The History of Watson Properties
The company's roots can be traced back to Charles F. Watson, the visionary co-founder of Peel-Elder Ltd.
In 1959, Peel Village Developments Ltd. merged with Elder Mines thus becoming Peel Elder Developments Ltd., an enterprise that owned a 400-acre, $100 million industrial & residential development in Brampton, just north of Steeles Avenue and Highway 10.
During the 1950s, Watson Properties, known at the time as Peel Elder Developments Ltd., was instrumental in developing Peel Village, Brampton, the first-ever master-planned community of its kind. The project encompassed industrial, commercial, and residential developments spanning over 1,100 acres. It consisted of 5,000 houses, seven schools, churches, shopping malls, and a high-rise apartment building. Blue-chip firms like the American Motors Company and Benson & Hedges housed operations within this community, providing over four thousand jobs.
In the 1960s, Watson Properties continued to expand its real estate portfolio. Following the success of Peel Village, Charles F. Watson purchased land on the West side of Highway 10 and began work on Shoppers' World Brampton. This development followed the blueprint of Shoppers' World Danforth in Toronto, which Charles had already developed. Shoppers' World Brampton quickly became a popular shopping destination, with Simpsons serving as its anchor store. By the early 1970s, it was Canada's top-selling mall per square foot.
In addition to commercial development, the 1970s saw Watson Properties expand into high-rise residential buildings. The company developed several high-rise residential buildings on Graydon Hall Drive in Toronto, meeting the growing demand for quality urban living. Charles F. Watson's vision and leadership were once again instrumental in the success of these developments, further solidifying Watson Properties' reputation as a premier real estate developer in Canada.
1970’s & 80’s
In the 1970s and 80s, Watson Properties continued to flourish, it was at this time that Shirley Watson joined the ranks. Alongside her father, Charles Watson, Shirley aided in the expansion of Watson Properties into South Florida, with a focus on exclusive waterfront properties in Palm Beach County, Marco Island, and Boca Raton. In 1977, Shirley and her father, Charles, purchased six acres of oceanfront-intracoastal front property on Millionaire’s Mile in Hillsboro Beach.
Always the innovative thinker, Charles introduced a revolutionary oceanfront ownership structure with the newly acquired development enabling prospects to purchase large, single-family homes on the water as opposed to a small condos.
The development, which he named Hillsboro Beach and Yacht Villas, was a major success, and the concept was soon duplicated by other developers in Southern Florida.
Shirley played a vital role in the development of these properties, working alongside her father and leading the acquisition and development of several new properties in the region. In the 1980s, Watson Properties also continued to invest in high-rise residential buildings, including the development of Graydon Hall Drive in Toronto. Through these years, Watson Properties solidified its reputation as a top real estate developer in both Canada and the United States, and Shirley was appointed President.
In the early 2000s, Watson Properties underwent a significant transformation under the newly appointed leader Cierra Watson, granddaughter of Charles Watson.
Under Cierra's leadership the company repositioned itself from rural to urban development; strategically repositioning properties outgrown by the business and relocating its Head Office to Brookfield Place in downtown Toronto.
Significant achievements of the 2000s include the acquisition & redevelopment of an 11-story residential condominium project on Wellington Street in collaboration with Parallax Investment Corporation. The acquisition & redevelopment of the former Ontario Conservatory of Music building on Queen St. W., transformed into 12 luxury apartments and an A&W restaurant on the main floor. The former Molson Bank on Queen Street W., acquired and redeveloped into apartments anchored by Death & Taxes by The Donnelly Group. In 2017, Watson Properties relocated once more moving its Head Office to the second floor of 613 King Street West, which was acquired with IQ Foods as the main floor tenant.
To-date, Watson Properties is poised for further growth through its commitment to quality design and operational excellence. The company continues to own and develop real estate properties throughout Ontario and Southeastern Florida. With a rich history of visionary leadership and strategic development, Watson Properties remains at the forefront of the real estate industry.