Medicine Hat began as a tent town along the South Saskatchewan River in the 1880s before one of the largest natural gas fields in North America was discovered just west of town. Today, Medicine Hat still carries the nickname "Gas City," with 250 companies nearby supplying goods and services to the oilfield industry. Construction, manufacturing, agriculture, retail, and military services are also key to the economy.
Taking its name from the native word "saamis," meaning medicine man's hat, Medicine Hat incorporates its native heritage around the city of 60,000. One Blackfoot legend telling how the city was named is depicted in a mural at City Hall. The city's most noticeable landmark, however, is the Saamis Tepee, standing more than 200 feet tall. The towering structure, located above the Saamis Archaeological Site, includes storyboards showing aspects of native culture.
Other attractions are the Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic District, the Esplanade theatre, gallery and museum, the Medicine Hat Drag Racing track, and the Family Leisure Centre. Medicine Hat also has ties to Canada's music scene. Country music star Terri Clark grew up in Medicine Hat, as did Kalan Porter, winner of the second season of Canadian Idol.