Saskatchewan’s humble capital was founded over a century ago, on a spot where the Canadian Pacific Railway crossed the muddy banks of a creek called Pile o’ Bones. Today that creek is a man-made lake called Wascana, spruced up with a lush urban park, and Regina feels worlds away from a settlement once named after heaps of buffalo remains.
Sure, Regina has undergone a few changes over the years, but local attractions continue to celebrate the area’s rich history, from dinosaur fossils at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum to the training grounds for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the RCMP ‘Depot’ Division.
Not sure where to start? Here’s shortlist of top events and attractions that offer unique experiences for the first-time visitor.
Shop the Village
Easily the most eclectic retail hub in the city, Cathedral Village is just a few steps from downtown Regina. At Victoria Park, stroll west towards a cluster of boutiques, mostly along 13th Avenue between Albert and Elphinstone Street. Here you’ll find gifts for everyone from your favourite crafter, at Paper Umbrella, to your eco-conscious accessorizer who will enjoy something from Seed.
Need a rest? Fuel up at the 13th Avenue Coffee House. This casual eatery is best known for its hodgepodge of flavourful vegetarian rice bowls (try the peanuty Lucky Bowl). Thos with a sweet-tooth are advised to make a quick beeline to the cupcake counter at Kim and Ashlee’s to order a popular Death by Chocolate or Peanut Butter Fudge sugar fix (or two, or three).
Visit the Museums for Free
For a crash course on regional history and culture, Regina has museums and galleries aplenty. Best of all, with the exception of the RCMP Heritage Centre, most of them are free!
Exhibits at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum offer a glimpse into the past. A whopping three billion years of evolution are on display here. The main draws are the geological specimens, dinosaur skeletons, and a fascinating collection of all too lifelike indigenous wildlife.
Or, if you’re keen on seeing touring works from Canadian and international artists, check out the nearby MacKenzie Art Gallery and its outdoor sculpture garden. Roughriders fans should hit the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Museum for local artifacts and souvenirs.
Sample Seasonal Goods at the Regina Farmer’s Market
There is no better place to get a taste of the local bounty than directly from those who grow it.
During May to October, The Regina Farmer’s Market runs twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9:30am to 1:30pm. Located in front of City Hall, visitors will find farm fresh vegetables, meats, regionally cultivated flowers, herbs, wholesome baked goods, and handcrafted items. These continue to be available indoors until mid-December on Saturday mornings at the Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre.
Construction is nearly complete on the trail around Wascana Lake, the focal point of a 2,300-acre park in Regina’s city centre. Locals are undeterred by the area’s ongoing makeover and here you’ll find a steady stream of friendly folk out on a midday stroll, canoe, or bike ride. A 4km trek on the main circuit can be quite rewarding. It’s the perfect spot for people-watching and wide-open views of the west lake.
It’s not surprising that many of Regina’s museums and landmarks were built around the Wascana Centre, the most prominent being Saskatchewan’s Provincial Legislative Building.
The structure is pretty ambitious for a government building, overlooking Wascana Lake with a perfectly manicured garden path leading to the shore. Marble columns, elaborate wood-carved trimmings, and a large number of murals prove it’s not just for history and architecture buffs. Free guided tours are offered daily.
Immerse Yourself in Culture
In the warmer months, Regina comes to life with a slew of art, theatre, and music festivals.
The Regina Folk Festival takes over Victoria Park every year for a weekend of concerts, workshops, international foods and craft vendors. And every May, the Cathedral Village Arts Festival kicks off the season with a six-day block party.
The theatre scene is hopping. Indie and off-kilter productions get plenty of stage-time at the Regina Fringe Festival in July.
Cap off a night in downtown Regina at the Globe Theatre. The city’s 400-plus seat venue puts on an annual slate of plays featuring high caliber artists throughout the year.