Medicine Hat sounds like something you would say to your doctor friend when you want him/her to check your wound for free while off the clock. You might say, “Hey, Bob, put on your medicine hat for a second and check this out.”
In fact, it’s a town in Alberta, its fifth largest, whose origin makes just about as much sense.
The name “Medicine Hat” is the English translation of ‘Saamis’ (SA-MUS)- the Blackfoot word for the eagle tail feather headdress worn by medicine men – or ‘Medicine Hat’. Several legends are associated with the name from a mythical merman river serpent named Soy-yee-daa-bee, the creator, who appeared to a hunter and instructed him to sacrifice his wife to get mystical powers which were manifest in a special hat. Another legend tells of a battle long ago between the Blackfoot and the Cree in which a retreating “Medicine Man” lost his headdress in the South Saskatchewan River.
Medicine Hat is also gassy. Not like eating some beans gassy, either. It’s like Charlie and Granpa Joe almost getting chopped up by the fan in the ceiling kind of gassy.
Historically, Medicine Hat has been known for its large natural gas fields, being immortalised by Rudyard Kipling as having “all hell for a basement”. Because of these reserves, the city is known asThe Gas City. It is Alberta’s sixth largest city.
Well, that Rudyard Kipling sure could write, couldn’t he? “All hell for a basement” is certainly catchy. “The Gas City” isn’t bad either. It’s more catchy than it’s nickname.