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Lethbridge historian tracks down unique books from 1914

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It’s been a search 10 years in the making for local historian Belinda Crowson. She set out to find two books, written by two sisters in the early 1900s. As Quinn Campbell reports, the hunt is finally over. – Jun 16, 2022

Belinda Crowson loves a good book, especially when it’s got some local history.

The historian and avid reader set out to find two unique books dating back an entire century.

“I knew that in 1914 two sisters that visited Lethbridge in 1911 had both written novels,” added Crowson.

Read more: New book gives readers snapshot of Lethbridge’s past

After keeping a close eye on book sites for about 10 years, she has finally added both books to her private collection.

“One is a first addition, one is a reprint and both of them are set in southern Alberta. One is actually set mostly in Lethbridge and it tells this beautiful story of Lethbridge in 1911,” she said.

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The books are written by Cicely and Madge Smith. The young sisters were from England and came to Lethbridge to visit their brother who was a lawyer at the time.

Cicely’s book is titled City of Hope and Madge wrote Alberta and The Others, which Crowson said clearly highlights Lethbridge.

Read more: Black History Month: The untold story of ‘Auntie’ Annie Saunders in southern Alberta

“She sets it in Sunshine and it’s absolutely Lethbridge, right down to the descriptions. They would have arrived here at the train station,” said Crowson.

“They talk about our square, which would have been Galt Gardens. They talk about the hospital, which they call the Salt Hospital instead of the Galt Hospital.”

The books are now stamped with her initials and a forever home on her book shelf.

Crowson is already looking for her next needle-in-a-hay-stack book to collect.

“I’m always trying to find those books that aren’t very much in print and, as I said, every historian has that list [of books to collect] and I probably shouldn’t admit that yesterday I just tracked down five more books for my collection,” laughed Crowson.
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