Lethbridge Alberta Canada badge

Lethbridge Alberta Canada badge

This pin was given to me by Ron Eberhardt, now retired from TxDot. Lethbridge is located in Southern Alberta, Canada. It is the largest city in southern Alberta, and Alberta’s fourth-largest city by population after Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer, and the third-largest by area after Calgary and Edmonton. The nearby Canadian Rockies contribute to the city’s cool summers, mild winters, and windy climate. Lethbridge lies southeast of Calgary on the Oldman River.

Lethbridge is the commercial, financial, transportation and industrial center of southern Alberta. The city’s economy developed from drift mining for coal in the late 19th century and agriculture in the early 20th century. Half of the workforce is employed in the health, education, retail and hospitality sectors, and the top five employers are government-based. The only university in Alberta south of Calgary is in Lethbridge, and two of the three colleges in southern Alberta have campuses in the city. Cultural venues in the city include performing art theatres, museums and sports centres.

Before the 19th century, the Lethbridge area was populated by several First Nations at various times. The Blackfoot referred to the area as Aksaysim (“steep banks”), Mek-kio-towaghs (“painted rock”), Assini-etomochi (“where we slaughtered the Cree”) and Sik-ooh-kotok (“coal”). The Sarcee referred to it as Chadish-kashi (“black/rocks”), the Cree as Kuskusukisay-guni (“black/rocks”), and the Nakoda (Stoney) as Ipubin-saba-akabin (“digging coal”).

After the US Army stopped alcohol trading with the Blackfoot Nation in Montana in 1869, traders John J. Healy and Alfred B. Hamilton started a whiskey trading post at Fort Hamilton, near the future site of Lethbridge. The post’s nickname became Fort Whoop-Up. The whiskey trade led to the Cypress Hills massacre of many native Assiniboine in 1873. The North-West Mounted Police, sent to stop the trade and establish order, arrived at Fort Whoop-Up on 9 October 1874. They managed the post for the next 12 years.

Lethbridge’s economy developed from drift mines opened by Nicholas Sheran in 1874 and the North Western Coal and Navigation Company in 1882. North Western’s president was William Lethbridge, from whom the city derives its name. By the turn of the century, the mines employed about 150 men and producing 300 metric tons of coal each day. In 1896, local collieries were the largest coal producers in the Northwest Territories, with production peaking during WWI. An Internment camp was set up at the Exhibition Building in Lethbridge from September 1914 to November 1916.

After the war, increasing oil and natural gas production gradually replaced coal production, and the last mine in Lethbridge closed in 1957.

The first rail line in Lethbridge was opened on 28 August 1885 by the Alberta Railway and Coal Company, which bought the North Western Coal and Navigation Company five years later. The rail industry’s dependence on coal and the Canadian Pacific Railway’s efforts to settle southern Alberta with immigrants boosted Lethbridge’s economy. After the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) moved the divisional point of its Crowsnest Line from Fort Macleod to Lethbridge in 1905, the city became the regional centre for Southern Alberta. In the mid-1980s, the CPR moved its rail yards in downtown Lethbridge to nearby Kipp, and Lethbridge ceased being a rail hub.

Between 1907 and 1913, a development boom occurred in Lethbridge, making it the main marketing, distribution and service centre in southern Alberta. Such municipal projects as a water treatment plant, a power plant, a streetcar system, and exhibition buildings—as well as a construction boom and rising real estate prices—transformed the mining town into a significant city. Between WWI and WWII, however, the city experienced an economic slump. Development slowed, drought drove farmers from their farms, and coal mining rapidly declined from its peak. After WWII, irrigation of farmland near Lethbridge led to growth in the city’s population and economy.

The city of Lethbridge is located at 49.7° north latitude and 112.833° west longitude and covers an area of 49.11 sq mi). The city is divided by the Oldman River; its valley has been turned into one of the largest urban park systems in North America at 4,000 acres of protected land. The city is Alberta’s fourth largest by population after Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer. It is the third largest in area after Calgary and Edmonton and is near the Canadian Rockies, 130 mi southeast of Calgary.

Lethbridge area geology

Lethbridge area geology

Lethbridge is split into three geographical areas: north, south and west. The Oldman River separates West Lethbridge from the other two while the Crowsnest Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway rail line separate North and South Lethbridge. The first housing was not completed until 1974 and the prime Whoop-Up Drive access opened only in 1975. Much of the city’s recent growth has been on the west side, and it has the youngest median age of the three. The north side was originally populated by workers from local coal mines. It has the oldest population of the three areas, is home to multiple industrial parks and includes the former Hamlet of Hardieville. South Lethbridge is the commercial heart of the city. It contains the downtown core, the bulk of retail and hospitality establishments, and the Lethbridge College.

Location: 10-D4

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