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Medicine Hat
City
City of Medicine Hat
City hall, the courthouse and Medicine Hat Public Library are visible across the South Saskatchewan River, looking south from Finlay Bridge
City hall, the courthouse and Medicine Hat Public Library are visible across the South Saskatchewan River, looking south from Finlay Bridge
Flag of Medicine Hat
Flag
Coat of arms of Medicine Hat
Coat of arms
Official logo of Medicine Hat
Logo
Nickname(s): "The Hat", "The Gas City"
Motto: Animo et Fide  (Latin)
"By Courage and Faith"
Country Canada
Province Alberta
Region Southern Alberta
Census division 1
Founded 1883
Incorporated  
 • Village May 31, 1894
 • Town November 1, 1898
 • City May 9, 1906
Area (2016)
 • Land 112.04 km2 (43.26 sq mi)
Elevation 690 m (2,260 ft)
Population (2016)
 • Total 63,260
 • Density 564.6/km2 (1,462/sq mi)
 • Municipal census (2015) 63,018
Demonym(s) Hatter
Time zone MST (UTC−7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC−6)
Postal code span T1A to T1C
Area code(s) 403, 587
Highways 1, 3, 41A, 11A, 595
Waterways South Saskatchewan River, Seven Persons Creek, Ross Creek
Railways Canadian Pacific Railway
Website www.medicinehat.ca

Medicine Hat is a city in southeast Alberta, Canada. It is approximately 169 km (105 mi) east of Lethbridge and 295 km (183 mi) southeast of Calgary. This city and the adjacent Town of Redcliff to the northwest are surrounded by Cypress County. Medicine Hat was the sixth-largest city in Alberta in 2016 with a population of 63,230.

Medicine Hat is situated on the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1), the eastern terminus of the Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3), and the South Saskatchewan River. Nearby communities considered part of the Medicine Hat area include the Town of Redcliff (abutting the city's northwest boundary) and the hamlets of Desert Blume, Dunmore, Irvine, Seven Persons, and Veinerville. The Cypress Hills (including Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park) is a relatively short distance (by car) to the southeast of the city.

Historically, Medicine Hat has been known for its large natural gas fields, being immortalized by Rudyard Kipling as having "all hell for a basement". Because of these reserves, the city is known as "The Gas City".

History

Name origins

The name "Medicine Hat" is the English translation of Saamis (SA-MUS) – the Blackfoot word for the eagle tail feather headdress worn by medicine men – or "Medicine Hat". Several legends are associated with the name from a mythical mer-man river serpent named Soy-yee-daa-bee – the Creator – who appeared to a hunter and instructed him to sacrifice his wife to get mystical powers which were manifest in a special hat. Another legend tells of a battle long ago between the Blackfoot and the Cree in which a retreating Cree "Medicine Man" lost his headdress in the South Saskatchewan River.

A number of factors have always made Medicine Hat a natural gathering place. Before Europeans arrived, the Blackfoot, Cree and Assiniboine nations used the area for hundreds of years. The gently sloping valley with its converging waterways and hardy native cottonwood trees attracted both humans and the migratory bison herds which passed through the area.

Founding

In 1883, when the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) reached Medicine Hat and crossed the river a town site was established using the name from the First Nations legends. As the west developed, Medicine Hat became instrumental with the development of the first hospital past Winnipeg in 1889 and as a CPR divisional point. It was incorporated as a town on October 31, 1898, and as a city on May 9, 1906. Medicine Hat is halfway between Winnipeg and Vancouver.

Progress and growth

Rich in natural resources including natural gas, coal, clay, and farmland, the town was known in the early days as "the Pittsburgh of the West". A number of large industries located here, under the inducement of cheap and plentiful energy resources. Coal mines, brick works, pottery and glass bottle manufacturing plants, flour mills, etc. became established. The agricultural potential of the surrounding area, both in crop and livestock, also made the town a viable service centre with a well established transportation route. An economic boom was experienced between 1909–1914 bringing the population to over 10,000. Little growth occurred between the World Wars, although the population swelled in the mid-1940s due to the town hosting one of the largest Second World War P.O.W. camps in Canada. It was not until the 1950s that the town again experienced significant commercial development. Today, Medicine Hat prides itself as one of the most economical places to live in Canada, with its unique city-owned gas utility and power generation plant being predominant factors. Major industries have included chemical plants, a Goodyear tire and rubber plant, greenhouses, numerous oil and gas related companies, a foundry, I-XL Industries (a brickworks dating from the 1880s), to name a few.

Medicine Hat Teepee at Night, Alberta, Canada
Medicine Hat Teepee at night
Medicine Hat Speedway Derby, Alberta, Canada
Medicine Hat Speedway Derby

Geography

The Medicine Hat landscape is dominated by the South Saskatchewan River valley. In addition to this major river, both the Seven Persons Creek and Ross Creek empty into the South Saskatchewan River within the City of Medicine Hat boundary. The presence of these water bodies provide for a dramatic valley landscape with numerous cliffs, and finger coulees throughout the city. Beyond the city and river valley the land is flat to slightly rolling and is characterized by short-grass vegetation. Medicine Hat is also known as Canada's sunniest city.

Forty kilometres (about twenty-five miles) to the east at 50°0′38.2″N 110°6′48.3″W / 50.010611°N 110.113417°W / 50.010611; -110.113417 (Badlands Guardian) lies the Badlands Guardian Geological Feature. It is a landscape formation taking the form of a head wearing a feathered headdress. The head is 1,000 feet (300 m) wide. It is in inverse relief, formed by valleys rather than raised ground.

Climate

Located in the steppe region known as Palliser's Triangle, Medicine Hat has a semi-arid, continental climate (Köppen climate classification BSk), with cold winters, and warm to hot, dry summers. Frequently, the winter cold is ameliorated by mild and dry chinook winds blowing from the west, and hot summer daytime temperatures are made more tolerable by low humidity and rapid cooling in the evening hours. Medicine Hat receives less precipitation annually than most other cities on the Canadian Prairies and plentiful sunshine (widely known as "The sunniest city in Canada"), making it a popular retirement city. Maximum precipitation typically occurs in the late spring and early summer.

The highest temperature ever recorded in Medicine Hat was 42.2 °C (108 °F) on 12 July 1886. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −46.1 °C (−51 °F) on 4 February 1887.

Neighbourhoods

  • Cottonwood – A community located above the Cottonwood golf course, between the light industrial area and the airport. Overlooks the World's Largest Teepee.
  • Crescent Heights – Mainly built in the 1950s through to the 1960s. Located on the north side of city on the entire hill above the river valley.
  • Crestwood and Norwood – This is an older area of town mainly built in the 1950s. It is located on a plateau southeast of the South Flats and the Seven Person's Creek. The Medicine Hat Stampede and Exhibition centre is within this area.
  • Hamptons - A four-phase neighbourhood approved for development in 2005. It is located in south Medicine Hat, and is bounded by South Boundary Road to the south, 13 Avenue SE to the east, South Vista Heights to the west and Southridge to the north. It features architectural controls implemented by the developer.
  • North Flats – The oldest area in Medicine Hat. Located northeast of the CPR marshaling yards near the South Saskatchewan River and downtown. An inner-city neighbourhood that is home to residential and industrial uses. This area is in the east valley.
  • Park Meadows – An area that was developed in the 1990s, adjacent to Crestwood. Primarily residential with several apartments.
  • Parkview – A subdivision developed in the 1990s, and located north of the South Saskatchewan River. It is adjacent to Police Point Park and Medicine Hat Golf and Country Club.
  • Ranchlands – A neighbourhood developed in the mid 2000s and located in the northeast sector of the city. The neighborhood includes residential lands both above and in the South Saskatchewan River valley.
  • River Heights – Located on the Southwest Hill north of the hospital, and south of the South Saskatchewan River. Includes River Heights Elementary School and an extended care wing, which was originally a part of the hospital.
  • Riverside – A mature inner-city neighbourhood along the north bank of the South Saskatchewan River. The community has experienced gentrification. Mature trees and boulevards line the streets.
  • Ross Glen – Low density middle-class neighbourhood located in the southeast end of the city.
  • Saamis Heights – Located west of South Ridge in the south sector of the city. Saamis Heights was developed in under five years. The community borders the Seven Person's Creek valley and thus provides some walkout view lots.
  • South Flats – Located south of the CPR marshaling yard, also in the valley, and adjacent to downtown.
  • South Ridge – The first residential development south of the Trans Canada Highway. First developed in the late 1970s. Adjacent to the World's Largest Teepee.
  • South Vista Heights – A new residential suburban community south of the Trans Canada Highway.
  • Southeast Hill – One of the oldest areas of the city. It originally overlooked downtown on the north side of the hill and Kin Coulee on the south side. Originally this area housed CPR workers. It is home to four schools.
  • Southlands – A community that opened in 2007. It is home to a significant regional commercial centre including Wal-Mart, Staples, Canadian Tire and Home Depot. The residential community includes parks, future school sites, many low residential lots, and several large multi-family sites.
  • Southview – Located in the southeast part of the city between Ross Glen and Crestwood.
  • Southwest Hill – Located west of Division Avenue next to the SE Hill area. It is home to five schools and the city's hospital.

Housing

The average home price in Medicine Hat as of the end of September 2012 was $258,535.

Demographics

In the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the City of Medicine Hat recorded a population of 63,260 living in 26,652 of its 27,970 total private dwellings, a change of 5.4% from its 2011 population of 60,005. With a land area of 112.04 km2 (43.26 sq mi), it had a population density of 564.6/km2 (1,462/sq mi) in 2016.

The population of the City of Medicine Hat according to its 2015 municipal census is 63,018, a change of 3% from its 2012 municipal census population of 61,180,

In the 2011 Census, the City of Medicine Hat had a population of 60,005 living in 25,445 of its 27,342 total dwellings, a change of 5.3% from its 2006 population of 56,997. With a land area of 112.01 km2 (43.25 sq mi), it had a population density of 535.7/km2 (1,387/sq mi) in 2011. Also in 2011, the Medicine Hat population centre had a population of 65,671, while the Medicine Hat census agglomeration had a population of 72,807. The population centre includes the adjacent Town of Redcliff to the northwest and a small portion of Cypress County to the east that includes the Hamlet of Veinerville, while the census agglomeration includes Redcliff and Cypress County in its entirety.

More than 89 percent of residents identified English as their first language at the time of the 2006 census, while 6 percent identified German and just over 1 percent each identified Spanish and French as their first language learned. The next most common languages were Ukrainian, Chinese, Dutch, and Polish.

More than 79 percent of residents identified as Christian at the time of the 2001 census while almost 20 percent indicated they had no religious affiliation. For specific denominations Statistics Canada counted 16,175 Roman Catholics (26.5 percent), 9,445 members of the United Church of Canada (15.5 percent), and 6,170 Lutherans (slightly more than 10 percent). Less numerous denominations included 3,780 Anglicans (more than 6 percent), 1,745 members of the Evangelical Missionary Church (almost 3 percent), 1,470 Baptists (over 2 percent), 1,220 identifying as Pentecostal (2 percent), 1,220 Latter-day Saints (2 percent), and 675 Presbyterians (just over 1 percent).


Attractions

Saamis tepee
Giant Teepee installation, 1991

The Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic District is a living, working museum that offers a unique and extensive experience through collections, exhibits, interpretation, guided tours and educational and artistic programming. The Medalta Potteries and Hycroft China Factory Complexes are the focal points in this 150-acre (0.6 km2) region. This nationally recognized industrial historic district is a cultural initiative of the Friends of Medalta Society with Federal, Provincial, Municipal and Private support. Restoration, preservation and cultural development of the Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic District for the purpose of education and public enjoyment is ongoing.

Just south of the Trans-Canada Highway and overlooking the Blackfoot buffalo jump is the world's tallest teepee, the "Saamis Teepee". Designed for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary as a symbol of Canada's Aboriginal heritage, it was moved to Medicine Hat in 1991. It stands over 20 stories high and was designed to withstand extreme temperatures and winds up to 240 km/h (150 mph). During a January 2007 windstorm, a portion of the teepee was damaged. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that extensive weathering was partially to blame. After repairs were complete, the Saamis Teepee now stands approximately 15 feet (4.6 m) shorter.

The Medicine Hat Family Leisure Centre is the largest indoor multi-purpose facility in the city. The building is 90,000 sq ft (8,000 m2) and is sited on 57 acres (230,000 m2) in the north end of the city. The facility includes an Olympic-sized ice rink, 50m pool, waterslide, diving platforms, kiddies pool, wave pool and cafe. It is currently undergoing an extensive renovation to include an indoor soccer facility, track and improved fitness centre. The improvements will almost double the size of the facility. In the area surrounding the Leisure Centre facility there are several other sporting venues including; 4 ball diamonds, lighted football field, 3 soccer pitches and one of the largest BMX racing facilities in Southern Alberta.

Located in downtown Medicine Hat, The Esplanade is a large multi purpose cultural centre. The facility features a 700+ seat performing arts theatre, art gallery, museum, archives, gift shop, and cafe. The Esplanade officially opened in October 2005.

The Medicine Hat Drag Racing Association is located just off the Trans Canada Highway on Boundary Road or the spectators entrance on Box Springs Road. This is Alberta's only sanctioned NHRA track and is a 1/4 mile in length. The facility proudly supports affordable family entertainment and encourages people to race the strip, not the street. The seasons typically run from May till September hosting a variety of events from jet and alcohol cars, bracket racing and the NHRA National open which attracts approx. 300+ cars from all over North America.

Medicine Hat Public Library is located across the street from The Esplanade. It has over 10,000 annual members and is the resource library for the Shortgrass Library System of Southern Alberta.

Parks

There are over 100 kilometres (62 mi) of walking trails in the city. All of the major parks are linked by the extensive trail system.

Echodale
View of the pond at Echodale Regional Park
  • Police Point Park was an early North-West Mounted Police outpost, and the park is now a 300-acre (1.2 km2) nature-lovers' dream with shale paths next to the South Saskatchewan River. It is also one of Southern Alberta's well known birding destinations. The park encompasses The Medicine Hat Interpretive Program building, where they run programs and inform the public about the happenings of nature around the city.
  • Strathcona Island Park is located along the south bank of the South Saskatchewan River. The park has 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) of walking trails, playgrounds, a water park, ball diamonds, a pavilion centre, washrooms, ice skating, kitchens and fire pits. The park is heavily treed.
  • Kin Coulee Park is located along the banks of the Seven Persons Creek. This 100-acre (0.4 km2) park is almost entirely manicured. The park features a skateboard park, 2 ball diamonds, beach volleyball courts, fire pits, a band shell, washrooms, and 2 playgrounds. It's also the venue for the annual Canada Day festival and fireworks.
  • Echodale Regional Park is a 650-acre (2.6 km²) park that includes an artificial swimming lake. Amenities include a beach, walking trails, fire pits, canoe rentals, paddle boats, snack bar, washrooms and historic ranch.
  • Central Park – located in the Southeast Hill neighborhood – is surrounded by large cottonwood trees and, on the north side, a row of cedar trees. It also has play structures and a spray-deck. A street basketball court can be found here, which is usually in full use during the summer months.
  • Riverside Veterans' Memorial Park – located downtown across River Road from the South Saskatchewan river and across 6th Avenue from city hall – is home to the city's Cenotaph, a WWII era Sherman tank, a brick mural by James Marshall and two Canadian Pacific Railway locomotives.
Echo Dale Park July 2010
Panoramic view of Echodale Regional Park

Military

Medicine Hat is home to the South Alberta Light Horse (SALH), an army reserve unit. The SALH dates back to 1885 when it took part in the North-West Rebellion. Since then it has gained battle honours in the First and Second World Wars and today its members continue to serve overseas on United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization missions. Currently the SALH has members serving in Afghanistan.

Medicine Hat was also home to a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan airfield and a POW camp during the Second World War.

Canadian Forces Base Suffield is located 50 kilometres (31 mi) west of the city. It is estimated that the base contributes C$120 million annually to the local economy, principally through its two lodger units: British Army Training Unit Suffield, and Defence Research and Development Canada – Suffield).


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