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      Lethbridge and District Association of REALTORS®
516 - 6th Street South - Lethbridge, AB T1J2E2
Phone: 403.328.8838 Fax: 403.328.8906
Email: eo@ldar.ca
 
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Raymond  


Twenty miles south of Lethbridge is Raymond, known as the Sugar City, the town sugar built. At the beginning of the 20th Century it was a vast open prairie with arms outstretched waiting for someone to take advantage of its rich virgin soil, sunshine and water. Although Magrath and Stirling had been colonized in 1899, the land in between had not been settled. Early in 1901 Jesse Knight, a Utah Industrialist and humanitarian, sent his two sons to Alberta to investigate this land. The result was they purchased a block of 30,000 acres and he decided to build a sugar factory that would give employment to settlers and others who would come where they might secure land on easy terms and build their homes. On July 10, 1901 he entered into a contract with the Canadian Northwest Irrigation Company and the Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company to purchase an additional 226,000 acres and build a beet sugar factory, to handle the beet crop of 1903 and keep it in operation for twelve years. Following the signing of the contract a townsite was located and named "Raymond" after Mr. Knight`s oldest son Raymond. Immigrants flocked in by the hundreds and by 1903 the pioneers were quite well established in the new town. The village became a town and was incorporated July 1st, with Charles McCarthy as Mayor. The wheels of the Raymond Flour Mill and Elevator began to turn January 20, 1903; the new frame school house was completed; the first Sugar Factory in Western Canada was in operation. The Raymond Mercantile and King Bros. Stores supplied the town with groceries, dry goods, boots, shoes, furniture, household goods, and machinery. By 1906 Raymond was a hustling, busy, little town of 2,500 people with a good local and long distance telephone service, express service, a branch of the continent`s strongest bank, the Bank of Montreal, professional men, doctor, dentists and druggist, good stores, good churches and a local newspaper. Perhaps the greatest thrill of the year 1907 was the installation of an electric light system, which was turned on for the first time December 27. Another thrill was to follow two years later with the building of the Raymond Opera House, with a marvelous spring dance floor and commodious stage. From the beginning Raymond was the centre of the hunter`s paradise. Lakes to the north and all over the Milk River Ridge on the south, provided the natural habitat for millions of ducks, geese, snipe and swans. The pintail grouse and prairie chicken were found in abundance all over the prairies. Deer and elk roamed the hills and coulees in the ridge country and still provide enough for an open season each year. The first school house built in 1903 was soon overcrowded and in 1910 a new three-storey brick school went up - this housed grades one to eight. The same year the Latter Day Saints Church established their first church school in Canada and was named in honor of the founder of Raymond, the Knight Academy. In 1920 a Provincial Agricultural College was built and functioned as such until 1931, it is now used as an Alberta hospital. A new high school was completed in 1952 and the old building served as a Junior High taking the overflow of grades five and six. 1963 saw the completion of two new schools to replace the old high school and elementary. The year before the Catholic Church had erected a separate school, named Sacred Heart School. Today Raymond has four new schools, of which the citizens can be justly proud. During several years just prior to the First World War economic conditions were so unfavorable to the Knight Sugar Company that after their twelve year contract expired they shut down their plant. During the war high grain prices made prosperous times for the farmers. However, following 1918 grain farming alone was inadequate and the far-seeing leaders of Raymond and district united their efforts to bring back a sugar factory. After much hard work and many negotiations the Utah-Idaho Sugar Factory was brought in to Raymond in 1925 - the factory of the new company - Canadian Sugar Factories Ltd., had its problems but finally consistent progress was made from year to year in beet and sugar production. In 1931 the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company of Salt Lake City sold the Raymond plant and stock of sugar, to the B.C. Refining Company of Vancouver. The subsequent success of this factory laid the foundation for a second factory at Picture Butte in 1935 and a third one at Taber in 1950. It was a severe blow to Raymond and district when the management of the Canadian Sugar Factories announced that the last campaign for slicing beets in Raymond would be 1963. Although sincere organized efforts were made to keep the factory open, all were in vain. As big a setback as this may seem, it does not dim Raymond`s vision of future progress, or determination to go forward with courage, hope, and eyes open to brighter days.

 

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Lethbridge and District Association of REALTORS®
516 - 6th Street South - Lethbridge, AB T1J2E2
Phone: 403.328.8838 Fax: 403.328.8906
Email:eo@ldar.ca Terms of Use Privacy Policy
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