Apr 9, 2017

Sweet Caporal Building in Medicine Hat, Alberta

The 'Sweet Caporal Building' in Medicine Hat, Alberta became a focal point (and gained its new nickname) after the Central Block burned down in 2007. When the ruins of the Central Block were cleared an original painted ad for Sweet Caporal Cigarettes, along with the name of the original vendor, Pingle's Drug and Book Store were revealed. As a result, this otherwise plain and vacant structure on 2nd Street suddenly became a local landmark.

Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat AlbertaPingle's was likely constructed around 1907-1910, obviously a few years before the Central Block went up in 1911. Over the years the building housed several different drug stores, and the Medicine Hat Credit Union in the 1960s. When I first photographed this building in early 2013 it had been abandoned for years. A few historic elements remained, like the ghost mural outside and hints of a hidden tin ceiling, but mostly the structure was an uninspired jumble of decades past. There was no indication that things were about to change. 

Then upgrades along 2nd Street began in mid-2013 and many of the surrounding buildings began to change. I documented some of the evolution of the street in 2014. Soon the 'Sweet Caporal Building' was being renovated as well, and another set of images I shot for my Around the Hat series became archival practically overnight. This building is now in use today, completely renovated, and the Sweet Caporal sign still remains.

Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta
Interior in 2013.

Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta
Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta


Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta
Medicine Hat Credit Union ca. 1960s

Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta


Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta
The safe from the Credit Union in 2013.


Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta

Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta

Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta
Exterior of the building in 2013.


Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta

Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta
Tamblyn Drug Store ca. 1970


Sweet Caporal Wall in 2011.


Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta
Sweet Caporal exterior in 2013.
Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta

2nd Street in 2014.


Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta
The location transformed in 2017.
Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta

This hole was drilled into the wall to access the safe as it had rusted closed.

Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta
Sweet Caporal 2nd Street Medicine Hat
Sweet Caporal painted wall next to all the bricks used for the 2nd St. upgrades in 2013.



Pingle's Drugstore ca. 1940s



Glimpse of the tin ceiling behind the drop ceiling.

Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta


Gutted interior of the Sweet Caporal Building in 2014.
Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta

Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta

Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta
Sweet Caporal Building in 2017.

The entrance in 2013.



2nd Street Sweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta
2nd Street in 2017.




Garden Centre 2nd Street Medicine Hat Alberta
A garden centre now fills the neighbouring lot.
A post shared by Luke Fandrich (@editingluke) on

Garden Centre 2nd Street Medicine Hat AlbertaSweet Caporal Downtown Medicine Hat Alberta



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