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Berte Grocery


Other Names:
Canada Post Office - Village of Stafford
George's Groceries & Meat
John Berte Grocery
Tumbleweed Cafe
Williams Grocery
Yien's Grocery

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
Berte Grocery is a good example of Boomtown style commercial building featuring a rare brick façade (rather than the more common wood frame and siding). Located in the Village of Stafford (annexed into the City of Lethbridge April 19, 1913), it was the centre of a small ethnic community of primarily mine workers. Stafford was also known as “Number Three” and “Staffordville”. The store is located a short distance east of Galt coal mine No. 3 and north of downtown Lethbridge.

Heritage Value
The Berte Grocery is significant due to association with the Galt coal mine No. 3 situated in the Village of Stafford. Berte Grocery served as a cultural centre or social gathering place for the predominately European ethnic community of Stafford. The Berte Grocery is also significant because of its Boomtown style.

In 1890 the North Western Coal and Navigation Company sunk a mine shaft at the west end of 9th Avenue North; it was called Galt coal mine No. 3. A residential area sprang up which was locally know as “Number Three” even though it had been incorporated as the Village of Stafford in 1900 and annexed by the City of Lethbridge in 1913. During this time a small grocery store had opened with Everisto Fia as grocer who resided on the upper floor of the building. It was a close-knit community with residents being primarily coal mine workers and their families. George Williams operated a post office from the Berte Grocery between 1910-1915.

John Berte opened his first grocery store at 920 7th Street North, until he built his store at this location in 1918. He and his family lived on the upper floor and continued to operate the store until 1942. In 1934 he had a telephone installed; the neighbourhood could now pick up their groceries or use the phone for emergencies. His phone was one of only two in North Lethbridge. The store was also a social meeting place for many of the miner’s wives who rarely ventured outside the area as they did not have a good command of the English language. Eaton’s or Simpson’s (now Sears) catalogues were extensively used for their many other household requirements.

Subsequently, the building was owned by: Natale Natalini from 1942-1948; Michael and Mary Swidinsky owned the building from 1949 to 1979, and operated the General Grocery and Meat until 1954, when they leased it to George Dong, who operated it as George’s Groceries & Meat from 1954-1969; C.W. Chan operated as Yien’s Grocery from 1970-1975; and William Lam (Kin Wai Lam) with his wife Yee Wah Lam, operated as William’s Grocery from 1976-1997, purchasing the property in 1979. The building was used for various purposes, including as the Tumbleweed Café from 2000-2003. In 2004 Edwin and Holly Quinteros purchased it and turned it into their private family residence.

Character-Defining Elements
The character defining elements of the Berte Grocery Store include:

- Overall built form, scale and massing
- The brick structure
- Brick Boomtown facade with stepped parapet
- Ghost sign on front “George’s Groceries & Meat”
- South, west and east original door and window openings
- East and west hipped dormer windows
- Recessed front entrance
- Gabled roof


Street Address: 707 - 9 Avenue North
Community: Lethbridge
Boundaries: Lot 4, Block 2, Plan 6212GP
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.712799 -112.836186 Digital Maps NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type
5508317.44 367627.35 Digital Maps NAD83


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2012/10/15

Historical Information

Built: ca. 1918
Period of Significance: 1918 to 1950
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Current Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0324
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link:
Data Source: Planning & Development Services City Hall, 910 - 4 Avenue South Lethbridge, AB, T1J0P6
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