Earlier this month, I had a great phone interview (mp3) with Doug Kelly to talk about his insightful and interesting book – $100,000 An Acre: A Candid History of the Land Development Industry in Alberta. Since 2004, Doug had conducted over 130 face-to-face interviews for the book.
Doug has divided $100,000 An Acre into chapters like “The Visionaries”, “The Opportunists”, “The Mavericks”, “The Executives”, “The Builder-Entrepreneurs”, “The Planners”, etc. Each chapter features a few key people in the category. The few pages devoted to each person reads like a fascinating mini-biography with the person’s involvement in the Land Development Industry in Alberta.
In the phone interview (mp3), Doug and I were able to talk about a few of the people covered in the book.
- Ellis Vee (E. V.) Keith,
- Ralph Scurfield (an elementary school teacher turns home builder),
- Ed Davis (at one point, Ed had 34 acres of land in downtown Calgary near Eau Claire), and
- Bob Orr (his Engineering Homes was one of the largest and world leader of manufactured housing components (walls, roofs, etc) in the 60s).
- Edmontonians: Sandy Mactaggart, Jean De La Bruyere and Maclab Enterprises
Opportunists (not in a negative way): Johnny McLeod (created Calgary’s Thorncliffe neighbourhood in 1953)
Mavericks: Bill Jager (I am curious as I live in a Jager home).
The Ghermezians (Rezoning for West Edmonton Mall).
The Executives: Mike Rogers (+15 system in Calgary). People in “The Executives” section are the ones that Doug knows the best as he was one of them.
Builder-Entrepreneurs: Eric Weidman (built the first condominium project in Canada, which happened in Edmonton of all places)
If you are curious about the stories of the people who were key in the development of communities in Calgary and Edmonton, or if you are anyone working in fields remotely related to the Land Development Industry, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of $100,000 An Acre and learn from it. Have a look of the table of content and the first few pages.
From Doug’s bio,
Doug spent 36 years in land development, which gave him an inside view of its history from a developers perspective. During his career, Doug worked for four development companies and one land development consulting company in Calgary and Edmonton, with a short stint in Toronto. He has chaired both the Calgary and Edmonton chapters of the Urban Development Institute, and served as president of the Alberta division – the only member to have held all three posts.