Any Old Coulee Will Do

Regular users of the coulee pathway systems have noticed debris appearing out of the soil, especially after rainy seasons. Local lore has it that various areas in the coulees were used as dumping grounds.

Over one hundred years ago, paid individuals known as “scavengers” roamed about the city and picked up garbage from homes and businesses and disposed it in the nearest coulee. These areas were called rubbish coulees, nuisance coulee or nuisance grounds, or simply the City Dump. One of the most prominent places to dump garbage was at the south end of the brewery, today the entrance to the river valley from 3rd Avenue.

The first city scavenger was hired in 1908. In 1909, a person collecting “night soil” was paid $25 each week. In the 1920s, the city contracted out refuse pickup under the supervision of the Public Works Department. Daily pick up was scheduled for commercial areas, and weekly pickup for residential areas. They continued to dump the collection in the nuisance ground west of the city, using the open dumping method. This method had its drawbacks. It smelled bad, bred diseases, and was an eye sore.

After the Second World War and on into the 1950s, sanitation landfills made their appearance. The new method was now three-fold – dumping, covering, and burying. A new proposed site was around 2nd Avenue A. North from #3 Highway, Still located in the coulees. The ‘North Hill Road” which ran along the bottom of the coulee from 5th Street North to Highway #3 was to be closed and the landfill site would be located there.

After 100 years, garbage and waste material disposal has greatly improved, and local recycling initiatives lessen the amount of refuse in the landfill. The present landfill site located north of 28th Street North was opened in 1983.

Scavengers of the animal kind can be seen year-round in the coulees and the skies surrounding the Galt Museum & Archives – the Viewing Gallery is a great spotting place in all kinds of weather; enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and bring a friend! For details visit