By Sulz, Dave on January 28, 2020.
By Graham Ruttan
The Galt regularly gets offers of items that represent the human history of southwestern Alberta. In 2019, Jim Hutton offered to donate sections of railway track to the Galt that had been part of the old Lethbridge Rail Yard. The rail yard was built around the 1910s and was removed in the 1980s by Cadillac Fairview Company in preparation for the construction of Park Place mall.
Hutton worked with Cadillac as an engineering technologist and was in charge of overseeing the cleanup of the rail yard. “The backhoes were digging the concrete out in the area of the roundhouse and these things were flying around like toothpicks… It was a vast wasteland right from where the Health Unit is all the way down to where Toys “R” Us is – there were trees, there was rubble, there was grass, there was hills, there was holes.” Hutton told Museum staff the railway ties came from somewhere between the Toys “R” Us building and the west end of the mall.
“It was a great, standout job because itÉ [was] probably four or five football fields in length and probably two or three football fields all the way out to the fence on where Crowsnest is. We had to clear the whole thing off. [In] some places we took five feet, some places we took 20 feet, and in some places we took two feet… we had to go down until we found decent building material like the subgradeÉ if there was a hill you had to take the hill off, if there is a hole you’ve got to go down to find out what was in the hole and put material back in properlyÉ whatever you dug up you had to get rid of because Cadillac Fairview’s deal with the thing was they didn’t want anything left under the mall which could cause a contamination issue. There were no rules in 1988 about parts per million or anything like that so you basically went by your nose. If it didn’t smell good you got rid of it because they did not want fumes coming up through the [mall’s] concrete in the floor.”
The Galt Museum & Archives cares for an extensive collection of objects that help show how people experienced Lethbridge and southern Alberta in the past. These objects are important parts of our cultural heritage. You can explore the full collection of objects online at collections.galtmuseum.com.
Your old photos, documents, and artifacts might have historical value. Please contact Galt Museum & Archives for advice before destroying them.