Friday, 30 July 2010

A stereotype that needs to fade away...

People may not always be able to say when exactly an event happened or be able to name all of the mayors of Lethbridge, but anyone who thinks their lives are not still affected by history is living in a dream world.

Last night I gave a tour of Mountain View Cemetery. As you visit Mountain View it becomes apparent that some of the headstones seem out of place -- even though the cemetery started in 1901 there are quite a few headstones dating from the 1890s. What are these doing here?

Part of the reason is that when Mountain View Cemetery started several families moved loved ones buried in St. Patrick's to Mountain View (St. Patrick's is 15 years earlier than Mountain View). Of course, there were many reasons for doing this and personal family choice was certainly part of it. Some may have wanted to have all of the family buried in one place, for example.

But part of the reason certainly was that St. Patrick's was on the north side and Mountain View on the south side. There developed in Lethbridge a north/south split. The coal miners and their families were on the north. The business owners and professionals were on the south. This differentiation was quite marked in some areas. For example, to this day 13th Street is wider on the south side than the north side.

But why does this split still continue (in some ways) to this day? Last night as we were discussing the two cemeteries and the movement of remains to the southside cemetery, we started to discuss the relationship between the two sides of town. Many of us couldn't understand why this continues. What keeps this alive? Why, when so much else of our history has changed, does this persist?

At that point three members of the tour said that when they had moved to Lethbridge three years ago and were looking to buy a house, people they had spoken to had told them not to buy on the northside. And so they chose to purposely buy on the southside. Frustrating to think that this is still so persistent. I think, people, this is a stereotype that finally needs to fade into history.


  1. This has always been a curiosity to me as well. Edmonton also has a north/south split, and in coming to Lethbridge 11 years ago, I knew that north Lethbridge would not be the place to live. I have lived on the west side and the south side of the city and prefer the south for its trees and heritage. I also prefer the south side of Edmonton, too. Maybe it is just the way I was raised.

  2. I moved her 18 months ago and was told the same thing. I'm looking at the northside though, as the lots appear bigger and the houses cheaper. I can think, not just act by prejudices that I'm told should exist.

  3. I have lived in both north and south Lethbridge and have seen pluses and minuses in each. My vote is for big trees and stores and restaurants within walking distance no matter where I am.

  4. Interesting. No hint of it to us visitors though. We visited Lethbridge for the second time a month ago. Beautiful city. The Galt is a spectacular piece of architecture and the High Level Bridge an engineering marvel.


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