The history of mud, pavement and parking in the middle of main street.
Have you ever wondered when parking in the middle of main street started in Raymond? It all starts with the story of a muddy pioneer town.
The first attempt to solve Raymond’s mud problem was made in 1907 when William Spackman was hired by the town to build a plank sidewalk. According to an article in the newspaper, they were built so that ladies of Raymond could “do [their] shopping without having [their] skirts weighed down with Raymond mud.” In 1910 Mayor George Budd promised to add more sidewalks and gravel to the roads. He said that if these improvements were made, the people of Raymond could get to “the principle places of business … without getting lost in the mud.”
Though it helped, the problems were far from solved. Ken Stone tells a story of seeing a rain storm in 1917 where a buggy sunk to its hubs in the mud in front of the Merc. In 1927, out of frustration, the newspaper carried an editorial about the situation on main street. It said, “The Town of Raymond is sick – sick of wallowing in mire at every moderate precipitation of moisture. Let us have in the doctor of roads before we are buried by The Black Undertaker, – MUD!”
Again in 1935 the local paper said, “When one travels to a town and sees beautiful homes, nice schools, lovely parks and so on, all isolated by bad rough and bumpy roads what a feeling of disappointment it brings …” In 1942 they added, “We almost blush when people have to get out in mud to their ankles to get into stores and offices … LETS DO SOMETHING”
In 1943 the Rotary Club took on the challenge and put together a proposal for the town on how to improve main street. It included 12 foot wide sidewalks and a 10 foot boulevard. The club also invited Lethbridge’s city manager, Jack Watson, to come to discuss the possibility of an asphalt hard surface. Council was invited to join in that meeting and they all agreed that something needed to be done, but they couldn’t settle on what the first course of action should be. Five years passed before the town proceeded with the construction of cement sidewalks in the downtown district. They completed the west side of the street in 1948 and the east side in 1949. This was a welcome and definite improvement, but there was still the issue of muddy & dusty roads.
In 1954 the province was moving forward with plans to pave highway 52. Town council asked the citizens if now was the right time to pave main street. The Chamber of Commerce, who supported paving, worked hard and got 58% of residents out for the vote with 75% of them supporting paving.
It was in July of that same year that town Councillor Robert Salmon put a motion before town council that when the road was paved, parking in the centre of the street from Church Ave. to Melchin Motors (QT Tire’s present location) be allowed. The motion passed.
It only took 54 years to solve the issue of mud, now the discussion is whether it is legal for you to park your super extra-heavy-duty diesel long-body pick-up truck on main street. Will it take 54 years to solve this one?