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Expansion of the Industry

The boom in real estate attracted many new people who joined Edmonton's growing number of real estate and insurance agents, investment dealers, and land company representatives. The members of Edmonton's business community identified as real estate agents or as having any association with land companies went from 3 in 1899 to a peak of 333 in 1914.

Henry Marshall Erskin Evans was a member of this group of recently arrived businessmen who would help develop the city.

Evans was born at Davenport, Ontario, in 1876. He was a graduate of the University of Toronto and the School of Mines in Houighton, Michigan, where he had taken an assaying course. Evans had a varied business career before he moved to Edmonton. He spent some time in Mexico assisting in the administration of his uncle's mining interests. He came west in 1900 where he worked as business manager for the Winnipeg Tribune.

In 1905 he began his career in real estate by working for the Manitoba Land and Investment Co. This company was started by a group of American bankers who specialized in buying farming land and bringing in American settlers. Following Evans' departure from the land company, he came to Edmonton as the representative of John E. Burchard of St. Paul in order to test the extent of the coal deposits in what became the Evansburg area. His findings eventually led to the development of the town of Evansburg.

Evans moved permanently to Edmonton in 1907. He opened an office in the old Empire Block to sell real estate and insurance. He also served as a member of the local advisory committee and inspector of loans for the Northern Alberta Royal Trust Co., and was an inspector for the Mortgage Co. of Canada.

In 1910 he was appointed the Canadian agent for the Canadian Agency, an investment company based in London, England. Evans' experience made him an ideal choice, since this company wanted to invest British capital into the expanding economy of western Canada. Evans was proud of his association with the Canadian Agency in representing British capital.

The Canadian Agency was an investment company with various business interests in Canada, particularly in western Canada. Their Alberta companies included the Western Canada Land Co. This company owned 500,000 acres of land west and east of Edmonton, purchased from the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1905. It was a typical land company of the settlement period, having purchased the land in anticipation of rising land values.

Evans was also responsible for the Western Mortgage Co., Pembina Coal Co., Peace River Trading and Land Co., and Western Home Builders. Evans, like other real estate agents of his day, had to be active in other lines of business given the unpredictable market.

H. Milton Martin was another new arrival during this period. He moved to Edmonton in 1907 where he established the Crown Real Estate Co. in partnership with J. Almon Valiquette. In 1908 he established a firm under his own name.

He was born at Clintonville, New York, in 1872 but moved with his family at an early age, receiving his education in Quebec. He arrived in British Columbia in 1888 where he worked as a clerk, bookkeeper, and accountant for various companies. In 1898 he entered government service in the Yukon, rising to the position of Crown Timber and Land Agent for all of the Territory.

Martin's community involvement included serving as Vice-president of the Edmonton Board of Trade in 1911 and as president of the Greater Edmonton Board of Trade in 1912. He was also a trustee on the Separate School Board and in charge of the financial affairs of the diocese of Edmonton.

Lou A. Weber arrived in 1911. According to an article in the August 3, 1911, Daily Capital, Lou Weber, formerly of Toronto, had spent the past month on an extensive tour through the Canadian west and had decided to make Edmonton his home. By August 1911 he had already leased a suite of offices in the new CPR building for his real estate business. Weber later added an insurance and loans branch. Lou Weber was formerly connected with the old and established real estate and insurance firm known as the ISK Weber Co. Ltd., with its head office at Kitchener, Ontario.

The influx of new businessmen also included Ed Molstad, a native of Rushford, Minnesota, who came to Edmonton in 1911. He was president and manager of the Fort George and Fraser Valley Land Co. His brother, John, who lived in Calgary, was vice-president and secretary-treasurer of the same company.

Henry Marshall Erskin Evans. Western Realty Company H. Milton Martin
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