As Calgarians join with visitors from across Alberta, Canada and around the world to celebrate the Calgary Stampede, their neighbours to the south in Lethbridge can celebrate a new landmark that pays tribute to one of the Stampede’s founders.
Alberta Culture Minister Heather Klimchuk approved the recommendation of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation for the naming of McLean Lake, located just east of Lethbridge on Secondary Highway 512. McLean Lake commemorates the historic contributions of Archibald “Archie” McLean, one of the “Big Four” who helped to finance the inaugural Calgary Stampede in 1912. McLean, along with cattle baron Senator Pat Burns, brewer and businessman A. E. Cross and rancher George Lane, each contributed $25,000 to American trick-roper and cowboy Guy Weadick to hold the festival and cowboy skills competition in Calgary.
Founding the “Greatest Outdoor Show in the World” was just one of the achievements of McLean who rose from humble beginnings as a range rider on the CY Ranch near Taber to become a managing partner in the ranch, publisher of the Taber Times newspaper, successful cattle exporter and influential politician. First elected in 1909 as an independent, McLean later served in the cabinet of the then Liberal government, ending his political career in 1921. As Minister of Public Works, McLean is credited with the creation of Alberta’s early highway system.
The naming of McLean Lake means that all of the “Big Four” have been recognized by the naming of Alberta geographic sites. George Lane and A.E. Cross are commemorated in the Nanton-area locales of Cross Creek and Lane Creek. Mount Burns, Burns Creek and Burns Lake, all within 500 kms of Turner Valley, recognize cattle baron and senator, Pat Burns.
Belinda Crowson of the Lethbridge Historical Society submitted the name to Alberta Culture’s Geographic Names Program, carrying on the project that was initiated by fellow Historical Society member, Irma Dogterom. Any Albertan can propose names for specific geographic resources by submitting an application to the program. Names which commemorate individuals or events of historic significance will be considered.