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New Districts

Street Railway

The Highlands was a new district that began during this period. The community was developed by Magrath, Holgate and Co. W. J. Magrath arrived in Edmonton in 1904 from Belleville, Ontario, where he had operated a cheese business. He soon entered the real estate business after creating Magrath, Hart and Co. This company was reorganized in 1909 when B.A. Holgate bought out Hart's interests. At first the company followed the traditional approach of simply creating subdivisions without proceeding with development.

Subdivisions of this type created by this company included Bellevue in river lot twenty-eight, the Bellevue addition in river lot thirty, and Victoria Place and City Park, which were located immediately to the north.

115th Street

They took a different approach with the Highlands subdivision, which was located on lots thirty-two and thirty-four. A promotional campaign began in September 1910 when Magrath, Holgate and Co. advertised that $50 in gold would be given to the person who provided the name for the new subdivision. In November 1911, building permits for twenty-eight private residences were taken out by the company. Included in this list were residences for Magrath and Holgate themselves.

Magrath Mansion

Magrath, Holgate and Co. also negotiated with the city to provide various services to the district. In August 1911, the firm requested the extension of the street railway to the Highlands. The company agreed to bear the entire cost of the line from Borden Park, provided that it was constructed that fall and an hourly service was maintained. The company agreed to protect the Street Railway Department against loss for a period of eighteen months from the date the proposed line began operation. The company also negotiated an agreement to have certain streets paved in the subdivision.

The boom did not last long enough for the company to complete the development of the Highlands. The Holgate and Magrath mansions have survived, however, as reminders of their initial objectives. The construction of more modest homes continued into the post-World War Two period when the development of the district was completed.

Another company organized to develop residential property in Edmonton was Carruthers, Round and Co., which began in 1905. It was concerned with the creation of an exclusive district in the west end. James Carruthers, principal owner of the company, was a Montreal-based grain merchant who had extensive real estate investments in western Canada. Henry Round, who worked as the local agent for the company, was a former employee of the Hudson's Bay Co. He first came to Edmonton in 1884. The development of the Glenora subdivision began in 1906 when Carruthers purchased river lot two from Malcolm Groat. He subdivided the northern portion of the lot into a standard grid pattern. The land closer to the river, however, was surveyed to create curved streets to accommodate the ravines. Carruthers also negotiated an agreement with the City of Edmonton for the construction of a bridge across Groat Ravine and an agreement with the Province of Alberta to provide a site for the lieutenant governor's residence.

Carruthers also placed a restrictive covenant on all property in this area. It controlled the type, size, and number of buildings that could be built on each lot.

Calder was more of a working-class district developed in northwest Edmonton. In July 1910 the village of West Edmonton or Calder was established. West Edmonton was a company town for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The Village of West Edmonton was annexed to the City of Edmonton in 1917.

The development of Calder is linked to the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and the approach taken by the Hudson's Bay Co. to develop its Reserve. The HBC delayed the sale of that portion of its Reserve extending north from 107 Avenue until 1912. This decision forced the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway to locate its yards north of 122 Avenue. The result of the HBC's decision was the subdivision of the vacant land located north of the Hudson's Bay Co. Reserve.

Cloverdale was one of four river valley communities that was developed before World War One. Settlement began as early as the 1870s. By 1915 the neighbourhood was fully developed with schools, stores, local industries, and churches. Companies manufacturing forest products and bricks tended to locate in the valley.

A flood in 1915 eliminated the industries in these river valley communities.

This article is extracted from John Gilpin, Responsible Enterprise: A History of Edmonton Real Estate & the Edmonton Real Estate Board. (Edmonton: Edmonton Real Estate Board, 1997). The Heritage Community Foundation and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation would like to thank John Gilpin and the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton for permission to reproduce this material.

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