With nearly 300 agents in the Pemberton Holmes brokerage alone, and hundreds more on the island, the profession of a real estate agent is well known to us all. But that begs the question…when did the profession begin?

While the image of an agent holding an open house in a drafty castle during the 16th century certainly amuses, we have a feeling it may be a more recent occupation! Let’s take a look!

Well, perhaps “recent” is stretching it a tad. As it turns out, the first Canadian real estate board is nearly as old as Canada itself! But we can thank our neighbors to the south for the establishment of the first local real estate agents. Real Estate boards began popping up during the 1880’s in the US. By the early 20th century, about 15 real estate boards had been established in the U.S. prior to the formation of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) in 1908.

The birth of local real estate in Canada followed a similar timeline. In 1888, the first real estate board was established in Vancouver. While this location was the first established board, it cannot be credited as the longest running, as it suspended operations during the start of the first world war until 1919. The real estate board in Winnipeg, established in 1903, is actually the oldest in Canada, when factoring in continuous operation! Victoria followed shortly after with the establishment of their own board in 1921. Most of the present-day real estate boards (over half) were not established until the 1950’s.

During the last years of the second world war, the various Canadian real estate boards that had been established by that point united to form the Canadian Association of Real Estate Boards (CAREB). This was done primarily out of a concern that the federal government would make several of the temporary wartime measures permanent following the war (such as rent control). CAREB also promoted the use of their “Photo Co-op Listing” system, which is now known as MLS®. And while real estate boards have been around for some time, the Canadian Institute of REALTORS® was not established until 1955, when provinces were encouraged to create correspondence courses for individuals seeking the qualifications of a REALTOR®. As such, the first class graduated in 1956 via the University of Toronto! The last large shift from our current system was the evolution of CAREB into the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).

While the timeline may not allow for a 16th century open house, we would certainly argue a castle or two during the late 19th century is close enough!

Want to learn more about becoming a REALTOR® in this day and age? Read more here!

Information via the Canadian Real Estate Board.