713 Medalta Avenue SE
Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Medicine Hat was rich with natural resources in the early decades of the 20th century, and among the many blessings Mother Nature bestowed on the area was an abundance of high quality clay. Deposits of clay were found up and down the banks of the South Saskatchewan River - which winds its way lazily through the lowlands of town, and there was more in the rolling hillsides surrounding it.
But it was the resource found underneath the clay deposits that literally fueled an industrial revolution in Medicine Hat. Natural gas was so abundant in the region in the early 1900s that drillers were giving it away. The combination of clay and natural gas culminated in a business that grew into a colossus in the clay industry - known worldwide as Medalta.
At its peak, Medalta was manufacturing thousands of crocks, cups, pots and every other conceivable clay item each year. By the 1920s the company supplied 75% of the pottery goods available in Canada. But the booming business eventually went bust. The Depression hit hard, and World War II, even harder. The factory closed in 1954, but its kilns and warehouses still stand.
Today, Medalta is a National Historic Site and a living/working museum that celebrates the ceramic arts. Guests experience the site through guided or self-guided tours, and each of the many original buildings tells a different part of the Medalta story. Beyond a museum, Medalta is a thriving artists' community with a heart made of clay.