John T. Moore
reprinted from Red Deer Express February 9, 2003
One of the most influential people in the development of Red Deer is
someone who has generally been forgotten, John T. Moore. His company
at one time owned 180 sections of land in Central Alberta. Moreover,
he was so extensively involved in local business ventures that he
was often referred to as Red Deer's first capitalist.
John T. Moore was born in a log cabin in Markham Ontario in July
1844. As a student, he first trained as a doctor and then a lawyer.
Ultimately, however, he became a chartered accountant.
In 1881, a group of prominent Methodist businessmen decided to
invest in Canadian West. They formed the Saskatchewan Land and
Homestead Company and appointed Moore to be the managing director.
Moore then embarked on an exploration trip to the West, travelling
by rail as far as Moose Jaw and then overland to Alberta. He arrived
at Red Deer, camped in what in now Rotary Park and rode to the top
of Piper's Mountain. He was so impressed by the surrounding
countryside that he had the Company purchase 115,200 acres of land
in the area from the Federal Government for $2 per acre.
Moore recruited Rev. Leonard Gaetz, to move to Red Deer to become
the local land agent for the Company. Moore also embarked on an
extensive series of trips to publicize Red Deer and its settlement
Meanwhile, Moore became active in public affairs in Ontario. He was
elected reeve of Yorkville and later became an alderman for the City
In 1901, Moore decided to move his residence to Red Deer. That same
year, he secured a federal charter for the Alberta Central Railway.
Plans were to make this a "transcontinental" line extending from the
Fraser Valley to Moose Jaw with a branch up to the Hudson Bay.
Shortage of capital, however, delayed the project for several years.
In 1902, Moore established the Western Telephone Company and brought
local phone service to Red Deer. The following year, he established
the Western General Electric Company which brought electric power to
In 1905, Moore ran for M.L.A. as a Liberal in Alberta's first
provincial election. He edged out his old associate, Leonard Gaetz
for the position. In 1909, Moore ran for re-election, but was
defeated by Edward Michener by 161 votes.
In 1910, Moore was finally able to secure enough money to start
construction of the Alberta Central Railway from Red Deer to Rocky
Mountain House. Such was Moore's influence and connections that he
had Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier drive the first spike.
The next several years were not kind to Moore. In 1911, his wife
Annie Addison passed away. In 1912, the A.C.R. ran out of money and
eventually had to be taken over by the C.P.R. Moore's health broke.
He moved back to his estate Avoca Vale in the Moore Park
subdivision, which he had developed in Toronto. Shortly thereafter,
Moore's mansion burned down.
In 1914, John T. Moore married Alice Forbes and they moved into a
rebuilt Avoca Vale. Moore became a phenomenal grower of roses and at
one point had 15,000 rose bushes blooming on his estate.
Moore's health continued to deteriorate and in June 1917, he passed
away. He was survived by his wife Alice, his two sons, Carlyle and
William and one daughter Grace Locke.
Moore Crescent in Red Deer is named in honour of John T. Moore, as
is Moore Park in North Rosedale, Toronto.
Central Railway page