If you’re traveling through Medicine Hat, Alberta, as we were during Day 2 of the Great Coast Road Trip (in partnership with Coast Hotels…check it out!) make a stop at Medalta. This 150-acre Canadian National Historic Site houses the historic ceramic factory and beehive kilns of Medalta in a one-of-a-kind museum.
Families can tour the site by guided self-tour: eight galleries take you through the process of ceremics-making (sorry for the unofficial term) from the gathering of clay from the banks of the nearby South Saskatchewan River to the glazing and packaging of finished wares. We entered the museum with no particular interest or knowledge of pottery or ceramics, but it didn’t matter: this museum is well done and drew us in.
The first few galleries explain the history of the building itself, and its glory days as a factory. The exhibits are very kid-friendly and accessible. The next section takes visitors through the old factory interior (you can look at equipment but not touch), and a video describes the entire process followed by factory workers. The last galleries showcase the various wares the factory produced during its heyday, including dinnerware for hotels, restaurants, and the railroad. This was the most interesting section for us: we had no idea Medalta had contracts for POW camps, soldiers on the front line, and baby dinnerware products I remembered from my childhood.
You can walk inside a kiln, and on select days, watch potters at the wheel. There is a courtyard outside for restless kids or after-visit picnics. The museum isn’t particularly toddler or baby-friendly; we’d recommend this attraction for kids 8 and up. If we were in the area longer (or local), their pottery workshops and summer classes would definitely be on our must-do list.
Date last visited:
Distance from the interstate:
About ten minutes from Trans Canada Highway 1.
Adults are $12 and kids (6-17) are $10. Their family rate is $30 (for two adults and two kids).
Hours of operation:
Summer hours are 9:30 am to 5 pm daily. Off-season hours vary; check hours of operation before you arrive.
Located at 713 Medalta Ave SE. This site is very well marked; signs will point the way from the highway!
Read more about our road trip through the Wild West of Alberta!