Jun 8, 2012

Postcard From the Hill

At the same time that my Mom had discovered a stash of my Grandpa's old stocks, she also found a vintage postcard of Medicine Hat, Alberta that she thought would interest me because of my Around the Hat photo series. What was interesting was that I had come across digital copies of the postcard before while going through various online archives to find out the history of several local landmarks. I did a bit of research and discovered that the postcard was from sometime in the 1920s.

It was immediately clear by looking at the postcard that not much had been built on the one side of the river yet, with the obvious exception of St. Pat's church. The other major difference was the trees. In the postcard you can clearly see the river, the C.P. Rail bridge, and Finlay Bridge, all of which are almost completely obscured by trees now. I returned to the hilltop that the postcard had been photographed from to shoot some new images of the view.

Things have changed a bit over the decades. My history binge also lead me to discover that the postcard had been photographed from the location of the former St. Theresa's Academy. It was a very prominent structure in Medicine Hat, and was very noticeable atop the hill in Crescent Heights. You can see St. Theresa's in the distance in this photograph from 1915. Sadly, the Academy was demolished in 1973. I imagine it was too costly to repair or refurbish for other uses after it closed, but from the few photos I've seen, it really was quite an impressive looking building.   

I discovered that a bland apartment block now stands in its place, but the view certainly hasn't diminished. After 90 years the city now expands over the hills in each direction, and many of the city's most luxurious homes have been built along the river.

The pedestrian bridge coming off of the hillside also offered some stunning views. I continued down the hill to explore the wooden bridges that spanned the train tracks. Somewhat out of the way, I realized that the walkways gave a unique and scenic perspective to the surrounding area that you wouldn't witness otherwise. It was kind of cool to imagine how the city had evolved over the decades from this vantage point, especially because at the time the postcard was photographed this was pretty much the edge of town.

So after all of that, I'd like to extend an invitation to anyone who may be reading this post 90 years from now (in 2102) to go out and photograph this view from the hill and update it again. I hope it's only become more spectacular, and that you have as much fun as I did in realizing that you're standing in the same spot as the person who did this nearly a century earlier.  

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