Lethbridge is located on the Oldman River, which flows from the Rocky Mountains, though it owes its early growth to the 1872 discovery of coal in the area, which made it important to both railways and industry as a source of power. The community was first known as Coal Banks, by in 1882 was renamed for William Lethbridge, the first president of the North Western Coal and Navigation Company, and also a partner in the London-based booksellers WH Smith & Sons. Because that name was already allocated by postal authorities to a rural post office in Ontario, it had to use Coalhurst for 3 years until the name was approved for use in Alberta.
Today, this town of 73,000 people is the heart of southeast Alberta’s agriculture district, surrounded by croplands and grasslands, and has become a major Canadian meatpacking centre. The city is located in the semi-arid “Palliser Triangle” and uses plenty of irrigation to make its land arable for crops like grain and sugar beets.
The city also has a number of showcase parks and attractions including the Lethbridge Nature Preserve which features the Helen Schuler Coulee Centre, Henderson Lake Park which features a Japanese garden and a bowling green, and Brewery Gardens with eight magnificent floral displays. A coulee is a steep V-shaped valley or ravine usually with a stream in the bottom. They were named by early French Voyaguers, and the name comes from the french “couler” meaning to flow.
The city is home to the University of Lethbridge with its stunning Arthur Erickson architecture spanning a coulee and a renowned collection of art. The town has excellent shopping at the Lethbridge Centre just off Highway 3, and park Place mall on Scenic Drive.