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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - August 8, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta 12 THE IETHBRIDCE HERALD Tuesday, Augutl 8, 1912---------------------------------------- living in tlic (own of Picture Butte 15 miles north o! Lethbridge always try to pre- tend that theirs is just another connry town. In their modesty, they don't mention that the Butie is the heart of a irriga- tion belt the Lclhbridgs Northern Irrigation District. They don't mention that Iho town and its district supply a major portion of Western Can- cda's sugar needs. They don't mention that district farmers produce somo of the highest quality beef cattle found any- where in Canada. Nor do they mention that tho town and district contribute millions of dollars annually to the new wealth income of Can- ada's farm front. The growth pattern of Pic- ture Butte received its greatest Bcmloff during the mid-1930s. It was in the fall of 193C the first campaign was ran off for the beet sugar harvest. Tlie establishment of the sug- ar beet factory in was an Important milestone in the his- tory of the development of tho town and its district. Today beefs arc produced on thou- sands of acres of fertile, irri- gated land in the district. In addition, there are peas nnd other cannery crops and fresh vegetables. Seed crops are a specially with many oJ the fanners In the district. As late as the 1920s Picture Butte and district had a popu- laion of just 300 families, who were eking out a hare exis- tence. Settion after seclion of barren prairie land was traversed by old, w i n d ing trails. Treeless farmsteads were scattered miles apart. Water was a precious commod- ity, often hauled many miles (rom the Oldman River. Sparse crops Rattlesnakes sunned them- selves on brown hillsides and tho sparse crops struggled to survive without moisture. The plants often gave up the strug- gle as early as July and waved white-headed and seedless in the hot, dry, west winds. The major traasportation problem of tho Picture Butte district was solved when steel was laid northward from Dia- mond City to Turin. The new rail line became operational in August of 1925. Tho CPU had earlier pur- chased the railway facilities of the Diamond City Coal Co. Highways in the district have since taken a strong hold and have been improved on .several occasions. Great strides have licen made in the district, with school facilities, especially since 1037 when the town and district be- came a part of the much-larger County o[ Ixjlhbridge school di- vision. Every youngster has the privilege of going through hijfii school with tire best o! facili- ties. When the ribbons of slcel came through to Picture Hutle, the community had a post of- fice and general store. During the next 10 years it was able to obtain a few more store build- Ings, a blacksmith shop and some other service centres. They served the first set- tlers, and those who followed later. The early ones came in 1905 from Ontario and the mid- western sections of tho United States. Tlrey were followed by still more homesteaders from Ontario, the Dakotas, Minneso- ta and Missouri. Irrigation Much of Ihe credit for the es- tablishment of irrigation in Picture Butte and district goes to these early homesteaders. They realized that they could nnt count on Ihis fertile, but arid land to consistently pro- duce if they dirt not apply wa- ter to the land. lint, from the outset there were problems. Construction on an irrigation system was start- ed in 1321 after district farmers had given o v e r w h e 1 m i n g approval by a to eight vote. To finance Hie project deben- tures for a total of were issued. Ilccau.se of a washout at the headgatcs of Fort Mac- leod, water was not available until October, IBM and then only a small amount. Unlike ir- rigation projects in other parts of the south country where there was participation by se- nior levels of the entire capital cost of construc- tion of the talhbrldgc Northern attached to Uic farmers, with the total debt at a rate of per acre. There were many economic hardships; somo farmei-s lost their land, wlilc others couldn't even givo it away. Neio Act Several studied the situations before the lems were resolved. Tlic pro- vincial government was grave- -ly concerned. Lclhbrldgo Northern Act was rcwrillen, spreading payments out over a period of 50 years. tinder the new act, the sel- tier made no payments the first year. Capital cost repayments started only on the fourth year. remedial measures were given only lo resident owners or purchasers lo maximum of 320 acres. Despite this assistance, more trouble presented itself in 1927 when the firsl capital levy was made. More farmers lost their land. In 1930 Ihe North- ern Act was rewritten again, awl it was decided that choice land, including water rights, should Iw valued at per acre, with annual interest at six per cent. It was the establishment of Ihe sugar factory in 1930 lhat brought stability to tho irri- gated lands of tho Ixithbridgo Northern. 'ITlc selling of farm- lauds on Iho I.NIf) dropped off to almost nil and Ihe district and Ihe lown of Picture prospered. Land that was sell- ing went to per acre al- most over night. From what was once de- scribed as a white elephant in tho initial stages, grew and prospered to become one o{ the giant gardens of Canada. One of Hie healthiest live- stock areas in Canada, Picture, Butte today contributes mil- lions of dollars annually to tho economy of Canada, The licet sugar Industry is still the back- bone of tho region's economy. Agriculture In addilion there arc hun- dreds of acreci devoted annual- ly In forago seed and The bulk of this is in support of Ihe livestock industry. It is because of I h I s diversi- fied agricultural economy that the population of Picture Hullo has now surpassed Ihe mark. Agriculture orlenlco. Indus- tries have established, and huge volumes of ga.1 and oil arc' consumed in I he sowing and harvesting of cropped lands, The community was named after n butlo which rises high, over the townsite. It Is now of tho largest towns In south- ern Albora nnd is tho main service centre not only for it- self, but also for a of other communities in Uw vicin- ity. pis! Aug. 22 ;