Have you ever heard of Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan? Or visited it?
Manitoba has a very bad reputation for tourism… and Saskatchewan, the neighboring province to the west, suffers as well. If you look at any Canadian road trip itineraries and maps with points of interest, there’s a huge void between Toronto and the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. The Prairies in between simply don’t exist, like here for example. But it turns out I live in this void and I explore it at my own pace.
Compared to other countries, Canada has a big advantage: the public holidays that happened to be on Saturdays or Sundays are systematically shifted to the Monday. Canada Day 2018 was the perfect time for a little Saskatchewan road-trip.
We left Winnipeg late Thursday afternoon and headed to Regina which is six hours away. We spent the day Friday visiting Regina, then headed to Moose Jaw on Saturday. On Sunday, we hiked in Grasslands National Park, and we drove back on Monday through the Qu’Appelle Valley.
What does Regina look like?
Regina is a very small capital: it has only 200,000 inhabitants! At first glance, Regina has all the usual elements of a Canadian capital: downtown , skyscrapers, some Tim Hortons and other food chains, a legislative building, shopping malls, residential suburbs, but there are things to do in Regina and a few tourist attractions. Moreover, the city also has several perks that are totally absent in Winnipeg: a large park in the heart of the city and a pedestrian street!
The best way to see Regina is to take a walk. So we walked around the city slowly, under a gray sky. I really liked the architectural contrasts in the city center and the presence of street art everywhere. We still got lost at one point because we weren’t careful – yet it’s hard to get lost in a grid system …
It was my birthday, so we also had a coffee-cake break at one point in the Sweet Bakery cafe . A photo of cakes was needed in this article.
Visit the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
Our goal in these wanderings through Regina was to reach the Saskatchewan Legislature . You know, Canada is a federal state with a Prime Minister, a government and a Parliament at the national level, but the thirteen provinces and territories also have their own Parliaments.
Visiting local parliaments is always a good idea: it’s free, it lasts between thirty minutes and an hour and it allows you to learn a lot about local institutions and politics. After the Legislative Buildings of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba, the Legislative Building of Saskatchewan was the fifth I visited!
Guided tours of the Legislative Building (information here) take place every half hour, in English or French. What I really enjoyed learning was that the Legislative Building would have stolen the dimensions and style of the Louvre and Versailles. Sure!
It was also very interesting to learn that Saskatchewan became a province only in 1907, and that if the yes had won in the referendum on the independence of Quebec in 1995, Saskatchewan would also have seceded, the Prime Minister had prepared a self-reliance plan!
Oh and if the architecture of the Legislative Building reminds you of anything… That’s normal, we have almost the same in Winnipeg. But unfortunately, it looks like it was Winnipeg that copied Regina’s design. Construction of the Saskatchewan Palace was completed in 1912, while the Manitoban one began in 1913. But in Regina, they don’t have the Golden Boy – a gilded statue that comes from Paris that adorns the dome.
The Legislative Building of Saskatchewan sits in the middle of Regina, in a huge park, Wascana Park , which is larger than Central Park in New York City. We walked around it while geocaching, which was a great way to get around the main arteries and the nooks and crannies.
More tourist attractions in Regina
If I had had more time in Regina or if it had rained:
- I would have gone to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum , the equivalent of our Manitoba Museum , with exhibits about dinosaurs, First Nations and natural history,
- and I would have especially visited the Civic Museum of Regina , on the history of the city and its inhabitants, but which unfortunately opens only by appointment.
Regina also has another particularly famous attraction across Canada: the RCMP Heritage Center , the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in English, with the barracks where they still train, the history of the creation of the police and their evolution. There is also a daily parade but I was not in the mood for this visit. It will be for another time!