Thursday, 2 April 2009

Musings on an Exhibit

I am guest curating (for 2011) an exhibit on the boom years 1906-1913 in Lethbridge. These were years of incredible population growth with many new businesses and industries coming to Lethbridge. And these years were vital in shaping the growth and development of Lethbridge throughout the 20th century. In many ways these years were bookmarked by the wild optimism of 1906 as Lethbridge became a city and the real estate bust of 1913 when City Council found itself faced with a deep debt (that wouldn’t be paid off until 1928) and 1/3 of all assessed city property tax exempt.

I have just started my research into this period and have already found some fascinating items. A great deal happened in these years and I certainly can’t include it all in the exhibit. So I thought as I was doing my research I would blog and share some of the random stuff I’m finding – stuff that may or may not show up in the exhibit. I would love your feedback, questions, ideas – what do you find interesting, what surprises you, what do you want to know more about.

I have to start with boosterism – the promotion of your community as THE best. There are so many examples of it during this period. To name two. There was such belief in the growth and prosperity of Lethbridge that in 1907 the 25,000 Club was formed. This group believed that Lethbridge would grow from its population of 7000 in 1907 to 25,000 by 1912. This goal was not met and it wasn’t until the 1950s that Lethbridge finally achieved a population of 25,000. One of the best boasts came from the 1910 letter head of the Board of Trade which stated that Lethbridge had the advantages of: “most up-to-date water system, finest climate, mildest winter, most productive soil, Purest water, most progressive city, Most trees, most sunshine, Cheapest fuel, widest sidewalks, Best electric power, best schools, prize wheat Of any place in Western Canada.”

More to come…

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