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History of Latta Family Businesses

D.G. Latta Ltd. , ca. 1922The David Gilliland Latta family first made its presence known in Edmonton in 1902 in establishing the Latta and Lyons Company. While the existing family business, Gambit Products Ltd., has changed to accommodate the times, the entrepreneurial spirit of the family has been maintained.

In the early 1900s, D.G. Latta started his own blacksmith and carriage shop located at what is now 99 St. and 101A Ave. Joined by partner John Lyons in 1902, the two were in business with each other for a number of years. Eventually the men decided to part ways, as Lyons was interested in developing the automobile side of the business and Latta was not. A completely amicable agreement allowed the two men to split up their business accordingly and move on.

In 1912, Latta took his business in a new direction—he had begun to notice that no one in this part of Canada was providing materials for the blacksmithing trade. He decided he would be the one to do so and thus, D.G. Latta Ltd. was born. Latta imported his parts from Pennsylvania as well as other states and Eastern Canada. He became an iron- and steel-heavy hardware merchant and a successful one at that. In 1932, he retired to North Vancouver, leaving his company under the management of Robert Nimmo, his accountant. The company managed to survive the Depression of the 1930s and experienced no difficulties until, ultimately, in 1956 it went bankrupt.

Latta was not alive to witness the demise of his company. After suffering a stroke in 1948 he and his wife had returned to Edmonton to be cared for by the family. He died later the same year.

The family spirit of entrepreneurship had continued to live on, however, and in 1949, Alex Latta, son of David Gilliland, opened his own business, Alex Latta Ltd. His business was the wholesale distribution of welding supplies. In 1952, he began distributing compressed gases. The only family owned business of this sort in Canada, it ran successfully until the family sold it in 1972. Alex Latta, its founder, died of Hodgkin’s disease in 1969 at the age of 63.

Gambit Products Ltd.However, his son, Alex Latta Jr. carries on the tradition. In 1959, Alex Jr. opened Gambit Products Ltd., a machining company located in southeast Edmonton. Around the early 1990s, Alex Jr. sold the company to his brother-in-law Doug and his two sons. With plans to expand the business in the near future, it should not be difficult to carry this business into the hands of the following generation.

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