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Federal Building

Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1990/09/27

Federal Building J D Higenbotham; (National Archives of Canada, PA 53200.)
Exterior photo
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Other Name(s)

Federal Building
Federal Building J D Higenbotham
Édifice fédéral J D Higenbotham

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1912/01/01 to 1913/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/06/16

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Federal Building at Lethbridge is a four-storied monumental building of classic simplicity with a rectangular footprint. The building has a modest Beaux Arts styling. There is a modern 1958 addition on the east side. The main entrance is located in the addition. The two principle facades of the original building, on 4th Avenue and 7th Street are anchored at the northwest corner by the corner clock tower. The seven-bay façade facing 4th Avenue and the five bay façade facing 7th Street are stylistically identical, with projecting pavilions flanking the pilastered central bays. The end pavilions are topped by attic level scroll pediments. The principle facades, have rustication on the lower storey, the intermediate storeys are of smooth ashlar, and both facades are of note for their decorative stonework. The Federal Building is situated on a major thoroughfare of Lethbridge’s commercial sector. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Federal Building in Lethbridge is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values:

Historical value:
The Federal Building in Lethbridge is a very good example of the national theme of the establishment of a federal presence in communities across Canada at the turn of the last century. This was particularly the case within the newly created provinces of Sakatchewan and Alberta. It is associated with the monumental phase of federal building and is one of only three surviving Beaux Arts buildings of its type under Federal ownership.

Architectural value:
This building is a very good and attractive example of federal design at the local scale. It draws on Beaux-Arts principles to establish a strong, yet dignified, urban presence. The Department of Public Works supervised the construction of a number of signature style post offices, using a melange of English Renaissance detailing in their Beaux Arts interpretation. This classical style was considered an appropriate medium of expression for local, state or federal building commissions. The design of these Beaux-Arts inspired post offices was based on a system; no two buildings looked alike but all carried the same elements of the style. The uniqueness of this building is its scale which is normally designed for larger centres, it is distinguished by its classic simplicity. The Federal building is one of only three surviving Beaux-Arts monuments of its type in federal ownership. The custodial department is Public Works Canada.

Environmental value:
The dramatic and boldly sited building with its prominent clock tower provided a highly visible boost to the urban development and visual core of downtown Lethbridge. It is prominent visually and is a popular local landmark. The building is associated with its mail and processing plant. It is a modest yet representative example of its type which is in keeping with its location in a smaller town. The building has modest Beaux Arts styling distinguished by classic simplicity rather than lavish ornateness.

Martha Phemister, The Federal Building, 7th Street at 4th Avenue, Lethbridge, Alberta. 89-112;Federal Building, 7th Street at 4th Avenue, Lethbridge Alberta. Heritage Character Statement 89-112.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Federal Building in Lethbridge should be respected.

Its construction style and good quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
- the monumental public scale and profile
- the classical quality of the exterior hammer dressed stonework cladding of
the upper floors;
- the exterior rustication of the lower floors;
- the ornate sculpting around the roof and clock tower;
- the copper sheathing of the roof and clock tower;
- the five metre ceiling in the post office lobby;
- the decorative plaster ceiling and terrazzo floors;
- the black marble counter tops and marble interior wainscoting.

The manner in which the building reinforces the urban streetscape of Lethbridge through its construction, scale, and its location, and its physical and functional relationship to the other buildings in town.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Architect / Designer

David Ewart (1897-1914)



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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