William Nimmons, 1826-1919, was born in Britain and in 1863 moved to Guelph, Ontario where he purchased a woollen factory. In 1869 he worked with a survey party in the North-West Territories and was imprisoned by Louis Riel.
In 1882 he purchased land near Calgary and established the 3-D-Bar Ranch a few years later. His lands included what is now from 17th Avenue to 26th Avenue and from 14th Street to near Crowchild Trail in southwest Calgary. From the mid-1880s onward, Nimmons sold small parcels of land to begin growing a community. He also rented land to squatters such as Reginald H. Peach, the father of Jack Peach, one of Calgary's best-known historians.
His next commercial venture began after the great fire of 1886 in Calgary. When the city began rebuilding the downtown core with sandstone buildings, sandstone was highly in demand, so Nimmons began a sandstone quarry. The Paskapoo stone of his quarry was highly sought, and it became part of many Calgary landmarks such as Beaulieu mansion, Isabella block, King Edward School and the Carnegie Library. He also operated a brickyard from 1897 until about 1905.
In 1905, Nimmons began to view land sales as his next profitable business venture, so that year, he began to subdivide his property and in 1912 the subdivision of Bankview became part of Calgary. Bankview, now located in Calgary's inner city, is one of Calgary's oldest communities.
At the peak of Calgary's real estate boom, in 1912, Nimmons opened his own real estate office and began selling lands from $1,000 a piece. In addition to real estate sales, Nimmons was a building developer. In 1898, he had his red brick and sandstone trimmed house built in 1907; this two and half storey, Queen Anne Style landmark of Bankview was designated a Registered Historic Resource by the province in 1978. In 1911 he had another landmark constructed, the Mount Royal Theatre, later called the Kinema, the first and only cinema ever constructed in Bankview. The theatre functioned as a silent picture house, before being converted into an automobile repair shop. During the "Great Depression," it reverted back to a theatre, the Kinema, before being demolished during the 1950s.
In addition to being a rancher and real estate developer, the Nimmons family operated a greenhouse. In 1883 William Nimmons married his second wife, Isabella Munnech, and they had five children, Edward, George, Albert, Isabella (Crichton) and Kathleen (McCloy). His wife came to Alberta from Edinburgh, Scotland in 1886.
Nimmons passed the final years of his life at his brick house in Bankview, before dying on Halloween Day of 1919.
This biography is adapted from the William Nimmons fonds of the Glenbow Archives. Copyright © Glenbow Archives, Calgary.References
Community Profile: Bankview. Calgary Real Estate News, 26(45), November 6, 2008.
Hunter, Frederick. The Story of Bankview. Retrieved December 4, 2008.
Nimmons House. Driving Tour: Inglewood and Mount Royal, Calgary. Alberta Culture, n.d.