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Visiting Lethbridge, Alberta: A Downtown Dominated by the Beaux-Arts Lines of the Federal Building, Dating From 1912/13

Updated on January 27, 2020
Provincial flag of Alberta
Provincial flag of Alberta | Source
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. | Source

A gracious, architectural focus to a city in a dynamic province

At the intersection of 4th Avenue and 7th Street, the Beaux-Arts styled Federal Building (1) dominates the Downtown area of Lethbridge, Alberta. For first-time visitors to Lethbridge, the structure is truly hard to miss.

The building, executed in limestone, dates from 1912/13.

Its clock tower, topped by a copper-covered dome, rises above a four storey base, prominent at which are large cornerstone pilasters, in keeping with the origins in Neo-Classicism of Beaux-Arts style.

Also at the building's fourth storey are alternating triangular and arched styles of window pediments, set in mansard roofing.

The Federal Building has also sometimes been known as Lethbridge Post Office and as the John D. Higinbotham Building (2). The complex was expanded in 1958.

The structure thus complements well the built environment of the wide, tree lined streets, laid out on a grid pattern, of Downtown Lethbridge. From small beginnings, the growth of Lethbridge in the early 20th century into a significant Western Canadian city was perhaps particularly symbolized by the appearance shortly prior to World War One — only seven to either years after Alberta achieved Provincial status within Confederation —of what is now known as the Federal Building.

Even today, not a few Albertan cities are well known for their confidence and growth potentials and at the Federal Building here in Lethbridge, now more than a century old, one can readily sense the spirit of dynamism which Albertan cities — as commercial and communications centres — have long manifested (3).

The street address of the Federal Building is 706 - 4th Avenue South, Lethbridge, Alberta.

January 27, 2020


(1) See also:

(3) John D. Higinbotham (1864-1961) was a prominent local citizen, who served variously as postmaster, pharmacist, coroner and Presbyterian Sunday School teacher in early 20th century Lethbridge; see also:

(3) Today, Calgary — at a much greater scale than Lethbridge — would particularly be regarded in this light.

Downtown Lethbridge, Alberta: 4th Avenue S between 8th Street and Stafford Blvd
Downtown Lethbridge, Alberta: 4th Avenue S between 8th Street and Stafford Blvd | Source

Also worth seeing

In Lethbridge itself, notable sights include the Galt Museum, housed in an architecturally distinguished former hospital building, which contains a well appointed historical section; the Japanese Gardens; Henderson Lake with boating opportunities; a former water tower now in private hands, and converted into a restaurant, offers on a clear day superb views of the Rockies; and many others.

Waterton (distance: 124.6 kilometres): this outstandingly scenic location - part of Warterton-Glacier International Peace Park - has amazing views from the historic Prince of Wales Hotel over the often snow-capped Rockies and the Waterton Lakes.

Nanton (distance: 121.4 kilometres) has an Air Museum particularly commemorating the contribution and sacrifice of the many Canadian aviators of Bomber Command during World War Two; the Museum notably possesses a Lancaster bomber, with its Rolls Royce Merlin engines in working order, and a decommissioned jet from the Snowbirds air demonstration team. There are various well appointed antique shops in close proximity; a former schoolhouse has been converted into a tourist information centre.

St Mary, Montana, USA (distance: 133 kilometres); this small locality has a Visitor Center to Glacier National Park; with its hotels and restaurants, its scenic lake, and striking views of the Rockies make it a highly attractive destination.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Lethbridge Airport, via Calgary, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. You are advised refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Map location of Lethbridge Census Division, Alberta
Map location of Lethbridge Census Division, Alberta | Source

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