Sask-Regina-Saskatchewan's Legislative Buildinga“The people who once said that `Regina is a town that should not have been’ should see it now!”  My colleague, a long time resident of the area, made this remark when I asked her to describe the attributes of Regina, Saskatchewan’s wind-swept prairie capital.  Without a pause, she continued, “You must see our Wascana Centre!  It’s the crown jewel of our city.  Exuding pride, she continued, “The mass  greenery you will see belies the fact that Regina was once a treeless site.  A trip to this prairie metropolis would not be complete without exploring our ‘emerald jewel’.”

The next day as I drove around the Province of Saskatchewan’s capital, a city of some 200,000, I remembered my colleague’s  words and placed the exploration of Wascana Centre at the top of my agenda. 

Sask-Regina-Wascana Centre 2A verdant oasis in the heart of Canada’s so-called Queen City, Wascana Centre, established in 1962, is the heart of the mass of greenery that one sees in the city today.  Regina has come a long way from the time when it was first established in 1882 beside a scraggly creek on a treeless plain, as a tent city, called ‘Piles O’ Bones’.  It flourished along the creek where the Indigenous peoples once prepared their bison meat, then moved away and left the bones.  At that time, there was not much to attract people to the area. 

Today there has been a drastic change.  Around the creek there has sprouted a 930 ha (2,300 ac) area of beautifully landscaped parkland surrounding a 120 ha (300 ac) man-made lake.  Called Wascana Centre, the greenery incorporates 120,000 out of the city’s 350,000 hand-planted trees – on the average more than 6,000 trees and shrubs are added to the park each year.  Intermixed with these trees are shrubs, flowerbeds and a fine system of roads.  This world’s largest urban park – larger than Central Park in New York – is a place of government conservation, culture, education, recreation, and is the abode of both campuses of the University of Sask-Regina-Wascana Centre-Flower GardensRegina.

Also, in the park is the main campus of three campuses of the First Nations University in Canada – the other two are in Saskatoon and Prince Albert.  The only First Nation’s university in Canada, it was opened in 2003 and has some 2,000 students who interpret the artistic heritage, culture, history and languages of the First Nations

Many special events and festivals are held amid its greenery – truly, a lush woodland growing out of the arid Saskatchewan plains.  Above all, Wascana, derived from the Cree Indian word oscana (pile of bones), is home and a drawing card to many of the province’s top visitors’.

Accompanied by my colleague we began our exploration of these attractions at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, which provides a fascinating insight into the environment, natural history, culture and aboriginal heritage of the province.  On its outside are 137 m (450 ft) of friezes of 300 animals native to Saskatchewan.  Inside, the province’s geologic and prehistoric history is interpreted through impressive exhibits and the museum includes a section that traces the history of Saskatchewan’s First Peoples over the past 12,000 years by way of excellent artefacts and superb artwork.

Passing the Speaker’s Corner, a replica of Hyde Park in London, we crossed the Albert Memorial Bridge to the Saskatchewan Legislative Building – a majestic structure built in 1912 of Tyndall Stone.  It is one of the most beautiful legislative buildings in the country.  Dominating the scene is its dome that towers 56 m (184 ft) high and can be seen from almost any point in the city.  Reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles, the building is an adaptation of English Renaissance style with elements of Louis XVI. 

Intricate carvings enrich the external façade and its interior pillars and floors are adorned with thirty-four types of marble imported from all over the world.  The pleasant guide, who took us for a tour of the building, was enthusiastic as he shepherded his flock through the display galleries, Legislative Assembly Chamber and Legislative Library, all the while describing the structure’s history and the province’s premiers who called it home.

Sask-Regina-Wascana Centre-Flower Gardens 3After spending half an hour in its impressive flower gardens that highlight a striking view of the building, we lunched in its cafeteria then walked to the TC Douglas Building housing the Mackenzie Art Gallery.  The hour spent in the gallery, examining its wide display of both modern and traditional paintings and sculptures, was time well spent. 

Evening was neigh when we ended our tour of the Art Gallery.  For visitors who have time, there is much more to see and do.  Our day’s tour had only covered a small section of the Wascana Centre.  The Saskatchewan Science Centre, the impressive University of Regina buildings, the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts, parks with their barbecue areas, sailing or rowing on the lake, nature walks, and special events and festivals, are all set in a aura of greenery, continually drawing the city’s inhabitants and tourists alike.          

Everything Regina has to offer is overwhelmed by the attributes of the Wascana Centre.  Its grass, shrubs, trees, water and flower beds have put Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister’s, words in the dust bin of history.  When he was asked by a Regina resident about the future of the city which had just been chosen as Saskatchewan’s capital, he is reported to have said: “If you had a little more wood, and a little more water, and here and there a hill, I think the prospect would be improved.”  Today, Wascana Centre is a testimony that the city has all of Sask-Regina-Willow on Wascana Restaurant 2these and more.   

IF YOU GO

Two Good Places to Stay in Regina: 

Delta Regina Hotel.  It is surrounded by two large retail complexes – the Galleria and Cornwall Centre, and Casino Regina and only minutes away the Wascana Centre.  1919 Saskatchewan Drive, Regina, Saskatchewan, S4P 4H2. Toll-free reservations from North America Tel: 1-888-890-3222 or Tel: 306-525-5255.  Fax: 306-781-7188.   https://www.deltahotels.com/Hotels/Delta-Regina

 Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan, Regina’s elegant and historic landmark, located downtown.  2125 Victoria Avenue, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, S4P 0S3.  Tel: (306) 522-7691 or Toll Free: 1 (800) 967-9033.  http://www.radisson.com/regina-hotel-sk-s4p0s3/skregdt

 Two Fine Places to Dine in Regina:

Willow on Wascana, Regina’s only restaurant on the lake it features beautiful views with incredible sunsets and an entirely Saskatchewan menu.  Tel: 306.585.3663.  Website:  www.willowonwascana.ca

 Fortuna Ristorante Italiano, an authentic Italian  eating place.  3215 East Quance, Regina, SK S4V 3B7 Tel: (306) 543-4411, Website: http://www.fortunareg ina.ca/

 For Further Information, Contact:

Wascana Centre, 2900 Wascana Drive, Regina, Saskatchewan, Box 7111, Regina, SK, Canada S4P 3S7.  Tel: (306) 522-3661. Fax (306) 565-2742. E-mail: wca@wascana.ca  Website www.wasc

Tourism Regina, Box 3355, Regina, 925 Rose Street,  Saskatchewan S4P 3P1. Tel: (306) 789-5099 or Toll Free: 1-800-661-5099 (Canada & USA).  Fax: (306) 352-1630.  Email: info@reginaroc.com

Website: http://tourismregina.com/plan/contact/