One of the most prominent artists in the city's history, enjoy a tour of James Marshall's beautiful brick murals.
James Marshall is exceptionally curious about the environment in which he lives, and proud of his province. His brick relief murals can be found across Canada but, being born and raised in Medicine Hat, there is a concentration of several masterpieces commemorating local legends, historic moments, and religious icons. Downtown Medicine Hat is a great place to start your immersion in this Albertan treasure, with many murals within walking distance of some of Alberta’s finest cafès. What’s even better, you’re in Canada’s sunniest city so it’s almost guaranteed you’ll have a pleasant day for a walk.
St John’s is Medicine Hat’s oldest church, standing since 1902. On the outside wall along Second Street, two of Marshall’s murals can be found, depicting religious themes. One depicts Christ on the cross, while the second shows Christ with a small congregation huddled around a child.
BATUS Park is a small downtown park where Medicine Hat’s first City Hall stood. Marshall’s mural commemorates the importance of the British military, which operates the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) 30 kilometres from town. The unit has deep roots in Canada’s sunniest city with ties to Canada’s largest World War II POW Camp.
Heron Fountain. When it was decided to beautify this idyllic downtown park, James was asked for input on a water feature. His idea was so well-received, it became a focal point to those who entered the park, with the mural of two herons among branches is one of Marshall’s most intricate works.
Flood of 1995: This wall represents the tragic flood that hit Medicine Hat in 1995. It also showcases how our incredible community came together to help and support one another. This mural was built to raise funds for those affected by the flood, through community support and an anonymous donor.
Bandshell. A wonderful summary of Medicine Hat’s heritage. From its importance as a First Nations gathering place to one of Western Canada’s most important early industrial centres, this mural weaves centuries of stories together.
Marshall’s first mural shows the Legend of the Saamis, from which the city of Medicine Hat draws its name. According to legend, a harsh winter forced Blackfoot elders to send a young tribesman, his new wife, and wolf dog to save the starving tribe. Following the frozen South Saskatchewan River, the group found Medicine Hat’s river valley. After summoning spirits from an unfrozen hole in the river, a giant serpent emerged and asked for sacrifice in exchange for special powers of hunting prowess.
To this day, that hole in the river never freezes.
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church is one of Medicine Hat’s most visible landmarks. Inside, the ascension of Christ can be found, completing Marshall’s Stations of the Cross. It is the 17th of Marshall’s Stations of the Cross, with the first 16 found a block away.
In 1995, Marshall was asked by a group of Catholic nuns to depict Jesus’ condemnation, crucifixion, rise and ascension in a series of 17 murals. Soon after beginning, his studio was hit with the flood of 1995, collapsing mural 13. Luckily, it was rebuilt and installed in time for the turn of the millennium.