Logged in as user  [Login]  |
ARHP
Return to Search Results Printable Version
 





Key Number: HS 29877
Site Name: Medalta Potteries
Other Names:
Site Type: 0723 - Industrial/Manufacturing - Miscellaneous Products: Factory

Location

ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
12 5 4


Address: 713 Medalta Avenue SE
Number: 13
Street: N/A
Avenue: Medalta SE
Other:
Town: Medicine Hat
Near Town:

Media

Type Number Date View
Source

Architectural

Style:
Plan Shape:
Storeys:
Foundation:
Superstructure:
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure:
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: N/A
Interior: 4 beehive kilns, 2 tunnel kilns, 2 small structures and 2 beehive kilns have been removed. Little equipment left but the machinery which remains is museum material (dry pan for grogging, ball machine, sage blunger and original blunger). Beehive kilns are quite rare. (1975)
Environment: Lot size: approx. 8 acres. Located in old industrial area of south Medicine Hat. Not threatened by encroaching developments. May be in danger of re-development. Buildings located on about 8 acres of land, easily accessible.
Condition: Neglected, deteriorating. Buildings, excepting the 1912 structure are in quite good structural condition. Mechanical systems, particularly electrical system, may require renovation. Some roof leakage. Walls of 1912 building are collapsing. Site is almost totally devoid of industrial equipment except for equipment and kilns mentioned earlier. Two tunnel kilns are still standing. (1975)
Alterations: N/A

Historical

Construction: Construction Date:
Constructed ca.
1912/01/01
Usage: Usage Date:
Manufacturer's
Bottle Storage
1912/01/01
1975/08/01
Owner: Owner Date:
Medicine Hat Pottery
Medalta Stoneware Limited
Medalta Stoneware
Medalta Potteries
Mountain Minerals Ltd.
1912/01/01
1915/12/01
1916/01/01
1927/01/01
1975/08/01
Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: Started production in 1913. Major producer of stoneware in Canada, particularly Western Canada. In 1940 Medalta began manufacturing semi-porcelain hotel ware -- cornered the market in this product. Contracts included CPR, CNP, RCAF, Hotel Vancouver and restaurants throughout Western Canada. Medalta is one of the oldest ceramics plant still standing perhaps the oldest in the Western Provinces. Ceased operations in late 1960's. Some machinery and processes developed at Medalta reputed to be innovative and had significant effect on ceramics technology.

* * *
Architectural Importance:
Complex site consist of 13 adjacent warehouse structures 4 beehive kilns, 2 tunnel kilns, 2 small structures and 2 beehive kilns have been removed. Little equipment left but the machinery which remains is museum material (dry pan for grogging, ball machine, sage blunger and original blunger). Beehive kilns are quite rare.
Heritage Significance:
In the 1880's Medalta was the major producer of stoneware in Canada, particularly Western Canada. In the 1940s the company cornered the market in the manufacturing of semi-porcelain hotel ware. Contracts included CPR, CNP, RCAF, Hotel Vancouver, etc., and restaurants throughout Western Canada. Medalta is certainly one of the oldest ceramic plants still standing, perhaps the oldest in the Western provinces. Limited machinery of museum interest remains in the 1912 structure. This includes dry pan for grogging, ball mill, sager blunger and original blunger. Four 'beehive' kilns are extant; these may be rare. Little industry equipment is intact on the site.

* * *
1912-13
Medicine Hat Pottery Company
It was in the midst of development of the clay products industry - and during an economic boom in Alberta - that Medicine Hat was visited in the winter of 1912 by John A. McIntyre of Spokane. A plumber and steam fitter who had been, for a year, the manager of Spokane's Western Porcelain Manufacturing Company, McIntyre decided to take advantage of Medicine Hat's gas and establish a pottery for the manufacture of stoneware - even though local shale clays were unsuited for it. He convinced the city of Medicine Hat to grant him a number of concessions: the city gave him three acres of serviced land with free gas and no taxes for a period of five years. In return, McIntyre undertook to build a factory no smaller than 22,400 square feet at cost of not less than $37,000, and to employ between 50 and 65 people. The agreement was signed on 29 February 1912. ...
On 21 March McIntyre incorporated the Medicine Hat Pottery Company.

McIntyre's factory forms the nucleus of the Medalta complex of today - what are now known as buildings 2, 13, 12, 10, and 11, the structures with the stepped gables that give the group its distinctive profile. The Medicine Hat News of 13 June 1912 described the building as being 250 by 160 feet, the precise dimensions of the surviving structure.

The facilities were fine, but the business soon failed. The problem may have been the high cost of importing clays from Washington. Although clay suitable for pottery manufacture was discovered in nearby East End, Saskatchewan, it was too late to save the company. By March 1914 the Medicine Hat Pottery Company was in liquidation.

1916-24
Medalta Stoneware Limited

Medalta Stoneware Limited went into production in May 1916, superintended by W. Clark, an experienced Ohio potter who had also been in charge of the Medicine Hat Pottery Company. The company developed a thriving business in stoneware, producing crocks, bowls, and flower pots - the latter made from red clay dug out of the land behind the plant.
1924-54
Medalta Stoneware Limited

The late 1920s marked the of Medalta's success in stoneware manufacture. It said that three-quarters of all stoneware used in Canada had been made by Medalta. Even with the increased production capability, many orders could not be filled.

All of this came to an end in 1929 with the acceptance of glass containers by beverage bottlers in Western Canada. The victory of the glass industry was a disaster for Medalta. In March 1929 Charles Pratt and the other shareholders of Medalta Potteries sold their assets to Reginald C. Carlisle and O. Clair Arnott of Calgary for $250,000.

Medalta's fortunes improved in 1937 when president A.D. Cumming hired ceramic engineer Ed Philipson as superintendent. ... Cumming agreed to invest the capital...

The Medalta plant was kept busy during the war making green dishes for the armed forces....

When the war ended, Medalta returned to manufacturing hotel china. The late forties marked a second boom period for the plant.

In 1952, however, the company was sold again. The new management, headed by a Mr. Pulkingham from Hamilton, foolishly decided that the successful hotel ware production
would be stopped and replaced by earthenware items to be marketed as movie theatre giveaways.
Philipson resigned, the earthenware progamme was an instant failure, and in the summer of 1954 the Medalta plant closed down.

1955-78
Hycroft China Ltd., Sunburst Ceramics Ltd and Medalta (1966) Ltd.

In 1955 the factory became Hycroft China Ltd., then owned by Marwell Construction of Vancouver. It was taken over in 1958 by Malcolm MacArthur, a veteran of other Medicine Hat potteries. A fire in December of that year (...) shattered his hopes of successfully marketing 'a birch bark set...'

The Ralph Thralls (father and son) of Lethbridge next formed Sunburst Ceramics Ltd. and tried to make another go of the Medalta plant in 1960. They installed some new equipment, but in 1966 left the Medicine Hat plant and moved the Sunburst business to Lethbridge. After fifty years of production, the Medalta plant stopped making ceramic wares.

In January 1976, the Thrall family finally sold the Old Medalta plant to Earthex Resources Ltd. Earthex has rehabilitated the building as industrial and warehouse space.

*   *   *  
HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE
Medicine Hat Potteries started production in 1913.   It was the major producer of stoneware in Canada.   In the 1940s the company cornered the market in the manufacturing of semi-porcelain hotel ware.   Contracts included CPR, CNP, RCAF, Hotel Vancouver, etc., and restaurants throughout Western Canada. Medalta is one of the oldest ceramics plants still standing, perhaps the oldest in the Western provinces.   It ceased operations in the late 1960s.   Some machinery and processes developed at Medalta are reputed to be innovative and had significant effect on ceramics technology.  

July 14, 1976 - Provincial Historic Resource. 

* * *
Plaque status: Plaqued in 1990. Cost-shared by Parks Canada.
Early 20th-century beehive kilns and manufacturing buildings.

Internal

Status: Status Date:
Active

Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
Federally Designated
1976/07/14
1985/01/01
Register: N/A
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/06/26

Links

Internet:
Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0183
Return to Search Results Printable Version



Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.


Home    Contact Us    Login   Library Search

© 1995 - 2020 Government of Alberta    Copyright and Disclaimer    Privacy    Accessibility