Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Dolphins Kissing and Other Thank You Cards

It's the first day of Reading Week -- no classes here at the Galt this week. And we're already missing the students who add so much life and excitement to our museum. So I thought I'd take the opportunity to share a few of the thank you cards we have received in the last while. I'm not quite certain how the dolphins fit in with the Galt Museum and Lethbridge history but since they are so cute I had to include that one. As you can probably guess, one of my personal favourites is the "Museum Lady" one. As my friend said when she saw it "you have purple hair -- of course you love it."

Happy Reading Week Everybody!

Now I better get back to finishing up the two presentations I have to make at Teachers' Conventions this week and next.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

George Bailey

Today is the 79th anniversary of the death of George Bailey -- 16 February 1933 -- following an accident on the elevator in the Galt Hospital. Rather than re-telling the story, I thought I would simply post the Lethbridge Herald account of it from the next day's paper:

Prominent Magath Farmer is Victim of Unusual Accident on Way to Operating Room -- Lift Rises Suddenly When Portable Bed Only Half On and Patient Jammed in Door -- Succumbs at 9:10 O'clock Thursday Night

Believed to be a victim of a most unusual accident caused when the automatic elevator on which he was to be taken to the operating room started suddenly, in Galt Hospital on Thursday afternoon, George Bailey, prominent Magrath farmer, passed away that evening at 9:10 o'clock. An autopsy was performed by Dr. E.V. Spackman on Friday morning at 10:30 and an inquest has been ordered by Coroner Dr. J.E. Lovering to inquire into the circumstances of the death. Results of the autopsy will be made known at the inquiries. The inquest will be held in Martin Brothers funeral parlors on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Details of Fatal Accident
From what the Herald could learn of the accident, deceased had been a hospital patient in the city for two weeks preparing for a major operation. He had been attended by Dr. Spackman and was prepared for the operation at a late hour on Thursday afternoon. The patient was placed on the regular portable bed and was to have been moved upstairs in the elevator. In the elevator was Miss Harriet Levenick, lady superintendent of the city hospital. The bed was guided by Harry Smythe, an orderly, and Miss Joyce Stevens, an under-graduate nurse. Other nurses were witnesses of the accident. As the bed was moved half in the elevator, the lift rose suddenly. The patient was jammed in the door of the elevator and then dropped about 15 feet down the shaft.
Bailey, however, received what were apparently only minor injuries from his harrowing experience. He was able to walk about and talked and laughed of the incident. He was placed back in bed but gradually his condition grew worse and he died at 9:10 p.m."

George Bailey had moved to Magrath from Minnesota 25 years prior. He had been active in the U.F.A. and had served on the executive in Magrath. He was a sheriff's bailiff, at one time associated with E.G. Woodger in the hard-ware business and also Massey-Harris agent for a while.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

55 Years Since Galt 8 Closed

Fifty-five years ago this week Lethbridge changed forever as on 12 February 1957, Galt Mine No. 8 was closed/abandoned. The mine, opened in 1935, had over its 22 years produced a total of 3 187 403 tonnes of coal and provided jobs for many local men.

Technically known as Mine No. 1464, there were plans as early as 1908 to start a coal mine up on the height of the coulee immediately west of Lethbridge. But plans would change when the June 1908 flood delayed the High Level Bridge by approximately a year and slowed down access to that location.

So the company instead went ahead with Galt No. 6 mine at Hardieville, opening that mine in 1908/1909. The Hardieville mine would run until 1935.

Many people have an odd notion that recycling is somehow a new concept. When the Hardieville mine closed in 1935, 50 men worked to take down the tipple (main frame) at Hardieville and move it by rail to the site on the west side of the river. The building was redesigned on the new location as additional equipment was added. This newly constructed tipple still towers over the old Galt 8 site.

Opening of Galt No. 8 mine was unfortunately sped up when a disaster/explosion rocked the Coalhurst mine on 9 December 1935 (killing 16 miners). The Coalhurst mine closed 1 April 1936 and many of the workers moved to the new mine. The Coalhurst water tower was moved to the No. 8 mine site.

Because of its location, some extra care had to be taken in the mine. A pillar of coal was deliberately left under the railway tracks and high level bridge. I have to admit I was very glad when I read that!

The mine also had the reputation over the years of being one of if not the wettest mine in Alberta.

These photographs show some of the work being done in the mine. In the early mines, few photographs were taken because of concerns related to flashes and fires/explosions. With these photographs a gas detector meter was used just prior to the photography to ensure that the flash would not cause any concerns.

When the mine closed in February 1957, 500 empty mine cars were lined up in storage on the prairie -- a silent testament to the work that had ended. The Shaughnessy Mine would continue for approximately another 8 years but the Galt 8 was the last mine to operate inside what is now the City of Lethbridge.

Symbolically, among the last of the men to surface from the Galt No. 8 in February 1957 were Alex Veres, Louis Slotta, George Latvat, Joseph Rapach, Tony Norgusta and Mike Zizich -- all members of the original 1935 crew.

To this day, 55 years after it closed, Galt No. 8 stands as one of the most familiar sites in Lethbridge to many of our residents.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

London Road for the Win

I hope everyone is taking the time to vote for the London Road Neighbourhood on the Great Places in Canada web-site. The voting has me thinking about London Road so I thought I would share a little information on some buildings in that neighbourhood. There are way too many interesting buildings to mention them all, so let me know if your favourite was missed.

Riverview/Magrath House

It seems appropriate to start with this house today. On 2 February 1891, Charles Magrath became the 1st mayor of Lethbridge. This was the date of Lethbridge's 1st civic election; Magrath was "elected" by acclamation. This home on 7th Avenue South was built around that time for Magrath's young, growing family. They would not remain here long. Shortly after his first wife died, he sold this home and moved to a home on 6th Avenue South.

We can see this house from the Galt's Viewing Gallery. It's two tall chimneys tower above the other homes in the area.

Coneybeare/Magrath/Tennant Residence/Regal Grocery

This little building on 6th Avenue South is a favourite among many people in Lethbridge and it's comforting to know it's being renovated. According to its statemeng of significance, it is "a rare example in Alberta of the Second Empire style of architecture." It is also one of the oldest buildings in Lethbridge.

This was the house Magrath moved into when he left the house on 7th Avenue. This home was built by C.F.P. Coneybeare, 1st lawyer in Lethbridge, and Coneybeare moved into Riverview when the two families swapped homes. Charles Coneybeare became Alberta's only territorial poet when he published a book of poetry in 1902 (Vahnfried is the title of the book). This building was later the Jewish Synagogue and Rabbi's residence (1918-1927) and the Regal Grocery (1942-1987).

Wimpole Hospital/Van Haarlem Hospital/St. Michael's Hospital

This is the large white building at the corner of 12th Street and 7th Avenue South. It was built in 1911 and operated for a few years as the Wimpole Hospital. Dorothea Pinhorn, a trained nurse, opened the private maternity hospital but in 1912 and 1913 a Miss Swain was reported as the superintendent. In 1914, Marie Elizabeth Van Haarlem took over operation of the building and would run it for the next 14 years as the Van Haarlem Private Hospital. Originally, a maternity hospital, the Van Haarlem's would add another wing to accommodate more beds and a surgery. Another wing was added during the Influenza Epidemic of 1918-19 bringing the hospital to 27 beds. In the 1920s a laboratory and x-ray room (among other spaces) were added. In 1929, the Van Haarlems sold the hospital to the Sisters of St. Martha was renamed it St. Michael's Hospital. The nuns operated out of this building until a new building was built on 9 Avenue South. The 7th Avenue building was converted into a nurses' dormitory and served that purpose until 1967 when it was converted into a boarding house.

The W.D.L. Hardie Residence

The W.D.L. Hardie Residence is on 5th Street South and is a 2 1/2 storey brick house built just prior to the First World War. William Duncan Livingstone Hardie, after whom Hardieville was named, became the mine manager here in Lethbridge following the resignation of William Stafford. He served as mine manager from 1894 to 1910.

Hardie was also active in politics and was mayor from 1912 to 1928. It was through his efforts that Lethbridge became the 1st municipality in Canada to adopt the commission form of government. Under Hardie's mayorship, women and renters both were given the right to vote in Lethbridge elections. Those who truly want to understand Hardie and his leadership need to read the records of his debates with opponents as captured in the Lethbridge Herald. It was Hardie in 1918 who threatened to censor the local press about what they were reporting on city business. It would also be fair to say that Hardie's views and opinions were important for my research into the Red Light District in Lethbridge.

The house is as eclectic as its original owner with a Foursquare style plan with neo-classical and Arts & Crafts design elements in the decorative details.

I could keep going on. But, alas, space won't allow it. You can find out much more about London Road from the neighbourhood association web-site. Remember to vote. And take some time to explore this neighbourhood if you haven't already.