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Things That Medicine Hat is Famous For

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Things That Medicine Hat is Famous For


Since its founding in 1883, the prairie city of Medicine Hat, Alberta has made headlines all around Canada for a number of different reasons. Below is a list of some of the things that Medicine Hat is famous for.

1.        Its Name

The medicine man on the Medicine Hat City flag.

The medicine man on the Medicine Hat City flag.

One of the first remarks people make after hearing about Medicine Hat for the first time is that ‘Medicine Hat’ is a really weird name for a city.

There are a number of theories on how Medicine Hat came by its strange name. Although there is some contention on the subject, most people agree that Medicine Hat was named after an Indian legend involving a medicine man’s headdress.

2.       Its Natural Gas

Medicine Hat City Welcome

Medicine Hat City Welcome

Historically, Medicine Hat has been famous for its large reservoirs of natural gas.

‘The Hat’s’ gas is such an integral part of Medicine Hat’s identity that it gave rise to two of the city’s nicknames: 1) The Gas City; 2) The Pittsburgh of the West (now defunct). English writer Rudyard Kipling described the situation during his 1907 visit to the city by saying, “This part of the country seems to have all hell for a basement, and the only trap door appears to be Medicine Hat”.

3.       The Medicine Hat Tigers

Medicine Hat Tigers

Medicine Hat Tigers

Hockey fans from all over Canada know Medicine Hat for its junior ice hockey team, the Medicine Hat Tigers.

In addition to earning the respect of the international hockey community by producing some of the world’s best hockey players, including Trevor Linden and Lanny McDonald, the Tigers have made a name for themselves on the ice. In the 1972-73 season, the Tigers, with Lanny McDonald playing forward, won the WHL championship. Later, the Tigers won two consecutive national Memorial Cups in the 1986-87/1987-88 seasons, with Trever Linden playing forward. More recently, the Tigers played in the 2004 Memorial Cup Tournament in Kelowna, BC, and in the 2007 Memorial Cup Tournament in Vancouver, BC.

4.       The Saamis Teepee

Saamis Teepee

Saamis Teepee

If you’ve ever driven through Medicine Hat on the Trans-Canada Highway, chances are that you’ll remember seeing the Saamis Teepee, the tallest teepee in the world and Medicine Hat’s most prominent landmark.

The Saamis Teepee was originally built for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. It stood in Calgary’s McMahon Stadium, where it housed the Olympic Flame during the opening and closing ceremonies. In 1991, it was re-erected in Medicine Hat, on the old Indian buffalo jump overlooking the Saamis Archeological Site (next to the Number 1 Highway). The Saamis Teepee has since become an icon for Medicine Hat and now serves as one of the city’s major tourist attractions.

5.       The Downtown Gas Lamps

Gas lamp in downtown Medicine Hat.

Gas lamp in downtown Medicine Hat.

The historic nature of downtown Medicine Hat is characterized by the traditional gas lamps that line the streets. Since the early 1900’s, these gas lamps have been burning the local natural gas that Medicine Hat is famous for day and night. Today, the downtown gas lamps are a well-known symbol of Medicine Hat, as they feature on the City of Medicine Hat’s official logo, the road signs that welcome visitors to Medicine Hat at the city limits, and the overpass that crosses over the Trans-Canada Highway near the Saamis Teepee.

6.       Its Sunny Weather

Medicine Hat, Alberta.

A sunny day in Medicine Hat.

Medicine Hat is a popular retirement city- with 15.8% of the population being of retirement age (65 and over) compared with 14.4% in Canada- and with good reason. With an average of 2512.85 hours of sunshine per year, Medicine Hat is officially the sunniest city in all of Canada. Ironically, early Medicine Hat, being the location of the only northerly meteorological station to report the weather for many years, was famous across the Canadian and American prairies for its abysmal weather conditions.

7.       Lanny McDonald

Lanny McDonald's retired jersey number 8.

Lanny McDonald’s retired jersey number 8.

Eighteen-year-old Lanny McDonald joined the Medicine Hat Tigers in the fall of 1971. After leading the Tigers to a WHL championship title in 1973, McDonald went on to have an exceptional NHL career, playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Colorado Rockies (under head coach Don Cherry), and the Calgary Flames (with whom he is most typically associated). In 1992, McDonald (along with his huge red walrus-style mustache) was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In a tribute to McDonald’s success, the Medicine Hat Tigers retired his jersey number 8 and hung it from the rafters of the Medicine Hat Arena, where it can be seen to this day.

8.       The Esplanade

The Esplanade.

The Esplanade.

Built in 2005 as one of Alberta’s Centennial Legacy projects next to the historic Ewart Duggan House, the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre dominates the scenery of downtown Medicine Hat. The rolling tumbleweeds engraved on its granite exterior evoke a sense of false nostalgia for the bygone Old West in which the city was born, and the prairie colours of the theatre inside conjure up images of the coulees just outside the city limits.

9.       Terri Clark

Terri Clark Park in Medicine Hat.

Terri Clark Park in Medicine Hat.

Terri Clark, the Canadian country singer famous for her trademark cowboy hat, hails from Medicine Hat. Although she was born in Montreal, Quebec, Clark spent most of her formative years singing, playing and listening to country music in the Hat. After graduating from Crescent Heights High School in 1987, Clark moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and launched a career in country music that would earn her critical acclaim in both Canada and the United States. Medicine Hat’s Terri Clark Park is named in her honour.

10.   Kalan Porter

Pre-Idol Kalan Porter (far right) in Medicine Hat Tigers goalie equipment.

Pre-Idol Kalan Porter (far right) in a Medicine Hat Tigers jersey.

Kalan Porter is a Canadian singer-songwriter arguably best known for winning season 2 of Canadian Idol in 2004 (beating Theresa Sokyrka and Jacob Hoggard of Hedley in the finals). Born and raised in Medicine Hat, Porter divided his time between the Porter Buffalo Ranch just outside Medicine Hat (closer to Irvine, Alberta) and the Medicine Hat Cultural Centre (where he studied violin, viola and voice) before auditioning for Canadian Idol in 2004.

11.   Its City Hall

Medicine Hat's City Hall.

Medicine Hat’s City Hall.

The city hall is the cornerstone of downtown Medicine Hat. In a departure from the historic stone city halls typical of many other Canadian cities, Medicine Hat’s city hall is a modern architectural marvel. In fact, the architects behind the city hall, who drew inspiration from the colours and contours of the South Saskatchewan River valley, received the Governor General’s Medal for Architectural Design for their work. Built as a Medicine Hat Centennial Project in 1983, Medicine Hat’s city hall features 2 950 square meters of exterior glass, as well as a clock tower and fountain in the Ceremonial Plaza that faces Finlay Bridge.

12.   Trevor Linden

Trevor Linden posing with the Medicine Hat Tigers in 1988.

Trevor Linden (centre) posing with the Medicine Hat Tigers in 1988.

Famous for his work ethic and respected for his character, Trevor Linden is one of Canada’s most celebrated hockey players. In 1986, 16-year-old Linden, a Medicine Hat native, opted to join the local Medicine Hat Tigers junior hockey team rather than attend Princeton University, which he was accepted to on a scholarship. After leading the Tigers to two consecutive Memorial Cup Championships (1987 and 1988), Linden was drafted second overall to the Vancouver Canucks (becoming the youngest player in the NHL at that time). In his 19-season career that followed, Linden played for the gold-winning Team Canada in the 1988 World Junior Championships, set a Canucks rookie record of 30 goals, became the youngest NHL captain at 21, and played in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.  

13.   The Badlands Guardian

The Badlands Guardian, as seen from Google Earth.

The Badlands Guardian, as seen from Google Earth.

Discovered in November 2006 on Google Earth by Lynn Hickox, the Badlands Guardian is a valley less than 50 km east of Medicine Hat (closer to Walsh, Alberta) that, when viewed from above, bears a strong resemblance to the head of an Indian medicine man wearing a plumed headdress. An oil well and the dirt road that leads up to it give the illusion that the Guardian is wearing earphones.

14.   Harry Veiner

The Veiner Centre in Medicine Hat.

The Veiner Centre in Medicine Hat.

Harry Veiner, a successful businessman and former owner of Hycroft China, was the mayor of Medicine Hat from 1952-1966. During his term in office, Veiner worked to give Medicine Hat a good name. A natural athlete, Veiner used his physical prowess to put Medicine Hat in the national spotlight by performing publicity stunts such as alligator wrestling. Veiner’s efforts were instrumental in attracting industries such as Northwest Nitro-Chemicals Ltd. and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. to the city. Veinerville, a small neighbourhood in Medicine Hat on top of Porter’s Hill, is named after Veiner, and the two main streets in Veinerville, Natalie Street and Shirley Street, are named after Veiner’s daughters. In addition, Medicine Hat’s Veiner Centre (which was closed due to flood damage incurred during the flood of 2013) was named in his honour.

15.   St. Patrick’s Church

St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church

St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church

Built from 1912-1914, St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church of Medicine Hat is one of the oldest continuously-poured concrete structures in Canada. With a 170 foot gothic tower and round French Gothic rose windows on the east and west sides of the church, St. Patrick’s is considered by many to be one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival Style architecture in all of North America.

16.   Canada’s Worst Driver

"Medicine Hat drivers," I mutter in disgust, as I snap a picture at the wheel.

“Medicine Hat drivers,” I mutter in disgust, as I snap a picture at the wheel.

On December 15, 2008, Ashley van Ham of Medicine Hat was named “Canada’s Worst Driver” on the final episode of Canada’s Worst Driver 4. As many Hatters might testify, Ashley is not the only driver in the city whose driving skills leave much to be desired.

17.   Medalta Potteries

Medalta Potteries.

Medalta Potteries.

The combination of an abundance of quality clay in the banks of the South Saskatchewan River and the 150 square mile natural gas reserve underground ensured that brick, tile and pottery production became one of Medicine Hat’s earliest and most successful industries. Booming with the establishment of Medalta Potteries in 1912, peaking when Medalta Potteries manufactured 75% of all Canadian pottery in 1929, and enduring throughout the recession of the 1930’s with the establishment of Hycroft China in 1938, the Medicine Hat ceramic industry has since slowed to a crawl. Today, Medalta, in the Medicine Hat Historic Clay District, serves as a relic of a once thriving industry.

18.   Jim Marshall Murals

Marshall's mural at city hall.

Marshall’s mural at city hall.

Prominent among the city art of Medicine Hat are the large-scale sculpted brick murals of Jim Marshall, a historic preservation advocate, member of the Alberta Order of Excellence, and one of the Hat’s most renowned artists. More than three dozen of Marshall’s murals are scattered throughout the city and surrounding area, decorating churches, schools, businesses and government edifices.

19.   The Richardson Family Murders

The Richardson house where the murders took place.

The Richardson house where the murders took place.

A shadow fell over Medicine Hat in April 23, 2006, when the bodies of husband Marc Richardson, wife Debra, and 8-year-old son Jacob, were found in their home in Medicine Hat’s quiet Ross Glen district. The parents, along with their son Jacob, were murdered the previous night by their 12-year-old daughter and her 23-year-old boyfriend, whose relationship they had opposed. Due to the horrific nature of the crimes, the bizarre backstory and the fact that the daughter, at 12-years old, had become the youngest multiple murderer in Canada, the story and its aftermath made national news.

20.   The Medicine Hat News

Medicine Hat News logo.

Medicine Hat News logo.

The Medicine Hat News (formerly entitled The Medicine Hat Times, The Weekly Times, The Medicine Hat Weekly News, and The Medicine Hat News Ltd.) is Medicine Hat’s daily newspaper. It was founded in 1885 by Andrew M. Armour and Thomas B. Braden, the two Ontario-born printers who also founded the world famous Calgary Herald in 1883. The first issues of the Medicine Hat News were printed inside an old CPR boxcar on North Railway Street.


11 comments… add one
  • Jeanne Dawson (nee Brookwick) December 15, 2014, 1:51 pm

    Every so often I Google the Medicine Hat News to find what’s going on in my old home town which I left in 1947 along with my family to join my father serving overseas.
    I did pay a return visit twice in the mid 80s to find that my old school chums resembled their Mothers as I had remembered them – as I now also do! On one visit I stayed briefly with Marilyn and Stu Warne who in return stayed with me on a return visit a few years later in Epsom, Surrey. She took me to meet Hugh Goldie who was in my class at school, and it was wonderful to catch up on all the news about my old school pals. Had I arrived one day earlier, I would have met Gail Canarey, Lynn Anne Haworth and Billie Marj Niblock whom I believe Marilyn had hosted the evening before.

    One thing I would add to the website “Things that Medicine Hat is Famous for” are the facts that during the war there was a prisoner-of-war camp on the outsksirts, holding (I believe) around 2,000 German prisoners of war and more notably the “34 SFTS”. The latter was the Service Flying Training School which trained mainly English pilots. My parents, being English, used to invite an English airmen to Sunday lunch from time to time and to Christmas dinner. My mother used to say how lovely it was to hear an ‘English voice’ again. I used to baby sit for two English families who lived nearby.

    Well, that’s all for now. I shall be keeping an eye on the ‘Hat’ again in the coming year.

    Merry Christmas to all, Jeanne (Brookwick) Dawson

    • Hammerson Peters December 16, 2014, 4:04 am

      Thank you for the comment, and for the suggestion! I will definitely add the POW camp and the SFT School to the list.

    • Jeanne (Brookwick) Dawson February 24, 2016, 11:23 am

      That is not my picture beside my entry above.

      • Hammerson Peters February 25, 2016, 12:02 am

        Hi Jeanne, I think that avatar was randomly generated. I’ve refreshed it so it’s blank. If you want to include a picture of yourself beside your comments, I think you have to add it to the profile of whatever email you use. If you need any help with that, please message me at hammerson@hammersonpeters.com

    • dan July 20, 2019, 7:14 pm

      You might find this interesting – there were closer to 12,000 POW’s in each of Lethbridge and Medicine Hat…enjoy – https://djcarter.ca/books/pow-behind-canadian-barbed-wire

  • Jeanne (Brookwick Dawson) June 3, 2015, 2:42 pm

    I would deasly love to hear from anyone from the ‘Hat’ who might remember me, and catch up on their news over the intervening years. Cheers, Jeanne (Brookwick) Dawson

    • Jeanne (Brookwick) Dawson January 3, 2016, 12:25 pm

      PS That picture which seems attached to two of my previous messages is not me. I shall try and arrange for one of me to appear somehow. Jeanne

  • Betti July 6, 2017, 6:05 pm

    I love medicine hat! Never been, just love the facts! Especially the murder story.

    • Richard December 15, 2018, 6:03 am

      That’s something that most Hatters would rather forget ever happened. The girl who was charged for her role in the killings is out now, hopefully she never returns because she doesn’t belong here. She gave up that right.

  • Doyle February 21, 2018, 2:52 am

    Medicine Hat is a great little city. Thanks for sharing all this information.

  • OnlineUnitedCountry February 4, 2020, 5:38 pm

    No trip to Medicine Hat is complete without a stop at Medalta Potteries. This beautiful old factory now operates as a museum, a public gathering space, and a contemporary art gallery. As we pulled our minivan into the parking lot at Dinosaur Provincial Park, we couldn’t help but feel a twinge of excitement about our upcoming Fossil Safari Tour.

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