Back to School
Every fall, students begin a new year back in school—a long-standing tradition in Alberta. Students begin classes at both brand new schools and very old schools alike. The oldest school building in Lethbridge that is still in use as a school today is Galbraith Elementary School on the Northside. Galbraith was originally built in 1913. The Galt Museum & Archives has photos taken of the school in 1914. The school was built along with several other schools in Lethbridge during a period of rapid growth in the city from 1906 to 1913. The school was named for Dr. Walter Stuart Galbraith, who served a term as Mayor of Lethbridge in 1907 and was the chair of the Lethbridge School Board in 1912. Students still attend school in this building that has seen students enter its doors for over a century. The Galt also has photos of children playing games during recess that date back as far as 1909.
The very first school built in Lethbridge was the Lethbridge Public School Building and it had some features that are not at all familiar to schools in Lethbridge today. Constructed in 1888, it included a large fence to keep cattle out of the school yard. Lethbridge had a cow problem in its early years and the community was careful to try to protect the school and the students from the wandering cattle by putting up a large fence.
The first teacher hired in Lethbridge was Edith Emma Coe. Coe taught every student in Lethbridge when she took up the position. Her first class of students was comprised of twelve students. The “classroom” they learned in was actually an old miner’s cottage.
You can find more information about early schools and the history of education in Lethbridge at www.galtmuseum.com/research.