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Galt Museum explores Lethbridge neighbourhoods in Places and Traces

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The Galt Museum and Lethbridge Historical Society combine their knowledge and resources  to explore Lethbridge neighbourhoods in their new exhibit “Places and Traces.”Aimee Benoit examines a roller skate and wagon in Places and Traces. Photo by Richard Amery
The exhibit opens today, May 23 and runs until Sept. 8. It includes suites of old photographs of what the city used to look like plus items including street signs, toys and clothing. There is also a video component featuring familiar faces like Mark Campbell talking about their  neighbourhoods.
“It’s about how neighbours change and how the people living in them change them,” summarized Belinda Crowson putting on her Lethbridge Historical Society hat.


 Crowson, who has written several books about Lethbridge history, even learned a lot while helping put together this exhibit.
“The people living in the neighbourhoods  changed the neighbourhoods,” Crowson observed, noting community organizations worked to plant trees and even rename neighbourhoods and streets.


“Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t she said.
“In the ’60s, students living in Hardieville being renamed,” she said.
“And people living in Parkdale were able to prevent the construction of a  grain elevator,” she said.
“You can tell people who moved here and people who grew up here from the way they speak about the neighbourhoods like the coulee bottoms. People  who were born here call the the coulee bottom  River Bottom. People who moved here call it the River Bottom,” she observed.

 The exhibit focuses on Hardieville, North side, south side, west side and  the coulee bottoms, but it isn”t an exhaustive  record of all of Lethbridge neighbourhoods, which change over time, so the exhibit focuses on neighbourhoods post Second World War.

“Hardieville has changed street numbers four times since 1910. So the same house could have four different addresses.
“When Hardieville was it’s own community the streets were numbered 1 through 5,” she said, adding that changed when the community became part of Lethbridge.


“I hope people will see the exhibit and think about  the people change their communities,” Crowson said.
 Galt Museum curator Aimee Benoit found the stories of people in the community inspiring.
“We have a lot of video talking with people about their communities. And I went out to speak personally to people as well, she said adding she was fascinated by how people viewed their communities and used them.
“In the ’50s, groups of kids built underground caves with multiple rooms in them beneath vacant lots. And another girls who liked roller skating judged her neighbourhood by how smooth the roads were and how easily she could skate them,” Benoit said.


“I love listening to people’s stories and experiences in their neighbourhoods,” Benoit continued.
 This exhibit tells the stories of these neighbourhoods’ past. So I hope people will explore Lethbridge and think about our own contributions to their neighbourhoods,” she said.
Places and Traces runs at the Galt Museum May 25-Sept. 8 during regular museum hours.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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