Friday, April 03, 2009

Medicine Hat, Alberta

Morning Marston

 Lest I leave with the impression that all Medicine Hat consists of is a giant useless windswept metallic replica of a portable aboriginal dwelling, let me hasten to correct that image

Actually Medicine Hat is one of the prairie jewels that remains unclaimed by most Canadians who stop at the Husky Service Station on the Highway to fill up on the way through, never seeing any more than the slipper of Cinderella.

Its name is from an encounter between a war party of Cree and a band of Sioux, including a Medicine Man. To avoid capture, the Sioux drove their horses into the river

In an attempt to flee up the bluffs on the other side. In the scuffle, the Medicine Man lost his Bonnet.  This was not just a Hat as the Europeans described it, but similar to a war bonnet which is earned one feather at a time and a very personal piece of ones identity. The Medicine Man made several attempts to recover it but it was swept away with the current and lost. THus the legend of the Medicine Hat was born. The railway, crossed the South Saskatchewan River at this Point and Steam Paddlers were able to get this far up the river from the east but the changing sand bars and unpredictable depth of the water due to spring flooding and summer droughts soon proved to much'

In the late 1800's, many people travelled through the Hat to reach other places as it was and still is the main line east to west. One of the most notables was Rudyard Kipling who after seeing the natural gas seeping from the ground, coined the phrase " This is the place that has all hell for a basement"

Medicine Hat forms the eastern boundaries of what is called the Palliser Triangle. The other two points are Lethbridge and Calgary. Originally it extended all the way from the Rocky Mountains, north to Edmonton, then East to Portage La Prairie Manitoba and back South along the American Border. Capt John Palliser, a famous cartographer and land surveyor from Ireland, warned that this was a desolate place incapable of sustaining farming.  The dust bowl of the early thirties almost proved him right but Early Mormon pioneers with their extensive irrigation farming skills tipped the scales back in favour of grain production and commercial farming. Now these early dykes and ditches have been transformed into the St Mary's River irrigation system which brings welcomed water all the way from Glacier National Park to just east of Medicine Hat and all points in between

So Medicine Hat is a bustling progressive City of just under 70,000 people.  You can still find writing on stones and Indian TeePee circles sharing space with Big Box stores and traffic terminals.

Glad I got that out of my system, as it would be unfair to leave this Beautiful City out when I will be including the smallest of Hamlets on my trip East



Doug G

Thanks Doug

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