Our History


By October 9, 2020 November 19th, 2020 No Comments

Thanks to the vision of nine members of the community over five decades ago, the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta is a thriving, vibrant organization with a long history of community support.

The nine individuals— C.J.F. Beny, Violet Broder, Reed C. Ellison, Sven Ericksen, William Fairbairn, Frederick M. Pritchard, Ralph C. Tennant, Ralph A. Thrall, Sr., and Louis Sherman Turcotte—formed the first board of the then-Lethbridge Foundation, and are responsible for establishing the legacy we continue to uphold today.

Of the nine, the individual who first shared his vision for a local community foundation was Louis Sherman Turcotte, a local lawyer and judge.

“Turcotte was known to have worked diligently behind the scenes to get community buy-in and funds for the organization,” said George Hall, former Community Foundation Executive Director. “He was instrumental in creating the original Lethbridge Foundation Act, which was proclaimed in the Alberta Legislature on April 18, 1966. He later bequeathed more than $400,000 to the Foundation after his passing in 1983, which served to significantly increase our granting ability.”

Turcotte’s gift would become the first of three substantial gifts to the Community Foundation over the past 50 years. The second gift, received in 2005, was from the estate of James Earl Rinehart, who left the bulk of his $6 million estate to the Community Foundation. Rinehart’s gift came without restriction, allowing us to support a diverse range of projects and charities to meet the most pressing needs of the day.

The most recent substantial gift, received in December 2014, was a bequest from the estate of William “Bill” Long, a Pincher Creek-area rancher. Long’s $4.4 million gift, the Henry S. Varley Fund for Rural Life, is dedicated to improving and sustaining rural communities in Southwestern Alberta.

While these three gifts are substantial in size, all gifts to the Community Foundation have a significant impact in the community. The vision of our original founders continues today through our donors and their generous support of the community through our work.

PHOTO, ABOVE: The founding members of what would become the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta at their inaugural meeting in August, 1964. Back row, left to right: Lethbridge Mayor Frank Sherring; Ralph C. Tennant; Charles J.F. Beny; William Fairbairn; Sven Ericksen; Reed Ellison. Seated, front, left to right: James K. Ringland; Violet Broder; Ralph A. Thrall, Sr.; Louis Sherman Turcotte.

PHOTO, TOP: Louis Sherman Turcotte; PHOTO, MIDDLE: James Earl Rinehart