Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2002


Published in Great Plains Research 12:2 (Fall 2002). Copyright © 2002 Center for Great Plains Studies.


Given the dearth of business histories in Alberta, and in Western Canada for that matter, A Business History of Alberta is a welcome contribution to Canadian regional historiography. Henry Klassen's study, the result of many years of intensive research at a variety of levels, emerges as a well written account of the development of business in Alberta from the territorial period to the present day. Using specific examples, supported in many cases by personal interviews, Klassen has brought to life the histories of dozens of business enterprises in all parts of Alberta over a hundred year period. His reliance on the interview process is particularly significant since many of the pioneer businessmen he interviewed are now deceased. Klassen's organization is clear and straightforward, his narrative readable and easy to follow. He develops his themes of development using specific instances, beginning with general business and moving chronologically through the transition to specialization, bureaucratic management, and into the age of decentralized management systems. Also, by compartmentalizing such crucial areas as the role of government, he spares the reader unnecessary confusion.