Book cover image for: Business History of Alberta

A Business History of Alberta

Henry C. Klassen

$19.95 CAD / $22.95 USD (S)

384 pages, 52 illustrations

6 x 9 Inches

978-1-55238-009-3 (Paperback)

978-1-55238-300-1 (Institutional PDF)

November 1999

Buy Now

About the Book

A comprehensive history of the role Alberta’s businesses have played in the devolopent of the province.

A Business History of Alberta chronicles a rich history of people and enterprise—an enduring spirit of entrepreneurship, and an evolution of economic foundations—from pioneer outposts to sophisticated global players. Found the foundations of business in Alberta through its development to the emergence of big business, this is a fascinating study of Alberta over time.

Businesses large and small have always been an integral part of Alberta’s identity and growth. Exploring the evolution of business growth in Alberta, this comprehensive and unique study examines the role businesses have played in the economic, political, and social development of the province.

About the Author:

Henry C. Klassen was a Professor in the History department at the University of Calgary. His academic pursuits focussed on the study of Canadian business and financial history. In 2001, he published another book with the University of Calgary Press: Luther Holton: A Founding Canadian Entrepreneur.

Praise for A Business History of Alberta:

Within his own unified frame of reference, Klassen has woven together political, economic, commercial, demographic, and social threads to explain how business operations evolved in the province. In showing us the enduring roots of Alberta’s self-advertised entrepreneurial psyche, Klassen has legitimized a long-standing popular perception. That he has done so by bringing to life dozens of forgotten individuals is an achievement all historians should appreciate.

—Max Foran, Great Plains Quarterly

Table of Contents




Map of Alberta

Part One: Alberta Business Foundations

1. The Road to Edmonton

Northern Italian Merchants

French Mercantilism, Canadian Business, and French Canada

British Mercantilism, Canadian Business, and British Canada

Early Growth of Edmonton House

North West Company and the Rise of Fort Augustus

Hudson’s Bay Company and the Development of Edmonton Haouse

2. Business in Territorial Alberta

Political Setting

Economic Setting
Territorial Enterprises. as Small Family Business
The General Merchant
John A. McDougall: A General Merchant
The Manufacturer
David Suitor: An Iron Founder
Service Business
Cowdry Brothers: A Private Banking Firm
Ranching Business
A.E. Cross: A Cattle Rancher
Farming Business
Thomas Hoskin: A Farmer
Close of the Territorial Period

Part Two: Business Development in the New Province

3. Expansion of Alberta Business
Developing the Tradition of Government–Business Relations
Alexander Rutherford and Alberta Business
R.B. Bennett and Alberta Business
Conflict Between Bennett and Rutherford
Legacy of Rutherford and Bettet Generation
Economic Growth
Developing the Transportation Network
Age of the Car and Truck
Agricultural Development
Charles S. Noble, The Nobel Blade Cultivator, and Farming
Maturing of Alberta Industry
Pat Burns, Cattle, and Meat Packing
John Gainer and Meat Packing

4. Specialization in Alberta Business
Urban Growth and Specialization in Business
Specialization in Commerce
Hardware Business
Ross Bros. Hardware
George L. Chesney Hardware
High River Hardware Company
Dunlap Drug Company
Stokes Drug Company
Jewellery Stores
Alexander B. Mitchell: Jeweller
Godley’s Jewellery
Specialization in Manufacturing
Thomas Hutchinson: Harness and Saddle Manufacturer
Robert J. Welsh: Harness Manufacturer
Herbert J. Sisson: Brick Manufacturer
Specialization in the Service Business
Conduct of Business by the 19402
Business Attitudes
Alberta’s Changing business System

Part Three: Mergence of Big Business in Alberta

5. Big Business in Alberta

Railways: The First Big Business

Canadian Pacific Railway: A Pioneer in Big Business
Spread of Big Business in Alberta
Robert J. Hutchings and Great West Saddlery
Big Business in the Alberta Meat Industry
Mass Distribution
Johnstone Walker: A Department Store
Jenkin’s Groceteria: A Chain Store
Canada Safeway and Mass Retail in Alberta
Mass Production
Imperial Oil and Mass Production
Frederick C. Mannix and the Rise of Big Business
Restructuring the Business Firm in Alberta
Persistence of Small Businesses in Alberta
Alberta’s New Business System

6. Government and Business in Alberta
Government Promotion and Regulation of Railways

Tariff and Federal Regulation

Labour and Business Regulation

Regulation and the Anticombines Movement
Banking Regulation

Farmers and the Canadian Wheat Board

Government Promotion an the Regulation of Oil and Natural Gas Businesses

Natural Gas Businesses

A Changing Political Economy

7. Diversified, Decentralized Businesses in Alberta

Changes in the Alberta Business System

ATCO Industries

Foremost Industries and Decentralized Management
Standen’s and Diversification

Canbera Foods: A Diversified Company
Growing Importance of Alberta Multinationals

Large Diversified Alberta Firms in Politics

Part Four: Recent Trends in Alberta Business

8. Small Businesses in the Maturing Alberta Economy
Small Business in Manufacturing

Small Business in Sales and Service

Small Business in Farming and Ranching

Women in Small Business and Management

Government Policies for Small Business

9. Challenges to Alberta Business at Home and Abroad

Alberta Business in the New World Order

Regulation: Canadian Politics and Economic Uncertainty in Alberta

Deregulating the Oil and Gas Industry

Growth Through Free Trade

Big Business and New Opportunities

Restructuring Alberta Business

Small Business and Fresh Opportunities

Growth of Franchising

New Regulation: Environment Problems
Alberta Firms’ Overseas Expansion

Alberta Business at the Close of the Century



FINALIST 2000 Alberta Book Awards Scholarly Book of the Year | 2000