Spotlight on Authors

Five Questions with the authors of Lethbridge: A History in Pictures.

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Five Questions with the authors of Lethbridge: A History in Pictures.

 

Belinda Crowson

1. How did you get interested in the history of southern Alberta?

I can't remember a time when I wasn't interested in local history. We always had local history books at home and we discussed and debated local history as a family. I was just delighted as an adult to find the Lethbridge Historical Society where I can get together with like-minded people and continue the conversations around this topic.

2. How has Lethbridge been shaped by its history?

When I fully and completely understand this question, that will be the time to stop my researching and writing into local history. That's one of the reasons I do what I do — trying to understand the why and how behind the Lethbridge and southern Alberta of today.

3. Did you learn anything when you researched this book that you didn't know about Lethbridge before you started?

While I didn't learn any new facts while working on the book, my greatest learning came from the collaboration with the different writers. The various perspectives the four of us brought to the table made for in-depth and fascinating discussions about what had to be included in the timeline, what themes had to be covered, and what pictures needed to be shared.

4. What is your favourite photo in the book and why?

So very difficult to pick just one, but I would say the 1947 photograph of the students marching down 13 Street North as part of the protests against rising chocolate bar prices. Children and kids' stories often don't make it into history books but if we look deeper, there are amazing stories, such as this one of children getting organized and fighting against what they considered an unjust change. A great story and a compelling photograph with which to tell the story.

5. What are some of the things that the Lethbridge Historical Society does besides managing a popular Facebook group?

Just as the history of this area is wide and complex, so are the activities of the Lethbridge Historical Society. The Facebook page, while well-known, is just a part of the work of the Society, including:

** published over 50 books on local history over 50 years (and the list continues)

** publishes a bi-monthly newsletter for our members

** offers programs to members and the public including tours, presentations and lectures

** advocates for local history. Members of the Society sit on several committees to provide heritage knowledge and to ensure historical concerns are part of decision-making

** supports local residents and businesses with historical research. Partnered with several organizations to provide research and knowledge for their projects

** developed a historical plaque program that tells the stories of buildings, sites and events. While many of our plaques are in Lethbridge, the LHS has plaques from the Livingstone Gap to Bow Island

** as a chapter of the Historical Society of Alberta, we work with other chapters and like-minded societies across the province to promote history provincially

While the above is part of the work of the LHS as a Society, individual members are continually researching, documenting and writing about local history and leading a variety of projects.

 

Bobbie Fox

1. How did you get interested in the history of southern Alberta?

I have always been interested in the history of any kind but it wasn't until I moved back to Lethbridge after living in Victoria, BC, that I was able to truly appreciate southern Alberta's history.

2. How has Lethbridge been shaped by its history?

Lethbridge has become home to so many different cultures. These ethnic influences have made Lethbridge the city it is today.

3. Did you learn anything when you researched this book that you didn't know about Lethbridge before you started?

I learned that Lethbridge's first electric company in 1893 was privately owned.

4. What is your favourite photo in the book and why?

Don't have one.

5. What are some of the things that the Lethbridge Historical Society does besides managing a popular Facebook group?

We publish history books, have a historic plaque program for heritage properties, provide historical tours of downtown and different Lethbridge neighbourhoods.

 

Lorien Johansen

1. How did you get interested in the history of southern Alberta?

Quite by accident. I was invited to join the LHS by my close friend and co-author Bobbie Fox. I thought I would try it out for a year, and somehow, suddenly, it's four years later. I've always had a love for history, and the more I've learned about the local history, the more fascinating I find it.

2. How has Lethbridge been shaped by its history?

Every city is shaped by its history, and in Lethbridge today there is still a very deeply ingrained connection to the land, and the working of it. It's been coal mining, and brewing, and agriculture, and at its core, Lethbridge is still those things. Perhaps the processes have been refined and streamlined, and there's an arts and culture gloss on it, but this city will always be some version of what it started out as.

3. Did you learn anything when you researched this book that you didn't know about Lethbridge before you started?

I learned many things, and the one that immediately pops to mind is the steamboat that travelled the river between Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. I had no idea it ever existed.

4. What is your favourite photo in the book and why?

It's hard to choose, but my favourite in this book is the image of the J.D. Higinbotham building, before the installation of the clock. This building is one of the three most iconic images that represent Lethbridge, and the fact that I can go right up into that same clock tower today lends such dignity and longevity to the building.

5. What are some of the things that the Lethbridge Historical Society does besides managing a popular Facebook group?

We host fun and informative walking tours, and monthly meetings with guest speakers on a wide variety of topics; we work on other committees and councils to preserve and promote our historic sites; we publish books and papers; we are always researching something or another, whether that's for our own projects or for members of the public as requests. Above and beyond all of these things, we are individuals, with jobs and lives and families, and we are residents of Lethbridge.

 

George Kuhl

1. How did you get interested in the history of southern Alberta?

My family has history in southern Alberta going back to 1909 when my father's parents immigrated to southern Alberta from the United States. My father, my family, and I were all born and raised in southern Alberta. The Kuhl family is one of many families profiled in "Under Eight Flags," a history of Milk River and District. My great-grandfather, on my mother's side, was a barber who immigrated from Ireland and owned a barbershop in Waterton in the 1920s – 1930s. These deep family roots have been a contributing factor in learning more about Southern Alberta.

In addition, I was a Registered Professional Planner and provided community development advice to the City of Lethbridge as well as several southern Alberta municipalities for over 40 years. Helping these municipalities manage growth and change required me to learn a lot about local history and has given me a unique perspective from which to observe many milestone events.

2. How has Lethbridge been shaped by its history?

Lethbridge has been shaped to a great extent by its geographical location and the development and use of the natural resources both in the City and its surrounding region. It has also been shaped by its people, including the Indigenous Blackfoot who have inhabited the area for over 10,000 years. Lethbridge has seen waves of immigrants who, in the early days, came here for opportunities in mining, the railroad and agricultural but also with the expectation of making better lives for their families. In more recent times, advanced education and technology, available through the Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge, have been tremendous influencers to the city.

3. Did you learn anything when you researched this book that you didn't know about Lethbridge before you started?

I was surprised at the roles and extent that aeronautics both domestic and military, has had and continue to have on the City.

4. What is your favourite photo in the book and why?

My favourite photo in the book is of the steam boat on the Oldman River, when it was actually possible to sail from Lethbridge to Medicine Hat.

5. What are some of the things that the Lethbridge Historical Society does besides managing a popular Facebook group?

The LHS is active in: promoting the writing of the "stories" of Lethbridge and southern Alberta; leading historic community tours; participating in community events through book sale kiosks; providing advice and leadership in City of Lethbridge Committees such as the Heart of Our City (downtown revitalization) and the Historic Places Advisory Committee; providing information to community members who are interested in local history; and actively participating in the Historical Society of Alberta.

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