Wednesday, 14 June 2017 15:09

Diggers set to hit the stage as Chautauqua gets underway

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This is the weekend for annual Chautauqua, June 16-17, with a theme of ‘History, health and the arts.’


The two-day event will be separated between the two communities of Stirling and Raymond, with each one hosting a day of celebrations.
Also taking place is the Chautauqua Live theatrical performance called Diggers.
It is the history of the pioneering irrigation project centred in Magrath that so profoundly shaped the future of the region.
Magrath was the hub for this 115-mile project channeling the water of the St. Mary River to irrigate vast stretches of unbroken prairie. The project was the first large scale irrigation project in Canada, and was inaugurated with the opening of the Magrath Head-Gates by the Galt’s Alberta Railway and Irrigation Company on November 14, 1899.
Magrath was subsequently known as “The Irrigation Capital of Canada.”
Water reached the City of Lethbridge Sept. 4, 1900. The project led to the creation of the sugar industry centred in Raymond and many other agricultural innovations from that point to Medicine Hat.
Charles Magrath (of Mayor Magrath Drive fame) and his brother-in-law, Elliott Galt, were its instigators.
Today the St. Mary River Irrigation District (SMRID) is the largest in Canada with 2,060 kilometres of canals and pipelines irrigating 1,505 square kilometres of land from the Cardston region to Medicine Hat.
Attracting immigrants to the region, it was a major motivation for this project and the Galts required that two communities be built — Magrath and Stirling — as part of this contract. The Town of Raymond quickly followed.
The Galt Canal National Historic Site and Nature Trail on the south side of Magrath and the Stirling Agricultural Village National Historic Site are permanent reminders of the vision of the Galt family and the hard work and tenacity of those early settlers.
This original play will be performed at the Raymond Playhouse Theatre with evening shows June 14-17 and a matinée on Saturday, June 17.
The Chautauqua is year two of a four year repeating series of annual tourism events centred around four historical plays showcasing the unique history of the Magrath, Stirling, Raymond and Cardston areas.
It follows a Chautauqua format with was popular throughout the province in the early 20th century.
Chautauquas of this era had several themes, essentially, and were originally organized to provide “Entertainment, Inspiration and Education.”
The four pillars of Chautauquas today, typically, are Education, Cultural Arts, Religion and Recreation.
Tickets for the Chautauqua live Musical Theatre Production can be purchased online at www.cardston communitytheatre.com.
More information online at: www.themormontrail.ca.

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