Thursday, 3 May 2012

Happy 100th Henderson Lake

Prior to 1912, what is now Henderson Lake was known as Slaughterhouse Slough -- a natural slough located next to a slaughterhouse. A rather descriptive -- if disturbing -- name. However, for the 1912 Dry Farming Congress, Lethbridge wished to have a grand lake and park to showcase Lethbridge to the world. The slough was dammed at one end and dug deeper; water was added and the lake enlarged. Over the next months and years a beach, change rooms and dock were built. The men shown here were part of the crew who helped to build the lake and park.

The lake was much larger in the early days than today. What is now the rose garden, Nikka Yuko and the golf course were all once under water and later reclaimed from the lake.The lake and park were named for William Henderson, mayor of Lethbridge in 1908 and 1909. William Henderson, the only Lethbridge mayor to die while in office, was working on the project at the time of his death and it was named to honour him.



Trees were planted at Henderson Lake over the next several years. Some of the trees, such as those at Battery Point, were planted to honour Lethbridge residents lost in the First and Second World Wars. Arbour Day and tree planting days were common -- days when the entire community met at Henderson Lake to work together to beautify the area. In 1916 alone 150 people met at the lake to plant 2000 seedlings.
Beside Henderson Lake was built at the same time the Exhibition Grounds and Buildings. These buildings, shown here, were unfortunately lost to a fire.
 
The golf course got its start there around 1917. The first hole-in-one in Lethbridge (one of the first in Canada) was made at the golf course in 1919.

Henderson Lake has served many purposes over the years. It was a bird sanctuary for a number of years. It hosted the Dry Farming Congress in 1912, numerous school track and field meets, community days and Canada Day Celebrations, dances, swim meets and much more. Countless children have swam there (and now in the pool beside) and fished there. People have walked and biked around the lake. Families for over 100 years have picniced and played there.

I hope you will take the opportunity to visit Henderson Lake. 
View the captured German guns -- from the First World War -- where they sit at the far east end of the lake. In the last few years they have been joined by a Canadian light armoured vehicle.

Take the time to read all of the memorials placed over the past 100 years around Henderson Lake -- honouring irrigation, Communities in Bloom, Nikka Yuko and so much more.

Enjoy the rose garden and sundial -- a beautiful place to take a picture.

Happy 100th Henderson Lake -- here's to 100 (and more) great years ahead.

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