Updated: Jun 25, 2022
The City of Lethbridge holds the population of 100,000 which is fourth largest in Alberta. Even before the incorporation of the city on May 9, 1906, the area of Lethbridge had a rich and colourful past.
The area was a crossroads for many First Nation groups and was the site of battles between them. The most famous is the Battle of Belly between the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Cree tribes in the Oldman River Bottom across from the site of Fort Whoop-Up in October 1870. This Battle was the last fought between First Nation tribes in Canada.
Fort Whoop-Up was originally a fort for whiskey runners from America that were involved in the illicit alcohol trade in the area. When the North West Mounted Police (now the RCMP- also known as the Mounties) was formed in 1874 the target for their area of operations was Fort Whoop-Up. After driving out the whiskey traders, the Mounties realized that the fort in the river bottom was in a poor strategic area and decided to move headquarters to what is now Fort Macleod.
The most famous landmark of Lethbridge is the Lethbridge Viaduct, Commonly known as The High Level Bridge. Completed in 1909, it is the highest and longest trestle bridge in the world; spanning a full mile (1600 metres) at a height of 313 feet (95 metres). It is a major bridge along the Canadian Pacific Railway and continues to service dozens of trains a day.
Lethbridge was originally named "Coal Banks" and had several coal mines that operated in the vicinity. The first official coal mine was opened in 1882 after minor operations started in the 1870s were profitable. The final mine was closed in 1957 following the oil and natural gas boom in Northern Alberta.
Like many of the small towns in the area, Lethbridge has excellent High School athletic traditions that are represented in four high schools. The football team from the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute (LCI) has regularly challenged and won provincial championships. Rugby is also a major high school sport in Lethbridge.
The History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had a colourful narrative. Until quite recently, there was a bylaw on the books that stated that no members of the church could settle within twenty miles of Lethbridge- hence settlements like Raymond, Magrath, Stirling, and Welling being founded so close to the city. By 1909, the law was either forgotten or ignored and members of the church began to move into the city. The Lethbridge Stake was created in 1921. Eventually the Lethbridge East Stake was organized