An Albertan author has written a story that brings a glimpse of what life was like in Lethbridge more than 100 years ago and it is named after the city itself.
Inspired by a true story, Lethbridge tells the tale of an English lad abandoned by his family and a young American rejected by his own father.
Both come to Lethbridge in search of a future and find themselves drawn to a teenage Scottish immigrant, who is unsure of her own destiny and the expectations that young love place on her desire for freedom in a new land.
“My mother, she died 18 years ago, but she was born in Lethbridge and she always spoke about it,” said author Terry McConnell.
He said she always talked about Lethbridge with such affection, that he was always very keenly interested in the story of his grandparents and how it revolved around Lethbridge.
McConnell said his biological grandfather’s name on his mother’s side is on the cenotaph located outside of the Yates Theatre as Knowlton, S.R. because he fought in the Great War.
“My biological grandfather sustained war wounds three separate times, in three separate battles and it was the last battle that did him in,” said McConnell.
He said part of his inspiration to write “Lethbridge” came from the romance between his grandparents, which had a tragic ending as his grandfather died a month before his mother was born, from his war injuries.
“My grandmother moved back home to Lethbridge, and there she eventually married my adopted grandfather, but it always struck me as a fascinating story,” said McConnell.
Lethbridge is a work of fiction, but it is grounded in and inspired by the author’s personal histories.
Lethbridge unfolds from the trenches of wartime France to the military hospitals of England. Yet the lives of its three protagonists come together in one place, the frontier western Canadian city of Lethbridge, Alta.
When describing the plot of the story McConnell said both young men heed the call to arms. The American has always wanted to be in the army. The Briton feels the tug of patriotic duty. Yet both struggle to sort through their feelings and ultimately question why the ongoing slaughter in Europe holds sway over the lives they strive to make for themselves in Lethbridge. The Scottish lass is left behind to ponder what destiny has in store for her, and what she needs to do to face her fears of a future seemingly beyond her control.
(This is an excerpt from an article published March 2, 2022. The full article can be read here.)