Saratoga Park

Saratoga Park is highly valued for its connection to First Nations use of the area, Medicine Hat’s early industrial development and, more recently, to Medicine Hat’s Metis community. Use of the area stretches back to before Medicine Hat’s earliest days.The history of this part of the City can,somewhat arbitrarily, be considered in three overlapping aspects: Early Settlement, City Development, and Metis Community.

Early Settlement: Historical recollections indicate that the flats along Seven Persons Creek and Ross Creek, including an area informally dubbed Skunk Island, were home to First Nations and Metis people from before the earliest settlement of Medicine Hat. 

Metis Community: Information about the Metis Community in Saratoga Park is largely derived from oral histories gathered from past residents of the area. There are several themes common to the history of Saratoga Park with respect to the Metis Community. The first is that some Metis families settled in Saratoga Park after having been involuntarily removed from previous residences. A second theme is that life in Saratoga Park was generally a good one centered on community and shared family bonds. A third theme of the oral histories is concerned with ownership of the land in Saratoga Park. This situation, in which a close-knit group of Metis established a community in a little used corner of Medicine Hat without title to the land, lends a unique aspect to the significance of the area.

Today, although the houses have been removed and parts of the area have experienced significant ground disturbance, there is still a core area within Saratoga Park that conveys the historical setting and feeling of what was a vibrant Metis community that helped make Medicine Hat a unique city.

The Métis community soon became known for their many values including thrift, hard work, patriotism, generosity and lively spirit.  Henry Aakers was the last original Métis family member to live in Saratoga Park.

Reference: City of Medicine Hat, Heritage Committee.

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