London Road for the Win

I hope everyone is taking the time to vote for the London Road Neighbourhood on the Great Places in Canada web-site. The voting has me thinking about London Road so I thought I would share a little information on some buildings in that neighbourhood. There are way too many interesting buildings to mention them all, so let me know if your favourite was missed.


Riverview/Magrath House

It seems appropriate to start with this house today. On 2 February 1891, Charles Magrath became the 1st mayor of Lethbridge. This was the date of Lethbridge's 1st civic election; Magrath was "elected" by acclamation. This home on 7th Avenue South was built around that time for Magrath's young, growing family. They would not remain here long. Shortly after his first wife died, he sold this home and moved to a home on 6th Avenue South.

We can see this house from the Galt's Viewing Gallery. It's two tall chimneys tower above the other homes in the area.

Coneybeare/Magrath/Tennant Residence/Regal Grocery

This little building on 6th Avenue South is a favourite among many people in Lethbridge and it's comforting to know it's being renovated. According to its statement of significance, it is "a rare example in Alberta of the Second Empire style of architecture." It is also one of the oldest buildings in Lethbridge.

This was the house Magrath moved into when he left the house on 7th Avenue. This home was built by C.F.P. Coneybeare, 1st lawyer in Lethbridge, and Coneybeare moved into Riverview when the two families swapped homes. Charles Coneybeare became Alberta's only territorial poet when he published a book of poetry in 1902 (Vahnfried is the title of the book). This building was later the Jewish Synagogue and Rabbi's residence (1918-1927) and the Regal Grocery (1942-1987).

Wimpole Hospital/Van Haarlem Hospital/St. Michael's Hospital

This is the large white building at the corner of 12th Street and 7th Avenue South. It was built in 1911 and operated for a few years as the Wimpole Hospital. Dorothea Pinhorn, a trained nurse, opened the private maternity hospital but in 1912 and 1913 a Miss Swain was reported as the superintendent. In 1914, Marie Elizabeth Van Haarlem took over operation of the building and would run it for the next 14 years as the Van Haarlem Private Hospital. Originally, a maternity hospital, the Van Haarlem's would add another wing to accommodate more beds and a surgery. Another wing was added during the Influenza Epidemic of 1918-19 bringing the hospital to 27 beds. In the 1920s a laboratory and x-ray room (among other spaces) were added. In 1929, the Van Haarlems sold the hospital to the Sisters of St. Martha was renamed it St. Michael's Hospital. The nuns operated out of this building until a new building was built on 9 Avenue South. The 7th Avenue building was converted into a nurses' dormitory and served that purpose until 1967 when it was converted into a boarding house.

The W.D.L. Hardie Residence

The W.D.L. Hardie Residence is on 5th Street South and is a 2 1/2 storey brick house built just prior to the First World War. William Duncan Livingstone Hardie, after whom Hardieville was named, became the mine manager here in Lethbridge following the resignation of William Stafford. He served as mine manager from 1894 to 1910.

Hardie was also active in politics and was mayor from 1912 to 1928. It was through his efforts that Lethbridge became the 1st municipality in Canada to adopt the commission form of government. Under Hardie's mayorship, women and renters both were given the right to vote in Lethbridge elections. Those who truly want to understand Hardie and his leadership need to read the records of his debates with opponents as captured in the Lethbridge Herald. It was Hardie in 1918 who threatened to censor the local press about what they were reporting on city business. It would also be fair to say that Hardie's views and opinions were important for my research into the Red Light District in Lethbridge.

The house is as eclectic as its original owner with a Foursquare style plan with neo-classical and Arts & Crafts design elements in the decorative details.

I could keep going on. But, alas, space won't allow it. You can find out much more about London Road from the neighbourhood association web-site. Remember to vote. And take some time to explore this neighbourhood if you haven't already.