Galt Irrigation Canal National Historic Event

Magrath, Alberta
Image of plaque - present day (© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2003)
Image of plaque - present day
(© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2003)
Address : Magrath, Alberta

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1983-06-13
  • 1898 to 1900 (Significant)

Other Name(s):
  • Galt Irrigation Canal  (Designation Name)
  • Magrath Head Gate  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: 1983-17, 2010-SDC-CED-030

Importance: First major irrigation project in Canada, 1898-1900


Original Plaque:  Magrath, Alberta

Promoted by Elliot T. Galt, Charles Alexander Magrath and Charles Ora Card, and aided by the Dominion Government, the frst large-scale irrigation system in Canada was inaugurated with the opening of the Magrath Head-Gates by the Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company on 14th November 1899. It extended for ninety miles from Kimball to Lethbridge and beyond. British capital, Canadian entreprise, and the vision, experience and labour of Mormon Pioneers united to fructify and beautify the land.

Existing plaque: Spencer Park, south of Magrath Magrath, Alberta

The original canal, built between 1898 and 1900, stretched from the St. Mary River, near Kimball, to Lethbridge and Stirling. It was soon after extended and expanded, with concrete structures eventually replacing the first timber ones. Known by several names, usually those of the successive companies which owned it, the canal was built principally through the efforts of Elliott Galt, Charles Magrath and Charles Card. The Galt Canal was the first large-scale irrigation project in Canada and was instrumental in opening up semi-arid land in southern Alberta to agriculture and settlement.