The population of Moose Jaw began to grow rapidly after the turn of the century. The Henderson Directory shows that the town grew from a town of 1500 to a city of 16,000 in ten years. The 1911 Directory shows street after street with “New house” written between the occupied house numbers and names.
Last summer on Clifton Avenue in the 10 hundred block there were four houses at once having siding or new roofs put on. There were workers and trucks and tools everywhere. I imagined that it would have been that way during the building boom of 1911-13. There would have been people building houses to live in themselves, and other people were building houses for customers.
Who built the house at 1037 Clifton?
Was the builder someone who couldn’t resist the advertisements by realtors like Alfred, Arnold, and Frank Maybery? One man did write to Alfred Maybery and I found his letters and Mr. Maybery’s replies in the Archives.
View north of Collegiate under construction Library Archives 1909
Was the builder of this house someone who saw the Collegiate being built and knew that the houses to surround the school would follow soon? Property values would appreciate.
According to the Information Services Corporation ISC, Mr. Robert Eaket owned the property at 1037 Clifton from June of 1910 until April of 1912. It is likely that he was the man who built the house, but that is partly conjecture. There are some sources that offer some possible fuel for our surmises. The title signed in June of 1910 is shown below with no value of the property listed in the usual space. However when the title was transferred from Mr. Eaket to the next owner in 1912, the value was stated as $3000. That very likely includes the cost of a house because the previous price for lots had been $300.
A second bit of evidence that Robert Eaket built the house is found on the Title, where he is listed as “Builder”. This also is not conclusive because we don’t know if he was claiming to be the builder of this particular house, or if he was just stating his occupation. The next purchaser of the house has the word “Farmer” recorded in the same handwriting, so it seems that the scribe in the Land Titles Office sometimes wrote the occupation of the buyer.
A third sign that Mr. Eaket might be the builder is that he is listed in the Henderson Directory of 1911 as “Eaket, Robert contr and bldr h 71 1/2 Main”. The old numbering system for Main Street is in use here, and that would show Mr. Eaket living in part of the building sharing it with another tenant or the owner.
Mr. Eaket was a man with more than one employment. He had been involved in Rex Fruit Company after his arrival in Moose Jaw in 1907 in addition to working on construction with his brother-in-law, George Duncan Taylor.
Bob Eaket was a 3rd generation Canadian. His grandfather, Simon Eaket had come from from England and married Mary Amelia Dunn in Ontario. They had two children. One of them was William James Eaket, born in 1854 in Ontario.This boy grew up and married Elizabeth (Betsy) Bell in December 1877 in Huron, Ontario. They had two children during their marriage. Robert Alexander Eaket was born on May 17, 1880, in Brussels, Ontario to Elizabeth (Betsy) Bell, age 21, and William James Eaket, age 26. Little Robert was only 9 years old when his father William James Eaket died on July 15, 1889 at the age of 35.
In 1907, at age 27, Robert Eaket came west to Moose Jaw and began a career at Rex Fruit Company (wholesale) in Moose Jaw. In 1908 he was back to Perth, Ontario to marry Elizabeth Jane Taylor on February 26th. She would now be living with him in his Main street half building as listed in the Henderson Directory. On June 21, 1910, Mr. Eaket agreed to purchase the property of Lot 17 Block 11 in the Parkside addition to the City of Moose Jaw. The purchase was made before they had any family, but a full year after the property was bought, a daughter, Isabel, was born here in Moose Jaw on June 26th 1911. Were the Eakets planning to live on Clifton Avenue? The house being built here was definitely one with room for a growing family: 4 bedrooms plus bath on the second floor, and three more bedrooms on the third floor. There would be plenty of room for Lizzy’s single brother, George.
Did the next buyer make an offer that couldn’t be refused? Were Lizzy and Bob Eaket and George Taylor never planning to live here, but just wanting to build and sell at this time when the market was so profitable?
We do know that they had a second child, a son, in February of 1914. By the time of the census of 1921, they were living at 1084 1st Ave. N.E. Mr. Eaket’s occupation was “shipper” particularly of “wholesale fruit”, and their income was 1800. George Taylor, still living with them, is listed as a “contractor, a builder.”
By 1945, the voters’ list shows Robert ( now a widower for almost 10 years) and George at the same address with the next generation, it seems, with Robert’s grown son and his wife.
The search is ongoing to find a building permit for Mr. Eaket or his carpenter brother-in law, George Duncan Taylor, in the Library Archives.
I have built a family tree that includes both Robert Eaket and his brother-in-law, George Taylor, and I have had some contact with a grandson. If Bob and George did build this house, I hope the first family to live here thanked them properly. I hope they made a little money on the venture. I hope that if he drove by with his grandchildren, he felt proud.
There is no other house just like this one. When people stop by to admire this old house, I tell them that I wish Bob, the Builder, could hear you say those things. I am glad the obituary below told us Bob made time for lawn bowling and five-pin bowling. That means he didn’t have to work two jobs his whole life. Now if it turns out it wasn’t Bob who built this house, but it was some other Tom or Dick or Harry, that’s fine too. I wanted to thank someone. I hope it was Bob.