The land that this and other houses of Elbow Park sit upon has a history of its own, going back further than the early 20th century in which it was developed. This land has served as a First Nations camp, Fred Kanouse’s whisky trading post, the home of the Riverside Race Track, and as a polo grounds before being taken over by colourful real estate developer Freddy Lowes around 1908 .
Owned at times by ranchers Colin George Ross, Pat Burns, Thomas Somerville Chartes Lee, and absentee landlords in England, the lot was eventually purchaed by the Alliance Investment Company for housing development in about 1911 .
The house is a Foursquare with Tudor-revival accents, built circa 1912. The currrent owners have discovered three similar houses still standing in Mount Royal, one of which is shown in the Alliance advertisement below, from 1911. The first residents were the Hester family: Harry, a building manager at Standard Supply Co. and his wife Leila, who emigrated to Canada from the US in 1904 .
In 1916, the house was purchased by William Underwood, originally from Ontario, who worked as a credit manager for John Deere Tractor Company. With him lived his American-born wife Florence, their two children, William Kenneth and Muriel. In 1930 an empty lot between #329 and #323 to the east was subdivided and sold the the neighbours on each side, with the Underwoods taking the western two thirds, creating the large side-yard and gardens. After over 30 years of living here and being involved in local society, from the Glencoe Club to Muriel’s debutante ball at the Palliser, the Underwood family sold to James and Joyce Williams in 1947 .
James Williams owned and operated the Harry Forester Ltd. car dealership on 17th Avenue, which sold Studebaker, Packard, Mercedes and Datsun marques. The longest residents of the house at 44 years, the Williamsons sold to the current residents in 1990 .
The Hesters, Underwood and Williams may have moved on, but their influences can still be seen: Muriel’s initials carved into the side of the house, arrow piercings as a result of the Williams kids errant target practice, and old milk ration tickets found behind pantry cupboards. Involvement in the Century Homes project led to our connecting with the Williams’ son, who was raised int he home in the ‘forties and ‘fifties. Wonderful stories of childhood pranks, games of football and polo on the lawn, and elegant garden partied were shared and helped bring the house’s history to life .
Reproduction of an advertisement from the Alliance Investment Company, Limited.