Depression-era Insurance Broker
Alberta Hotel Building
Ray Van Helden, grandfather of the current company president, Douglas Van Helden, was in the insurance business in the 1930s before starting his own brokerage in 1950.
Back then, his offices were located in the Alberta Hotel Building, on 1st Street SW.
Launch of a Family Business
Ray Van Helden and his wife, Helen Van Helden, started their own brokerage in 1950, with the first offices in the Lougheed Building, being home to the Grand Theatre.
During this time, Ray brought in his son, Dave Van Helden, to take over the agency when he retired, and in turn he brought his son, Douglas, into the family insurance brokerage business.
Since moving out of this location, in the 1980s, the Lougheed Building underwent a major multi-year renovation to restore its original heritage character.
Van Helden Building: Beltline Location
As downtown became congested with growth during the oil boom, Van Helden Agencies moved to a new one-storey Beltline location on 8th Street SW at 13th Avenue.
The sign adjacent was for Safeco, one of our insurers, and the surrounding neighbourhood at that time was full of two-storey early-20th century houses.
This provided much needed parking for staff and for clients who were increasingly further away from downtown.
Van Helden Building: New 8th Street Location
As Calgary’s Inner City grew up & out, Van Helden Agencies built a new Beltline office building, replacing its old offices at the same location.
The new location had greater street visibility and a larger client parking lot.
This coincided with the retirement of Dave Van Helden, when Douglas Van Helden assumed control of the family business.
Move to 14th Ave Offices
After selling the office building (it still bears the Van Helden name) the office moved to new offices on 14th Avenue SW, just west of 11th Street.
This charming character house was renovated to handle the needs of an office, but the company soon outgrew this modest building.
Van Helden was soon looking for larger premises, but the transition was slowed by the Flood of 2013, which not only affected the planned new office, but so many of Van Helden Agencies’ clients. We were glad to be able to help them in their time of need.
Move to East Beltine Location
Requiring much more parking for our expanding business, we bought a house on 15th Avenue SW, east of 2nd St, which dramatically increased the number of off-street client parking stalls.
The new offices provide not only more room for each of our growing number of staff, but also (being south-facing) a lot more natural light.
This office is also close to downtown, the Saddledome, and recreational pathways along the Elbow River.