Honouring Women of Lethbridge 5

Legacy Ridge in north Lethbridge is one of few Canadian communities featuring only names of women on streets and parks. The Centennial Committee for Recognition of Women led the championing of the idea. Priority was given to those who were ‘first’ in an achievement and had not been recognized previously. Honouring Women of Lethbridge, an exhibit at the Galt Museum & Archives last winter, highlighted fifteen of the Legacy Ridge women, including early immigrants Jane Gibb Stafford and Edith Emma Coe.

Jane Gibb Stafford was known as the ‘mother’ of the town of Coalbanks located in the river valley (below what is now Lethbridge), as she hosted popular parties for young people, including her own nine children. Jane and her husband William Stafford had emigrated from Scotland, first to Nova Scotia and then to Coalbanks. She was one of the first white women to live in the town, and the first white woman to give birth to a child in the community; the baby girl died only a few months later. Of their thirteen children, three were born in the Coalbanks area. William was employed as a manager in the Galt company coal mines around Lethbridge. He eventually turned to ranching, and he and Jane lived on their ranch in the Oldman River valley. She was known for her big heart; she once crossed an icy river to help a friend deliver her baby.

A resident of early Lethbridge, Edith Emma Coe, was born in England in 1863. She worked as a governess in France before moving to Lethbridge with her parents in 1885. Coe became the town’s first teacher when she began classes in a coal miner’s cottage. She married Falkland Warren, a North West Mounted Police officer in the North West Territories in 1888. Married women were not allowed to work for the school district so her marriage ended her teaching career. She moved to the Coe family farm in Iron Springs in 1906.

Another exhibit which looks back at Lethbridge’s early days is Not Just Apples and Oranges. Located in the Lower Level Gallery, it closes May 10 — a few weeks earlier than originally planned to accommodate the travelling exhibition Money, Sovereignty and Power: The Paper Currency of Revolutionary Ukraine, 1917-1920 starting May 16. For details visit www.galtmuseum.com.