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Alberta, Past and Present, Historical and Biographical
Vol 3
James Grahame Walker


One of the pioneer mercantile enterprises of Edmonton is the large department store of which James G. Walker is the head, the business having been established by his father in this city thirty-six years ago. A native of South Africa, James Grahame Walker was born in the Orange Free State, in 1884, and his Parents were William Johnstone and Isabella Elizabeth Jeannette (Blake) Walker, both natives of Scotland, as was also the maternal grandfather, Rev. J. C. Blake. William J. Walker was born at Edinburgh in 1847, and coming to Canada, he settled at Edmonton in 1885, arriving here at an early period in its development. In 1886 he opened a general store on Fraser avenue and five years afterward erected a frame building on Jasper avenue, later removing to a brick building, while in 1916 the business was established in its present location. He stood high in his community and through the capable management of his business interests he contributed substantially to the commercial development and activity of the city.

James G. Walker was but a year old when his father established his residence in Edmonton and here he attended the grammar and high schools. In 1911 he went to Glasgow, Scotland, and entered the Royal Technical College, taking a course in mining engineering. His studies were interrupted by the World war and in August, 1914, he enlisted at Glasgow, becoming a private of the Ninth Highland Light Infantry, and in March, 1915, was commissioned a lieutenant. On December 19, 1917, he was ordered to France and remained in that country for fifteen months, during which period he was promoted to the rank of captain. On March 25, 1918, he was captured at Beagnies and was sent back to the concentration camp at Rastatt. Later he was taken to a permanent prison camp at Lahr, where he was held until December, 1918, making his way back to Glasgow after the signing of the armistice. Ile was awarded the Military Cross for gallant service at Bourlon Wood and in 1921 returned to Edmonton. He is now president of the business built up by his father's constructive genius and displays marked executive ability in its management. He holds to high standards in the personnel of the house and in the service afforded patrons, giving to each customer full value for the amount expended. He has formulated many well devised plans for the further expansion of the business, which since its inception has enjoyed a continuous and healthful growth, and is now one of the largest department stores in western Canada, the firm style being the Johnstone Walker Company.

While in Glasgow, Scotland, Mr. Walker was married, on the 5th of June, 1913, to Miss Margaretta Mitchell Thomson, a daughter of Andrew Thomson, deceased, who was head master of the Mount Florida School of that city. Mr. and Mrs. Walker have four children: Kenneth, Hugh, Isabel and Allan. Mr. Walker is a member of the First Presbyterian church and a Liberal in his political views. In Masonry he has attained the thirty-second degree and he is also a member of the Edmonton Club and the Mayfair Golf & Country Club. As a representative of one of the pioneer families of Edmonton he is widely kiiown and highly respected and he worthily bears a name which for many years has stood as a synonym for enterprise, integrity and reliablity in business circles of the city.


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