Ernest Absalom McCallum (1869-1935)
Edgar Donald McCallum (1880-1939)
Breaking Ground in Real Estate
These two brothers of Scottish highland descent were born in Cumberland Village, Ont. They settled in Regina near the turn of the century. In 1903, Ernest, a law student, and Edgar, a teacher, formed a partnership with Walter H. A. Hill, an insurance agent; and began buying up large blocks of inexpensive Regina real estate with funding provided by family in Ontario. When their business consortium was formed, Albert Street lots sold for 50 cents a foot. Ten years later they sold for $700 per front foot. Downtown lots were first purchased at $7.50 each and sold a year later for $100 each. By 1910, the company was the largest landowner in Regina and one of the most profitable business firms in Regina’s history. By 1912, McCallum-Hill was the largest land company in Western Canada. It provided the provincial government with the land for the legislative building and grounds, and was beginning to develop the Lakeview subdivision.
Ernest was born on the family farm near Cumberland Village, Ont. After attending school at Vankleek Hill, Ont., he graduated as a teacher and taught in Ontario for two years. In 1897, he came to the Northwest Territories, worked briefly as a farm hand on the Coonley Farms and then taught in the Forest district near Lumsden. In 1898, Ernest came to Regina and began law studies in the office of T. C. Johnstone. He later opened an office on Scarth Street and a brokerage and insurance business. Regina had few friends — there was a typhoid epidemic each fall, particularly 1892.
Edgar was born in Cumberland Village. He went to Calgary as a young man and worked briefly in the insurance business with his brother, Herbert “Mac” McIntyre; then moved to Regina to attend Normal School and graduated as a teacher. Herbert, one of Regina’s first entrepreneurs, lived at 3238 Albert St., “One of the most recent additions to Regina’s high class homes”, from 1913 to 1920. Herbert, Florence his wife, and two sons returned to the East in 1923. Edgar joined his brother, Ernest, in his real estate business.
Recognizing that the recession of the 1890s would lead to a boom in land purchases, the McCallums formed a partnership with Walter Hill in 1903.
After forming the partnership, the McCallums used funds provided by relatives in Ontario to purchase all of the Canadian Pacific Railway townsite lots west of Albert Street and south of Victoria Avenue. In 1904, they purchased 14,000 acres of farm land, south of the city, from Robert Sinton. This land was sold to the provincial government as the site for the new legislative building. The remainder of the land, as well as the acquisition of the Cline farm (west of Albert Street), was sold as residential lots in what is today known as Lakeview. At one time, the firm held all properties in Regina south of Wascana Lake and was the largest holder of real estate in the city. In 1914, the McCallum-Hill Company erected the tallest building in Saskatchewan (10 stories) — on the corner of 12th Avenue and Scarth Street. Regina’s first skyscraper dominated the city skyline for 70 years and was the most modern business building between Winnipeg and Vancouver. The company continued to grow and prosper.
Ernest married Laura Potter (1875-1910) of Vankleek Hill in 1904, and built a house at 1830 Hamilton St. It was later moved to 2336 Montague St. Laura died in childbirth. In 1912, Ernest and his two children were living at 2150 Lorne St. when the Regina tornado struck. The house was destroyed and they suffered minor injuries. He rebuilt the house. From 1929 he lived at 3036 Albert St. He also suffered the amputation of a leg injured while playing football.
In 1910, Edgar married Alice Lanigan of Quebec and built a house in 1912, at 2930 Albert St. They lived in the grandeur of medieval feudal days. They later moved to an apartment at 2326 College Ave. He died in a car accident during a return trip from Winnipeg. Alice and their adopted daughter, Muriel, left Regina.(1)
Ernest was modest and kind. He was president of the Saskatchewan Guarantee and Fidelity Company, chairman of the exhibition board’s concessions committee and a member of the Knights of Pythias Lodge. Edgar was a war veteran, member of the Wascana Country Club and the Assiniboia Club, and director of the Regina Cartage and Storage Company. McCallum Avenue is named after the brothers.
(1) Margaret Hryniuk; Meta Perry, Regina: A City of Beautiful Homes (Regina: Centex Books, 1994), p. 29-30, 49-50, 67.