Ewart Duggan House

The Ewart Duggan House was built in 1887 for local businessman John Ewart by contractor Harry Yuill using bricks produced locally by the McCord brickyard. This magnificent house stands on Medicine Hat’s historic First Street and is acknowledged as the oldest brick residence in Alberta still on its original foundation built with locally-produced bricks. Overlooking the South Saskatchewan River, this classic two storey Victorian design remained the Ewart Duggan family home until 1987. The Province of Alberta designated the house a Provincial Historic Site in 1993, preserving it for future generations to enjoy. In 2002, the house was donated by I-XL Brick Industries to the City of Medicine Hat under the stewardship of the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre.

Heritage Garden

Since 2010, the Heritage Garden sub-committee of the Heritage Resources Committee has met several times, with members doing research in between. The goal has been to create a plan for a garden which will reflect an upper middle class residence in Medicine Hat, during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. They have found archival photos of the Ewart Duggan House, and other houses in Medicine Hat and in other prairie communities during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. They have also found plant lists and garden descriptions for the time period. The on-site inspections have looked at sight lines, adjacent buildings, existing plant material, and existing built surroundings.

The results of the research led us to the following conclusions:

• The garden and landscaping will be growing and changing. For example, the earliest photos show very small trees, a picket fence, and a wide open surrounding of prairie grasses. Of course, the landscaping would mature and change rapidly. Our garden will not be a static snapshot but a growing useful landscape.

• We have planned for minimal watering, partly because there would not have been regular watering. There is also concern that too much water is presently damaging the foundation of the house.

• Gardens of the period were meant to be used. They would produce food. Our plan calls for fruit production; rhubarb, raspberries, and fruit trees. Vegetables would have been historically accurate, but are not recommended for our project.

• The garden would be a gathering area. This new landscape plan is designed to be inviting. Visitors are encouraged to stroll through the grounds, sit quietly, or visit amongst the flowers.

• Flowers of the time tended to be tall. Old fashioned varieties suit the walking and sitting garden. Blossoms are held up high to be enjoyed at close range. (Modern varieties may be short, and often less fragrant. Beds of modern short flowers are best viewed from a distance rather than looking down on them.)

• The fence is an important feature. Historically, it would have separated the residence from the open prairie and kept out the livestock or wildlife. The fence will be built to visually separate the Ewart Duggan House from its surroundings, but with open gates and entry ways to invite visitors in.

• Our plan will surround the Ewart Duggan House with inviting, appropriate landscaping, while drawing attention to the architecture and history of the house itself.