Thursday, 26 May 2011

Sports and History -- A Winning Combination

One of the great things about history is that it touches every aspect of life -- fashion history, art history, history of science and inventions, architectural history and so much more. There's no area of study that is not connected to history.

There's also very few aspects of life that can't be enhanced by a better understanding of history. As I've said before, people who say they don't like history probably don't really understand what history is or were poorly taught history.

So when I was asked to provide some research and information for the official Bid Selection Tour in the quest for Lethbridge to be awarded the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games, I was honoured.

The Sports Bid Committee has chosen as its slogan The Past is our Foundation; The Future is Ours! Lethbridge 2015! and is using information related to Lethbridge's sports past as part of the tour.

So in anticipation of the Big Selection Tour on Monday, May 30, I thought I'd share a few fun facts about Lethbridge's sports history. And I hope to see many of you during the tour on the morning of Monday, May 30th! Community support, enthusiasm and energy is essential! You can find out more from the Lethbridge Sports Council --

Some Lethbridge Sports History
Lethbridge's first baseball game was played in December 1885. It was a warm winter.

In January 1906 a baseball game was played on The Square (now Galt Gardens) between Lethbridge and Calgary. Lethbridge won 13 to 1 that day. That was another very warm winter.

On May 15, 1919, H.A. McKillip, at the Henderson Golf Course, scored one of the first holes in one reported in North America.

The Lethbridge Maple Leafs, representing Canada, won the World Amateur Hockey Championship in 1951.

Lethbridge worked with thirteen surrounding communities to plan and deliver the 1975 Canada Winter Games of 1975. Not surprisingly the games slogan was “Unity Through Sport."

Some events held at Henderson Lake since its construction 100 years ago have been: canoe capsizing events, canoe racing, rowing boat races, swimming competitions, and greasy pole contests.

The first curling club in Alberta was started in Lethbridge.

In the early 1960s Lethbridge had a ski hill -- on the west side of the river valley in the coulees below the Galt #8 mine. It only lasted two seasons because the chinook winds won out.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Celebrating Art

Troy Nickle demonstrating clay sculpture, Art Walk 2010

Many artists in southern Alberta create wonderful 3 dimensional pieces using a wide variety of styles, media and themes. The Galt Museum & Archives will, for the fourth year in a row, host an exhibition called 3 Dimensions during the 2011 Art Walk.
At this time, artists are invited to submit a piece of their artwork for consideration in the exhibit. Submissions must be received by September 2, 2011. For further information please contact

The weekend during Art Walk will be a hopping good time at the Galt. The Saturday will be a free day for everyone during which 3 Dimensions will be on display and a special exhibit called Toys & Games ~ engage, entertain, educate will open. Activities will occur all through the days including demonstrations by local artists. These artists will talk to visitors as they create their 3 dimensional art. No admission is charged on Friday and Sunday for those interested in seeing 3 Dimensions.

Art Walk will be held during Art Days in the fall. The exhibit will run from September 30 to October 2; 10 am to 4:30 pm Friday and Saturday and 1 to 4:30 pm on Sunday. Plan to join the Galt as we celebrate local artists and their creations!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A Day in the Life of the Galt

I have been wanting for the last while to do a blog about A Day in the Life of the Galt -- a way to show some of the very many jobs and happenings that go on during a typical day at the Galt. Today, Michelle Hood, who is working with our school programs for the next few months, went around the museum capturing staff and volunteers at various jobs and activities. Not all staff or departments are represented here. I may save a few of those photographs for another day....

A grade 2 student on a tour for the Then and Now program in the hands-on part of the program.

Kevin, Collections Manager, interviewing a potential donor.

Jim, who can usually be found scanning photographs in the Archives, heading off for lunch.

Tom, a volunteer, working down in the Collections area.

Lara, front desk attendant, getting one of our meeting rooms ready for its next function.

Members of the Galt Museum & Archives board at their monthly meeting.

Barb, an Archives volunteer, cataloguing donations and working on library integration.

Staff and volunteers enjoying the morning coffee break in the beautiful viewing gallery.

Lara, front desk attendant, organizing items at the front desk.

Brian, custodian extraordinaire, getting the Galt ready for its long day (but taking time out to get his picture taken).

Grade 5 students, on a tour to learn about immigration to southern Alberta, mesmerized by the black bear in the exhibit.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Where would my house be today?

I'm not sure if this picture comes through clearly but that's okay. Because if you come down to the Galt before September 11, you can see the original painting that this picture is of.

This photograph (Galt Archives 19754374013) is of a 1912 painting of Lethbridge -- which measures 9 ' by 4 ' -- and used to hang over the bar at the Arlington Hotel. The painting is owned by the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery. They have generously loaned us the painting for the run of the Greatest Years You Never Knew exhibit.

This painting is incredible. You can see where Galt 3 and 6 coal mines were. It shows how Galbraith School used to be the far north end of Lethbridge. You can find the Ideal Farm (Whitney House), which stands by itself in the painting but which today is just east of Lethbridge College. You can see where they planned to build Dominion Square and Queen Victoria Park. And many people can see how where there house is today was farmland 100 years ago.

We don't know who painted the picture. We do know it was done as a promotional painting for Lethbridge - to be used on brochures to promote Lethbridge around the world.

There are a few errors. The Galt Hospital entrance is facing west -- rather than east. Or maybe our history is wrong and the hospital once did face west and over 100 years the wind has turned us around?

Every time I look at the painting I see even more details that I find interesting. And I can't wait to show the painting to all of the students and people who come to visit over the next few months. Because I'm certain they, like me, will be enthralled with this incredible painting.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Gathering Ideas

Treasures & Curiosities Exhibit 2010

In late March, the Galt Museum & Archives began to gather ideas for future exhibits and programs from the community. Several people have responded with suggestions such as:
  • The historic women acknowledged in Legacy Ridge
  • Mayor Charles Magrath
  • Southminster Church which will celebrate its Centennial in 2014
  • 1918 Regional Agricultural Fair held to provide relief from the stresses of the 1st World War
  • Indepth history of where aboriginal peoples lived and travelled in this area
  • The oldest Ambulance service in North America - Lethbridge EMS
  • Telling the stories of smaller communities around Lethbridge
  • Living in the river bottom
These are great ideas but I know there are many more out there. We want to gather ideas of:
  • stories you feel are of significance to southwestern Alberta
  • upcoming special anniversaries for organizations, businesses, events, buildings
  • social, economic, political, humanitarian, environmental concerns or events that are important to you.
We continue to collect your suggestions so please talk to friends and family. Ask them about their ideas. Be creative, thoughtful and challenging.

Then get in touch either through this blog or by email to

Friday, 6 May 2011

Canada's Shame; Ideal Farm; Prairie Skyscrapers -- Learn more at this year's Regional Heritage Fair

Blogging completely slipped my mind last week.

Last week was full of last minute preparations for the new exhibits (both the Greatest Years and the Coal Town to Boom City Archives Exposed exhibits opened on Saturday) as well as two community presentations. I was honoured to be able to speak to the Maple Leaf Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star and at the banquet honouring coal miners held at Nord-Bridge on Saturday. Thank you to both groups for inviting me. We also, along with our partners the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Helen Schuler Nature Centre and New West Theatre, ran the annual Coulees & Culture Day Program. There's nothing like having 19 children with you all day to make blogging less of a priority.

This week I'm busy preparing for the Southern Alberta Regional Heritage Fair which runs here at the Galt on Saturday, May 14th. I can't wait to see what projects the students have put together this year. When I type the student registrations into the computer I get a chance to read the topics and titles students have chosen. My curiosity is completely sparked! I hope all of you will take the opportunity to come here between 9:30 am and 2:00 pm that day to support our young historians. You'll be amazed and impressed with what they've done.

In order to spark your interest, here's a very few of this year's topics:

Canada's Shame: Germ Warfare in Canada

Lethbridge's Ideal Farm

Prairie Skyscrapers

"The Unsinkable Ship" The Titanic

Cypress Hills Massacre

Vimy Ridge

The Calgary Stampede

Red Pollard & Seabiscuit

Hope to see you all on May 14th!

Monday, 2 May 2011

What is it? - a builder explains

We have partnered with the bi-monthly Lethbridge living Magazine since 2008 to bring the regular "What is it?' feature to regional and internet audiences. In each issue of the magazine a photo of a three-dimensional artifact or, alternatively, an archival photo from our holdings is included. People are asked to submit their guess at by a certain date to be eligible to win a Galt Museum Family Pass valued at $25.

The most recent installment asked people to identify where and what one of our archival photos was about. It showed the Dedication ceremony for the Lady of Lourdes Grotto on October 23, 1955.

The number of entries depends on the nature of the artifact or photo featured, and yhis time 4 correct entries were received. It seems that the randomly selected winner, Tony Bouw, was actually involved with the building of the object in question, and has provided this background:

I have some more information for you on Lourdes Farm and the Shrine.

Lourdes Farm was owned and operated by the "Brothers of Lourdes" from Holland (this is an organization and form of clergy belonging to the Roman Catholic Church similar to what the Catholic Nuns are). About five Brothers came from Holland where they own and operate Mental institutions and Orphanage homes,and they also do other charitable work.

In 1954 they purchased/owned a farm (named Lourdes Farm) about 2 KM east of "Steward Siding" along highway #4. The farm was purchased in late 1954 and about 5 brothers arrived from Holland shortly after. The plan was to develop an Orphanage on the farm. My parents were employed on the farm to do the farm work and they also lived there. The Grotto or Shrine as it was known was build by the Brothers in 1955, the Grotto/shrine was modelled after the shrine of Lourdes in France,it is believed that there,in 1858 the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous.

The Grotto the brothers build in 1955 was very simple in construction, the framework consisted of 2X4 lumber nailed together in all directions and pieces of lumber sticking out what would represent outcroppings of rock,the wooden frame was then draped with burlap dipped in a concrete slurry. A statue of the Virgin Mary was placed in an opening near the centre and top. The ground level centre had an indentation which contained a small altar and candle racks. A few benches with kneelers were located in front of the shrine and pilgrims could attend anytime, to worship and then light a candle.I can remember several religious ceremonies including the celebration of an outdoor mass being held at the shrine with many people attending.

The construction of the Grotto was simple and very economical and I am surprised for its durability as it was in remarkable good condition yet when it was torn down in about 2006.