Joe Shoctor, a lawyer, real estate developer and theatre producer, is known best for introducing professional theatre to Edmonton by founding the Citadel Theatre. However, he was also involved in many other real estate developments in the downtown core, earning him the nickname "Mr. Downtown."
Born in 1922, Joe Shoctor was the son of Morris Shoctor, an Orthodox Jew who fled persecution to come to Canada where he peddled second-hand goods and sold scrap metal. Joe Shoctor grew up on Boyle Street, in Edmonton. He discovered his love for theatre when he was a student, producing and directing variety shows at Victoria Composite High School. In 1948, he was called to the bar after earning a law degree at the University of Alberta. Shoctor was not content to simply practice law; he had a variety of interests, and his growing wealth from real estate investments, particularly during the 1950s, allowed him to indulge his interests. He developed several Edmonton residential neighbourhoods in Rio Terrace and Whitemud, as well as bought commercial buildings and leased them to oil companies. With the wealth he earned from his practice and from real estate and oil stock investments, he produced Broadway plays in New York, and managed the Edmonton Eskimos from 1954 to 1956.
Despite all his other claims to fame, the real estate development that truly made Shoctor famous was undoubtedly the Citadel Theatre. In 1965, Shoctor convinced three partners to invest $200 000 into purchasing the abandoned Salvation Army Citadel, just off Jasper Avenue. He turned the citadel into a 277-seat professional theatre. While the Citadel Theatre struggled in its early years, it eventually helped launch the city of Edmonton as a theatre city, home to many large theatres and host to the Edmonton International Fringe Festival - the largest fringe theatre festival in North America. In 1976, Shoctor moved the theatre into a new and more elaborate building of brick and glass, at 99th Street and 101st A Avenue, in the heart of Edmonton's downtown.
Later in his life, Shoctor was actively involved in initiatives to develop and revitalize Edmonton's downtown. In 1984, he served on the mayor's task force for developing the city centre core, and in 1986, he was named chairman of the Edmonton Downtown Development Corporation. Joe Shoctor helped bring about improvements to Jasper Avenue and was involved in the creation of the Old Town Market and the Edmonton Concert Hall foundation. He also helped acquire land for Grant MacEwan Collage.
In 2000, Joe Shoctor closed his law practice. He died the next year at the age of 79. Shoctor won many awards for service throughout his life, including an induction to the Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame as a Builder in 1987, and the Alberta Order of Excellence in 1990. For his contributions to Edmonton, 101A Avenue was renamed Joe Shoctor Alley.References
Brennan, Brian. Alberta Originals: Stories of Albertans who made a Difference. Fifth House: Calgary, 2001.
Herzog, Lawrence. Joe Shoctor & the Citadel. Real Estate Weekly, 22(17), April 29, 2004. Retrieved July 7, 2008
The Citadel Theatre. Joseph Shoctor: A Man of his Time. Retrieved July 7, 2008
The Government of Alberta. The Alberta Order of Excellence: Members. Retrieved July 7, 2008
Witwicki, Deborah. In Alberta's Second Major Boom the Capital City is Transformed. Alberta in the 20th Century, Vol. 9: Leduc, Manning & the Age of Prosperity. Edmonton: United Western Communications Ltd., 1991.