19652008000 | William Lethbridge, 1825-1901

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William Lethbridge, 1825-1901
1890, 19th century
Silver salts on paper
12.7 x 17.8 cm
This artefact belongs to : © Sir Alexander Galt Museum and Archives
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Keys to History

As High Commissioner to London, a Father of Confederation and a politician with strong links to the federal government, Sir Alexander Galt (1817-1893) was in the perfect position to take advantage of the information he had acquired about the rich coal resources of the southwestern prairies. He knew of the recent decision of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to change the route of its transcontinental line through the southern plains, and he moved among the wealthy elite of English society. Galt now began to plan for a coal-mining enterprise that would serve both the needs of the CPR and of the settlers that the railway would bring to the Canadian west. English and Canadian investors were recruited for the North Western Coal & Navigation Company (NWC&NCo.), formally established on 7 September 1882. William Lethbridge, a lawyer and partner in the firm W.H. Smith booksellers, was the first president of the company. Although he never came to Canada, Lethbridge left a legacy in southern Alberta through the city that bears his name.

  • What

    This undated photograph is of William Lethbridge, after whom the city of Lethbridge, Alberta, is named.

  • Where

    Other shareholders in the NWC&NCo. had streets in Lethbridge named after them when the community moved from the river valley onto the prairies in 1885. Their names were replaced by numbers in 1912.

  • When

    Altogether, seventy-one people bought 14,450 ordinary shares in the Galt companies in offerings conducted on September 7,1882 and February 16,1891.

  • Who

    William Lethbridge was not the only high-profile investor in the NWC&NCo. Angela Burdett-Coutts was one of the wealthiest women in England when Alexander Galt secured her investment. The amount she contributed warranted the naming of two southern Alberta towns - Burdett and Coutts - after her.