Wednesday, 10 January 2018

International Women’s March Anniversary

The International Women’s March was held last year on January 27, 2017. Over 550 rallies were held in 82 countries, including one in Lethbridge.
The march was organized in response to the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States, due to his controversial positions on women’s rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, climate change, LGBTQ+ rights, freedom of religion and workers’ rights.
The Lethbridge demonstration drew over 600 people. Elisabeth Pfeffel, a 94-year-old resident of Coaldale who had never attended a political demonstration before, came with her granddaughter, Jana Mackenze. Pfeffel said, “All of a sudden I was free. I could tell the people, ‘I’m here. This is what I want to do.’… If you go through a war like I did and you never know if you’re still alive, you have sympathy… You have compassion for people… I says, ‘I’m here Mr. Trump and I want to tell you how much I dislike you!’”
Facilitator Annelies van Oers hoped the event would help draw attention to the divisions in Lethbridge’s political and social landscape. She said, “I think people really started to wake up to the fact that they need to be active, that they can’t just assume that somebody else is going to do it… We have our own MLAs with threats that you would not believe, the things they have to deal with on a daily basis… What I’ve seen in Lethbridge [are] so many different communities that have been persecuted or are persecuted currently.”
Objects from the demonstration have been accessioned into the Galt’s collection to preserve a piece of this story for the future. Some of these artifacts will be part of the Galt’s new exhibit For Keeps: Collecting Memories, developed by Guest Curator Jane Edmundson. The Exhibit Grand Opening and the Curator Presents… will be held on Sun JAN 28 from 2-3 pm at the Galt Museum & Archives.

Jane Edmundson (BFA, MA)
Guest Curator

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Winter Weater

A winter sunset on the path outside the Galt looking northwest at the High Level Bridge
After a number of heavy snowfalls in October and November, the weather this December has been mild and warm for southern Alberta. In the first half of December, only one day has seen temperatures stay below 0⁰C all day. Southern Alberta has long been known for its unusual weather events and for good reason. Here is a sample of just a few notable winter- and snow-related weather events in our history.

In May 1903 a spring snowstorm hit dumping 3 feet of snow in the region. The snowstorm resulted in the deaths of two boys caught in the storm, and stranded cattle on the range, resulting in heavy livestock losses.

The lowest temperature Lethbridge experienced was -42.8⁰C. This temperature has been recorded on four separate occasions: January 7, 1909; December 18, 1924; January 3, 1950; and December 29, 1968.

On December 15, 1964, the “Great Blizzard” lashed southern Prairies. Heavy snows, 90 km/h winds, and -34˚C temperatures, paralyzed the southern Prairies. Three people froze to death and thousands of animals perished.

On January 6, 1966, in Pincher Creek, a chinook wind sent the temperature soaring 21˚C in just four minutes.

From April 17 to 20, and April 27 to 29, 1967, a series of intense winter storms dropped a record 175 cm, a few inches shy of 6 feet, of snow on southern Alberta. Thousands of cattle perished on the open range. It is estimated that 30,000 calves perished. Army units were dispatched to assist in snow clearing, while food, fuel, and feed were airlifted into the province.

In June 1995, heavy, warm rains in early June, combined with snow melting, resulted in the highest flood in the Oldman River on record since 1911. Major floods also occurred in 1953 and 1964.

On July 1, 2008, a Canada Day thunderstorm dumped more rain in a 90-minute period than Lethbridge generally gets in a month. This caused extensive flooding throughout the city.

While our weather has been fairly mild so far this month, there always seems to be a change in weather around the corner.

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.