Friday, 2 October 2009

Lethbridge Conservatory of Music -- Museum Exhibit Musings

A few weeks ago I asked people if they had a favourite building that was built between 1906-1913. And to also let me know what they liked about the building and what they remembered. Trish Purkis, who works in the Archives of the Galt, sent me the information below on one of her favourite buildings – the Lethbridge Conservatory of Music/Spudnuts Shop. The Lethbridge Conservatory of Music started there in 1910 (with the growth of Lethbridge it was important to the people of Lethbridge to have a community rich in the arts). As you can see, Trish is looking for some more information on the building…

Many of us remember the Spudnut Shop on 11 Street and 5th Avenue. It was a place to go for treats of spudnuts, ice cream and flavourful drinks after school, Sunday School, sports events at the Civic Centre and Remembrance Day Services. But does anyone recall the original purpose for the building?
In the beginning it was the Lethbridge Conservatory of Music, the largest conservatory in Western Canada. The conservatory started out modestly in a two-roomed studio above the Union Grocery Store located where Southminster United Church Hall is today. The Director James George Harper, proficient in all instruments taught the students the first year. When the enrolment increased, he hired other musical teachers to aid him. They remained at that location for three years and as the enrolment increased, the space decreased. It was time to find a new home for the conservatory.
George Harper along with his brother-in-lay Joseph Morgan, a School Inspector, chose a location opposite the NWMP Barracks and in the spring of 1910 opened the doors. The top floor or auditorium was used for community events, dances, parties lectures and meetings as well as dance classes. The first floor had lesson rooms, an instrument repair shop and Music shop.
The music conservatory remained in business from 1910 until the early 1940’s. It is not known when the conservatory closed it’s doors but if anyone knows please let me know.
From 1950 until 2000 the Spudnut Shop operated there and in 2006 the Crazy Cakes business opened serving cupcakes and on a weekly basis the once loved spudnut.

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