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
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.
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.
One of Edmontons 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.
Lattas 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
When the First World War began, a number of Lattas 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.
In 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
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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