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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - July 24, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta 2 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Tuesday, July 24, 1973 Gait Museum unearths history for a new bridge city generation From minute knick-knacks three-quarters of a century old to bulky steel wood-and- coal burning stoves that's what's in the city's Sir Alex- ander Gait Museum. The museum is named af- ter Sir Alexander Tilloch Gait, 1817-1893, one of Canada's Fathers of Confederation and developer of the coal mining industry in this area. The building at the west end of 5th Avenue S. occupied by the museum is in itself a direct link with the city's past. Hospital It was built in 1891 by Sir Alexander as a hospital for the miners of the area. At toe time the hospital was quite a distance from the town. Over the years the hospital was expanded and renovated. Its use as an active treat- ment hospital ended on com- pletion of the Lethbridge Mu- nicipal Hospital. The city health unit now oc- cupies the main floor of the building and the museum the upper Boors. The museum was renamed flie Sir Alexander Gait Mu- in 1906, the year it nwved from its ti play area in (toe Bowman Arts Centre to its present 45- room location. Finding the entrance ot the museum may be a little dis- concerting for the first-timer because it is in the rear of thee old hospital. There's lots of parking at the rear for visitors. The booming coal mining industry of the fledgling Leth- bridge is depicted for the visitor by a painting half-way up the stairs and by a dis- play of oM equipment at the top of the stairs. The museum is based on Southern Alberta human his- tory rather than natural his- tory, explains curator Jack Elliott. He and his staff now are in the process of reeataloguing ands if items in the museum and remarking the thous- and rearranging their display. He has weeded out a lot of duplicate items from display and put them into storage in the basement. The staff is also actively engaged in cataloguing and preserving the photographic and manuscript archives. The museum has one of the finest photo collections in Western Canada, says Mr. EffiotL Somewhere between and photos are to be catalogued and 'preserved in individual plastic envel- opes. "There is a heH of a lack of Alberta history in Alberta said Mr. Elliott. He feels the museum can fill the gap by developing a good ex- tension service to the schools. "The museum has a social commitment to make people aware of their own be said. Slide presentations, museum tours, the archives and eventually a portable kit Story by JIM MAYBIE will help the museum meet its commitment. Probably the most modern item on display is a collec- tion of ink and crayon draw- ings depicting the early West. The artist, E. F. HageB, was born in Lethbridge in MB. He died in M64. The city commissioned him to do 90 sketches in I960. Somehow the city wound op with 70. The museum has 66 of which 60 are on display. The sketches are bung both walls of a corridor on the second floor and are arrang- ed in such a way that the sub- ject matter and time period generally ties in with other museum exhibits in adjacent rooms. The collection starts with the West before the White Man showing an abundance of wfldfife. It moves into Indian life and depicts the influence of white man on the country and the Indian way of life. There's a pictoral history of the buffalo giving way to the Texas longhorn and cattle de- velopment generally. One picture shows Leth- bridge in 1870 with a coyote den near where the CPR roundhouse is. There's an early Lethbridge farmhouse, the runaway bivwuy horses taking out four telephone poles at 4th Avenue and 6th Street and other local events. Other displays have items to suit everyone's interest. There are period costumes on mannequins and in glass cases through the museum. room remains as an early hospital room with an- cient equipment and obsolete appliances and tools of the profession. A general store has an Unas of miscellaneous items, long-forgotten canned items, drtbinf, doBs and brnvdwld items one would expect to find in a general store. Drill JThe dentist's office recalls memories of the late Brig.- Gen. J. S. Stewart, pioneer Lethbridge dentist. A rickety dentist chair and foot-power- ed drill makes one thankful for progress. One colorful room psys tri- bute to the Ukrainian pioneers of the area. There are several guns and rifles on display from early days to wartime. On the third floor there are a dining room, kitchen, parlor, bedroom and den furnished with turn of the century items. There's a 1905 barbershop with some of the Westbrook brothers early equinment. There's a room of 1900-1920 clocks and old pipes. The corridor contains pic- tures of old Lethbridge which recall such events as Sir Wil- frid Laurier's visit to Leth- bridge; the June 19, 19Z7, storm which had residents moving about town in boats; the bridge over Henderson Lake. Continved 13 ;