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Medicine Hat, Alberta (Canada)

Last modified: 2022-02-12 by rob raeside
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[Medicine Hat] 3:5 image by Eugene Ipavec
Source: Canadian City Flags, Raven 18

See also:

Medicine Hat

Medicine Hat is a city in southeast Alberta, located along the South Saskatchewan River. It is approximately 295 km southeast of Calgary. This city and the adjacent Town of Redcliff to the northwest are within Cypress County.
Darrell Neumann, 15 April 2008

Current Flag

Text and image(s) from Canadian City Flags, Raven 18 (2011), courtesy of the North American Vexillological Association, which retains copyright. Image(s) by permission of Eugene Ipavec.


The flag of the City of Medicine Hat has a golden yellow field. A wavy horizontal stripe in blue with five undulations, one-fifth the height of the flag, crosses its centre. Above the stripe are three elements in a row: a steam locomotive wheel in blue, the top of a stylized gas street-lamp in black and white with a blue flame, and a cogwheel in blue, all with black details. Below the stripe are three flames in a row, in a blend of white, blue, and black.
Alison Wilkes, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

Variant based on Canadian Heraldic Authority

[Medicine Hat] image by Masao Okazaki, 13 January 2022
based on

Medicine Hat's long-forgotten flag controversy - Medicine Hat News @CollinGallant

 Ahhh, the majestic City of Medicine Hat flag, with its golden prairie, flowing South Saskatchewan River, cog, gear, gas lamp and flames. Not familiar? Well, according to the Governor General of Canada, Medicine Hat’s official city flag is not the commonly used blue flag featuring the Medicine Hat man and war bonnet, but rather a yellow-fielded design drawn up two decades ago.

The legally questionable, but in many ways long-forgotten controversy was rekindled this month when the Calgary Herald published a feature detailing several municipal flags from major centres in the province. It showed a banner many Hatters didn’t recognize, featuring a yellow field bisected by wavy blue line representing the river and adorned by symbols of local industry and gas fields beneath it all. That’s the design arrived at 25 years ago by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, and it remains the recognized symbol in official channels, even though Hatters voted to reject its use in favour of the blue flag featuring the city’s namesake indigenous symbolism. Retaining that banner was endorsed by council in 2002.

In the late 1990s the Medicine Hat Police Service commissioned a coat of arms from the Heraldic Society to commemorate its centennial anniversary, but according to convention, the city itself would need one first to base the subordinate symbol upon. Therefore council commissioned its own coat of arms, but as part of the process received a flag design and badge as well. The resulting yellow-blue flag appears within the city’s and police service’s coat of arms but wasn’t a hit among council members at the time or among the public. In the early 2000s, citizen Ken Montgomery petitioned council to employ the new flag, and it’s official status, out of a sense of patriotism and a chance to renew civic pride. In 2002, it was put on display on the pole out front at the city hall plaza and Hatters were encouraged to take part in a non-binding voluntary vote. They were asked whether to adopt the new flag, or use both alternately in common or official capacities, much the same way Canada has a national anthem (“O Canada”), and a Royal anthem (“God Save the Queen”). Of 1,300 ballots dropped off at city hall, the public library or online (a first-time pilot project for the city website), 1,104 favoured the former flag. After the 2002 vote, however, the symbolic flag retreated from the public view, and the blue Medicine Hat flag maintained the position its held since 1973.

That year, Ald. Lucille Moyer boostered for an open call to Hatters to submit designs for a municipal flag – a contest eventually won by Hatter Emily Nott. Her design incorporated the masthead logo of the News, and the paper’s ownership allowed the use of the trademarked logo free of charge with minor conditions. It’s been the city’s flag ever since making its debut at the opening of the Maple Avenue bridge in 1974. It was a point of pride in the Nott family, said her son, Gordon Nott.
Dave Fowler, 9 January 2022


The golden yellow field recalls the prairie ranchlands that surround the city and the wealth created by the community. The wavy stripe represents the South Saskatchewan River, which runs through the city. Medicine Hat is known as “The Gas City”, for its large natural gas fields, hence the gas lamp and the flames (a British visitor, Rudyard Kipling, once described the city as having “all hell for a basement”). The locomotive wheel represents the city’s connection to the original Trans-Canada line of the Canadian Pacific Railway; the cogwheel recalls the manufacturing which burgeoned in “the Pittsburgh of the West”. The flag is a banner of the city’s arms.
Alison Wilkes, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011


The city applied to the Canadian Heraldic Authority for a grant of a flag.
Alison Wilkes, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

Flag granted 14 July 1998:
Valentin Poposki, 15 April 2012


Robert D. Watt, Chief Herald of Canada, Canadian Heraldic Authority.
Alison Wilkes, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

Former flag

[Medicine Hat] 3:5 image by Eugene Ipavec
Source: Canadian City Flags, Raven 18

On a blue field is an oval nearly the full height of the flag, oriented horizontally. Ringing the oval is a white band with a narrow black line toward its outer edge. Within the line is inscribed CITY OF MEDICINE HAT above and ALBERTA below. Inside the ring, on a blue field, is a naturalistic image of the head of a Cree medicine man in black and white (some depictions show blue on white). The image is a copyrighted mark used by permission of the Medicine Hat News.
Alison Wilkes, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

The section on the design and adoption of the city flag from the city protocol is as follows:

3.01 History

On September 17, 1973 it was requested, then moved and passed in Council that the City approve a "Flag Contest" with a view to adopting a suitable flag for the City of Medicine Hat. The contest closed on December 14, 1973 and a panel of judges consisting of: Alderman Lucille Moyer, Chairman; Alderman Peter Simpson, David Cormier, Economic Development Advisor, Donna MacLean, and W. A. Keith, City Clerk, was selected to decide the winning entry. The panel chose four winners, judged to be equally excellent on the basis of originality, relevance, colour and presentation. The best overall designs came from: Leslie Bischoff, Suzanne Faure, Emily Nott and Barry Shakeshaft. Mr. Cormier then prepared sketches of possible combinations of the four winning entries and Council chose the blue flag with the Indian Head centred on it. On April 1, 1974 City Council resolved to accept that flag upon receipt of registration information. Permission was asked and received from the Medicine Hat News for use of their copyrighted 'Indian Head' on the City flag.

The City Flag was first officially used at the opening of the Maple Avenue Bridge on November 15, 1974. That flag, one of the first two Medicine Hat flags, now stands in City Council Chambers. Mayor Grimm and former Mayor Veiner each have one side of the second original; those flags being specially silk-screened and pieced together for the Bridge opening. Notice of the Flag's origin and use was published in the Trade Marks Journal on February 19, 1975 and shortly thereafter (April 7, 1975) the City Police Boys Band was given permission to reproduce the flag providing it was of good quality.

3.02 Colours and Emblem

City of Medicine Hat Flag. The City of Medicine Hat flag on a blue background shows the visage of the Cree Medicine Man surrounded by a white circle which contains the words: Medicine Hat, Alberta.

The protocol document also includes information on the Canadian Flag, and etiquette information apparently taken straight from the Canadian Government's flag protocol brochure. The letterhead on the top of each page uses a logo of a gas light with the title: Medicine Hat The Gas City, the "Indian Head" is not used as the logo.
Dean McGee, 2 September 2005

[Medicine Hat] image located by Dave Fowler, 9 January 2022

The image of the blue medicine man flag above has changed. The seal is now circular.
Resources for this drawing
Photo posted for the Canadian Flag Collection of the Argyle Museum:

The city website

Mysteries of Canada website
Masao Okazaki, 9 January 2022

Medicine Hat Police Service colour

[Medicine Hat] image located by Valentin Poposki, 10 December 2021

Colour of a municipal police service in Alberta, Canada.

Dave Fowler, 31 August 2013

The MHPS flag "Authorized use of the Badge: Azure the Badge of the Medicine Hat Police Service, cantoned by maple leaves and wild roses proper"
Valentin Poposki, 10 December 2021