When Ted Carruthers invested a few dollars into a fledgling realty firm some 90 years ago, he set the wheels in motion for a Kelowna business tradition.
It was 1902 when Carruthers and W.R. Pooley founded the firm that is now known as Realty World Carruthers & Meikle. Carruthers, a family man who managed a number of orchards in rural Kelowna, was the silent partner in the original Carruthers & Pooley Real Estate. But it wasn’t long before he became active in the development of property in this tiny Okanagan community.
His daughter, Brenda Meikle, remembers the days growing up in the orchards and how her dad “sold himself out of a job.” She refers to his involvement in the formation of the Kelowna Land & Orchard Company, whose initials later became the designation of KLO for the benches east of Kelowna. In any case, Carruthers helped to develop and sell the orchards which he managed and so, in 1926, found another job as an active realtor. Partner Pooley had already moved on, as did partners Mantle and Wilson, before it briefly became Carruthers & Son.
The Carruthers firm also negotiated one of the largest land deals in Kelowna’s early history – the sale of the huge LeQuimme estate. This family had laid out the infant town of Kelowna north of Mill Creek, and included some 6,000 acres from Mill Creek South to Mission Creek. Its development was engineered by the KLO partnership.
The early days of her father’s real estate career may be brilliant in retrospect but the family was far from wealthy, says Mrs. Meikle. “To begin with, we were very poor,” she laughs. Her brother Bill came into the firm in 1931 but then left to take over the grandfathers’ business in England. Brenda, recently out of high school, became chief bookkeeper and stenographer, and chief painter of the “For Sale” signs.
She chuckles about the tin cans of geraniums on the sill of the single window in the Bernard Ave office, and the cracked toilet seat they couldn’t afford to replace. But Ted Carruthers, who also served as a justice of the peace, was a man with foresight. His daughter recalls that he and builder Alex Bennett developed a block of stores along Bernard, in the 400 block which now includes Richard Greenshields. “The town thought they were crazy. People said it would never work because the post office was at the other end of town!” But it wasn’t long before the block was full of merchants and professionals.
Brenda’s high school sweetheart was Maurice Meikle, who was hired as manager of a grocery store in Nelson sometime after high school. During one visit, she found a job in Nelson and wired her father: “Have found a job at the Nelson newspaper. What are you going to do about it?” He replied, by wire: “Come home. Bring Maurice.”
In 1935, Meikle became a partner in the firm and his name was affixed. Two years later, he and Brenda married. Meikle became a leading Kelowna citizen, as a co-founder of Kelowna’s first real estate board and the first president of the Kelowna Ski Club.
When Meikle was called into the army in the 1940’s, his wife came back to work almost full time, with children in tow, and worked “off and on” from then until the family left the business. She added sales to her list of talents, and remembers that the first home she showed was worth $3,500.
Their son, Basil, came into the firm in 1966, at which time Maurice semi-retired. Basil had a Bachelor of Commerce degree and lots of ambition, says his mother, that was tragically ended only a few years later in a fatal boating accident. A champion at the game of badminton, Basil Meikle was honored by the people of Kelowna when they dedicated the badminton courts at Parkinson’s Recreation Centre in his name.
Three years after Basil’s untimely death, present partner Don Crompton and Maurice Meikle’s son-in-law Alex Tait purchased the business as a partnership. They operated it jointly until Tait’s death some 15 years later. In October 1987, Robin Agur of Realty World Locations West in Penticton became Crompton’s new partner and the well-seasoned success of Carruthers & Meikle was married to the new and exciting Realty World franchise concept.
Many major property developments took place under the Carruthers & Meikle umbrella. Among them are the residential developments of Ponderosa Park, Lakeridge Heights, Boucherie Park and Aberdeen Glen. Some of the larger land transactions in which the company was involved include: the sale of the Sealey property on the west side of Okanagan Lake, which is now Lake Okanagan Resort; the Naramara Ranch and Sherbourne Ranches.
Okanagan Life Magazine, Summer 1993