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City of Lethbridge
Downtown Lethbridge as seen on 4 Avenue south facing west
Downtown Lethbridge as seen on 4 Avenue south facing west
Flag of Lethbridge
Coat of arms of Lethbridge
Coat of arms
Ad occasionis januam "Gateway to Opportunity"
Country Canada
Province Alberta
Region Southern Alberta
Census division 2
 • Town November 29, 1890
 • City May 9, 1906
 • Land 122.09 km2 (47.14 sq mi)
 • Urban
144.8 km2 (55.90 sq mi)
 • Metro
2,975.08 km2 (1,148.68 sq mi)
910 m (2,990 ft)
 • City 92,729
 • Density 759.5/km2 (1,967/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density 1,566.5/km2 (4,057/sq mi)
 • Metro
117,394 (34th)
 • Metro density 39.5/km2 (102/sq mi)
 • Municipal census (2016)
Time zone UTC−7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Postal code span
T1H to T1K
Area code(s) 403 587
Highways Hwy 3
Hwy 4
Hwy 5
Hwy 25
Waterways Oldman River

Lethbridge is a city in the province of Alberta, Canada, and the largest city in southern Alberta. It is Alberta's fourth-largest city by population after Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer, and the third-largest by land area after Calgary and Edmonton. The nearby Canadian Rockies contribute to the city's warm summers, mild winters, and windy climate. Lethbridge lies southeast of Calgary on the Oldman River.

Lethbridge is the commercial, financial, transportation and industrial centre of southern Alberta. The city's economy developed from drift mining for coal in the late 19th century and agriculture in the early 20th century. Half of the workforce is employed in the health, education, retail and hospitality sectors, and the top five employers are government-based. The only university in Alberta south of Calgary is in Lethbridge, and two of the three colleges in southern Alberta have campuses in the city. Cultural venues in the city include performing art theatres, museums and sports centres.


Part of Round Street, Lethbridge, AB
Round Street in 1911

Before the 19th century, the Lethbridge area was populated by several First Nations at various times. The Blackfoot referred to the area as Aksaysim ("steep banks"), Mek-kio-towaghs ("painted rock"), Assini-etomochi ("where we slaughtered the Cree") and Sik-ooh-kotok ("coal"). The Sarcee referred to it as Chadish-kashi ("black/rocks"), the Cree as Kuskusukisay-guni ("black/rocks"), and the Nakoda (Stoney) as Ipubin-saba-akabin ("digging coal"). The Kutenai people referred to it as ʔa•kwum.

After the US Army stopped alcohol trading with the Blackfeet Nation in Montana in 1869, traders John J. Healy and Alfred B. Hamilton started a whiskey trading post at Fort Hamilton, near the future site of Lethbridge. The post's nickname became Fort Whoop-Up. The whiskey trade led to the Cypress Hills Massacre of many native Assiniboine in 1873. The North-West Mounted Police, sent to stop the trade and establish order, arrived at Fort Whoop-Up on 9 October 1874. They managed the post for the next 12 years.

Leth old
Downtown Lethbridge 1911

Lethbridge's economy developed from drift mines opened by Nicholas Sheran in 1874 and the North Western Coal and Navigation Company in 1882. North Western's president was William Lethbridge, from whom the city derives its name. By the turn of the century, the mines employed about 150 men and producing 300 tonnes of coal each day. In 1896, local collieries were the largest coal producers in the Northwest Territories, with production peaking during World War I. An internment camp was set up at the Exhibition Building in Lethbridge from September 1914 to November 1916. After the war, increasing oil and natural gas production gradually replaced coal production, and the last mine in Lethbridge closed in 1957.

The first rail line in Lethbridge was opened on August 28, 1885 by the Alberta Railway and Coal Company, which bought the North Western Coal and Navigation Company five years later. The rail industry's dependence on coal and the Canadian Pacific Railway's efforts to settle southern Alberta with immigrants boosted Lethbridge's economy. After the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) moved the divisional point of its Crowsnest Line from Fort Macleod to Lethbridge in 1905, the city became the regional centre for Southern Alberta. In the mid-1980s, the CPR moved its rail yards in downtown Lethbridge to nearby Kipp, and Lethbridge ceased being a rail hub.

Between 1907 and 1913, a development boom occurred in Lethbridge, making it the main marketing, distribution and service centre in southern Alberta. Such municipal projects as a water treatment plant, a power plant, a streetcar system, and exhibition buildings — as well as a construction boom and rising real estate prices — transformed the mining town into a significant city. Between World War I and World War II, however, the city experienced an economic slump. Development slowed, drought drove farmers from their farms, and coal mining rapidly declined from its peak. After World War II, irrigation of farmland near Lethbridge led to growth in the city's population and economy. Lethbridge College (previously Lethbridge Community College) opened in April 1957 and the University of Lethbridge in 1967.


See also: List of neighbourhoods in Lethbridge
Lethbridge south alberta
Map of southern Alberta
Lethbridge map
Map of Lethbridge

The city of Lethbridge is located at 49.7° north latitude and 112.833° west longitude and covers an area of 127.19 square kilometres (49.11 sq mi). The city is divided by the Oldman River; its valley has been turned into one of the largest urban park systems in North America at 16 square kilometres (4,000 acres) of protected land. The city is Alberta's fourth largest by population after Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer. It is the third largest in area after Calgary and Edmonton and is near the Canadian Rockies, 210 kilometres (130 mi) southeast of Calgary.

Lethbridge is split into three geographical areas: north, south and west. The Oldman River separates West Lethbridge from the other two while Crowsnest Trail and the Canadian Pacific Railway rail line separate North and South Lethbridge. The newest of the three areas, West Lethbridge (pop. 36,716) is home to the University of Lethbridge, opened at that site in 1971, but the first housing was not completed until 1974 and the prime Whoop-Up Drive access opened only in 1975. Much of the city's recent growth has been on the west side, and it has the youngest median age of the three. The north side (pop. 26,751) was originally populated by workers from local coal mines. It has the oldest population of the three areas, is home to multiple industrial parks and includes the former Hamlet of Hardieville, which was annexed by Lethbridge in 1978. South Lethbridge (pop. 31,337) is the commercial heart of the city. It contains the downtown core, the bulk of retail and hospitality establishments, and the Lethbridge College.


Lethbridge has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk) with an average maximum temperature of 12.3 °C (54.1 °F) and an average minimum temperature of −1.1 °C (30.0 °F). With precipitation averaging 365 mm (14.4 in)–386.3 mm (15.2 in), and 264 dry days on average, Lethbridge is the eleventh driest city in Canada. Mean relative humidity hovers between 69–78% in the morning throughout the year, but afternoon mean relative humidity is more uneven, ranging from 38% in August to 58% in January. On average, Lethbridge has 116 days with wind speed of 40 km/h (24.9 mph) or higher, ranking it as the second city in Canada for such weather.

Its high elevation of 929 m (3,047.9 ft) and close proximity to the Rocky Mountains provides Lethbridge with cooler summers than other locations in the Canadian Prairies. These factors protect the city from strong northwest and southwest winds and contribute to frequent chinook winds during the winter. Lethbridge winters have the highest temperatures in the prairies, reducing the severity and duration of winter cold periods and resulting in fewer days with snow cover. The average daytime temperature peaks by the end of July/beginning of August, when it reaches 26.4 °C (79.5 °F). The city's temperature reaches a maximum high of 35 °C (95 °F) or greater on average once or twice a year.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Lethbridge was 40.0 °C (104 °F) on July 12, 1886. The lowest temperature ever recorded was −42.8 °C (−45 °F) on January 7, 1909, December 18, 1924, January 3, 1950, and December 29, 1968.

Climate data for Lethbridge Airport, 1981−2010 normals, extremes 1886−present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 20.0
Average high °C (°F) 0.1
Daily mean °C (°F) -6.0
Average low °C (°F) −12.1
Record low °C (°F) −42.8
Precipitation mm (inches) 13.5
Rainfall mm (inches) 0.2
Snowfall cm (inches) 15.4
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 8.0 7.1 9.6 8.7 11.6 11.6 9.2 8.0 8.9 6.8 7.7 7.9 105.0
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 0.30 0.19 1.6 5.8 10.9 11.6 9.2 8.0 8.7 4.9 1.6 0.73 63.3
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 7.8 7.1 8.7 4.2 1.4 0.0 0.0 0.11 0.58 2.9 6.7 7.5 46.9
Sunshine hours 110.2 147.0 186.1 233.4 277.0 290.3 322.1 297.5 228.5 189.7 119.1 106.5 2,507.3
Source: Environment Canada
Lethbridge skyline August 2009
Lethbridge seen from Halmrast Manor.


Federal census
population history
Year Pop. ±%
1901 2,072 —    
1906 2,313 +11.6%
1911 8,050 +248.0%
1916 9,436 +17.2%
1921 11,097 +17.6%
1926 10,735 −3.3%
1931 13,489 +25.7%
1936 13,523 +0.3%
1941 14,612 +8.1%
1946 16,522 +13.1%
1951 22,947 +38.9%
1956 29,462 +28.4%
1961 35,454 +20.3%
1966 37,186 +4.9%
1971 41,217 +10.8%
1976 46,752 +13.4%
1981 54,072 +15.7%
1986 58,841 +8.8%
1991 60,974 +3.6%
1996 63,053 +3.4%
2001 67,374 +6.9%
2006 74,637 +10.8%
2011 83,517 +11.9%
2016 92,729 +11.0%
Source: Statistics Canada

In the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the City of Lethbridge recorded a population of 92,729 living in 37,575 of its 39,867 total private dwellings, a change of 11% from its 2011 population of 83,517. With a land area of 122.09 km2 (47.14 sq mi), it had a population density of 759.5/km2 (1,967/sq mi) in 2016. The same census reported that the metropolitan area of Lethbridge was 117,394 in 2016, up from 105,999 in 2011.

The population of the City of Lethbridge according to its 2016 municipal census is 96,828, a change of 2.1% from its 2015 municipal census population of 94,804.

In the 2011 federal census, the City of Lethbridge had a population of 83,517 living in 34,140 of its 37,396 total dwellings, a change of 11.8% from its 2006 adjusted population of 74,685. With a land area of 122.36 km2 (47.24 sq mi), it had a population density of 682.6/km2 (1,768/sq mi) in 2011.

In 2006, Lethbridge had a predominantly white population; one out of eight people were non-European, compared to one in ten in 2001. Of those, 40 percent were aboriginal, most of whom came from the nearby Peigan and Kainai nations. Of the remaining 60 percent, Japanese, Chinese and Latin American made up the largest portion at over 1,200, 920 and 705 respectively.

The most commonly observed faith in Lethbridge is Christianity. According to the 2011 National Household Survey, 52,595 residents, representing 65 percent of respondents, indicated they were Christian, down from 76% in 2001. Over 32 percent of Lethbridgians reported no religious affiliation, a substantial increase from 22% in 2001. The number of residents reporting other religions, including Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Sikhs amounted to 3 percent. For specific denominations, Statistics Canada reported 16,945 Roman Catholics who were 21 percent of the population, and 7,335 members of the United Church of Canada who were about 9 percent of the population.

According to the 2011 census, more than 87 percent of residents spoke English as a first language. Nearly 2 percent spoke German; just over 1 percent each spoke Spanish, Dutch, or French; and almost 1 percent each spoke Chinese (unspecified), Tagalog, Polish, or Hungarian their first language. The next most commonly spoken languages were Japanese, Italian, Ukrainian, Nepali, Cantonese, Vietnamese.

Population by ethnic group, 2011
Ethnic group Population Percent
White 69,825 85.8%
First Nations 3,150 3.9%
Métis 1,585 1.9%
Japanese 1,575 1.9%
Chinese 1,125 1.4%
South Asian 920 1.1%
Black 850 1%
Filipino 745 0.9%
Latin American 680 0.8%
Southeast Asian 380 0.5%
Korean 185 0.2%
Other visible minority 180 0.2%
Arab 160 0.2%
Mixed visible minority 155 0.2%
West Asian 75 0.1%
Inuit 60 0.1%
Total respondent population 81,390 100%

Arts and culture

See also: Festivals in Lethbridge
Galt museum
Galt Hospital 1910, now the Galt Museum
Lethbridge skyline 2
Skyline of downtown Lethbridge

Lethbridge was designated a Cultural Capital of Canada for the 2004–2005 season. The Southern Alberta Ethnic Association (Multicultural Heritage Centre) promotes multiculturalism and ethnic heritage in the community.

The city is home to venues and organizations promoting the arts. Founded in 1958, the Allied Arts Council of Lethbridge is the largest organization in the city dedicated to preserving and enhancing the local arts. In the spring of 2007, the Allied Arts Council Facilities Steering Committee initiated the Arts Re:Building Together Campaign, a grass roots campaign initiative to raise awareness and support for improving arts facilities in Lethbridge. The campaign identified three arts buildings: the Yates Memorial Centre, the Bowman Arts Centre, and the Southern Alberta Art Gallery as cornerstone facilities in the community requiring care and attention. On July 14, 2007, the Finance Committee of City Council approved four arts capital projects for inclusion in the City’s Ten Year Capital Plan. Under the campaign to 2010, the renovation and expansion of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery was completed, a new Community Arts Centre will be built in downtown Lethbridge, the City of Lethbridge has a Public Art Program, and a committee was formed to research the possibility of a new Performing Arts Centre in Lethbridge.

Lethbridge has a public library and three major museum/galleries. The Southern Alberta Art Gallery is a contemporary gallery; the community arts centre Casa, administered by the Allied Arts Council; and the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery produces contemporary exhibitions including works from its extensive collection of Canadian, American and European art.

The Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra has been performing in the city since 1961. It has produced spin-off music groups, the Lethbridge Musical Theatre and the Southern Alberta Chamber Orchestra. Vox Musica, which traces its roots back to 1968, is a community choir based at the University of Lethbridge and has been performing since 1984. Theatrical productions are presented by the University of Lethbridge's theatre department and the New West Theatre, which produces seven shows annually. New West Theatre performs at the Genevieve E. Yates Memorial Centre using its two theatres: the 500-seat proscenium Yates Theatre and the 180-seat black box Sterndale Bennett Theatre.


Lethbridge Viaduct
High Level Bridge near downtown Lethbridge
Fort Whoop Up National Historic Site

The city, which began as a frontier town, has several historical attractions. The Lethbridge Viaduct, commonly known as the High Level Bridge, is the longest and highest steel trestle bridge in North America. It was completed in 1909 on what was then the city's western edge. Indian Battle Park, in the coulees of the Oldman River, commemorates the last battle between the Cree and the Blackfoot First Nations in 1870.

Originally known as Fort Hamilton, Fort Whoop-Up was a centre of illegal activities during the late 19th century. It was first built in 1869 by J.J. Healy and A.B. Hamilton as a whiskey post and was destroyed by fire a year later. A second, sturdier structure later replaced the fort.

As the cultural centre of southern Alberta, Lethbridge has notable cultural attractions. Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden in south Lethbridge was opened in 1967 as part of a Canadian centennial celebration attended by Japan’s Prince and Princess Takamatsu. Galt Museum & Archives is the largest museum in the Lethbridge area; the building housing the museum served as the city's main hospital during the late 19th century and early 20th centuries.

Several structures such as the post office are prominent on the skyline of Lethbridge. Less well-known than the High Level Bridge, the post office is one of the most distinctive buildings in Lethbridge. Built in 1912, the four-storey structure is crowned by a functioning clock tower. Other prominent buildings include office towers; the water tower, which was originally built in 1958 and sold to a private developer who converted it into a restaurant; and the Alberta Terminals grain elevators.

Sports and recreation

Henderson Lake
Henderson Lake

Lethbridge has designated 16 percent of the land within city boundaries as parkland, including the 755 hectares (1,870 acres) Oldman River valley parks system. It has facilities for field sports and baseball, a disc golf course, 2 skate parks, a BMX track, a climbing wall, a dozen tennis courts, and seven pools. It is home to five golf courses, including the award-winning Paradise Canyon Golf Resort, and is within 30 kilometres (19 mi) of several others.

Built for the 1975 Canada Games, the ENMAX Centre is Lethbridge's multipurpose arena. The 6,500-seat facility has hosted concerts, three-ring circuses, multicultural events, national curling championships, basketball events, banquets, skating events and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, a major Western Hockey League franchise. The arena has a running track, racquetball and squash courts, and a full-size ice rink. An outdoor sports field with capacity for 2,000  people is adjacent to the centre. In 1997, the 58,000-square-foot (5,400 m2) Community Savings Place (formerly the Lethbridge Soccer Centre) was built directly south of the ENMAX Centre and added two regulation size indoor soccer pitches to the complex.

Several winter sports venues are in or near Lethbridge. The city has six indoor ice arenas with a total ice area of 11,220 square metres (120,800 sq ft) and a total seating capacity of 8,149. Other than the ENMAX Centre, all ice surfaces are available from October to April only. Lethbridge is 150 kilometres (93 mi) east of the Castle Mountain ski resort.

Current amateur teams
Team Sport League
Lethbridge Bulls Baseball Western Major Baseball League
Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Western Hockey League

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