WAG John White Building

Black and white image of three buildings

The John White Building

The building in which the Woodstock Art Gallery resides was named after Lieutenant Colonel John White, a Scottish business entrepreneur.

Immigrating to Woodstock in 1860, White opened his first dry goods store with his brother George on the corner of Dundas and Riddell streets. After George’s retirement, the John White & Co. dry goods store expanded and moved to 447 Dundas St.. In the following years White purchased two more buildings, now spanning 445 to 449 Dundas St.

In addition to employing 125 individuals, the store incorporated in 1904, becoming John White Co. Ltd. With major renovations in 1913, the three separate buildings became a singular modern department store which included an additional fourth floor, an elevator, and a pneumatic tube system. The building was the first business in Woodstock to be outfitted with electric lighting.

For the following 40 years, John White Co. Ltd. would see the transfer of the company president to the next three generations of the White family. The firm celebrated its 100th anniversary of operation in Woodstock in 1960. Although the store was sold to Walkers in 1961, the legacy of John White remains as the building and the alley lane located behind it retain his name.

In 2009, the building was purchased by the City of Woodstock and following major renovations, the Woodstock Art Gallery opened its doors in 2011.

timeline of the history of the John White building

View an accessible PDF of the building timeline.

black and white photo of construction on a building

Ten Years in the Building

In 2021, the exhibition Ten Years in the Building brought together artifacts from the past into the gallery space, chronicling key milestones of the hundred-year history of the John White Co. Ltd. A collaborative project, this exhibition included historical items from the Woodstock Museum and the Oxford County ArchivesTen Years in the Building was on display in the main floor pocket gallery from August 3, 2021 – January 22, 2022. 

Artifact Archive

Explore artifacts, images and research from the exhibition on the WAG App.

View the Artifact Archive

Laptop Screengrab

Curator Talk: The History of the John White Building

Contact Us

© 2017 City of Woodstock P.O. Box 1539, 500 Dundas Street, Woodstock, ON N4S 0A7


Phone: 519-539-1291
Email: General Information

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