Western General Electric Power Plant, next to the CPR Bridge over the Red Deer River in 1912. (Photo by Red Deer Archives)

Western General Electric Power Plant, next to the CPR Bridge over the Red Deer River in 1912. (Photo by Red Deer Archives)

Billy Moore helped shape Red Deer

This year marks the Year of the Garden. One of Red Deer’s prominent pioneer business people, who helped create the motto for Red Deer of “The Garden City”, and a person who did a great deal for the community in many other ways, was William Addison Moore.

“Billy” Moore, as he was often called, was born in Toronto in 1873, the oldest son of John T. and Annie Addison Moore. His father was a chartered accountant who served as an alderman for the City of Toronto. J.T. Moore was also the managing director of the Saskatchewan Land and Homestead Company, which, among other holdings, owned 118,000 acres of land in and around Red Deer.

Billy Moore attended Harvard University, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering. While there, he won an award as Harvard’s best all-around athlete.

In 1900, he moved to Red Deer where his father had built up very extensive business interests. Billy started a cattle ranch in what is now the West Park subdivision. In 1901, he was elected as a councilor to Red Deer’s first Town Council.

Shortly thereafter, the Moore family incorporated electrical and telephone companies for Red Deer. William went to Chicago to get practical experience with first the Edison Electric Company and then the Fairbanks Morse Company.

In 1904, William returned to Red Deer to become the manager of the Western Telephone Company. The telephone and electrical operations were soon merged and William became the manager of the Western General Electric Company.

On July 12, 1905, William was married to Frances Bradley of Beloit, Wisconsin. In 1906, he built a magnificent home for his new bride on what is now 45 Avenue in the new Waskasoo subdivision which the Moore family had developed on the northeastern edge of the City.

William took a personal hand in the layout of the subdivision, creating two crescents, named “Moore” and Waskasoo”, to the west of his house. He also had street lights and cement sidewalks installed, a novelty in Red Deer at the time.

William and Frances also made their home into a real showpiece. There were spectacular gardens all around the house as well as crescent shaped cement sidewalks. In order to keep the grounds looking magnificent, the Moores hired Tom Hodgson as their gardener.

The Moore property was so outstanding in appearance that the Federal Government used photographs of it in publicity pamphlets on the agricultural and horticultural potential of Western Canada.

The Moores continued to be very active in the community. William became one of the governors of the Alberta Amateur Athletic Association in 1910 and later put up a considerable portion of the money needed to launch Red Deer’s first professional baseball team. In 1912, Frances served as president of the Red Deer Hospital Auxiliary and became the first president of the Local Council of Women.

Not surprisingly, the Moores joined the Red Deer Horticultural Society when it was created in 1911. At the first annual flower and garden show on August 23, 1911, they won the Michener Trophy for the largest number of first prizes in the show. They also won the Snell Trophy for the best laid-out, kept and cultivated grounds. They won a further prize for the best composite garden of more than 500 square feet (46.5 square metres) in size.

The Moores remained active with the Horticultural Society, and other community organizations until 1926, when the Western General Electric Company was sold to the City of Red Deer.

William then purchased the Fitch-Tobin-Welliver Company, which had a patent on a self-opening and closing gate. He and his wife consequently moved to British Columbia, selling their home on 45 Avenue to Eli Howlett, a local garageman.

In 1935, William and Frances moved to Calgary and then to Toronto in 1937. William passed away suddenly of a heart attack on March 22, 1937, and is buried there. William and Frances had no children.

Michael Dawe is a Red Deer Historian and his column appears on Wednesdays.