John Taylor: The Farmer and Merchant
Knowing the soil to be exceedingly fertile, John Taylor first purchased land along the Assiniboine River from the Hudson’s Bay Company, in 1856. He began farming the following year, and over time, continued to amass large tracts of land in and around Headingley.
For many years, Taylor was the largest farmer and livestock raiser in the area; his cattle and horses roamed the prairies by the hundreds.
In his day, Taylor was regarded as one of the leading Agriculturists in the province and was appointed Minister of Agriculture in 1879. After his early successes in real estate and politics, he became a full-time, dedicated farmer by the 1880’s and cultivated an impressive 1,700 acres.
The area’s rich agricultural history remains apparent today. The legacy continues through its many market gardens and long-standing Fall Supper traditions.
The MerchantStarting in the late 1800s, Taylor offered a variety of goods for sale to families in the expanding Headingley community. This included such staples as flour, potatoes, powder and shot, apples, tea, butter, tobacco, matches, pemmican, leather shoes, and rum.
As was often done by those who dealt in goods and services at the time, he also lent money and traded merchandise for labour, pemmican and other meat.
During this period, many long-time Headingley businesses, such as the Roadside Inn and Francis store were also being established on what was once lot 51. Trade at this location included a cheese factory, lumber yard, flour and feed and farm implements, as well as one of the most important community establishments — the post office.
In 1909, the Royal Exchange Hotel, originally known as a roadhouse, was built on land owned by Taylor, but was destroyed by fire in 1919.