William J. Magrath was well known in Edmonton. He was senior partner in the real estate firm of Magrath-Holgate & Co. Ltd., brought industry to Edmonton, owned a baseball franchise, and had political aspirations.
Born in Ontario in 1870, Magrath married there in 1894, but like many, he was drawn to the West. In 1904 he and his family came to Edmonton on the first train from Battleford, Saskatchewan.
From 1904 until 1912, the West was good to Magrath. He started a real estate company, was president of several manufacturing companies, was active in the MethodistChurch, was first president of the Alberta Curling Association, and had a Western Canada Baseball League team.
J.H. Hart became Magrath’s partner in his real estate firm in 1906. The next year, Hart was bought out by B.A. Holgate, and Magrath-Holgate & Co. Ltd. was launched.
The Highlands was the most ambitious of the many subdivisions undertaken by Magrath-Holgate & Co. It came to be symbolized by The Magrath Residence on Ada Boulevard. Several acres originally surrounded “the most elegant private residence in the city of Edmonton”.
The house and garage cost $76,000 – a fortune in 1913. The Highlands Historical Society will be holding an open house at the Magrath Mansion on August 18th, 2013 to celebrate the association’s 25 years in existence.