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Lethbridge ( ) is a city in the province of Albertamarker, Canada, and the largest city in southern Alberta. It is Alberta's fourth-largest city by population after Calgarymarker, Edmontonmarker and Red Deermarker, and the third-largest by area after Calgary and Edmonton. The nearby Canadian Rockies contribute to the city's cool summers, mild winters, and windy climate. Lethbridge lies southeast of Calgary on the Oldman River.

Lethbridge is the commercial, financial, transportation and industrial centre of southern Alberta. The city's economy developed from drift mining for coal in the late 19th century and agriculture in the early 20th century. Half of the workforce is employed in the health, education, retail and hospitality sectors, and the top five employers are government-based. The only university in Alberta south of Calgary is in Lethbridge, and two of the three colleges in southern Alberta have campuses in the city. Cultural venues in the city include performing art theatres, museums and sports centres.

History

Round Street in 1911
Before the 19th century, the Lethbridge area was populated by several First Nations at various times. The Blackfoot referred to the area as Aksaysim ("steep banks"), Mek-kio-towaghs ("painted rock"), Assini-etomochi ("where we slaughtered the Cree") and Sik-ooh-kotok ("coal"). The Sarcee referred to it as Chadish-kashi ("black/rocks"), the Cree as Kuskusukisay-guni ("black/rocks"), and the Nakoda (Stoney) as Ipubin-saba-akabin ("digging coal").

After the US Army stopped alcohol trading with the Blackfeet Nation in Montanamarker in 1869, traders John J. Healy and Alfred B. Hamilton started a whiskey trading post at Fort Hamilton, near the future site of Lethbridge. The post's nickname became Fort Whoop-Up. The whiskey trade led to the Cypress Hills massacre of many native Assiniboine in 1873. The North-West Mounted Policemarker, sent to stop the trade and establish order, arrived at Fort Whoop-Up on 9 October 1874. They managed the post for the next 12 years.

Lethbridge's economy developed from drift mines opened by Nicholas Sheran in 1874 and the North Western Coal and Navigation Company in 1882. North Western's president was William Lethbridge, from whom the city derives its name. By the turn of the century, the mines employed about 150 men and producing 300 tonnes of coal each day. In 1896, local collieries were the largest coal producers in the Northwest Territoriesmarker, with production peaking during World War I. After the war, increasing oil and natural gas production gradually replaced coal production, and the last mine in Lethbridge closed in 1957.

The first rail line in Lethbridge was opened on 28 August 1885 by the Alberta Railway and Coal Company, which bought the North Western Coal and Navigation Company five years later. The rail industry's dependence on coal and the Canadian Pacific Railway's efforts to settle southern Alberta with immigrants boosted Lethbridge's economy. After the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) moved the divisional point of its Crowsnest Line from Fort Macleod to Lethbridge in 1905, the city became the regional centre for Southern Alberta. In the mid-1980s, the CPR moved its rail yards in downtown Lethbridge to nearby Kipp, and Lethbridge ceased being a rail hub.

Between 1907 and 1913, a development boom occurred in Lethbridge, making it the main marketing, distribution and service centre in southern Alberta. Such municipal projects as a water treatment plant, a power plant, a streetcar system, and exhibition buildings — as well as a construction boom and rising real estate prices — transformed the mining town into a significant city. Between World War I and World War II, however, the city experienced an economic slump. Development slowed, drought drove farmers from their farms, and coal mining rapidly declined from its peak. After World War II, irrigation of farmland near Lethbridge led to growth in the city's population and economy. Lethbridge Collegemarker (previously Lethbridge Community College) opened in April 1957 and the University of Lethbridgemarker in 1967.

Government

Lethbridge City Hall
Eight aldermen and a mayor make up the Lethbridge City Council. City voters elect a new government every three years, in October. Lethbridge does not have a ward system, so voters choose all eight aldermen. The City of Lethbridge has an operating budget of C$200 million, more than half of which comes from property tax. One Member of Parliament (MP) representing Lethbridge sits in the House of Commons in Ottawamarker, and two members of Alberta's legislative assembly (MLAs), representing Lethbridge East (Liberal) and Lethbridge West (PC), sit in the legislative assembly in Edmonton.

Traditionally, political leanings in Lethbridge have been right-wing. Federally, from 1917 to 1930, Lethbridge voters switched between various federal parties, but from 1935 to 1957, they voted Social Credit in each election. Progressive Conservatives held office from 1958 until 1993, when the Reform Party of Canada was formed. The Reform party and its various subsequent incarnations have dominated the polls since.

The Alberta government through Alberta Health Services administers public health services. Chinook Health oversees facilities in southwestern Alberta, such as the Chinook Regional Hospitalmarker and St. Michael's Health Centremarker.

Geography and climate

Map of southern Alberta


The city of Lethbridge is located at 49.7° north latitude and 112.833° west longitude and covers an area of . The city is divided by the Oldman River; its valley has been turned into one of the largest urban park systems in North America at of protected land. The city is Alberta's fourth largest by population after Calgarymarker, Edmontonmarker, and Red Deermarker. It is the third largest in area after Calgary and Edmonton and is near the Canadian Rockies, 210 kilometres (130 miles) southeast of Calgary.

Map of Lethbridge


Lethbridge is split into three geographical areas: north, south and west. The Oldman River separates West Lethbridge from the other two while the Crowsnest Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway rail line separate North and South Lethbridge. The newest of the three areas, West Lethbridge (pop. 29,673) is home to the University of Lethbridgemarker. Much of the city's recent growth has been on the west side, and it has the youngest median age of the three. The north side (pop. 24,514) was originally populated by workers from local coal mines. It has the oldest population of the three areas, is home to multiple industrial parks and includes the former town of Hardieville, which was annexed by Lethbridge in 1978. South Lethbridge (pop. 29,773) is the commercial heart of the city. It contains the downtown core, the bulk of retail and hospitality establishments, and the Lethbridge Collegemarker.

Climate

Lethbridge has a moderate continental climate with an average maximum temperature of and an average minimum temperature of . With an average precipitation of and 264 dry days on average, Lethbridge is the second driest city in Canada. On average, Lethbridge has 116 days with wind speed of or higher, ranking it as the second city in Canada for such weather.

Its high elevation of and close proximity to the Rocky Mountains provides Lethbridge with cooler summers than other locations in the Canadian prairies. These factors protect the city from strong northwest and southwest winds and contribute to frequent chinook winds during the winter. Lethbridge winters have the highest temperatures in the prairies, reducing the severity and duration of winter cold periods and resulting in fewer days with snow cover.

Economy

Lethbridge is southern Alberta's commercial, distribution, financial and industrial centre (although Medicine Hatmarker plays a similar role in southeastern Alberta). It has a trading area population of 275,000, including parts of British Columbiamarker and Montanamarker, and provides jobs for up to 80,000 people who commute to the city from a radius of 100 kilometres (60 mi).

Lethbridge's economy has traditionally been agriculture-based; however, it has diversified in recent years. Half of the workforce is employed in the health, education, retail and hospitality sectors, and the top five employers are government-based. Several national companies are based in Lethbridge. From its founding in 1935, Canadian Freightways based its head office there until moving operations to Calgary in 1948, though its call centre remains in Lethbridge. Taco Time Canada was based in the city from 1978–1995 before moving to Calgary. Minute Muffler, which began in 1969, is based in Lethbridge. International shipping company H & R Transport has been based in the city since 1955. Braman Furniture, which has locations in Manitobamarker and Ontariomarker, was headquartered in Lethbridge from 1991–2008.

Lethbridge serves as a hub for commercial activity in the region by providing services and amenities. Many transportation services, including Greyhound buses, four provincial highways, rail service and an airportmarker, are concentrated in or near the city. In 2004, the police services of Lethbridge and Coaldalemarker combined to form the Lethbridge Regional Police Service. Lethbridge provides municipal water to Coaldale, Coalhurstmarker, Diamond City, Iron Springs, Monarchmarker, Shaughnessy and Turinmarker.

In 2002, the municipal government organized Economic Development Lethbridge, a body responsible for promoting and developing the city's commercial interests. Two years later, the city joined in a partnership with 24 other local communities to create an economic development alliance called SouthGrow, representing a population of over 140,000. In 2006, Economic Development Lethbridge partnered with SouthGrow Regional Initiative and Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance to create the Southern Alberta Alternative Energy Partnership. This partnership promotes business related to alternative energy, including wind power, solar power and biofuel, in the region. Economic Development Lethbridge won first place at the Economic Developers Association of Canada 2007 Marketing Canada Awards for its "County of Lethbridge Business Investment Profile 2007–2008". In 2007, Site Selection magazine ranked Economic Development Lethbridge as fourth among Canadian economic development groups for volume of capital investment and job creation.

Demographics

The population of Lethbridge was 85,492 in 2009. In 2006, the federal census reported a population of 74,637 in the city and 95,196 in the metropolitan area. In 2006, Lethbridge had a predominantly white population; only one out of eight people were non-European, compared to one in ten in 2001. Of those, 40 percent were aboriginal, most of whom came from the nearby Peigan and Kainai nations. Of the remaining 60 percent, Japanese, Chinese and Latin American made up the largest portion at over 1,200, 920 and 705 respectively.

2001 distribution of religions in Lethbridge


The most commonly observed faith in Lethbridge is Christianity. According to the 2001 federal census, 50,245 residents, representing 76 percent of respondents, indicated they were Christian. Just over 22 percent of Lethbridgians reported no religious affiliation, which was higher than the national average of 16 percent. The number of residents reporting other religions, including Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Sikhs amounted to nearly 2 percent. For specific denominations, Statistics Canada reported 14,965 Roman Catholics who were well over 22 percent of the population, and 10,235 members of the United Church of Canada who were about 15 percent of the population. For Mormons, Statistics Canada counted 5,680 adherents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints within the Lethbridge Census Agglomeration Area. Less numerous denominations included 3,605 Anglican (more than 5 percent of the population), 3,025 Lutherans (more than 4 percent), and 2,155 Baptists (more than 3 percent).

According to the 2006 census, more than 85 percent of residents spoke English as a first language. More than 4 percent spoke German, well over 2 percent spoke Dutch and almost 1 percent each spoke French, Chinese, and Spanish as their first language. The next most commonly spoken languages were Hungarian, Polish, Ukrainian, Japanese, Italian, Persian, Blackfoot, and Tagalog.

Culture

Lethbridge was designated a Cultural Capital of Canada for the 2004–2005 season. The Southern Alberta Ethnic Association (Multicultural Heritage Centre) promotes multiculturalism and ethnic heritage in the community. The city is home to venues and organizations promoting the arts. Founded in 1957, the Allied Arts Council of Lethbridge is the largest organization in the city dedicated to preserving and enhancing the local arts. Lethbridge has a public library and three major museum/galleries. The Southern Alberta Art Gallery is a contemporary gallery; the Bowman Arts Centre, administered by the Allied Arts Council, operates three galleries; and the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery produces contemporary exhibitions including works from its extensive collection of Canadian, American and European art.

The Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra has been performing in the city since 1960. It has produced spin-off music groups, the Lethbridge Musical Theatre and the Southern Alberta Chamber Orchestra. Vox Musica is a community choir based at the University of Lethbridgemarker and has been performing since 1984. Theatrical productions are presented by the University of Lethbridge's theatre department and the New West Theatre, which produces seven shows annually. New West Theatre performs at the Genevieve E.marker Yates Memorial Centremarker using its two theatres: the 500-seat proscenium Yates Theatre and the 180-seat black box Sterndale Bennet Theatre.

Sports and recreation

Henderson Lake


Lethbridge has designated 16 percent of the land within city boundaries as parkland, including the 755 hectare (1,865 acre) Oldman River valley parks system. It has facilities for field sports and baseballmarker, a disc golf coursemarker, a skate park, a BMX track, a climbing wall, a dozen tennis courts, and seven pools. It is home to five golf courses, including the award-winning Paradise Canyon Golf Resort, and is within of several others.

Built for the 1975 Canada Games, the ENMAX Centremarker is Lethbridge's multipurpose arena. The 6,500-seat facility has hosted concerts, three-ring circuses, multicultural events, national curling championships, basketball events, banquets, skating events and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, a major Western Hockey League franchise. The arena has a running track, racquetball and squash courts, and a full-size ice rink. An outdoor sports field with capacity for 2,000  people is adjacent to the centre. In 1997, the Community Savings Placemarker (formerly the Lethbridge Soccer Centre) was built directly south of the ENMAX Centre and added two regulation size indoor soccer pitches to the complex.

Several winter sports venues are in or near Lethbridge. The city has six indoor ice arenas with a total ice area of 11,220 square metres (120,800 sq ft) and a total seating capacity of 8,149. Other than the ENMAX Centre, all ice surfaces are available from October to April only. Lethbridge is 150 kilometres (90 mi) east of the Castle Mountain ski resortmarker.

Current amateur teams
Team Sport League
Lethbridge Bulls Baseball Western Major Baseball League
Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Western Hockey League


Major attractions

High Level Bridge near downtown Lethbridge


The city, which began as a frontier town, has several historical attractions. The Lethbridge Viaductmarker, commonly known as the High Level Bridge, is a steel trestle bridge. It was completed in 1909 on what was then the city's western edge. Indian Battle Parkmarker, in the coulees of the Oldman River, commemorates the last battle between the Cree and the Blackfoot First Nations in 1870.
Fort Whoop-Up in Lethbridge
Originally known as Fort Hamilton, Fort Whoop-Up was a centre of illegal activities during the late 19th century. It was first built in 1869 by J.J. Healy and A.B. Hamilton as a whiskey post and was destroyed by fire a year later. A second, sturdier structure later replaced the fort.

As the cultural centre of southern Alberta, Lethbridge has notable cultural attractions. Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardenmarker in south Lethbridge was opened in 1967 as part of a Canadian centennial celebration attended by Japan’s Prince and Princess Takamatsu. Galt Museum & Archivesmarker is the largest museum in the Lethbridge area; the building housing the museum served as the city's main hospital during the late 19th century and early 20th centuries.

Skyline of downtown Lethbridge
Several structures such as the post office are prominent on the skyline of Lethbridge. Less well-known than the High Level Bridge, the post office is one of the most distinctive buildings in Lethbridge. Built in 1912, the four-storey structure is crowned by a functioning clock tower. Other prominent buildings include office towers; the water tower, which was originally built in 1958 and sold to a private developer who converted it into a restaurant; and the Alberta Terminals grain elevators.

Education

The Lethbridge Public School District and the separate Holy Spirit Roman Catholic School Division administer grades kindergarten through 12 locally. The Palliser School Division, which is based in Lethbridge, administers public primary and secondary education in the outlying areas.

Lethbridge is home to Lethbridge Collegemarker, founded in 1957, and the University of Lethbridgemarker, founded in 1967. Red Crow Community College has a campus in the city. During the 2003–2004 school year, the University of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge College had a combined enrolment of 14,000, which was 20 percent of the city's population.

Media

Lethbridge has three major newspapers: the daily Lethbridge Herald and the weekly Lethbridge Sun Times and Lethbridge Journal. The university and college each have a student-run, weekly newspaper. There are 11 FM radio stations and 6 broadcast television channels.

Transportation

The downtown Lethbridge transit terminal
transit in Lethbridge consists of 40 buses (with an average age of 10 years) operating on more than a dozen routes. Traditionally, bus routes in the city started and ended downtown. In the early 21st century, however, Lethbridge Transit introduced cross-town and shuttle routes, such as University of Lethbridgemarker to Lethbridge College, University of Lethbridge to the North Lethbridge terminal, and Lethbridge College to the North Lethbridge terminal. Several routes converge near the Chinook Regional Hospitalmarker, although it is not officially a terminal.

The Parks and Recreation department maintains the citywide, 30-kilometre (19 mi) pedestrian/cyclist Coal Banks Trail system ( map). The system was designed to connect the Oldman River valley with other areas of the city, including Pavan Park in the north, Henderson Lake in the east, Highways 4 and 5 in the south and a loop in West Lethbridge (including University Drive and McMaster Blvd).

Four provincial highways (3, 4, 5, and 25) run through or terminate in Lethbridge. This has led to the creation of major arterial roads, including Mayor Magrath Drive, University Drive and Scenic Drive. This infrastructure and its location on the CANAMEX Corridor has helped make Lethbridge and its freight depots a major shipping destination. Lethbridge is 100 kilometres (62 mi) north of the United States border via Highways 4 and 5 and 210 kilometres (130 mi) south of Calgarymarker via Highways 2 and 3. Highways 2, 3 and 4 form part of the CANAMEX trade route between Mexicomarker, the United States, and Canada.

Lethbridge is near the Lethbridge County Airportmarker and the CPR rail yards in Kipp, Alberta. The rail yards were moved to Kipp, just west of the city, from downtown Lethbridge in 1983 to make way for commercial expansion. The county airport provides commercial flights to Calgary and Edmonton, as well as private and charter flights elsewhere. The airport provides customs services for flights arriving from the United States.

See also



Notes

External links







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