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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

- Page 29

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - July 25, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta 12 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Tuetday, July 25, 1971- Magrath', often referred to aa the Garden City, is the birth- place of stabilized irrigation farming in the Canadian west. It owes its existence to the big ditch and in return, irriga- ton in southern Alberta is the multi-million dollar region that it is, because of Magrath. It was the Mormons of Utah who brought with them tha knowledge of successful irriga- tion farming at the turn of tho century. It was through their efforts that the first irrigation works were constructed and it was under their guidance that the first waters were applied to parched lands. Men like C. A. Magrath, Charles Ora Card, J. J. Head and Clifford Sifton arc names closely connected with the his- tory and development of south- ern Alberta. And, their names are also closely attached to tho development of irrigation in the south. The town of Cardston in the southwest was named after the Mormon leader Charles Ora Card; the town of Magrath and Lethbridge's Mayor Magrath Drive were both named after C. A. Magrnth. Captain John Palliscr, Brit- ish land surveyor, in his ori- ginal trek through the Canad- ian west, cast southern Alberta aside as being of little or no value. But, men like Magrath, Card and others evaluated the soil first and said it was fertile. They understood irrigation and they visualized the advantages irrigation could bring. The Mormons were recogniz- ed as master irrigators and their accomplishment were many on the arid plains the western U.S. The Alherta Railway and Ir- rigation Company was well es- tablished at 'Lclhbridge. The company hal extensive land holdings in the south country and it was encouraging IHW settlers to establish on the new lands. The promoters tlisciiFscd the possibilities of irrigation the AK and I. Wilh backing from the railway. was started on the original AH and I Company works. Source of v.nler was a diversion weir on the St. Mary River near the Alberta Montana border. Card plowed the first furrow along the Mormon section of the new canal in September of 1898, and in the same month he selected the site for a new townsite near the banks of Pot Hole Coulee. The following spring Utah settlers flocked to the new town and the new irrigated lands. They came across land in cov- ered wagons and many brought their cattle and horses with them. Construction on extending the big ditcli came immediately. Plans called for a dam to divert the water from the St. Mary River near Kimball, with Hie msin tlictribution headgntes to be at Magrath. By early November of 1C99 there 00 milos of new canals built. Nov. 14 of the same venr, Clifford Sifton, min- ister of the interior for the fed- eral government, accompanied a cavalcade lo Magralh and of- ficiated r.t the opening cere- mony of the new irrigation works. First turned into the new c.-iiial in the fall of 1900. The new Irrigation lands developed snd prospered- A s the countryside grew, the town of Magrath followed suit. Sugar beets, vegetable crops, a vast livestock industry and forage crop production stand today as testimony to those who understood irrigation and pro- moted Magralh in the early days. Paved highways to accommo- date increasing traffic flows; extension of electrical power lines and natural gas systems have brought modern conveni- ences within the reach of not only townspeople, but also many rural residents. As part of the St. Mary's River school division, Magrath has a continuing expansion program for its educational fa- cilities. New classrooms, mod- ern home ecomomics and shop facilities, spacious libraries and large gymnasiums have made Magrath schools among t h o finest in the province. Current population of Ma- grath stands at In one of its better construction years. the town approved worth of building permits dur- ing the past year. Most of this was for new home construc- tion. The town's two parks are under a continuing development program and are now among the finest in the south. Ma- grath's golf course has also proven to be an attraction for all southern Alberta. Its nearness to Lethbridge has made Magrath an ideal place to live and there are scores of daily commuters be- tween the two centres. Magrath holds a special at- traction for hunters from near and far. During the fall there is an abundance of pheasants, partridge, grouse, ducks and geese throughout the district. And there are antelope and deer in the countryside. To keep abreast of other southern Alberta centres, Ma- grath this year is spending on improved sewage la- goon facilities. Plans call for new rodeo and fair grounds, something that the town feels it must hang onto. It was the early day country fairs that earned Magrath the n a m o "Garden City." ay, Magrath ;