The settlement and development of the Palliser region is a story of overcoming adversity and hardship with hard work, vision and ingenuity. The area is named after Captain John Palliser, who studied and mapped the agricultural potential of this part of western Canada, virtually unknown to European settlers, in the late 1850s. Captain Palliser concluded that the region’s dry climate, sandy soils and vast, grassy plains were too harsh for agricultural production and therefore virtually uninhabitable.
Early settlers were quickly able to disprove Palliser’s assessment of the area. The region provided exceptional conditions for raising livestock and grain, and is now home to some of the most productive agricultural operations in western Canada. Using the same ingenuity as the original settlers, Palliser farmers skillfully manage the region’s desert-like and drought-prone climate with precision dryland farming and irrigation.
The region’s population density is varied, with many people living either in long-established small communities or in quickly expanding urban centers. These communities are welcoming and inclusive, with many cultural groups represented throughout the area. For example, the City of Brooks is a truly multicultural community: more than 100 languages are spoken in this fast-growing community of just over 13,600 people, earning it the nickname “The city of 100 hellos.”
Museums, arts and cultural celebrations are plentiful throughout the Palliser region, some of the more notable ones include:
- Active performing arts communities in Medicine Hat (Conservatory of Music and Dance), Brooks (Newell Concert Society), Foremost (Theatre Group), Bow Island (Blues at the Bow) and Rosebud.
- The Medicine Hat College Theatre, Medicine Hat Musical Theatre Association, Fire Hall Theatre, Fut in the Hat Theatre, and local high school drama students host regular productions.
- The Medicine Hat Symphonic Society educates young musicians and presents concerts, as well as sponsors the Annual Young Artists Concerto Competition.
- Many dance studios offering instruction in most styles of dance, for all ages.
- Some of the finest blues artists in North American gather at the historic Bow Theatre in Bow Island as part of Blues at the Bow Live.
Arts and Culture
- The Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic District celebrates over a century in ceramics and is home to Medalta Potteries, an innovative industrial museum, contemporary ceramic arts facility, art gallery and community hub.
- The Shaw Centre for Contemporary Ceramics hosts artists from across the globe.
- The Medicine Hat Cultural Centre houses a Fibre Arts Studio, Art Studies, Ceramics Studio, Photo Lab, Art Gallery, Black Box Theatre, and the Medicine Hat College’s Dance and Music Academies.
- Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre combines an art gallery, museum and theatre under one roof.
- The Town of Hanna has a strong Arts community and features a Pioneer Village and Museum and the nearby Doll Palace showcases over 2,600 dolls.
- The world’s tallest Tepee, the Saamis Teepee, was originally constructed for the Calgary 1988 Olympics and is a tribute to Canada’s First Nation’s people.
Festivals and Events
- The annual Medicine Hat Jazz Festival (Alberta’s longest running Jazz festival).
- The Spectrum Sunshine Festival presents a weekend full of events and entertainment throughout Medicine Hat – celebrating 25 years in 2015.
- The City of Medicine Hat also hosts the Annual Polka Festival, Tongue on the Post Folk Music Festival (Alberta’s only winter folk festival), Ralston Arts Festival, Rotary Music Festival, and the Rose Bowl Competition.
Visit our Community Profiles for more historical and cultural sites and events within each Palliser region community.