Fun Facts About Lethbridge

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Photographs published in the April 24, 1965 Lethbridge Herald article about skateboarding. - Courtesy of Galt Museum & Archives

Sidewalk Surfing

by Belinda Crowson

Have you ever tried sidewalk surfing?

When something new is created, in the beginning several different names may be used before one name is chosen and comes to be the preferred name for that item or activity.

When the automobile was first invented, some of the early names it was known by included horseless carriage, motor carriage and automotor horse.

Before 1926, softball was variously known as kitten ball, diamond ball and pumpkin ball. It had also been referred to as indoor baseball, as one of the early ideas was that softball was a game to be played during winter to keep ballplayers ready for the next season.

In the 1940s, Joseph G. Sobek created a new sport which he called paddle rackets. Today the sport is called racquetball.

So, what is sidewalk surfing better known as today? In 1965, the Lethbridge Herald carried a Canadian Press article about a new craze that had come to Canada, and it was variously known as sidewalk-surfing, skurfing or skateboarding. The writer of the article was not impressed with the craze, noting that it had been adopted by “=Canadian teen-agers “and a few so-called adults”.

The article also joyfully listed some of the dangers that could happen to anyone who attempted to skateboard and reported that skateboards were known as “coffins” in Montreal.

One must wonder what the writer of that article would think of the way this “craze” lives on and the number of skateboard parks that have been created since then.

In 1999, the Dave Elton Skatepark was opened in Lethbridge. It was joined in 2014 by the SLP Skatepark, and more parks are expected over the next few years.

By whatever name you call it, sidewalk surfing has remained a strong part of Lethbridge since its introduction in the 1960s.

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