Back Alleys of Lethbridge Tour
This project is the brainchild of Public Historian and LHS member, Belinda Crowson. She has collaborated with the City of Lethbridge's Heart of our City Committee to bring some fun and knowledge to our back alleys.
Below are some short stories behind the names of some of Lethbridge's lesser known, but still colourful, former citizens and where their alley is located.
William (Billy) Lamb
Alley off 4 Avenue between 5 and 6 Streets.
Billy Lamb served with the Lethbridge City Police for decades and was for much of that time (1911-1948) the city’s truant officer. As truant officer, Lamb was a familiar figure throughout the city ensuring that children attended school and tracking down those who didn’t.
Alley off 4 Avenue between 4 and 5 Streets
Kyosei Kohashigawa was born in Okinawa in 1889 and came to Canada in 1907. He worked as a houseboy for the Mounted Police in Fort Macleod and a dishwasher at Lethbridge’s Dallas Hotel before becoming a coal miner and farmer.
Alley between 7 and 8 Streets between 5 and 6 Avenues
William Repka was the Secretary of the Beet Workers’ Union. During the Second World War, he was arrested by the RCMP in September 1940 as a Communist and was locked up in a camp until September 1942. He didn’t return to the area after his release.
Thomas Peter Kilkenny
Alley off 4 Street between 2 and 3 Avenue (behind old Fire Hall)
Thomas Peter Kilkenny was Lethbridge’s Fire Chief who died from pneumonia two months following fighting 2 fires in -40 degree temperatures in January 1911. For hours Kilkenny fought the Balmoral Fire even though other firefighters were overcome by the smoke and flames. Kilkenny was originally from Dublin, Ireland, and had been fire chief since 1909.
Alley from 1 to 2 Avenue between 7 and 8 Streets
George Munroe was an engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railway who was accidentally killed in 1910 when the train crashed through a bridge on the old Crowsnest Trail. Munroe died after the accident in the Galt Hospital.
Alley from 3 Street to 4 Street between 1 and 2 Avenues
Joe Fong was a Chinese businessman in Lethbridge in the early part of the 20th century. In 1901 Joe Fong was one of severalmen who wrote a letter to the Lethbridge Town Council protesting the high cost of tax on Chinese laundries. He later owned a restaurant on 1 Avenue South.
Albert “Bert” Coulter
Alley around Haig Tower
Albert Coulter was much better known as Bert the Popcorn Man and for a few decades operated a mobile popcorn stand near Galt Gardens. Many Lethbridgians have memories of getting popcorn when downtown with their families.
Alley off 4 Avenue between 8 Street and Stafford Drive.
Peter Meronik was the 1st president of the Beet Workers’ Industrial Union (BWIU). Meronik had previously worked as a miner in the Lethbridge area but was blacklisted from the coal industry. He was a regular speaker at Communist and other rallies.
Adeline (Addie) Dunk
Alley off 4 Avenue between 8 Street and Stafford Drive
Addie Dunk was a maid in the Frank Colpman house at 804 4 Avenue South.
John T J Vallance
Alley off 4 Avenue between 6 and 7 Streets
John Vallance served for several decades as the city’s sanitary inspector/health inspector. In 1910 the salary for the sanitary inspector was increased to $100 per month. At that time Alderman Bowman noted that Vallance was a good man and was earning the money alright. It was also noted that the fees collected were greater than the salary so the raise seemed appropriate.
Alley off 6 Avenue South between 6 and 7 Streets
Very little is known about Austin Murray except that in July 1911 he was the first person to be sent to the new Lethbridge Provincial Jail. Mr. Murray, who newspapers report was about 17 years of age, worked as a junk trader. He was alleged to have taken two parts of a stove belonging to W.D. Scott, plumber, and selling them to M. Fefferman, a 2nd hand dealer. Scott, the newspaper reported, heard of the sale and reported the theft. Austin Murray was sentenced to one month in the provincial jail.
Alley from Scenic Drive to 3 Street between 1 and 2 Avenues
Carmen Smith, or Victorine Berland McBride, was a madam in Lethbridge from 1916 to 1939 (when she passed away). In a case in 1920, when the case charge against her for running a disorderly house was dismissed, Smith did not help the situation by sticking out her tongue at Police Chief Gillespie in middle of court.
Alley from 8 Street to Stafford Drive between 3 and 4 Avenues
Paul Smith was the 1st Lethbridge City Police officer to die in the line of duty. Smith was accidentally electrocuted while on night patrol in June 1913. His body was found on the corner of 3 Avenue and 9 Street (Stafford Drive) South.
Alley from 1 to 2 Avenue between 4 and 5 Streets
Robert Wilson was for several years a driver for the Piche & Miron Butcher Shop. He came from England in 1905.
G. Strangling Wolf
Alley off 4 Avenue between 7 and 8 Streets
The 1925 Lethbridge Henderson Directory has a G. Strangling Wolf working as a scout for the RCMP and working from the barracks. This is likely George Strangling Wolf, a veteran of the First World War.
Alley from 8 Street to Stafford Drive between 2 and 3 Avenues.
Jack Smith came to Canada from Scotland and settled in Lethbridge in 1909. He worked for 6 years for the city’s public works department, served in the military in the First World War and then worked at the Galt No. 6 mine at Hardieville until it closed. Following that he worked 24 years for the city’s electrical department. In his later years at the city, Jack Smith worked 5600 days with no sick leave.
Alley from 7 to 8 Streets between 3 and 4 Avenues.
Andrew Seaton was a local politician. In 1926 he was elected MLA under the Dominion Labor party banner. He served Lethbridge as MLA until 1935. He concurrently served Lethbridge as alderman from 1928 to 1936 (until 1975 it was legal to hold both positions simultaneously). C.F. Cameron, another former Lethbridge labor alderman, noted that Smeaton was “a public spirited man in the truest and best sense.”
Alley from 5 to 6 Streets between 4 and 5 Avenues
Mamie Delay worked for the Conybeare, Church, McArthur and Davidson Law Firm. She died of influenza in 1918 during the Flu Epidemic.
Alley off 4 Avenue between 7 and 8 Streets.
Bessie Beaton was a stenographer at Merchant’s Bank and other places. Bessie and other members of her family had come from Scotland in 1912 to join her father, George Beaton, who had arrived in 1907. Bessie’s older sister, Margaret, worked as a salesperson in several local stores. Bessie Beaton passed away in 1925 at the age of 27.
Alley from 6 to 7 Streets between 4 and 5 Avenues
James Whitford was an early black cowboy in the Lethbridge area who was accidentally killed by lightning in 1908.
Thomas S. Fetterly
Alley from 8 Street to Stafford Drive between 4 and 5 Avenues.
Thomas S. Fetterly was a funeral director and embalmer who had his funeral parlour at 334 6 Street South. Fetterly was from Ontario. When George Seam died in January 1912, the funeral was done through the TS Fetterly Funeral Home and the total burial costs were $247.00.
Alley from 3 to 4 Streets between 2 and 3 Avenues
Quong Sang came to Canada from China in 1905 and was in Lethbridge by 1909. He operated a restaurant in the post office block on Ford Street (2 Avenue South) just off of Round Street (5 Street South). The restaurant was called the Fashion Café. Quong Sang also later operated the Quong Sang & Co Chinese Goods store) at 312 2 Avenue South. The store operated in that location until the 1940s.
Alley from 7 to 8 Streets between 4 and 5 Avenues.
Ernest Fleetwood worked for decades as a plumber in Lethbridge. He was the son of John and Jane Fleetwood.
Alley from 6 to 7 Streets between 3 and 4 Avenues.
Mary Glendinning arrived in Lethbridge in 1890 and set up the Fancy Goods & Millinery business. She operated the business for 5 years until her passing in 1895. Upon her death, the business was taken over by her nieces, the McLeay sisters who operated their own business well into the 1940s. Mary Glendinning was described by a friend as “a business woman of the strictest integrity, [who] gained the respect and esteem of her customers.”
Charles E. Brower
Alley between 4 and 5 Streets between 5 and 6 Avenues
Charles E. Brower was an entrepreneur and businessman in Lethbridge in the early 20th century. He operated (at various times) a bicycle messenger service, 2nd hand store, boarding house, tailor shop and more. C.E. Brower and his brother wrote a series of letters to the editor in support of Black rights and to fight against the discrimination Blacks faced in Canada and Alberta at that time. C.E. Brower also had several run-ins with the law in the years he was in Lethbridge.
Alley between Scenic Drive and 3 Street between 3 and 4 Avenues
Donald McNabb was Alberta’s 1st Labor MLA, being acclaimed in a Lethbridge by-election in 1908. He ran for re-election in 1909 but was defeated. In 1912, McNabb chaired the meeting that formed the Alberta Federation of Labour.
Alley from 4 to 5 Streets between 3 and 4 Avenues.
A 1985 letter to the editor in the Lethbridge Herald titled “Here’s to the Women” included a list of names honoured by the writer including Minnie White who “operated good, clean sporting houses without male pimps. For several decades in the early years of the 1900s, Minnie White (also known as Frances Wright and Fanny Wright) was a well known Lethbridge madam.
Alley from Scenic Drive to 3 Street between 2 and 3 Avenues
Mildred Fleming was a well known Lethbridge madam for several decades in the early 1900s. Mildred Fleming was one of the very few madams/prostitutes at that time in Lethbridge who lived and worked under her true name rather than adopting a pseudonym.
Alley between 5 and 6 Streets between 5 and 6 Avenues
The Harris Goodman family arrived in Lethbridge in 1905, becoming the first Jewish family to settle in Lethbridge. In 1910 Harris Goodman built a brick building, known as the Goodman Block, on Redpath Street (3rd Avenue South) and operated a clothing store from this building.
Harry Taylor, Jr.
Alley off 6 Avenue South between 5 and 6 Streets.
Harry Taylor, Jr., was the son of Harry “Kamoose” Taylor and his Blackfoot wife. Harry worked for the Mounted Police for a while as a driver and later owned a wholesale business – selling wines, liquors and cigars – in downtown Lethbridge.
Dr. Miriam Barber
Alley between 6 and 7 Streets between 5 and 6 Avenues
Miriam Barber was Lethbridge’s first female dentist. She worked in Lethbridge for several years in the 1920s and then moved to British Columbia.
Alley off 4 Avenue between 5 and 6 Streets
Eddie Berger was the proprietor of City Taxi and, according to the Alberta Provincial Police, was a well known Lethbridge bootlegger. Ads for City Taxi note that the taxi service was available Day and Night and Country Trips were a speciality.
Alley off 4 Avenue South between 6 and 7 Streets
George Frederickson was a local garage keeper who also worked as a chauffeur for Hub Taxi. According to the Alberta Provincial Police, Frederickson was also a bootlegger and in 1918 95 bottles of alcohol were found hidden under his garage.
Mark C. Rogers
Alley from 5 to 6 Streets between 3 and 4 Avenues.
Mark C. Rogers was a businessman, entrepreneur, family man and rumrunner who operated in the Lethbridge area throughout the Prohibition years. He died suddenly in the fall of 1924.
Alley from 2 to 3 Avenue between 4 and 5 Streets.
“Please publish in the paper when I die that I didn’t go on relief always paid my own way and worked hard.” Such was the request made by Kati Palen (or Bokor) when she passed away in May 1940. From Hungary, Kati came to Canada in 1895 and worked for years as the caretaker of the J.D. Higinbotham store among other work.