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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Feature Article


Written By: Lawrence Herzog
Published By: Real Estate Weekly
Article © Copyright Lawrence Herzog

Art Sulivan Home Brochure

A new home brochure from 1958. This home features "a planter that adds charm to both the kitchen and living-dining area." Photo provided by Sandi Quinn.

Edmonton is booming now, and a half century ago, it was in the midst of another period of rapid growth. Beginning with the 1947 discovery of vast oil reserves under Edmonton's feet, the city was catapulted into a period of spectacular growth, unprecedented in the city's history.

The population, which was 113,000 in 1946, jumped to 159,000 in 1951 and reached 226,000 five years later " a doubling in just ten years. Existing communities, many of them virtually stagnant since the end of the last great boom in 1913, suddenly found themselves in great demand and coping with the pressures of rapid growth.

Stony Plain, instituted in 1905 as a stopping point on the Canadian Northern Railway mainline and Spruce Grove, started as a townsite on the Grand Trunk Pacific line in 1912, were among them. Historic St. Albert, founded as a mission settlement by Father Albert Lacombe in 1861 and Fort Saskatchewan, which owed its beginnings to the establishment of an RCMP detachment on the river in 1875, were even older communities whose very fabric was to be changed by the boom.

Leduc, the community whose name graced the oil well that started it all, actually got its start as a telegraph station in 1867, the year of Canada's birth. It was named in memory of Father Leduc, a well-known pioneer priest and, when the Calgary and Edmonton Railway pushed through in 1891, the station became a fledgling settlement. When the oil arrived, it was fledgling no more. Developer and entrepreneur John Hook Campbell knew the demand wasn"t showing any signs of slowing down and so he proposed another new town, this one just east of Edmonton. Originally called Campbelltown, the first preview of new homes in what we now call Sherwood Park opened to the public on September 19th, 1955.

Through it all, the Edmonton Real Estate Association was there. Formed precisely 80 years ago, with the first meeting on May 16, 1927, the Association battled through the tough times of the Great Depression and the Second World War to emerge as a resilient organization ready to take on the challenges of growth.

With the boom, the number of real estate transactions and the number of Realtors grew. As the Association's membership grew, demand for its services increased rapidly. The Association, which had traditionally met in offices of members or at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, found itself in need of its own headquarters.

By 1955, the Association had become the Edmonton Real Estate Board and was sharing office space with its Co-operative Listing Bureau in Suite 304 of the Wallace Building at 9921 101 A Avenue. Today the site is the parking garage for the Westin Hotel.

Formal recognition for the contribution of individuals to the Edmonton real estate industry began in 1953, when Andy Whyte, Lou Weber and Luke Winterburn were made Honorary Members. A little while later, Sam Ferris and H. Milton Martin were also honoured.

The idea for a multiple listing service was brought back by a handful of Edmonton delegates to the Canadian Real Estate Association conference in Quebec City 1951. Edmonton Board President Norm Winterburn felt MLS would give the Association a new service for its rapidly increasing member base.

The Edmonton Real Estate Board Cooperative Listing Bureau Ltd. was officially incorporated on June 27th, 1952, under "The Cooperative Associations Act, 1946." There were ten founding members " all well-known in Edmonton's real estate industry. They were Norm Winterburn, Mark Cummings, Jack Haliburton, Sid Lawrie, Jack Weber, Stan Melton, Don Spencer, Frank Alloway, Bill MacGregor, and Tom Visser.

The very first property listing of the Edmonton Real Estate Board Co-operative Listing Bureau was received on August 7th, 1952 for a house at 11158 65th Street. It was Norm Winterburn's listing and sale.

Realtors decided on a seven per cent commission, reasoning that starting the operation on anything less would be financially impossible. The Bureau's first office, established in 1952, was in the Wallace Building.

The Memorandum of Association laid out several objectives related to marketing, more efficient and economical service (for greater benefit of buyers and sellers), the education of real estate professionals and a commitment to service. Fifty-five years later, the system still respects those early principles.

The Edmonton Real Estate Board Cooperative Listing Bureau Ltd. operated as a separate organization with its own executive but worked closely with the old Edmonton Real Estate Association. It had the same membership, the same need for permanent offices and a permanent staff. The two organizations began down the path of integration first by sharing information.

A year later, in September 1953, the Edmonton Real Estate Association began adopting two forms used by the Co-operative " the offer-to-purchase form and the listing form. By December 1953, applications for membership in the Board meant automatic membership in the Co-operative. On May 10th, 1955, the two organizations held their first joint meeting.

They formally joined in early 1959. The first annual meeting of the Edmonton Real Estate Board Co-operative Listing Bureau Ltd. after amalgamation was held May 17th, 1959 in the ballroom of the Hotel Macdonald. It was the beginning of a new chapter of growth for the Edmonton Real Estate Board.

Next week: Edmonton Real Estate's Golden Age of the 1960s.

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