Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Say it with Flowers

Back in 1909, Thomas Leigh Clark opened the first flower shop in Lethbridge out of his home at 604 Cutbill Street, 10 Street South today. In 1912, Clark was joined by George Taylor, J. E. Terrill, and Frache Brothers, who all opened florist shops in Lethbridge, some of them also building full greenhouses to grow their wares.

Taylor was both a florist and a seed man. He had fresh cut flowers, wedding bouquets and floral designs available in his shop on the corner of Bartlett & London Streets, 12 Street and 7 Avenue South today.

The Terrill Floral Company, which opened on 11 Street South, specialized in growing roses and carnations, as well as house and garden plants. Eventually they moved their storefront to 604 3 Avenue South and maintained a greenhouse at 2015 6 Avenue North. The Frache brothers, who owned greenhouses at Henderson Park and on the north side of Lethbridge, bought the Terrill Floral Company in 1928. They eventually closed their operations in 1955.

The 1930s saw a boom in flower shops, florists and greenhouses. The Marquis Flower Shop, originally established by the Medicine Hat Greenhouses with manager H. Coventry, was purchased by Fred Edmunson in 1938. The Marquis Flower Shop is still operating today, 79 years after it was established. It has moved storefront locations three times, from the first floor of the Marquis Hotel of 4 Avenue South, to 312 6 Street South, to its current home at 905 3 Avenue South.

Lorna Perry was a clerk and assistant manager for the Marquis Flower Shop before opening her own shop, Lorna’s Flowers, in 1953 at 1508 9 Avenue South. Lorna retired in 1987 and the new owner renamed the shop Flowers on 9th.

Say it with Flowers is showing at the Galt Museum & Archives from SEP 15 to JAN 16.18.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Wheels of History

At the dawn of a new era of self-driving cars, it is intriguing to look back at the twentieth century’s automotive culture. What role did motoring play in people’s lives? How did it affect daily routines and urban infrastructure? What did personal motor vehicles mean for Lethbridgians?
The first car appeared in Lethbridge in 1903 and belonged to Elliot Galt (a 20-horsepower Wilton). By 1914, there were already hundreds of cars in the community: Fords, Regals, Studebakers, Chevrolets, Saxons, Elgins and more.

From the very beginning, a car was a status symbol. In the early twentieth century, with limited options in brands, materials and engines, ownership itself was a marker. The expressive potential grew in the 1950s and 1960s with the introduction of different classes of cars. The classes not only catered to different needs but also communicated different lifestyles and socio-economic ranks: family cars, sports cars, utility vehicles, etc. All these types of vehicles were represented in both budget and luxury segments.

In the 1950s, cars were increasingly used for leisure activities, such as cruising. A car became a social capsule for young people in which to socialize and seek new experiences. Popular culture, like Grease and many of James Dean’s characters, glorified and reinforced this trend. Popular fast-food restaurants styled themselves into drive-in facilities. In the 1960s, the community welcomed the Green Acres Drive-in Theatre. The drive-in theatre became a popular attraction for moviegoers.

Cars in southern Alberta, particularly vintage stock, became a popular hobby. Local automotive enthusiasts continue to restore, exhibit and drive their beloved engines. Many local cars now gain the status of family heirlooms and are passed from one generation to another. There are competitions, shows, clubs and social media groups built around old-time motoring.

Wheels of History is showing at the Galt Museum & Archives from NOV 06 to FEB 22.18.
Andrew Chernevych

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Bert Riggall: I to the Hills Will Lift Mine Eyes

Bert’s Riggall’s photographs articulate a unique narrative that contributes to our sense of place and how we, today, see ourselves in relation to the Rocky Mountains. Bert Riggall moved from England to southern Alberta in 1904. He secured a job at Craighurst Farm near Calgary, where he met his wife Dorthea (Dora) Riggall (née Williams). In 1905, Bert worked for the Correction Land Survey, touring Southwestern Alberta. While Bert was surveying what is now Waterton Lakes National Park, he became enamoured with the mountain landscape.

In 1906, Bert and Dora married and moved to the Waterton area where they homesteaded and ranched until 1946. By 1909, Bert was running a guiding and outfitting business, leading numerous hunting and fishing excursions in the area. Working with his wife Dora, Bert led trips throughout the Rockies: Yarrow Canyon onto Big Horn Pass, the Avion Ridge trail, the Continental Divide between Alberta and B.C. in the south Castle and Akamina Ridge. These trips fueled Bert’s lifelong commitment to exploring, photographing, and writing about the area.

The images in the exhibit illustrate to Riggall’s relationship to the mountains: hunting, ranching, and guiding juxtaposed against his attention to geology, plants and animals in the area, and the effects his activities had on particular species. Bert Riggall’s photographs represent the indistinct line between the use of the land that his livelihood depended on, and his appreciation for the areas he wished to see protected. Riggall’s relationship to the landscape inspired an intergenerational commitment to mountain stewardship and conservation.

Stewarding, preserving, and exhibiting collections such as the Bert Riggall fonds held at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, is important to understanding the interconnectedness of mountain systems, including the environment, economy, and society.

Nicole Ensing and Brittany Watson from the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies will discuss the exhibit they co-curated this Sunday from 2-3 p.m. at the Galt Museum. The exhibit “Bert Riggall: I to the Hills Will Lift Mine Eyes” is showing at the Galt Museum until Feb. 11.

Your old photos, documents, and artifacts might have historical value. Please contact Galt Museum & Archives for advice before destroying them.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Picariello's Lethbridge Connections

Emilio Picariello was one of the most infamous bootleggers from Alberta’s prohibition era. Rum-running and the illegal alcohol trade allowed this enterprising man to make significant profits, but ultimately cost him his life at the hands of the law.

The Social Gospel movement dominated the Protestant churches of Canada and the US from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. It focused attention on social ills arising from alcohol abuse including poverty, unemployment, crime, and family violence. The Alberta Legislature passed the Prohibition Act in 1917, which allowed “near beer” to be sold in hotel bars while making the sale of hard alcohol illegal. The passage of prohibition legislation created a high demand for liquor in Canada and the US.

In 1901, Fritz Sick moved to Lethbridge and established a brewery, later known as Lethbridge Breweries Ltd. The company survived prohibition by producing legitimate near beer or Temperance Beer with an alcohol content of just over 2 per cent. There were rumours, however, that beer and whisky were transported from Lethbridge hidden in grain trucks.

Emilio Picariello’s meteoric rise in fortunes began in January 1918, when he purchased the Alberta Hotel in Blairmore from Fritz Sick. Picariello became the sole agent for the Lethbridge Breweries Ltd. in the Crowsnest Pass. He legally advertised and sold their Temperance Beer; however he is said to have excavated a basement at the Alberta Hotel for loading and unloading illegal liquor. He began regular liquor runs across the Alberta-BC border through the Crowsnest Pass, and down to Montana via the Whiskey Gap and other border crossings.

The exhibit The Rise and Fall of Emilio Picariello, now showing at the Galt Museum, was created by the Fernie Museum. Join historian Stephanie Laine Hamilton as she explores Picariello, his Alberta Hotel, and his Lethbridge connections to Fritz Sick and the Sick Brewery, Sun NOV 19 from 2–3 at the Galt Museum.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Lethbridge Internment Camp

As we look back on history, it is hard for us to imagine a time when the Canadian Government could arbitrarily brand their own citizens as enemies and find a means by which to detain them for long periods of time.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened in Lethbridge and other communities across the nation, beginning just hours after Canada's declaration of war in August 1914.
On 11 September 1914, barely a month after Canada entered the war, the Lethbridge Daily Herald announced that the only military prison in Alberta was to be established at the Lethbridge Exhibition Grounds. The poultry barn where the prisoners were to be held was renovated and barbed wire was installed to keep the 'enemy' safely contained.

Initially, the enemy was defined as individuals of German, Austrian, Hungarian or Turkish descent who belonged to reserve units in their homelands, however, this was soon expanded to include anyone with an ethnic sounding name that was 'acting suspiciously.' Citizens were encouraged to report any 'suspicious behaviour' to the police for investigation - and report they did.

Accusations abounded ranging from possession of banned books to the sabotage of threshing machines necessary for the production of local crops. In an attempt to escape the atmosphere of suspicion, many of these potential 'enemy aliens' tried to make their way to the American border as the United States was neutral and not involved in the conflict. If caught, potential 'enemy aliens' were promptly arrested and returned to Lethbridge for detention.

The 'enemy aliens' had also been cut off from their families in Europe, as they could not send or receive any mail to or from home. Some would try to get the mail through to Sweetgrass, Montana, but once again, if they were discovered, the consequences would be severe.

At its peak in mid-1915, the Lethbridge Detention Camp held 300 prisoners and employed 60 guards. In the fall of 1916, the Lethbridge camp was closed, primarily because the city was located too close to the American border, which provided an incentive for detainees to attempt to escape.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Sick Brewry

In 1901, a small operation started in Lethbridge. This business had a dramatic effect on Lethbridge for it was the beginning of the Sick beer empire.

Fritz Sick started the Alberta Brewing & Malting Co, basically running a one-man show, doing the work of brewer, maltster, cooper, salesman and office manager. He was eventually able to hire one person to help him in the brewery and another to deliver the product to customers around Lethbridge. It grew from there.

The first major expansion of the brewery was in 1913; other renovations and additions followed over the years. After prohibition ended, Sick started to acquire and build new breweries. With various breweries, the firm was renamed the Associated Breweries of Canada Ltd. All of the breweries were named “Sick’s” and then identified by their community.

By 1930, Fritz Sick was ready to retire and he turned over operations of Sick’s Lethbridge Brewery to his son Emil. Fritz Sick moved to Vancouver but retirement appears not to have suited him. In 1934, Fritz Sick started the Vancouver Capilano Brewery. In 1935, he moved to Tacoma and lived there until his death in 1945.

In 1933, the year American prohibition ended, Emil Sick moved to Seattle. Once there, he invested in breweries in Missoula, Great Falls and Spokane. In 1935 Sick rented, and then purchased, the Century Brewery in Seattle, which he soon modernized. Shortly afterwards, this brewery was merged with the Rainier Brewery.

In 1944, Associated Breweries of Canada Ltd changed its name to Sick’s Breweries Ltd, with at least 10,000 shareholders. The end of the Sick management of the brewery came in 1958 when control of Sick’s was acquired by Molson’s Brewery. The brewery operated under Molson until 1990 and the building was demolished in 1991.

Wednesday at the Galt on Wed NOV 15 from 2–3 pm will present Belinda Crowson. Come and discover more of the Sick history of Lethbridge.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

U Boats Against Canada

During the early part of the Second World War, Halifax was a key Allied port for winning the Battle of the Atlantic. Supplies from Canada and the United States flowed to the British Isles in back-and-forth merchant ship convoys through this Canadian harbour. However, in 1942, the American entry into the war and the fact that British code-breakers were no longer able to decipher German naval radio messages changed the entire naval campaign: North America became vulnerable to German submarine attacks. While on their return voyage against the Eastern seaboard, the aggressive U-boats decided to test Canadian home waters as well.

At the time, Ottawa was inadequately prepared to face this threat. A meagre fleet of fast motor boats, minesweepers and escort vessels were the only safeguards in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Surprise became the primary advantage for the Germans as the battle began in May 1942. Canadian authorities did not know the exact number and intention of enemy submarines assaulting the shores of Quebec and Newfoundland. By autumn, Allied losses were so bad that the Gulf was closed to all shipping.

Wartime federal censorship and denials of local authorities on the true nature of the submarine attacks meant most Canadians did not understand the scale of this tragedy until the 1970s when secret documents in the National Archives were finally declassified. But even if U-boats first won the battle, they were eventually defeated by naval and air counter-measures hastily implemented in the Maritimes to thwart further damages in the Gulf. In the end, Ottawa was unaware that it had actually secured a strategic victory because the U-boats never came back in strength during the war.

Join the Galt and Dr. Stéphane Guevremont on NOV 05 from 2 to 4 pm for our Café Galt lecture entitled “U Boats Against Canada.” Admission applies.