William Stafford, the son of an English mining engineer and
geologist, was born in Patna, Scotland, in 1842. After a
Scottish education, he followed his father's calling. In 1867,
he emigrated to Westville, Nova Scotia, to manage the coal mines
of the Acadia Coal Company. In 1882, he was engaged by
Galt to accompany Captain Nicholas Bryant to
the West to assets coal mining possibilities there.
As the only practical coal mining engineer in the party,
Stafford's counsel carried much weight when Sir Alexander and
Elliott Torrance Galt and Bryant met to choose between opening a
mine at Blackfoot Crossing, near modern Gleichen, or at the Coal
Banks. Stafford opted for the latter because of the quality of
the coal. Thus
Lethbridge was born.
The actual location of the future city was dictated when, on
13 October 1882, Stafford decided to open a drift mine on the
east side of the Belly (now Oldman) River at a point just north
of today's CP Rail High Level Bridge.
Stafford supervised the opening of drift mines Nos. 1 to 9
and shafts Nos. 1 to 3. In 1894, he became Inspector of Mines
for the District of Alberta and was followed as Mines
Hardie. By this
time, Stafford had become interested in ranching and resigned
from the Galt Company to follow that pursuit. A spacious ranch
home, which became a community and social centre, was built in
the river bottom in what is now Peenaquini Park.
William Stafford died on 12 May, 1907 and was buried in
Mountain View Cemetery.
This article is extracted from Alex
Johnston, Keith G. Gladwyn and L. Gregory Ellis. Lethbridge:
Its Coal Industry (Lethbridge, Lethbridge: City of Lethbridge,
1989), Occasional Paper No. 20, The Lethbridge Historical
Society. The Heritage Community Foundation and the Year
of the Coal Miner Consortium (of which the City of Lethbridge is
the lead partner) would like to thank the authors for permission
to reprint this material.