Lethbridge had its beginnings with the notorious whisky trade.  Fort Whoop-Up, which was located along the Oldman River , was an American trading outpost operating from 1869 to 1874 when the North-West Mounted Police arrived on the scene.  A replica of the Fort can now be found in Indian Battle Park located in the river valley. This park is the site of the last great Indian Battle in North America , which was between the Cree and Blackfoot people.  The Blackfoot were victorious in the battle, and in the following year peace was made between the tribes.

In 1869, Nicholas Sheran discovered coal deposits near the original site of Fort Whoop-Up.  In 1874 he started to quarry coal and later opened a mine just north of what is now Whoop-Up Drive .  In 1882 Sir Alexander Galt and William Stafford began to develop coal mines as well, and began an industry that continued operation in the city until 1957.

The city continued to expand with the development of the agricultural service sector, and has grown from a small coal-mining town to an active population of over 80,000 people.  Lethbridge is home to a college and university, as well as numerous industries and businesses, and is ranked one of the ten best places in North America to do business.