Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 16, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
28 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Tuesday, May 16, 1972----------- Taber--the irrigation capital Tf Talifr was inspirational to Its founders and I he early day settlors, it is ovon more1 :-o (o those who discover it today. Coal mining, which funned the economic backbone of Lhc during !ho years, now part nf Teller's history in n bygonp era. Lire- giving irrigation v.-alcrs now ci thousands of acres of rich, brown farmland in the1 dis- trict; the beet sugar industry is flourishing, along cannery crops and fresh produce: live- stock sales yards are establish- ing all time highs in prices and marketings; straight grain growing farmlands in the sur- rounding districts pro d u c o world championship calibre cer- eal crops. And, it was years ago the Taker district crushed the oh] wives' tale thai you can't raise oil where wheat is growing. Dozens ot oil wells now dot the prairie landscape in the Tabor fields, all amid some of the fin- est grain and specialized crop soil.s on the North American continent. Ttmk No. 77 Taber is Vieatcd ,10 miles of Lelhhridgc on Ihe Southern Transprovincial Highway and the oast west Crowsnest route of the Canadian Pacific Rail- way. It was old water Lank No. 11 built in lilflfi that was Tabor's lone landmark as the new cen- tury came into The Ca- nadian Pacific Hailuay was pushing westward from Medi- cine Hat lo T.elbbridge and No. 77. was creeled on the pres- ent site of Taber us a walenni! slop (o u e n c h the thirst ot those first iron horses. SeUIeinenl for Taber and dis- trict sliirled in 1903, when Ihe Hull brothers James. Tom and John by covered wagon from Burlcy, Idaho and Look ui) homesteads around tbn first landmark they could see. in the region old tank No. 77. which was actually CPK Mile 77 from Medicine Hat. The Hull brothers were Mor- mcns '.vho originated in Utah ami UiL'.v were soon in conlael with other relatives and friends in (.lie Church of Jesus Christ of I.alfer day Saints. Others fol- lowed from the east, but tho Mormons brought- with them the knowledge of working with irrigation. By 19] 0 all Lhe homestead land had been taken up, hut newcomers found they could buy out some of the earlier sct- llers by paying them 315 to an acre for dryland. Coal mines It was much earlier bow-ever, llic initial spotlight hit Taber. As the railway arrived and lapped the Oldman Hiver as its water supply, coal outcroppings were noticed along the river valley. By Taber was a booming coal town. Otic coal mine another was hurried into pro- duction until the district had nine mines in operation with a work force totalling nearly Vvith a population of 2.000 by 190.1, the community was in- corporated as a town. Discov- ery and development of other fields like those in the Drum- heller valley and Lclhbridyo slowed Taher's coal mining ac- tivities. There was some revi- val during the years of tho First World War. Tlif exodus of c n a 1 miners was accompanied by a series of crop failures1. Many of Ihe dry- land farmers had only quarter or half-section parcels, and ilia small acreages created serious problems for ninny of Ihe ad- The town's population slid to The J.200 maik before it levelled off. De-spite some of Die adver- sities that were described later only as of growing pains, the majority of the residents continued Lo hold firm to Lho belief dial Taber was Lhc town that liurn lich: a town that was born around a water lank. And, I lie optimism and en- :n cf (he; earlier rays holds equally as strong today in THher community with Ihe assured future.'' Irrigation While there are large grass and straight grain growing tracts of land surrounding the immediate district, a mainstay of Lhe agricultural front is a 000 acre plus irrigation green belt. It is backed by extensive live- stock production, a wide variety of cannery, row and specialized crops, along with the largest beet sugar acreage district in Canada Tiic Talier plant of Canadian Sugar Factories Ltd. produced JOIf miJJjm pounds of sugar in 1971 for the prairie market. Where a family of five couldn't make a living in some instances on ,'J20 acres in early days f.f dryland farming, 1.1 persons lo- day arc prospering on acres under the ditch. liy 1913, Taber and district residents could sec tangible proof of what irrigation was do- ing in southern Alberta for oth- er centres like Raymond, Ma- gralh and Coaldale. Tlic nf water for Ta- ber was on and by Hie Ta- ber Irrigation District a reality lint construction was hampered during the years of Ihe First. World War. II was July 2-1, Iflin when the first ditch was actually started nnd by Sepl ember of that year water was turned into the main canal. Toduy. Taber which co-ild qualify for city stains aL any lime, serves as Lhe religious, cultural, social and service cen- tre for the Taber Irrigation Dis- trict and a large tract of straight grain growing and ranchlnnd in Lhe surrounding countryside, It has every convenience ot a modern cily gas, JigM. pow- er, sewer, water, telephone, plus an abundance of fresh, un- polluted, air, land and water. The nearby oil fields, the first of which came into large scale production in 1937, are flourishing and many more hun- dreds of thousands of dollars arc expected Lo be poured into exploration works by some of the giants and the majors of the induslry. Recreation Modern Tabor's pride and joy is ils community centre and recreation complex. Fire de- stroyed the old structure Jan. 1, and within three days a score of committees were form- ed and organized for the rc- buifuing. Eagerness and enthusiasm for the new ccnlre ran high from the outset, but even Lhe fondest dreams oC all have been sur- passed wilh Ihe end result which will be a continuing pro- ject of improved nnr" better fa- cilities for some years lo come. For a community the size of Taber, the complex is rated as second to none in Canada and superior Lo many in centres where populations are consider- ably larger. Although the town has spent million on the now centre, it's doubtful it would be lor sale for more Mian twice that sum. There are unaccountable sums in community co-opera- tion, voluntary help and civic pride. The accomp I i s h m e n t has brought telegrams and well- wishes from people from all lev- els and importance, from 1'rimo Minister Tnideau and from Earle Dawson, director of Hoc- key Canada. It is a centre complete with hoekey, skating and cubing nililie.s, audit miums, c 1 u b- honses, meeting and dressing rooms, cookirg and catering fa- cilities suitable for sports at- tractions and social The centre anchors Taber'a Centennial Park, another rela- tively new projects which boasts one of the finest goli courses in the south. Much more Taber is well rounded with school complexes and compli- menlary recreational facilities; one of Ihe largest rural hospi- tals in the region and numer- ous other buildings and halls- which can meet the desires of sonic of the most demanding and specialized activities. An air strip at the north end of the town is next on tfie pro- gramming for Taber and dis- trict. This is expected to fill the needs of not only the resi- dents of the town and district, hut also those of visiting busi- ness and pleasure aircrnfls. Taber finds itself not only in the unique position of being well served by the Crowsnest Pass line of CI' Rail, but it is also (he crossing point of the south- ern transprovin c i a 1 highway cast and west, and Highway 36 now under construction, which is expected to be another paved lihbon of roadway stretching from the Montana border cross- ing point of CVMilts on UK somli lo the northern frontier of tho province through cast central Alberta. I'ast and present, Taber con- tinue? progressive.