A Hidden Lethbridge Treasure: The Witch Hut
By: Andres Salazar
Although it doesn’t look like it, the city of Lethbridge is home to many exciting artifacts, locations, and historically significant memorials. Some are better known than others. The prominent Lethbridge monument is none other than the high-level bridge. However, Lethbridge also has some very well-hidden gems. None is more fascinating than what is commonly known as Lethbridge’s Witch Hut. An art piece, a landmark, and an overall spooky spot. Exploring the Witch Hut is a great way to learn more about the fascinating underbelly of our university’s hometown.
The Witch’s Hut retains names, including the Lethbridge Garbage Castle, the Doll House and The Thing in the Coulees. The Witch Hut is a large fort made entirely of recycled materials. In its foundation is a variety of broken bicycle and plumbing parts, obsolete appliances and an immense population of half-decayed plastic dolls. It also has a makeshift staircase that goes to a second floor that showcases a fantastic view. The Witch Hut is an example of how Lethbridge is the home to different treasures not seen in mainstream sources.
Finding the hut is as simple as going on a walk into the coulees from the University of Lethbridge. The hut is often visible in its creepy glory directly from the N parking lots. A fifteen, almost twenty-minute walk later in the coulees, you’ll find the large structure in a grassy field. Finding it alone is a treat, as the hut’s gray, rusty and decaying aesthetic is a stark contrast to the coulees’ yellow and green colour palette. Inside the Witch Hut walls are wires and bars that hold it tight in place. There’s beautiful chaos to it. At first glance, it may seem like a random hoard of garbage, but the way everything is placed makes for a cohesive and well-organized piece of architecture. You’ll find yourself lost, staring at the basketball net right over the main entrance and the kitchen tools that seem exactly like the ones you once had at home. Holding it together is a collection of wooden beams, metal wires and fence gates. Although it doesn’t seem like an incredibly strong fortress, standing on its second level will shock you at how rigid and well-built it really is.
The Witch Hut is a great example of how a small town can be the home of such a mysterious yet interesting piece. Finding information on its background can prove to be very difficult; the online platform, Reddit, has boards dedicated to discussing its strange origins. The Witch’s Hut is such a unique part of Lethbridge’s walking trails. The lack of travel blogs covering it and media appearances is puzzling. However, all the discussion and speculation lead the hut to have an almost supernatural aura.
The Witch Hut is an incredible example of how art can give a second life to what we would commonly deem garbage. The hut is made almost entirely of materials that are half-broken or decomposing. If not for the construction of the Witch Hut, most of what’s inside its walls would likely be decaying in a waste field or in the coulees themselves. One of the most interesting things about the hut is the way it recycled all these materials to improve its structural integrity. Going back to the idea of the hut having a beautiful sense of chaos, its “messy” design is mostly a farce, as there is a real logic to how the weight and shape of the materials are organized and put together.
While at first sight, it might not seem like the type of sightseeing location that would show up on the cover of a travel magazine, the Witch Hut is one of Lethbridge’s many hidden gems. In the heart of the coulees, the fort is an example of something built by the community, both in the sense of its mysterious creators and the community who threw away what would become its building blocks. A great place to visit before it gets too cold in the coming months, the Lethbridge Witch Hut is fun to explore, as long as you don’t get too spooked from all the decapitated dolls on the walls.