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Conybeare Residence


Other Names:
Beth Isreal Synagogue
Henry James Tennant Residence
Regal Confectionery
Regal Grocery / Confectionary
Regal Grocery Store
Tennant Residence
Tennant Residence / Regal Grocery
Henry J. Tennant Residence / Regal Grocery Building

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Conybeare Residence is a two-storey brick veneer and wood frame building located on four city lots on the southwest corner of 6th Avenue and 4th Street South, at the entrance to London Road Neighbourhood, the oldest residential community in Lethbridge.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Conybeare Residence lies in the fact that it is a rare example in Alberta of the Second Empire style of architecture and one of the oldest structures in Lethbridge. The building is also significant for its association with two leading public figures in late nineteenth century Lethbridge.

The Residence was likely constructed in the mid-1890s and is unique in Lethbridge as an example of the Second Empire style, which originated in France during the reign of Napoleon III (1848-70) and became popular in North America in the 1860s-80s. Features of the Tennant Residence such as a patterned Mansard roof, segmental arches, and detailed brickwork present a relatively ornate design unlike the more utilitarian structures typical of Victorian Alberta. It was undoubtedly regarded as an elegant addition to the community, and would have been the venue of much upper class socializing.

The building is also significant for its association with two leading public figures of Lethbridge. Charles Frederick Pringle Conybeare, Crown Prosecutor, School Trustee and a founder of the Lethbridge Board of Trade, owned the property between 1889 and 1892. Between 1894 and 1903 it was occupied by Charles A. Magrath, who as the Land Commissioner of the North West Coal & Navigation Company had undertaken the survey and subdivision of Lethbridge in 1885; was the first president of the Lethbridge Board of Trade, and, in 1890, the town’s first mayor; and represented the district in the North West Territorial Assembly and federal Parliament.

Finally, it played a significant role in the community as a Jewish synagogue and rabbi’s residence between 1918 and 1927, and then as a confectionery, notably the Regal Grocery from 1942 to 1987. Although small, it is a well-known landmark in the City of Lethbridge.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1264)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the exterior of the Conybeare Residence include:
- rectangular form, scale, and massing;
- features of the Second Empire architectural style such as: diamond-shaped pressed metal shingles on the concave Mansard roof, arched roof wall dormers, locally manufactured low-fired red bricks used in decorative segmental arches, double-hung wood sash windows;
- single glazed front storefront window.

Original remaining elements and fittings of the interior of the building such as:
- the remaining original doors on the second floor;
- tongue and groove fir flooring on main and second level, and tongue and groove fir ceiling on second floor;
- decorative wood (fir) trim on window and door surrounds;
- second floor plan layout.


Street Address: 422 - 6 Avenue South
Community: Lethbridge
Boundaries: Lot 14, Block A, Plan 1410321
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

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

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.690546 -112.840065

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type
5505865 367293 Digital Maps NAD 83


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2002/05/03

Historical Information

Built: 1890/01/01 To 1890/01/01
Significant Date(s) 1894 To 1903
Theme(s) Peopling the Land : Settlement
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Religion, Ritual and Funeral : Religious Facility or Place of Worship
Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling

In the early 1880s, the Canadian High Commissioner in London, Alexander Galt, assembled a closely knit group of British and Canadian investors into a company to develop the vast coal deposits along the Oldman River. A company called the North West Coal & Navigation Co. was incorporated and mining activity begun. As the mine was a considerable distance south from where the Canadian Pacific Railway had recently extended its line past Fort Calgary, the North West Coal & Navigation Co. decided to build its own railway straight east from Medicine Hat to the mine site. At the site, the thriving community of Lethbridge was soon begun on Company property. In 1885, the Company subdivided lots in the community and registered it as a townsite. By 1890, the community was sufficiently large to be incorporated as the Town of Lethbridge with over 400 people. The town would continue to grow and become a city in 1906 with over 2,000 people.

Among the lots sub-divided by the Company, one of the choicest was located at the east end of Courtland Street (now 422 - 6 Avenue South) overlooking, at a distance, the Oldman River. In 1889, this lot was purchased by Company lawyer Charles F. Conybeare, then one of the leading citizens of Lethbridge. Title passed in 1892 to his wife, Ida, who, in 1894, sold it to Charles A. Magrath, then probably the most prominent citizen in Lethbridge. A close friend of Alexander Galt's son, Elliott, Magrath had served as the Land Commissioner of the North West Coal & Navigation Co. In this capacity, he had undertaken the survey and subdivision of Lethbridge in 1885. He also became the first president of the Lethbridge Board of Trade, and, in 1890, the first Mayor of Lethbridge. He would go on represent the district for a while in the North West Territorial Assembly, and, from 1908 to 1911, serve as the Conservative Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Medicine Hat (which then included Lethbridge).

When Magrath sold his Courtland Street property in 1898, it was to another Galt employee and prominent citizen, Henry James Tennant, then a fireman with the North West Coal & Navigation Co. In 1903, Tennant sold his Lethbridge home and moved to Coutts to take up ranching and eventually become a police magistrate. He would run unsuccessfully for a seat in the Alberta Legislative Assembly for the riding of Warner in 1917 as a Conservative.

At some point during the ownership of either Magrath or Tennant, an ornate dwelling with mansard roof and detailed brickwork was constructed on 422 Courtland Street. It was, no doubt, regarded at the time as an elegant addition to the community, and would have been the venue of much upper class socializing. In 1903, Tennant sold the property to Agnes Westfall, who retained possession until 1907. Several other people would occupy the dwelling over the next several years, until, in 1918, it was acquired by Peter Naismith, who converted it into the Beth Isreal Synagogue. At the time, the community around the property contained a large number of Jewish residents. The old Tennant House would serve as a synagogue until 1940, when a new and larger synagogue was built. Upon this move, the Tennant House, which had already undergone several major alterations, was made over into a community grocery store called Regal Grocery. It is as the Regal Grocery that most residents of Lethbridge remember the building, for it would serve as a grocery and, later, as a confectionery until 1988.

The historical significance of the Conybeare Residence lies, to an extent, in its service as a familiar community grocery and confectionery during the middle and latter part of the last century. It also has some significance in its use as a Jewish synagogue between 1918 and 1940, although it had not been designed for religious purposes. Its greatest significance is probably in its association with certain of the leading public figures of Lethbridge around the turn of the last century. Although, with extensive renovations over the years, there is little about it to remind people of its role as an upper class dwelling, aside from the mansard roof and certain brickwork.

The year of construction of the building has not been determined. It may have been built for and occupied by Charles Magrath who owned the property between 1894 and 1898. However, its identification by people in Lethbridge as 'the Tennant House' would suggest that it might have been built during Henry Tennant's ownership between 1898 and 1903. Many people felt that Magrath occupied the property after Tennant, but Land Titles records verify otherwise. The Lethbridge City Archivist is still trying to determine the date of construction.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0795
Designation File: DES 1264
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 50260
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1264)
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