Medicine Hat, ALBERTA – On Saturday, December 8, 2012, the Medicine Hat Brick & Tile site, located in the River Flats Neighbourhood of Medicine Hat, Alberta and part of the city’s Historic Clay District, was officially designated a Provincial Historic Resource by Alberta Minister of Culture, Heather Klimchuk. Today’s event was accompanied by an announcement by Medicine Hat Member of Parliament LaVar Payne of funding under Parks Canada’s National Historic Sites Cost-Sharing Program.
“Minister Klimchuk’s announcement today is another tremendous milestone for the Historic Clay District,” explains Barry Finkelman, Historic Clay District Executive Director. “It is further confirmation that Medicine Hat’s early clay industry holds significant cultural value for all Albertans and should be preserved.” Finkelman then clarified, “this area’s brick-making industries really represent the beginning of Western Canada’s industrial development.”
The Medicine Hat Brick & Tile plant is believed to be one of the oldest industrial sites in Alberta, with various brick-making operations working continuously from the 1880’s until I-XL Industries Ltd. was forced to cease operations following a major flood in 2010. In December 2011, the site was acquired by the Friends of Medalta Society from I-XL Industries Ltd with the goal of preserving and interpreting the heritage of the site. The acquisition – which is valued at $4 million – is believed to be the largest heritage acquisition in Alberta history.
With this most recent designation of the Medicine Hat Brick & Tile site, the Friends of Medalta Society are now stewards of three provincially designated sites (Medalta Potteries & Hycroft China) in addition to two National designations (Medalta Potteries and the overall 150 acre district, known as the Historic Clay District). The purpose of these designations is to ensure the protection of historically significant sites while opening up new avenues of heritage funding.
“Designation of the Medicine Hat Brick and Tile site as a Provincial Historic Resource will ensure future generations of Albertans understand a vital period of our province’s industrial history,” said Alberta Culture Minister, Heather Klimchuk. “The partnership between I-XL Industries Ltd. and the Friends of Medalta Society is tremendous example of our corporate and nonprofit sectors working together for the benefit of all Albertans.”
In addition to Minister Kilmchuk’s announcement, Mr. LaVar Payne, Member of Parliament for Medicine Hat, announced the Government of Canada will be contributing up to $100,000 to support the rehabilitation projects at the site.
“Through Parks Canada's National Historic Sites Cost-Sharing Program, the Government of Canada is proud to contribute funds to support preservation of several significant buildings at the Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic Site," said Payne. "By investing in our national historic sites and building lasting relationships with the community groups that operate them, we will continue to help support local economies and encourage more Canadians to explore and discover our national heritage.”
The Historic Clay District is a 150-acre National Historic Site in Medicine Hat, Alberta which encompasses a number of historically significant factory sites, including the Medicine Hat Brick and Tile site. One of the centerpieces of the Historic Clay District is the Medalta Potteries National Historic Site, which features an industrial history museum, major industrial archaeological excavation, contemporary ceramic artists-in-residence program and working pottery. It is one of eight major attractors within the Canadian Badlands and receives significant support from the Government of Canada, Government of Alberta and City of Medicine Hat.