Photo Essay: Muddy family fun in Medicine Hat at Medalta

Last weekend me, my boys and partner Jamie, did a quick road trip from Regina to Medicine Hat. At only 4.5 hours away, it’s a reasonable destination for a weekend getaway.

I’d never been to the Hat. Well, that’s not technically true. I’d been through it several times. I admit, before I spent time there, it was merely a drive through town for me. However, I must share that I’m so happy we were able visit and give it a chance as there are several charming, surprising and interesting places to explore. In fact, I wish we had a bit more time. I guess we will just have to return again!

Saamis Teepee Medicine Hat Jenn Smith Nelson

Jumping for joy outside the world’s largest teepee (Saamis teepee) found in Medicine Hat.

One such attraction, Medalta, is found within the Historic Clay District in a century old factory and has an illustrious history.

Medalta Medicine Hat Jenn Smith Nelson

Medicine Hat thrived during the industrial revolution in Canada. As the city sits on a bed of clay and natural gas, it’s the perfect region for pottery production.




Medalta is rich historically speaking and truly a multifaceted space. It’s part gallery, industrial museum and home to a contemporary ceramic arts facility.

Medalta beehive kilns Jenn Smith Nelson

Medalta’s iconic beehive kilns still stand today. Their chimney’s if you can believe, have no mortar holding the bricks together, and are simply stacked.

We were there to take part in a tour and hands-on clay experience. Medalta ended up being such a great place to visit as a family. I recently wrote more on this for Read it here.

Hands on clay experience at Medalta Jenn Smith Nelson

The muddy but fun hands-on clay experience at Medalta was certainly the highlight for the family.

We got Muddy at Medalta with a hands-on clay experience

Throwing experience Medalta Medicine Hat Jenn Smith Nelson

Jamie and Finn work on centering the clay on the wheel.


Making a vessel Medalta Medicine Hat Jenn Smith Nelson

I do have a history of working with clay though I was a hand builder during my days at the U of R where I did my BFA in Visual Arts.


Though I was a bit nerve wracked at times that there would be a clay catastrophe (i.e. one of my boys accidentally taking down a giant pot or something), great care and attention were exhibited. And, though I knew the boys were excited to give throwing on the wheel a try, they were incredibly engaged during the whole tour, asking questions and snapping images.

Touring Medalta’s studio spaces, gallery and brick and tile factory

Medalta Medicine Hat Jenn Smith Nelson

Zevin holds a ceramic axe; a piece currently being worked on resident artist, Jenna Turner.


High tech kiln at Medalta Medicine Hat Jenn Smith Nelson

This kiln is so high tech, it can be turned on or off remotely via mobile phone. Technology sure has impacted ceramics since I went to school!


The Yuill Family Gallery Medalta Medicine Hat Jenn Smith Nelson

The Yuill Family Gallery is a stunning space to showcase local and touring art exhibits.


Kiln Medalta Medicine Hat Jenn Smith Nelson

From the reception area, the inner workings of archaeological dig expose a massive kiln.


Medalta Medicine Hat Jenn Smith Nelson

Its a step back in time when touring the brick and tile plant at Medalta.


Inside one of the massive beehive kilns at Medalta Jenn Smith Nelson

Inside one of the massive beehive kilns at Medalta.


Underground at Medalta Jenn Smith Nelson

During a tour underground, Aaron explains how the clay was moved from floor to floor. These machines still work today!


Medalta beer bottles Medicine Hat Jenn Smith Nelson

Fun Fact: A LOT of beer bottles used to make their way from Medicine Hat to Regina. Apparently, the demand was pretty high back in the day!

To hear how my visit went, read the full story here.

Learn more about Medalta and visit or for more ideas on how to plan the perfect winter vacay for families.


Disclosure: Me and my family were guests of Medalta and Medicine Hat Tourism who neither approved or reviewed this story prior to publishing. 

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