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Sir Alexander Galt Hospital


Other Names:
Galt Hospital and Museum
Sir Alexander Galt Hospital
Sir Alexander Galt Hospital and Museum

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Sir Alexander Galt Hospital is a two-storey, brick and sandstone building occupying one city block that overlooks the Oldman River valley on the far western end of downtown Lethbridge.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Sir Alexander Galt Hospital building derives from its representation of the development of the coal industry in southern Alberta and the growth of the city of Lethbridge, both of which are directly related to a prominent figure in Canadian history, Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt. It is also an impressive example of Edwardian classicism and early hospital architecture in Alberta.

The Sir Alexander Galt Hospital was built essentially as a company hospital for coal miners and other employees of the Alberta Railway and Coal Company, though it served residents in the young community of Lethbridge. The Galt family, founders and owners of the Company, had also financed an earlier hospital on the site in 1891. The building thus represents a social dimension of the development of a provincially significant industry, coal mining. It functioned as a hospital until 1955.

This structure was built between 1908 and 1910 and upon completion was opened by the Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier. Laurier's involvement not only demonstrates the importance of the hospital to Southern Alberta, but also that of the hospital's benefactor, Sir Alexander Galt, who had achieved national distinction as Canada's first Finance Minister and High Commissioner to London. Galt can be considered a founder of Lethbridge for his involvement in coal mining, railway expansion and early irrigation projects that served to develop the area. This is the only remaining building in Lethbridge relating to the Galt family.

The Sir Alexander Galt Hospital is also an excellent example of the Edwardian Classical style that characterizes many of Alberta's early public buildings, and a rare early example of hospital architecture in Alberta.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 117)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Sir Alexander Galt Hospital include:
- the rectangular form and two-storey scale;
- the Edwardian Classical style features, such as the proportions and symmetry of the front facade, classical pilasters, parapet and balusters, cornice and ornamentation;
- fenestration pattern;
- limestone sills, keystones, and pilasters;
- the use of local construction materials including bricks, sandstone foundation and wood timbers;
- example of local craftsmanship in carving of the sandstone, installation of bricks and formed metal details.

- an unimpeded view of the front facade looking west down 5th Street;
- stabilized remains of a portion of the former hospital on this site.


Street Address: 502 - 1 Street South
Community: Lethbridge
Boundaries: Lot 9, Block 1, Plan 0814797
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
12 (ptn.)

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.692255 -112.848128 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type
5506073 366795 Digital Maps NAD 83


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1978/04/04

Historical Information

Built: 1908 To 1910
Significant Date(s) 1910 To 1955
Theme(s) Building Social and Community Life : Education and Social Well-Being
Developing Economies : Extraction and Production
Historic Function(s): Health and Research : Hospital or Other Health Care Institution
Current Function(s): Leisure : Museum

The building among the oldest remaining in Lethbridge, was once known as the Sir Alexander Galt Hospital. It was constructed in 1904 and opened in 1910 by Sir Wilfred Laurier, then Prime Minister of Canada.

Although originally intended for coalminers, the hospital came to serve the general public. Together with a 1930's addition, it functioned as a hospital until 1955 and as a Rehabilitation Centre from 1956 to 1964. It replaced two earlier hospitals built by the Galt family.

The hospital's benefactor, Sir Alexander Galt, was a developer of Lethbridge's coal industry and the city's founder. He was a pioneer in irrigation and railways in Southern Alberta. As creator of the Pre-Confederation finance ministry, Alexander Galt became the first finance minister in the Confederation Cabinet, and is sometimes referred to as "the real Father of Confederation." He later became Canada's High-Commissioner to London. His son, Elliott, continued to direct the family's enterprises developing Southern Alberta and eventually led to Lethbridge becoming the third city in the Province.

The 1903 building is of late Victorian, neo-classical revival style, typical of public buildings of its time. It is constructed of local brick and sandstone and the near-original exterior has been maintained. This is one of the most impressive, extant examples of an early Alberta hospital.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0187
Designation File: DES 0117
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 26079
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen’s College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 117)
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