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Magrath celebrating 125th anniversary in 2024

Posted on February 29, 2024 by admin

By Heather Cameron
Westwind Weekly News

The Town of Magrath is turning 125 years old this year.

According to Mayor Byrne Cook, Magrath is known as the ‘Garden City’ because of irrigation, and it was originally founded as settlers started the development of what is now known as the St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID) canal system.

The population of Magrath, Cook says, is 2,481 according to the 2021 Federal Census and the community is predominantly made up of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as it was settled by pioneers of that faith 125 years ago, but there are also active Mennonite and Lutheran faith groups in town.

In terms of the economy, Cook said, the Town of Magrath had 107 active business licenses as of 2023. 

“We have the businesses common to most small towns and then we also have a large segment of home businesses with individuals that have their primary office based in their homes or are working remotely and traveling to their workplace only as necessary,” said Cook. “Magrath faces the same challenges as every small community does where its businesses are trying to compete in an increasingly larger and more accessible marketplace but overall, the town is doing quite well.  Successive Town Councils have been conscious of the need to develop our local infrastructure which has allowed steady community growth and the financial capacity for new projects. Over the years, we have seen an increase in professionals living here and most recently those that work online. Our school and recreational facilities are great, and the recent residential home construction trend has been very encouraging.”

Cook says that some of the businesses in Magrath include the Dahl Medical Clinic, Magrath Dental, Pharmasave, Good Samaritan’s Society, and Diamond Willow Lodge. Alberta Health Services (AHS) supports the ambulance and is currently repositioning the x-ray and lab facilities. The town, Cook says, also provides an FCSS program. Magrath is truly a quiet bedroom community surrounded by farms and ranches, and includes walking trails, a new swimming pool with water slides, pickle ball courts, a top-notch golf course, sports fields, hockey rink, and courts filled with youth and adult leagues that result in the town’s high school teams being competitive in basketball, volleyball, and baseball/softball at the Provincial level. 

“We are also pretty sure that Magrath was Canada’s first introduction to the original ‘Taco in a Bag’,” said Cook. “Many tourists come to visit our golf course. We also see visitors coming to use our disc golf course, campground, pool, walking trail, or to play in sports games or tournaments. Magrath’s proximity to Lethbridge allows tourists to take a day trip and access activities that might give them more space.”

Magrath’s current Council, Cook says, is stocked with passionate people with six out of the seven members of the Magrath Town Council being in their first term and eager to see the community grow.

Magrath, Cook says, also works closely with its neighbouring communities, especially the County of Cardston,with whom they share a Water Commission and Fire Department. Magrath, Cook says, also meets with Cardston, Raymond and Stirling on a quarterly basis where Mayors and CAO’s discuss items that may affect everyone.

Cook says that the Town also hosts several community events a year. The primary event hosted by the Town of Magrath would be Magrath Days, Cook says, which is celebrated every 4th weekend in July. The festival typically has a parade, food trucks, entertainers, tournaments, inflatables, family activities, trade shows, beer gardens, rodeo, and fireworks. 

“This year is Magrath’s 125th birthday and the Town intends to see it will be the best Magrath Days yet,” said Cook.

There is also a Children’s Festival in September, Cook says, and that is hosted by FCSS and community volunteers and includes games, entertainers, and an outdoor movie on the wall. Finally, Hometown Christmas happens on the first Thursday of December following the American Thanksgiving holiday and features the local businesses, public skating, craft shows, hay rides, a bonfire, and visits with Santa.

“Magrath is a quiet peaceful gem that may appear to just be a bedroom community, but it really does have its own personality and strengths,” said Cook. “Neighbours still know and help their neighbours; we cheer on each other’s kids in the rink or the gym and it just feels like home. One of Magrath’s greatest exports is our children. While they may not all be able to come back and live in Magrath, they certainly do take their values and goals with them wherever they may end up.”

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