Take a deep-dive into Medicine Hat's history, and into some of the most prominent buildings in the city.
Many buildings in Medicine Hat’s Historic Downtown were constructed, brick by brick, in the early 1900s. Most still stand with modern decor and small shops inside.
Medicine Hat Courthouse
When built from 1919-1920, it was the first of its kind design wise, with a Beaux-Arts Classicism style. The building was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1978 and added to the Canadian Register of Historic Places in 2006.
St. John’s Presbyterian Church
St. John’s Presbyterian Church was the first church building in downtown Medicine Hat and also served as the first schoolhouse. The church standing today was officially opened in September 1902, after a woman named Mrs. Blatchford proposed the construction of a new church that could better represent a growing congregation.
Fifth Avenue Memorial United Church
Fifth Avenue Memorial United Church was officially designated a municipal historical site in 2019. It was originally built in 1913, but following a tragic fire it had been rebuilt in 1931. The church continues to serve the religious and community needs in Medicine Hat today.
St. Barnabas Anglican Church
St. Barnabas Anglican Church was constructed in 1912. The church cost $26,000, plus $775 in architect fees. It was made with brick and Bedford stone, and laid out east and west in relation to the sunrise on St. Barnabas Day (a few degrees different).
At 17-years-old, William Roper Hull moved to Canada from England to work on a relative’s farm. He built buildings across Alberta, including downtown Medicine Hat’s largest building, Hull Block. Currently inside, you’ll find a cozy and artistic coffee shop, The Copper Leaf Cafe, along with other professional business spaces.
Built in 1907, the brick used to construct this building was locally manufactured in Medicine Hat during its budding ceramics industry. The Cypress Club of Medicine Hat, established in 1903, still resides inside. A membership must be attained to enjoy the dining room — memberships are open to anyone.
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
During World War I, this branch took great pride in their staff members’ effort on the battlefield. Sgt. JC Matheson was a member of the 10th Battalion and left a heartfelt letter detailing his battalion’s role in the second Battle of Ypres. With bullet holes in his helmet, no food or water, and dying soldiers all around, he pondered, “How I ever came through is a mystery to me.”
Being over one-hundred years old, the theatre still invites people to enjoy a film during new and annual downtown events. It was built to be a motion picture theatre and amusement house, with 560 seats, and it stands today as the oldest in Alberta. It was the first of its kind in Medicine Hat and Canada when it was built.
The optimism during the manufacturing boom centered on natural gas and clay deposits led to the construction of several large buildings like the Beveridge Building. Many local businesses and organizations have come and gone throughout the years, including a clothing store, events business, bar and eatery, and speakeasy lounge.
Built in 1905, it is considered to be one of the first buildings designed by architect William T. Williams after his arrival from the United States. Station Coffee Company opened inside the Turpin Block building in 2013 and has continued to serve a good cup of coffee and warm feeling when you walk through the door.
This building was constructed for brothers-in-law James Hargrave and Dan Sissons, who were renowned ranchers and businessmen in the area. Hargrave-Sissons Block was originally built in 1901, with additions in 1910. One hundred years later, Inspire Studio, Gallery, & Café moved in and opened its doors.
Canadian Pacific Railway Station (CPR)
There were early reports that Southern Alberta was unsuitable for agriculture, and engineer Sir Sandford Fleming originally proposed that CPR avoid Southern Alberta altogether. If it wasn’t for a CPR decision to overturn Sandford’s decision, this Chateau-style station, one of its finest in Canada, would never have been built. This historic building and space still operates today.
| It is little known outside of Medicine Hat, but during World War II, the city was home to Canada’s largest prisoner of war camp, which held 12,000 prisoners, more than the population of the city. One of the buildings still stands on the Stampede grounds to this day. Find more information at the Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre Archive Reference Services room.