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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Economic Expansion in the Late 1920s

Canadian National Railway Station

The recession that began in 1913 and continued after World War One ended in the mid-1920s. Settlement of the Peace River Country resumed and an oil boom temporarily rekindled the expectations of the pre-World War One era. The oil boom in Alberta was stimulated by developments in the Turner Valley oil field and in the Wainwright area.

According to prosperity advertisements in various western newspapers, land purchases and immigration to the Prairies in 1928 were far ahead of anything since pre-war days. Unemployment had given way to actual labour shortages.

The prosperity of the late 1920s did not result in the same type of land speculation as before. Even so, the Edmonton Journal in a March 29, 1928, article did see a glimmer of hope for a return to boom times.

Boom times were somewhat approached on Tuesday morning when numerous sales of city lots were approved by the commissioners. The morning's transfers proved to be the heaviest in point of numbers that the city has handled for some time.

Chief among the deals was the sale of a lot at 101 Street and 106 Avenue to a gasoline supply company for $3, 600 cash.

The Birks Building

Under another deal which involved the sale of four city lots at 97 Street and 115 Avenue in Norwood, there was a yield if $1,300 cash. The purchaser has agreed to proceed with the erection of four modern bungalows, each costing $3,000 on this property.

The city has also sold a lot at 88 Street and 117 Avenue in Norwood for $225 cash, while a building in the Rutherford addition brought $100 cash. Three lots in Forest Heights were sold for $100.

The sale of city land virtually came to a halt. The City of Edmonton continued to be the major land owner until after World War Two.

Street railway construction in 1928

The increased sale of city land during the late 1920s was no portent of future events. On October 29, 1929, the New York Stock Exchange crashed, followed by the Canadian stock market crash. The Great Depression had begun. The news of the crash in New York did not have an immediate effect on the Edmonton real estate market. On January 18, 1930, it was reported that: "the first big real estate deal in Edmonton city property this year and the first for some time was consummated Friday afternoon when the Fairburn Apartments were purchased for $60,000." By the end of January 1930, though, drastic drops in wheat prices were being reported in Winnipeg. Bet¬ween January 1930 and January 1931 the price of Number 1 North¬ern Wheat fell from $1.11 to 34 cents per bushel. Effects of the Depression on real estate lasted until the be¬ginning of 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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