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Our History

Independent Order of Odd Fellows​

Unveiled on September 22, 2001 - the Independent Order of Odd Fellows celebrates the millennium and 110 years for the City of Lethbridge. The Lethbridge Lodge #2 Fraternal Order presented the 14 brick sculptures for citizens and visitors to enjoy.

Located on the pillars outside City Hall, the murals represent Treaty #7 -1877, Founder of Lethbridge, Lethbridge Namesake, Coal Mining, Railroading, Ranching, Agriculture, Irrigation, Aviation, Military, Commitment to Health, Women in War Effort, Education and Culture.

Treaty #7 - 1877

In the 1870s Treaties between the Blackfoot Confederacy members and the Dominion Government established reserves; with settlement came the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) and the traders like Jerry Potts.

Founder of Lethbridge & Lethbridge Namesake

Sir Alexander Galt enlisted the financial investment of several British friends while he was the Canadian High Commissioner to London to establish a large scale coal industry in Southern Alberta. Galt was know for courting investors by naming streets or towns in their honour. This is how William Lethbridge, the managing partner of W.H. Smith & Son, became the namesake of our city in 1885.

Elliott Galt, son of Sir Alexander Galt, for investors bought the Nicholas Sheran mine and created the North Western Coal and Navigation Company, and later the Alberta Railway and Coal Company, and the Alberta Irrigation Company.

Coal Mining

In the late 1890s Lethbridge displayed all the characteristics of an isolated single resource town with a migratory population which grew and shrank with the fluctuating demand for coal. It was a male dominated town, its lusty manliness accentuated by the miners' craft. By 1896 the collieries at Lethbridge were the largest producers of coal in the North-West Territories (NWT).


After the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) divisional point moved to Lethbridge in 1905, the CPR planned a new route to Fort McLeod. The CPR high level bridge was the key element in that plan, eliminating the need for 8.63 kilometres (5.36 miles) of track and 22 obsolete wooden bridges. At 1624 metres (5328 feet) long and 96 metres (314 feet high), the viaduct-type bridge remains one of the longest and highest in the world.


Men leaving the employment of the NWMP often chose to "live off the sod" as ranchers in southern Alberta.


Immigrants flooded southern Alberta, especially after the introduction of dry-farming techniques and technological inventions like steam tractors and plows.

The introduction of Marquis wheat was significant to the success of agriculture. Later, mixed farming and specialty crops such as sugar beets was encouraged.

Agriculture is one of the three pillars of the economy for Lethbridge; railway and coal mining being the others.


By 1900, more than 153 kilometres (95 miles) of irrigation canals were completed, including the main canal from the St. Mary River with branches to Sterling and Lethbridge.

The irrigation canals were built with the assistance of Charles Ord Card, the Mormon leader, and his followers. Their homesteading foreshadowed the later immigration boom of the early 1900s.


John (Jock) Palmer and Harry Fitzsimmons formed the Lethbridge Aircraft Company in 1920 and barnstormed in a Curtiss Jenny. In 1926 Palmer established CJOC Radio, but returned to the aviation industry, establishing several local airlines including Lethbridge Commercial Airways and Great Western Airways.

Walter (Stubbs) Ross came by his interest in aviation naturally. His father was the "flying farmer" George G. Ross, founder of Rancher's Air Line. In 1966 Stubb Ross founded Time Air, which ensured that air travel for Lethbridge and southern Alberta continued after Air Canada left the city.


A founder and first commander of the 25th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery in 1907, Brigadier General John Smith Stewart went on to become the highest ranking officer ever to come from Lethbridge. For his service during World War 1 and his lifelong support of the military and of veterans, Branch #4 of the Royal Canadian Legion is named in his honour.

Commitment to Health

St. Michael's Hospital was originally established by the Sisters of St. Martha, purchasing the former Van Haarlem Hospital in 1929. In 1930 the "new" St. Michael's Hospital was constructed on the corner of 13th Street and 9th Avenue South. Lillian Parry typifies the commitment to health care in the community. She was the first woman elected to council in 1953.

Women in War Effort

There were many activities that women participated in to support the Second World War effort. There were the YWCA War Workers, Women's Institute, Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire, the local unit of the Canadian Women's Army Corps and the Red Cross workers.


In 1949 a group of educators and citizens began the campaign to bring post-secondary education to Lethbridge and southern Alberta. On April 17, 1957 their efforts were rewarded when Lethbridge Community College, the first of its kind in Alberta, opened.

In September 1967 another milestone was passed as the University of Lethbridge began classes. In 1972 the University moved from the College campus to west Lethbridge.


Anne Campbell has left an indelible mark in musical excellence the final half of the 20th century. She represents the cultural aspect of Lethbridge and the contributions to young people. It was 1950 when Anne Campbell began her junior choir at Southminster United Church and through the years the choir grew in size and age, becoming the Anne Campbell Singers, the Teen Clefts and then the Linnet Singers.