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Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie

Jack Leslie, a REALTOR®, alderman and former mayor of Calgary, positively benefited the city, particularly through his efforts to preserve the Bow River pathways by lobbying against CPR development along the riverbanks.

Jack's father, John Cook Leslie, was also in the real estate industry, and was one of the founding members of the Calgary Real Estate Board. He started the company J.C. Leslie Co. Ltd in 1908, to take advantage of Calgary's growing population and booming real estate market. The company specialized in selling farm properties between Calgary and Red Deer and along the foothills.

John's son, Jack Leslie, was born in 1920, and the family lived on the banks of the Elbow River in a log cabin. Initially, Jack set out to get a law degree, finishing his first year at Mount Royal College in 1939. However, he never earned his degree, because when the war broke out, he became an RCAF pilot and flying instructor. During the war he married Jean in 1942.

Jack Leslie

After the war, Jack was discharged and he returned to work for J.C. Leslie and Co. A few years later, he began working for Prudential Insurance Co. of America, as a mortgage loan appraiser. In 1952, Jack left the real estate profession for some years, moving to Kootenay Crossing to build a fishing camp (which he built with his own hands) called Fay-Mar-K after his daughters Fay, Marilynn, and Kathleen. Unfortunately, in 1957, the Federal government expropriated the land, and Jack and his family were forced to abandon their business. Jack returned to Calgary and continued working in the real estate business, earning a degree in real estate appraisal. He returned to work for J.C. Leslie Co., now owned by his brother Gordon. However, when he saw the City of Calgary sell a piece of land for much less than it was worth, Leslie decided he could provide better service to Calgary's taxpayers - a realization that inspired him to run for office.

Jack Leslie was not well known when he ran for Alderman, in 1961. Nevertheless, he won and served as Alderman for Ward 4 until 1965. In 1963, he ran as a member of parliament, but lost against Calgary's mayor, Harry Hays. As Alderman, Jack's most important action was leading a grassroots initiative to stop CPR development along the Bow River. Leslie's movement had begun slowly in 1962, but by 1964, he had earned significant support, culminating in protests and petitions for plebiscites. Finally, in June 22nd of 1964, the city's agreement with the CPR was defeated. After spending years of his life fighting the agreement, Jack Leslie was ready to return to his real estate business. However, when the municipal elections of 1965 rolled around, Leslie was encouraged to run for mayor. He did, and he was elected with the support of the business community, particularly the Calgary Real Estate Board.

As a REALTOR®, Leslie was committed to real estate issues during his term as mayor, specifically urban renewal. Against popular opposition, he fought to have the expensive Crowchild Trail properly finished because he foresaw the need for proper infrastructure to support the growing city of Calgary. He also fought to have city land reserved for parkland. He initiated the expansion of the Calgary Airport, and the building of the Plus 15 walkways downtown. He was also an advocate for affordable housing, lobbying the province and the federal government to financially support low-cost housing initiatives in the city.

Jack Leslie was mayor until 1969. He and his wife are now retired and living at Bragg Creek, in a log house that Leslie built when he was 78.

For more information on Jack Leslie, read the Calgary Real Estate News article "Legendary REALTOR®, Legendary Life" in our feature article database.

References

Goheen, Krista. "Jack Leslie, former mayor, successful REALTOR, Calgary Legend." Calgary Real Estate News. Retrieved July 21, 2008

Leslie, Jean. Three Rivers Beckoned: Life & Times with Calgary Mayor Jack Leslie. Bragg Creek: Fay-Mar-K Publishing, 2004.

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