Girls in the Band

Today’s Lethbridge Community Band has several things in common with its early counterparts. They were formed because of a desire for a band, they wear uniforms, have an executive, perform at many civic concerts, and they have both female and male players.

But it wasn’t so in the early bands of Lethbridge. These earlier band members, who were self-taught, community-minded, and played at all events in all kinds of weather, were all male. The Victorian age was a male-dominated era in business, cultural and civil matters. Women stayed in the home looking after the household and children. If they had musical talent, it was kept within the home, playing for the family or at church services, or as a member of a church choir.

All this changed in 1909 when the Citizen’s Band was at its peak and the notion of allowing women to play was addressed. The ladies of Lethbridge sought out Citizens Band Director James George Harper and proposed the idea. He was enthusiastic and, at a meeting held in the Lethbridge Music Conservatory, he outlined the workings and objectives: all that was required was they had to have some knowledge of music. Lessons and rehearsals soon followed and the Ladies Citizen’s Band was born.

Some 40 years later, the Lethbridge Boys Band changed its name in 1951 to the Junior Band to accommodate the entrance of girls within the ranks. Today, community bands carry on the tradition of co-ed groups: talented individuals whose sole purpose is to make music, for the love of music.

A 1917 mahogany Willis Player piano was selected for “Treasures & Curiosities: The Sequel” by a community member who, as a preschooler, would sit with her cousin at a player piano and pretend they were playing for their grandmother. The exhibit closes January 11. For more information, visit