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In 1886, a Mormon named Charles Card was directed by the then President on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, John Taylor, to go north and find a suitable settlement site in Canada. In 1887 he chose an area which later became the town of Cardston, then began recruiting settlers from Utah. Apparently the Canadian government was thrilled that so many skilled agricultural workers were settling in an area where the mining industry was settling down.

According to the LDS Church website:

The favorable reception of the Canadian government to the member-settlers was a reflection on the times. At a moment when Ottawa’s national policy was to seek new settlers to populate the almost endless stretches of the Canadian West, immigration—particularly of skilled and seasoned farmers—was strongly encouraged. With both Church directives and government incentives as impetus, President Card returned to Alberta and in time organized the villages of Mountain View, Beazer, Leavitt, and Kimball.

And the Canadian Encyclopedia:

Irrigation played an important role in the evolution of Lethbridge as agriculture displaced coal as the key local resource and the main source of jobs. Between 1898 and 1900, Mormon migrants from Utah built a 185-kilometre long system of canals to divert the St Mary River, the first large-scale irrigation system in Western Canada.

With that background in mind, here is a rumour I often hear floating around about later settlements of Mormons that moved both east and west: Near all of these settlements was the new and growing town of Lethbridge (which now has a massive Mormon population). According to the rumour, when Mormons started arriving nearby, a law was passed that no Mormon was allowed to settle within 50km of Lethbridge.

This is used as an explanation as to why there are so many little, predominantly Mormon settlements surrounding Lethbridge. I've heard this rumour for years. I've even said it to people before. However, the only source I've ever been able to find that this may have been true is this quote from the LDS website (same link as above):

What animosities nearby neighbors and fellow settlers may once have harbored against the Mormons gradually gave way in the face of the Manifesto of 1890 and the growing reputation of the Latter-day Saints for industry, thrift, integrity, obedience to law, temperance, strong family ties, and an enthusiastic loyalty to Canadian institutions and traditions.

"The Manifesto" is a name that has been given to the LDS Church's direction to its members to stop practicing polygamy.

So my question is: Is this rumour about Lethbridge true?

  • So... I just realized there is a History SE site which would better serve this question. Should I delete it here? – Alamb Mar 24 '16 at 2:47
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    It's on topic here, so I don't think there's a pressing need to move it. The user base here may also be more amenable to this sort of history question anyway, but if you don't get an answer after awhile it would probably be fine to post it there as well. – Nathaniel is protesting Mar 24 '16 at 3:13
  • I re-posted this question on the HistorySE site, thinking that the answer might be more about history than religion. The answer I got there answered my question. Here's a link to it. There was no law passed and it may not have had anything to do with religion at all. – Alamb Mar 24 '16 at 16:55
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It seems to be somewhat true that there was some hostility to the arrival of Mormons to the city of Lethbridge, Alberta!

Lethbridge became a town on November 29, 1890 and a city on May 6,1906.

"The first permanent LDS residents of Lethbridge were encouraged to settle there by A. C. Magrath, the first mayor of the city." - Land of the Second Chance, page 146.

This however was not always the case.

"Mormons who grew up in Lethbridge, at that time remember that there was some hostility towards them. At one time there was an effort by a women's group to keep Mormons from buying land within ten miles of the city. But this attempt was not successful, and relations began to improve as the townspeople came to know the Mormons." - Land of the Second Chance, page 147.

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