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Rossdale Flats

Technically known as Edmonton’s River Lot 4, the Rossdale Flats Site has a history that cannot be told without mention of its namesake, Donald Ross. Located north of the Saskatchewan River, the site originally consisted of flat ground immediately south of what was then the Town of Edmonton.

Donald RossDonald Ross was born in Scotland and arrived in Edmonton in 1872, after travels had taken him throughout North America. Possessing foresight and an entrepreneurial spirit, Ross recognized the potential that lay waiting to be actualized. With this vision in mind he took to various tasks.

Social divisions that marked him an unsophisticated working-class man did not prevent him from remaining ambitious. He liaised with prominent business figures, politicians, and society to great financial success. Auto racing

A passionate dedication to horticulture led to Ross’s work for Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) where a three-year agreement was drawn up for him to farm HBC land. After a year Ross decided to relinquish his farm operator status and fees, instead claiming River Lot 4 as his land and setting about iRoss' Edmonton Hotelts development. He promptly built the Edmonton Hotel and the estate became known as Rossdale.

Prize-winningHis involvement with the Edmonton Agricultural Society (EAS) would deepen. An invested agriculturalist, Ross had been a founding member of the EAS in 1879, but had somewhat retreated form his involvement with the society when it failed to sustain initial momentum. As the EAS re-asserted itself, he returned, serving as vice-president from 1885 to 1887. When the non-profit organization sought a new site at the beginning of the 20th century, he sold 55 acres of the Rossdale Estate to it at a cost of $7,000 CDN paid in nine installments.

Ross' coal minesThe Edmonton Industrial Exhibition Association (EIEA) now had a new home and Ross used his various skills to take charge of the 1901 fair, overseeing construction of the grandstand the next year. In 1903, he was elected the association President and served his full two-year term. An epic figure in Edmonton history, he went on to contribute such things as bringing the railway through to Edmonton.

Children's paradeWhen the City of Edmonton expressed a desire to build power facilities on his land, an incentive was offered. A deal entitling Ross to part of the company prompted him to sell the EIEA land to the Edmonton Electric Light and Power Company. This marked an important step in Edmonton’s development, and transitioned the EIEA to its next and permanent site.

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