Saratoga Park was designated as a Municipal Historic Area in March 2020. It is an area of City-owned land of approximately 64 acres, along both sides of Seven Persons Creek near Sholten Hill. During its long and intriguing history, the Saratoga Park area is notable for its use by First Nations Peoples, as a part of Medicine Hat’s early industrial development and as a Métis community.
As reported in the Medicine Hat News by Debra North in 1991, Saratoga Park was probably attractive to First Nations peoples from prehistoric times for shelter, subsistence and transportation via waterways. Saratoga Park first appeared on a City plat map in 1907, and shortly thereafter, industrial development crept towards the area from the South Flats.
Although some people resided in Saratoga Park alongside the early industrial operations, it seems that Métis Peoples began settling there in the late 1920s. Interviews with long-time residents paint a picture of a tight-knit Métis community consisting of numerous families, many of which were related by marriage. The last remaining house belonged to Henry Aaker who lived there until 2010. It was removed in 2011 and Mr. Aaker died in 2012 at the age of 82, the last of the Métis residents of Saratoga Park.
Today, Saratoga Park is designated as Environmental Reserve and includes a recreational trail connection between the South Flats and Strathcona Island Park. The strong continued cultural connections between former residents of Saratoga Park (and their relatives) and the creekside setting are indeed remarkable, and speak to the area’s significance in the fabric of the Métis community.
Learn more about:
- Saratoga Park Statement of Significance (PDF)
- Open house displays - City of MH (PDF Oct. 2018)
- A Local’s Perspective of Saratoga Park (SEAWA)
- Stories of Growing Up Métis - Parks Canada (YouTube)
- Other heritage sites in Medicine Hat
Photos: Esplanade Archives