Monday, 1 June 2009

Museum Exhibit Muse -- West Lethbridge in 1913?

It is interesting when different parts of your life all come together at the same time. As I’m working on this research for an exhibit on the years 1906-1913 in Lethbridge, I am also sitting as a member of the Community Advisory Group for Plan Your City. This is the development of a Municipal Development plan that will be used to make decisions for planning Lethbridge for the next 40-50 years. A large part of the discussions I’ve heard is about where growth should take place and what type of growth – high-density, low-density, houses, or apartments and what should it all look like in the end.

Between 1908 and 1912 eager developers in Lethbridge carved out about 20 subdivisions (most on the south side). But, what may surprise people is that the west side wasn’t ignored and two subdivisions planned during the boom were West Lethbridge and Westmount. But these west side developments (or, indeed, most of the planned subdivisions) of the early 20th century were not to be. The real estate bust in 1913 forced the boosters and dreamers to recognize that these were unrealistic hopes. The city annexed most of the subdivisions following the 1913 boom and it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that some of these subdivisions finally were developed. West Lethbridge had to wait until the 1970s and the construction of the University of Lethbridge for growth to take place on that side of town.

I don’t like to play “what if” history but I have to wonder how different Lethbridge would have looked today if the bust of 1913 had happened a few short years later?

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