbia shoppers. (Not enough to ultimately save the over-expanded chain, but that’s another story.)

    For me, no Christmas was complete without venturing into the Downtown Eastside to admire the store’s festive window displays. That flagship location arguably prevented the surrounding area from descending into the dystopian wasteland it truly became after the Woodwards collapse.

    The “$1.49 Day” Woodwards jingle remains an enduring and comforting memory for those—like myself—who now get dubbed “of a certain age.” The term Earworm didn’t exist at the time, but Tony Antonias definitely created one. Right up there with the Jeopardy theme, Mmmbop and Call Me Maybe.

    Speaking of Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen’s co-writer and producer Josh Ramsay is the son of legendary Vancouver ad-jingle executive Miles Ramsay. His old firm—Griffiths Gibson Ramsay Palmer—ruled the roost in the heyday of jingles, attracting clients from around the world.

    Not too many years after Tony crafted the Woodwards jingle, CKNW and its corporate parent Western Broadcasting partnered with then Griffiths Gibson to open what became Little Mountain Sound to handle the overflow business.

    Big name rock stars like Aerosmith and Bon Jovi made headlines for recording at Little Mountain…but jingles paid a lot of the overhead. They also put food on the table for hordes of lyricists, composers, sessions musicians and singers and technicians not to mention assorted local agencies that dreamed up concepts and sold airtime for radio and tv broadcasts.

    Ad jingles provided Vancouver a glorious and under appreciated hub of economic activity from the ‘60s to late ‘80s. One could argue Tony Antonias along with peers of his day, helped launch that juggernaut.

  11. 1963-65 while at University my summer job was at Woodward’s departments 113 and 607 plus working the shipping & receiving dock when they got really busy. I got the job because at the time I was dating the store manager’s daughter. Its who you know, not what you know. Though $1.49 Day hardly compared to the “Baby Week” sale and Christmas volume. The best part of working for Woodward’s was the employee discount, even on gasoline. I later drove trolley buses in Vancouver serving Woodward’s at 101 West Hastings. Street. I know $1.49 Day from personal experience inside the store and outside the store.

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