Lethbridge College legacies: Our second 20 years

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With Lethbridge College turning 60, it seems appropriate to look back and reflect on the history of the college. For this installation, we focus on the second 20 years – the community college years – and hope our stories will inspire people to share their memories.

In 1982, the college started a Hall of Fame. The first inductees were the three founders: Gilbert Paterson, Kate Andrews and Jim Cousins. In following years, candidates were selected from the community to honour those who had accomplished great deeds in public service, academics, business, the professions and more. Some of the honourees included Val and Flora Matteotti, Sven Ericksen, Andy Anderson, R.C. (Cleve) Hill, Keith V. Robins, Les Talbot, James Carpenter, Senator Joyce Fairbairn and Ralph A. Thrall, Jr.

Flora Matteotti’s reflection in the April 25, 1988, Lethbridge Herald at the time of her induction likely reflected the beliefs of many of the hall-of-famers: “It is important to never lose sight of your dreams. It is equally important to see education as a key paving stone on the road to making your dreams become a reality.”

When the college started in 1957, it was a tiny institution with only 38 students. By 1985, the school body had increased to 3,000 full-time students with another 17,000 people participating in Continuing Education programs. More space was needed and the College Centre – now known as Centre Core – with hallways connecting to the various buildings, was the answer.

The addition brought many new important spaces to campus, including the Kodiaks Cave, which gave students a place to relax, have a snack and maybe play a game or two. Many a student remembers time hanging out with friends between classes in the Cave.

The College Centre allowed the college to preserve and create legacies. In the 1960s, Donald and Hugh Buchanan donated the Buchanan Collection to the college on behalf of their parents, Senator and Mrs. W.A. Buchanan. The collection included 47 art pieces mainly of Canadian works, many of which focused on western landscapes. The expanded library created an appropriate space to showcase this collection.

The core of the new building showcased a statue of a coal miner, a tribute to Lethbridge’s first profession. Corne Martens, the artist, was asked by the Herald to reflect on his proudest accomplishments. In response, Martens spoke of his work and what a thrill and honour it was to build the coal miner statue for the college. He pondered that maybe his great-great-grandchild would one day see the statue. Educational opportunities, time with friends and art that would stand the test of time – the second 20 years of the college contributed greatly to the community.

If you have a memory of the second 20 years of Lethbridge College’s history that you’d like to share, email WHMagazine@lethbridgecollege.ca or post your story and photos on the college’s social media channels. We can’t wait to hear from you.

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