With its large amount of clay deposits and natural gas resources, it's no
surprise that Alberta was once the ceramics capital of Canada. Albertan
interest in ceramics developed into an industry in the early 1900s and has
survived both successful and lean times. Once a flourishing industry,
employing hundreds, the pottery industry of today has since been
In 1912, the Medicine Hat Pottery Company was created
and the southern Alberta city became the epicentre of a burgeoning pottery
industry. Three years later, the company changed hands and was renamed the
Medalta Potteries Limited. Medalta developed into a large and diverse
company that manufactured items such as bowls, churns, kegs and china.
This company, along with other ceramic companies, caused Alberta's, and
more specifically Medicine Hat's, economy to thrive. At the height of it's
success, Medalta employed over 200 people.
The success of ceramic production in Alberta helped
promote ceramics as a serious artistic endeavour. In 1946, Luke Lindoe
began to teach ceramics courses at Calgary's
Alberta College of Art and catapulted ceramics into being an accepted
art form, not just a hobby.
the mid 1940s, the success of the ceramics industry in Alberta had
declined dramatically. Low-priced materials from Japan and England and the
rising popularity of plastics were merely two contributors. The decrease
in production forced most Alberta manufacturing plants to shut down and
left numerous potters unemployed, many who shifted to independently
producing handmade ceramic items. This happened during the arts and crafts
movement, which focused a revival of producing original, handmade items
rather than dull, unartistic machine-made items, which were becoming quite
common. Many independent potters did quite well during this time period,
while large-scale ceramic companies did not.
In the 1970s, what is now known as the contemporary
period of pottery began. It started with the creation of the Alberta Potters Association
(APA) in 1970. The APA focused on giving potters a unified voice, encouraging and fostering ceramics in Alberta. It also promoted many
conferences, exhibitions and coverage for the pottery industry in Alberta.
the ceramics industry in Alberta has experienced somewhat of a resurgence,
it is unlikely the province will ever witness an era of pottery
popularity like it once did. Nonetheless, the art of pottery continues on
through the artists of Alberta and organizations such as APA, whose
interest in pottery supercede the industry's highs and lows.