Red Deer in the prosperous autumn of 1928

Every once in a while, Central Alberta is blessed with long, warm and dry falls. Once instance occurred 87 years ago in the fall of 1928, when Red Deer was a small prairie town of around 2,800 people.

The year had been a rewarding one for the local farmers.

Crops were good. The long fall ensured a complete harvest. With the creation of the Alberta Wheat Pool and other farmer-owned cooperatives in the mid-1920s, agricultural prices had stabilized and then improved.

After nearly a decade of tough times, prosperity had finally begun to return for the farmers.

Since Red Deer was basically an agricultural service centre, better economic times for the farmers meant better times for the townspeople as well. One of the first signs of the improved economy was the construction of grain elevators by such enterprises as the Alberta Wheat Pool and the National Grain Elevator Co.

Moreover, the Alberta Pacific Grain Company built Red Deer’s first radio station on the brow of the Hospital Hill.

One of the key aims of radio station CKLC was to broadcast up-to-the minute grain prices and other marketing information to farmers.

However, a range of musical programs, news flashes, weather and road reports and religious shows were also included. One special feature was the broadcast of Sunday evening musical concerts from the Sylvan Lake Hotel.

The new construction projects were not limited to new grain elevators and a radio station.

With more money in the community, people began to purchase more cars. Ole Boode built a new Chrysler and DeSoto dealership on Gaetz Avenue.

Reg Whyte built a Ford dealership and garage on the corner of Gaetz Avenue and 49 St.

The Windsor Garage (McLaughlin-Buick) on 51 Avenue, which had been destroyed in a major fire in 1927, was rebuilt.

There were other major improvements to the downtown business district. With construction on the upswing, the Manning-Sutherland Company built a new lumberyard.

Drs. Dodd and Snell built a large brick addition onto the sandstone building on the corner of Ross Street and Gaetz Avenue. H.H. Humber built an impressive new jewelry store on Ross Street.

The biggest boost to Red Deer’s retail sector came with the decision by the T. Eaton’s Company to open a store in the community.

Eaton’s had commenced a major expansion into western Canada in the mid-1920s.

With Red Deer showing some promising new growth, it became a logical location to open a new department store.

At first, Eaton’s contemplated building a new store or else extensively renovating the large brick Central Block on the north-west corner of Ross Street and Gaetz Avenue.

However, eventually, Eaton’s decided it was better to buy out an existing retail business. Hence, it bought out W.E. Lord’s store on Gaetz Avenue.

Eaton’s created several departments in their new store – men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, boots and shoes, hardware, sporting goods and groceries.

Moreover, a mail order office was opened to enhance Eaton’s incredibly popular catalogue business.

The private sector was not the only one to enjoy the return to prosperity.

The Public School District urgently needed to build a new high school. The old one was so decrepit that had large wooden buttresses were needed to keep the brick walls up.

The ratepayers had defeated a bid to build a new high school in 1924 on the grounds that the proposal was too expensive. Now the voters were willing to back the construction of a large new school, complete with an auditorium.

The biggest boost was enjoyed by the City of Red Deer.

It successfully signed a long term contract with Calgary Power to supply hydroelectric power to the City instead of relying on the old, inefficient Western General Electric steam plant on the south bank of the Red Deer River. Almost immediately, the City was able to both cut utility rates and property taxes, using the huge increase in revenues from the municipally-owned electric light and power department.

Just Posted

WATCH: The province’s flu shot campaign is underway

Influenza immunizations are available across Red Deer free of charge

Red Deer RCMP investigate failed ATM theft attempt

A truck was driven through the doors of the Eastview IGA in hopes of stealing an ATM

5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

Health officials recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message.

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

19-year-old man faces charges after windows were smashed at three different businesses

Darrell Paulovich remembered after accident claims his life

A tragic accident claimed the life of a rodeo advocate over the weekend

Secret supper clubs test appetite for cannabis-infused food ahead of legalization

Chefs are eagerly awaiting pot edibles to become legal in Canada

Koreas agree to break ground on inter-Korean railroad

The rival Koreas are holding high-level talks Monday to discuss further engagement amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea.

Flash floods kill at least 7 people in southwest France

Flash floods have left several people dead in southwest France, with roads swept away and streams become raging torrents as the equivalent of several months of rain fell overnight, authorities said Monday.

Trump to visit Florida, Georgia; search ongoing for missing

The death toll from Michael’s destructive march from Florida to Virginia stood at 17.

Canadians widely unaware of accomplishments of famous women, poll suggests

A new poll suggests Canadians have a lot to learn about the accomplishments of some of the country’s most famous women.

Temporary access allowed for residents of landslide-threatened B.C. community

The district says areas of access to the community of about 54 homes could be expanded, depending on advice from a geotechnical engineer.

Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Washington Potst reporter Jamal Khashoggi

Sears files for bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

The company started as a mail order catalogue in the 1880s

BREAKING: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers

Most Read