Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - September 19, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta
12 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD Tuesday, Seplamber 1972 history It was the Mormon pioneers who, at the turn of the century, persevered through the initial trials and tribulations o[ lishing irrigation in southern Alberta. As a result, the Sugar City of the south, Raymond, was founded. There was failure after fail- ure in those early years, but the dogged determination of the pioneers eventually won out and Raymond emerged as one of the most thriving centres in I h e south. Industry .Raymond is the town where Ihc sugar beet industry became one of the most important agri- cultural factors in the province. It's the town that sugar beets became a major enterprise, Raymond also is the commu- nity where the sugar beet econ- omy can be studied lo deter- mine, among other things, its importance lo a district. Even today, with the phasing out of sugar beets in this par- ticular area of southern ta, Raymond still continues to flourish Canadian Sugar Fac- tories Ltd. has a plant which refines processed granulated sugar into icing sugar. This in- dustry provides year-round em- ployment for 25 townspeople. Specially While Raymond was founded in 1901 and was incorporated as a town by 1903, the Raymond ol today attributes its growth and prosperily to the raising of various speciality crops all made possible by thousands of acres of irrigated land, mech- anization and enterprising, look- lo-thc-future farm folks.. Almost as soon as the pion- eers arrived more than 70 years ago, the raw prairie land was transformed into a vast garden with llx> planting of thousands of trees. The native grass was k n c o high in those early days and cattle ranching was the agri- cultural mainstay. The church of the Latter Day Saints assumed Ihe responsibil- ity of completing the main irri- gation works from Kimball to Raymond for the old Alljcrta Railway and Irrigation Com- pany, with the canal pouring water, that most precious of commodities, on nearly acres of irrigated land yearly. As irrigation came into being, the sugar beet industry was horn and it was, over the years, the contributing factor to Ray- mond's growth, the establish- ment of business life, utilities and the launching of one of the south's most prominent commu- nities. Irrigation Actually it was Jesse Knight who came to a cattlemen's din- ner in 1901 to survey the Hay- moral district and ascertain Ihc agricultural possibilities of the area. Ho decided that, with irriga- tion, the land would provide a good livelihood for many fami- lies. That same year tlic settlers began arriving, many from Utah, and the town of Raymond was established. It was named after one of Jesse Knight's sons. More settlers arrived in 1902 and, in 1903, the district under- took its first attempt al grow- ing sugar Ixxjts. Originally, beels were sold and shipped to the United States with little or no market prevailing in Alterla, Some production was sold in Winnipeg at almost give away prices and it proved lo be a losing battle for Ihc farmers. They undertook the raising of wheat with the sugar fac- tory being dismantled. How- over, several years later, after those exceptionally hard times during the First World War, farmers looking for a crop that fitted into a rotation plan. Sugar beds Sugar heels entered the pic- ture again and when Ihc plant was assembled for a second time, Raymond encountered full-scale growing pains. At one time the sugar factory provided work for 150 full-time persons and part-time employ- ment for another 300. During the peak years farm- ers in tho Raymond district were busy growing half the sugar liects in Alberta as well as various varieties of grain. In fact, at one tima Raymond produced grain in excess of one milljon bushels. During Uio golden clays of UIB beet Industry, the district pro- duced becLs on more than acres. But, as the fer- tility of the land dropped, so did the irrigation acreage until today only a few thousand acres are grown. The sugar factory slopped processing raw beets a number of years ago and tho acreage under irrigation has dropped sharply. Still, Raymond and the area it serves continues lo thrive. Modern Raymond has made many Improvements over the years. Paved streets and modern homes. are plentiful with tho town boasting a score or more of service facilities of various kinds. Its business dislict is a credit to the town and the area it serves. The LDS Church serves also as a community service centre, and the (own has many service clubs and recreation centres. School and hospital facilities are excellent Recreation has always played a vital role in Ihc cultural life of Raymond, often called the basketball capital of the soulli. ILs high school Leams and the piled records that are Ihc envy of all basketball minded cities and towns in Alljcrta. Raymond's population is making it the largest centre in Iho County Warner, and its yearly construction figures re- veal ils steady growth. important link In the network of towns lhat have played a key role in mak- ing southern Alberta what It a today.