Let us examine the soul of the present name – Medicine Hat. I have no maps by me, but I seem to remember a few names of places across the border such as Schenectady, Podunk, Schoharie, Poughkeepsie, Potomac, Sohoes, Tonawanda, Onenoto, etc., etc., all of which are rather curious to the outsider, but time and the lives of men (it is people and not prospectuses that make cities) have sanctified the queer syllables with memories and associations for millions of our fellow creatures. Once upon a time these places were young and new and in the process of making themselves. That is to say they were ancestors with a duty to posterity, which duty they fulfilled in handing on their names intact; and Medicine Hat today is an ancestor – not a derivative, not a collateral, but the founder of a line.
To my mind the name of Medicine Hat has an advantage over all the names I have quoted. It echoes as you so justly put it the old Cree and Blackfoot tradition of red mystery and romance that once filled the prairies. Also it hints, I venture to think, at the magic that underlies the city in the shape of your natural gas. Believe me, the very name is an asset. It has no duplicate in the world: it makes men ask questions, and as I know, more than twenty years ago, draws the feet of the young men towards it; it has the qualities of uniqueness, individuality, assertion and power. Above all, it is the lawful, original, sweat-and-dust-won name of the city, and to change it would be to risk the luck of the city, to disgust and dishearten old-timers, not in the city alone, but the world over, and to advertise abroad the city’s lack of faith in itself. Men do not think much of a family which has risen in the world, changing its name for social reasons.
They think of a town that went back on itself.