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Land Shows

The Edmonton Chamber of Commerce also tried to deal with the problem of land speculation. They thought that legislation could protect the legitimate investor and stop property advertisements that failed to show the whole of the town or city in or near the property's location. At a council meeting in December 1911, the real estate section agreed to ask for this legislation. Toronto Saturday Night enthusiastically endorsed the proposal.

The Chamber of Commerce took more direct action against speculators when a land show and home building exhibit was being planned. At their meeting on March 12, 1912, the Chamber of Commerce passed a motion to disassociate itself from this event. H. Milton Martin, chairman of the meeting, reported that the Board of Trade had obtained information on the show from businessmen in Calgary before taking this position. One of the telegrams received indicated that "it was a money making scheme and did not by any means come up to the standards it was boosted to be."

When a similar show was planned for November 1912, the real estate section of the Board of Trade tried unsuccessfully to prevent it. The show was held on November 16, 1912, at the Thistle Rink. The Edmonton Bulletin observed in its November 20, 1912, issue that the show was: "proving to be a great boon to the local real estate men who are numbered among the exhibitors. Their booths are all elaborately fitted up and a staff of salesmen are on hand to cater to prospective buyers."

The Edmonton Journal articles on the fair also confirmed public interest

A few months ago when things seemed rather quiet along the real estate rialto, some dealers predicted that the early winter would witness a remarkable revival in city and district property. The pessimist said it was "hot air" or something to that effect. But the pessimist as is usually the case was entirely wrong. The activity, "boom" some people call it, has arrived and it promises to be one of the biggest in the history of the city.

The Edmonton and western Canadian real estate market by 1912 had become a giant selling scheme on the verge of collapse. Its decline began in June 1913.

This pre-World War boom era is important to the history of the Edmonton Real Estate Board because it shows the first attempt to establish organized real estate. The Edmonton Real Estate Exchange was an early form of multiple listing bureau in which companies cooperated in the sharing of listings. It also endeavoured to promote a high standard of business ethics at a time when land speculation was rampant. The organization of the Exchange would also establish the importance of standing committees. All of these features would be incorporated into the way later organizations would operate through to the present day.

Various real estate schemes left a generally negative public image of the industry. This negative reputation would take years to eliminate.

The railway boom had expanded the city in population and physical size. Edmonton became the capital of the new Province of Alberta and one of the five major urban centres in western Canada. The extra land incorporated into the city because of land speculation would also eliminate the need for further annexations until after World War Two.

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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