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DAWE: Carscallen played key role in Red Deer’s strongest boom

One of the strongest booms in Red Deer’s history took place in the years leading up to the First World War. One of the key people in that boom was Stan Carscallen.
Stan and Molly Carscallen house in Red Deer, c. 1920 (Photo by Red Deer Archives)

One of the strongest booms in Red Deer’s history took place in the years leading up to the First World War. One of the key people in that boom was Stan Carscallen.

Stan Carscallen was born in Dresden, Ontario on February 1876. His father was a hardware merchant who was very active in community affairs, including a stint as mayor.

After completing his education, Stan initially taught school, at a salary of $250 per year. He later joined his father and brother in the hardware business.

In 1903, he decided to try his luck out West. He moved to Blackfalds, Alberta where his younger brother Charles was the local Methodist minister.

Stan was enthusiastic about the prospects of Blackfalds. He therefore made plans to start a hardware store in the community. However, his fiancée, Molly Bond, had a close friend in Red Deer, Mary Roland Michener. Stan went down to visit Mary and her husband Edward and was persuaded to “sever connection with the booming town of Blackfalds and take up abode in the staid but solid city of Red Deer”.

He started as a commission salesman in Edward Michener’s real estate and insurance business, but he quickly became a full partner. With Red Deer entering a prolonged economic boom, the company flourished. Michener Carscallen was soon in the land development business and developed a number of new subdivisions in Red Deer including Parkvale, Grandview, Highland Park (now known as Michener Hill) and Hillsboro (north Eastview).

Meanwhile, Stan decided he was sufficiently established to start married life. Molly came west to join him and they were married on October 6, 1904. Stan was very pleased by the fact that Molly referred to Red Deer as “home”, the very day that she arrived.

As Stan’s business prospered, he became very active in community affairs. He served on the first Hospital Board and later became chairman. He was a founding executive member of the Red Deer Horticultural Society. He was a trustee on the first Library Board. In 1910, he successfully ran for Town Council and four years later became mayor.

Michener Carscallen enjoyed its greatest success between 1910 and 1913. The company did so well during this great real estate boom that in 1911 alone, it sold 1100 residential lots in the Red Deer. The firm sold several farms and industrial sites that year as well. Stan and Edward also persuaded R.B. Bennett, later Prime Minister of Canada, to buy a large chunk of land in what is now Mountview as they felt it would soon be a choice new city subdivision.

In 1912, the Carscallens built a huge three-storey residence on the northwest corner of Michener Hill. It was one of the most impressive homes ever built in Red Deer. The site provided an outstanding view of the City, so much so that when Red Deer made its bid to become the capital city of Alberta, this was to be the location of the Legislature building.

Unfortunately, the boom stalled during 1913 and was finished off with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Stan briefly promoted the sales of oil company stocks after the first Turner Valley discoveries. However, in 1917, he went into the insurance business with Excelsior Life and later with Manufacturer’s Life. In 1921, the Carscallens moved to Calgary.

In 1933, the Carscallens moved to Sylvan Lake where they had a cottage and where Stan still had extensive real estate holdings, acquired when he had helped develop Whitewold Beach (now part of Norglenwald). He started a successful business selling and renting cottages. However, he once wrote that he had become “weary of paying taxes” on the lots he owned and stated that “they will eventually be good, but perhaps not in my lifetime”.

Stan passed away at Sylvan Lake in June 1943. His beloved wife Molly passed away in January 1961 in Calgary. They are both buried in the Red Deer Cemetery. They were survived by their three children, Eula, Beth and Allen.

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