Before European settlement of Lethbridge the area was under the control of the Blackfoot tribe of Native Americans. As more and more European settlers came many Natives were forced into a new life and eventually the Natives signed over their control of the territory to Canada. Before the Canadian government established full control over the area a booming whiskey trade took root. It took the intervention of the NWMP (North-West Mounted Police) to stop these illegal activities. Soon after this a major coal mining operation started to develop in the coulee regions of Coalbanks. Coalbanks was renamed Lethbridge in 1885. Lethbridge received city status in 1906.
During World War II, many Japanese Canadians and German POW's were interned in Lethbridge. After the war many stayed having established a new life. As a result, you'll see some influences of Japanese and German culture blended with the surrounding Ukrainian, Dutch, Mormon, Native and Hutterite cultures.
Today Lethbridge is undergoing a strong economic boom and as a result many new businesses are cropping up. There is also a large population boom but many businesses are still looking for people to work because there are still so few people to work.
The roads coming in to and out of Lethbridge are Highway 3 (runs east-west, also known as Crowsnest Highway), Highway 4 (which leads south to the United States) and Highway 5 (taking you to Waterton).
If you are coming from the United States through the Coutts border crossing, you'll likely enter the city on Highway 4. As you enter the city, you can take a right on 43rd Street to connect to Highway 3. If you continue straight, the next large intersection is Highway 5 (Mayor Magrath Drive within Lethbridge). Left (or South) on Highway 5 will take you to most of the city's big box stores (Wal-Mart, Superstore, Costco, Home Depot, etc) and eventually the airport.
If you are coming into the city from Waterton, you'll enter on Highway. This will take you past the airport and the big box stores mentioned above. Highway 5 turns into Mayor Magrath Drive within the city, one of the city's main thoroughfares.
If you are coming from Medicine Hat or anywhere east of Lethbridge, you'll enter on Highway 3. Highway 3 becomes Crowsnest Trail and goes through the heart of Lethbridge.
Lethbridge is served by a regional airport just outside the city limits in Lethbridge County. The airport is located beside Highway 5 and south of Lethbridge. The airport is not an international airport, so only flights from somewhere in Canada can come into Lethbridge. The only exception is seasonal flights to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico during the winter. Air Canada and Integra Air operate flights in and out of Lethbridge.
You can get into Lethbridge by bus via Greyhound . The Greyhound station is located downtown at 411 5th Street South. The station is open:
The closest city with intercity rail passenger service to Lethbridge is the Montana city of Cut Bank, (90 miles from Lethbridge) which is served by the Empire Builder passenger train which operates between Chicago and Seattle/Portland, stopping also in Shelby, Montana.
For information, call Amtrak at 1-800-872-7245 or at: www.amtrak.com
A car is probably the easiest way to get around Lethbridge. Every major attraction is easily reachable by car. Car Rentals:
Watch out for yellow signs that say "30km/hour 7:30-4:30 School Days".
Lethbridge does have a public transport system . Major service changes have recently been implemented and many routes have changed. There is now 30 minute service on all routes during the day and 40 minute service at night. You can now cross town in half an hour or so. The bus is reliable, usually on time, and not overly expensive; for adults it is $3.00 for one way.
You can walk/bike around in certain stretches of the city, but trying to walk/bike from south Lethbridge to west Lethbridge is a daunting task as you will have to walk Whoop-Up Drive, which translates walking/biking down a hill, into the coulees and then walking/biking up a steep hill. However parts of Lethbridge are tailor-made for walking/biking around to explore, such as downtown Lethbridge and the actual coulees themselves. The parks around Henderson Lake and Nicholas Sheran Lake provide pleasant spaces for recreation.
Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden - Corner of 9th Avenue South & Mayor Magrath Drive. Open from mid-May to mid-October, Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is a beautiful example of a traditional Japanese garden nestled beside the equally beautiful Henderson Lake. Traditional Japanese architecture and flower design are abundant. Guided tours are available. Admission is: Adults - $7.00; Seniors (65+) - $5.00; Youth (6-17) - $4.00; Children (0-5) -
Galt Museum & Archives - West of 5th Avenue South. Open year-round, The Galt Museum has numerous exhibits detailing the history of Lethbridge and Southern Alberta. The museum was originally a hospital, and it is rumored that the museum is now haunted! The museum is also the starting or ending point of many walking trails going in or out of the coulees. Admission is: Adults - $5.00; Seniors/Post-Secondary/IYH Members - $4.00; Youth (7-17) - $3.00; Children (0-6) - Free.
High Level Bridge - This trestle bridge goes across the coulees and can be viewed best when traversing Whoop-Up Drive. The High Level Bridge is the longest and highest bridge of its kind in the world reaching 5,327.625 feet long (1.6km) and 314 feet high (96 meters). It was built during 1908-1909, and still has trains pass over it everyday. It is one of Lethbridge's most well-known landmarks.
Fort Whoop-Up National Historic Site - Located in the coulees. Open year-round (only open on Saturday & Sunday in the winter), Fort Whoop-Up is an near-exact replica of the original Fort Whoop-Up that served as a major center during the mid-1800's in the whiskey and firearms trade with the Blackfoot and First Nations cultures, and prompted the formation of the N.W.M.P. The Fort features a period fort, three galleries, and special events like carriage rides and reenactment weekends seasonally in the summer. Admission (year Round) is: Adults - $7.00; Seniors (65+) - $6.00; Students (6-18) - $5.00; Infants (0-5) - Free.
Helen Schuler Coulee Centre - Located in the coulees. Open year-round, Helen Schuler Coulee Center is a great point to start your day in the coulees. It features many displays that highlight the delicate ecosystem in the coulees. Don't miss Pegleg, the talking crow! Guided walks through the coulees can be booked here. The centre also has many programs and displays dedicated especially for kids. Admission is free of charge.
Southern Alberta Art Gallery - 601 3rd Avenue South. Open year-round, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery features exhibitions from many local contemporary artists. The exhibitions are constantly changing to give all the talented local artists a chance to shine. The SAAG is a respected Canadian art institution and is a great place to spend a day. The SAAG also has beautiful scenery surrounding the building, as it is located in Galt Gardens, a picturesque downtown park. Admission varies.
Brewery Gardens - 1 Avenue South (near Tourist Information Center). A constantly changing floral garden, the gardens are put into a display that represents the time of year or a special event that is happening in Lethbridge. You can't walk through the gardens. Unsurprisingly, the gardens are best viewed during the summer.
Lethbridge has many things to do, espeically in the area of hiking and natural wildlife observation.
Lethbridge has numerous places for a good hike or leisurely walk. Some recommended walks/hikes include:
Lethbridge annually hosts Whoop-Up Days , a carnival of sorts with rides, live performances, a rodeo, and exhibitions. In 2009 the fair and rodeo will be held from August 18-22 at the Exhibition Grounds (end of South Parkside Drive and next to Henderson Lake).
Lethbridge has numerous semi-professional sports teams, including:
The main mall is Park Place Mall  and it is located north of Galt Gardens on 1st Avenue South. It has some big box stores like Sears, Staples, and Chapters. It also has numerous clothing shops, a food court, a movie theatre, and few locally owned art and craft stores. Lethbridge also has a Wal-Mart located near the airport at 3700 Mayor Magrath South and a Home Depot right beside the Wal-Mart. Downtown Lethbridge is also a good place to spend a day shopping. Downtown has many locally owned shops selling items ranging from clothes to computers to stationary. Beware however that downtown businesses have higher prices than big box stores.
The legal drinking age in Alberta is 18.
Bed & Breakfasts
Violent crime is extremely rare in Lethbridge. Lethbridge is a very safe city and the probability of a crime being committed against you is very low. That being said, there are probably a few places you should avoid at night for fear of being hassled for money or robbed. Those are Galt Gardens in the downtown, Stafford Drive between 1st and 2nd Ave North (near the homeless shelter) and between 1st and 5th Avenue North on 13th St.
Super Windy! Prepare to have your hair messed up. Lethbridge is also one of the sunniest parts of Canada.
Summers are hot and dry. Winters are cold and also pretty dry. Because of a warm westerly wind (the "Chinook"), snow usually doesn't stick around for long. Spring and fall are moderate and usually the best time to visit.