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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Feature Article


Written By: Jean Leslie
Published By: Calgary Real Estate News
Article Used with permission of the Calgary Real Estate Board. © Copyright Calgary Real Estate News, 2007

Real estate: A family affair

Bill Dickson has been in the real estate business for 46 years himself but add in his three Realtor® sons with two, 30 and 31 years respectively and a grandson now two years in the business and you get the impressive total of 111 years for this family of Realtors®.

Born William Dickson in Medicine Hat in 1930, Bill came to Calgary where he took his schooling. After a series of jobs that would make a great movie sequence - short order cook, cab driver and shoot jockey in a Canmore Coal Mine, he started his own construction business in June of 1955. He built over 100 homes in Montgomery, Bowness and Forest Lawn before they became part of the city of Calgary.

In 1955, he became a real estate salesman for Bow Valley Agencies and in 1958 established his own company, Corral Realty Ltd. That same year he became a member of the Calgary Real Estate Board Co-Operative Ltd. (CREB(R)) where he served as a director for six years and president in 1977.

On January 1, 1967 he changed his company name to Centennial Realty Ltd. where his eldest son Rick joined him in 1973. Rick’s happiest memory in the real estate business is that the first week after he got his license he sold a house in Dalhousie. After some time with another company he came back to take over Centennial Realty where his father remained as broker/agent.

Rick hired a large group of salespeople and business prospered. Then, in the summer of 1981 he went on holidays and came back to find that, because of the National Oil Policy, his salespeople were lucky if they had made one sale in a month. Interest rates had run up to 22%. Most of his salespeople dropped out of the business and many large Realtors(R) went broke.

Rick then went with Trans Alta Realty until 2002. He is now with Sutton Group Advantage. Rick has served on many CREB(R) committees. He says he particularly enjoyed the one in 1980 which first started setting standards for ethics and discipline for Realtors(R).

Another of Bill’s sons, Don, joined him in 1974 before starting his own business, Tarmigan Real Estate, in 1978. It became an adventure in providing low income housing in Fort McMurray when exploration in Canada’s richest oil deposit was opening up. They were doing very well in the business in 1979 and 1980 when, as many Albertans may remember, the government at the time introduced new policies into the oil business and due to the changes, they lost everything.

But as father Bill says, "We proved we could provide superior housing that could be developed on an assembly line basis at a price the working man could afford."

Don then joined Can West Real Estate as a broker from 1981 -1989. In 1989 he joined the Sutton Group.

One thing remained constant throughout the years and that was a CREB(R) membership. Don joined from the beginning, serving the board in many ways such as chairing the committee which united CREB(R) and the Calgary Region Home Builders Association. He became a Director in 2000.

Don is now serving as President of the Calgary Real Estate Board which he considers the most interesting and challenging job he has ever had.

Don’s son Nathan, 27, is also in the real estate business hoping to soon be full-time as he takes advanced training and marketing courses with CREB(R).

Bill’s third son Michael, who passed away in 1980, also joined the modular home industry in 1976 with father Bill and brother Don.

But back to Bill who has been a member of CREB(R) for 46 years, serving as a director of CREB(R) for six years and becoming president in 1977 where his list of accomplishments is staggering. He worked in the education committee of the Calgary and Alberta Real Estate Boards (AREA) for 14 years. He promoted merging of the ethics and arbitration committees. He initiated action to create the 25 year member awards in 1974 and the T.W. Saunders Memorial Award in 1979.

Representing the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Bill attended the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Legislation committee meeting in Washington to create a Political Action Committee in 1983. This has become a very successful lobbying committee to improve the real estate business and housing in Canada.

He spearheaded the resolution that led to the trade mark "REALTOR(R)" being officially recognized in Canada and the U.S.

One of the highlights of his career was a long time battle (1966 - 1984) which began when he was refused approval for a bond as an agent for Centennial Realty Ltd. because of an erroneous credit report. With the assistance of his lawyer they were able to force credit report companies to allow individuals and companies access to their own reports to correct any flaws which might be there.

Bill feels his second most important accomplishment was to instigate the creation of the Assurance Fund for the licensed real estate practitioner. Bill took his problem to Dick Armburst an AREA director in 1966 and it was finally put into legislation in 1982 after 16 years of persistent effort.

Bill was a member of the Housing and Urban Development Association of Calgary for 15 years, serving as chairman of the Legislative committee in the multi-family Council 1978.

Bill Dickson and his family have contributed much to their profession, their association, their communities and the country we live in.

This article was written for Calgary Real Estate News, a division of the Calgary Real Estate Board, for the series “Legends of Real Estate” showcasing important members of the Calgary Real Estate Board. Please visit the Calgary Real Estate Board online.This article is part of the collection of the Calgary Real Estate News. Please visit them online.

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