19740030031 | Downtown Lethbridge looking northwest from the 9th Street standpipe, AB, 1911

Downtown Lethbridge looking northwest from the 9th Street standpipe, AB, 1911
1911, 20th century
Silver salts on paper
11 x 15.2 cm
This artefact belongs to : © Sir Alexander Galt Museum and Archives
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Keys to History

In Lethbridge, the coming of the railway had a profound impact that went well beyond business. The rail yards split the town into north and south sides, and created complex social, economic and political divisions. The south side of Lethbridge became home to "white collar" citizens: shop owners, clerical workers, lawyers, doctors and other professional people. Settling here from eastern Canada and the United States, most south-siders came from families already established in North America. English was their first language. They had money to build and invest, and were ready to assume leadership roles in the community. They worked in the downtown core, also situated on the south side of the railway tracks. North-siders, on the other hand, were generally "blue collar" citizens: coal miners, railway workers, tradesmen and general labourers, with a sprinkling of small-business owners. Most of them were new to Canada from other countries, did not speak English as their first language and arrived without a lot of money in their pockets.

  • What

    This photograph, taken by Arthur Rafton-Canning in 1911, shows downtown Lethbridge looking northwest from the 9th Street standpipe. Knox Presbyterian Church, the Court House and the Chinook Club can be seen.

  • Where

    The homes that appear in the foreground were gone in a few years, replaced by commercial buildings.

  • When

    Between 1907 and 1913, Lethbridge experienced its first economic boom. Most of the commercial buildings visible in this photograph were built in those years.

  • Who

    Arthur Rafton-Canning captured every aspect of the growth of southern Alberta in those years. He often returned to the same locations over a period of years to document changes.