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David G. Latta  (1869 - 1948)

D.G. Latta, who moved to Edmonton in 1897, is a great example of how, given the nature of the age,  resourcefulness was drawn out of everyone.   

Born June 6, 1869 in County Wexworth, Ireland, David Gilliland Latta sailed for Canada in pursuit of opportunity he felt was limited in his homeland. He arrived in Ontario and decided to stay, working odd jobs. A year or so later when Latta moved to Manitoba, it was only the beginning of his migration to the West.

Latta and R.S. KnightLatta settled in Whitemouth, Manitoba where he remained until 1890. There he joined the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP) and was stationed in the Battleford area of Saskatchewan. It was here Latta met and married his first wife Jessie Scott. She gave birth to their first child, Elizabeth a year later.

Latta purchased a ranch and began farming sheep. While a successful farmer, he was in pursuit of something different. Latta had heard stories of the Gold Rush and in 1897, four years after he had bought his ranch, he put it up for sale and the family moved on to Edmonton, Alberta. David Latta's House

One of Edmonton’s earliest residents, Latta found work in the carriage trade, working for others for approximately three years. During this time, his wife Jessie died in childbirth. In 1899, he was married for the second time to Emily Decouteau.

Though he was interested in pursuing gold, Latta was persuaded to set up shop as a blacksmith. In 1902, having learned the carriage business and employing his previous knowledge of blacksmithing, he opened his own carriage and blacksmithing shop, D.G. Latta Ltd. Edmonton was in need of a blacksmith and Latta was happy to comply. Shortly thereafter, he was joined by John H. Lyons and their business, which became known as Latta and Lyons, was soon a success. Their partnership lasted until 1912 when Lyons left and started his own business, Lyons Motors Ltd.

Latta’s business continued to prosper. The first fire escape put up on a school in Edmonton was crafted by D.G. Latta on the McKay Avenue School at 104 Street and 99th Avenue. Latta further built his business on his instinct for horses, and many brought their race horses to him as he would improve upon their shoes, which would in turn, improve their racing records.

When the First World War began, a number of Latta’s staff enlisted. Thus, the business needed to change to remain competitive. Latta led the restructuring of the business from a business predominantly focused on blacksmithing to selling wholesale blacksmith supplies.

In addition to being a successful businessman, Latta was quite involved in a number of other community affairs. In 1906, he was elected an Edmonton City Councillor. While he gladly served his term, he did not seek re-election. Apparently, he was tired of the continuous bickering among council members. He also shared his love of animals with the Edmonton community and in 1918, founded the Belatta Collie Kennels. Many of these dogs captured prizes at dogs shows in Alberta and British Columbia.

David and Rose LattaIn 1931, D.G. Latta and his wife Emily moved to North Vancouver, leaving the company in the hands of accountant Robert Nimmo. The company did well under new management, even throughout the Depression years. In January of 1948, Latta suffered a stroke. He and his wife returned to Edmonton, where he died on Armistice Day, November 11, 1948. He had lived 79 years.

In 1952, the City of Edmonton commemorated the life of D.G. Latta by naming the bridge at 91 Street and Jasper Avenue after him.

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