Wider Horizons

Lethbridge College is well-known for many attributes, from its bright and experienced graduates toflags its gorgeous coulee views. The college has been a centrepiece of the city since 1957, and is a welcome sight when cruising along Scenic Drive.

But behind the familiar façade are a host of intriguing stories about Lethbridge College’s spaces and places, its people and its past. The next pages offer a glimpse into the lesser known corners of the college, starting at the college’s very beginning.

The opening of the doors of what was then called Lethbridge Junior College in 1957 marked a first in Canada – the creation of the first publicly-funded community college in the country. Gilbert Currie Paterson, a teacher turned lawyer, was at the heart of the movement to establish a college in Lethbridge and was a passionate supporter of education. “Education,” he once stated, “should assist us not only to make a living but also to make a life. Life, we are told, is not a goblet to be drained but a measure to be filled.”

Paterson became interested in the junior or community college movement in the United States while attending conventions in the southwest U.S. This movement was designed to expand educational opportunities for all people, and Paterson grew convinced that Lethbridge – and Canada – would benefit from following this model. To him, the community college was to be the great educational institution of the future.

With the support of key Lethbridge figures and organizations as well as the backing from the region’s rural leaders, including Kate Andrews, who maintained that “the country people have to feel that they are part of the plan,” the provincial government approved the proposal to open Lethbridge Junior College in 1957. Thirty-eight students enrolled that fall and attended classes in space leased at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute. To distinguish the high school students from the first-year college students, college students used a separate entrance to the school, were called Miss or Mister, and were allowed to smoke in the student lounge on campus.

Like the 4,000 students who walk through the corridors of the college’s 80-acre campus today, those first students likely did not fully appreciate their college’s role in history. But from its first days, and as its mission today plainly states, Lethbridge College has always been looking forward, leading and transforming education in Alberta.


If you’d like to share your own story of discovery at Lethbridge College, just email WHMagazine@lethbridgecollege.ca or post your story on the college’s Facebook page.

Wider Horizons
Lethbridge College
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