When people say that the Canadian prairies are flat like a pancake, I believe them now. Although my recent work trip, visiting Regina, Saskatchewan, didn’t include exploring beyond the city itself, in the distance, I could see the flat horizon line.
While I didn’t have too much time to explore, the few days that I spent there were enough to learn a few things about the city and its residents. There are three things you should know about the city if planning to visit:
Regina’s residents are down-to-earth
This is not a hotspot for the cosmopolitan types who need to have places to go club-hopping or to lounges with pricey drinks. Regina’s people are friendly, often wearing the Regina Roughrider’s green jerseys (at least during Canadian football season) and are laid back. There is no pretentiousness here. Even the taxi drivers are more apt to hold a conversation with you that can get as personal as telling you their life story in the span of 10 minutes.
Visiting Regina shows you how the other half lives… and what I mean by the other half is Canadian urbanites that aren’t too high falutin’ as Torontonians, Vancouverites or Montrealers. Their values are different from other city dwelling Canadians, and they can be a refreshing reminder that the centre of the universe is not Toronto.
Regina is big but walkable
It must be the lack of hills and the fairly compact downtown area, but Regina is really a walkable city. It takes about 20 minutes of brisk walking to get from the Delta Regina Hotel by the Casino to Wascana Park. On a chilly day, you can probably make it in 15 minutes as you hurry your step.
Staying at a downtown hotel is a good idea as it’s within walkable distance of Wascana Park, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, the Legislative Buildings and the Cathedral area where you can find many independent shops and beautiful residential streets to explore. The Cathedral area in particular is a treat as you can spot small “mom and pop shops” such as an old-fashioned shoe shop with boxes lining the walls, a retro-styled barber shop and a 50s-inspired diner.
The prairie isn’t too far out
If you happen to have a hotel room that’s on one of the higher floors up, with a great view of the city and beyond, you will see the pale, golden landscape that starts not too far away from the city environment. Should you have a car, a few minutes drive outside the city and you are in prime Saskatchewan farmland.
A few other things of note about Regina
- If you are staying at a hotel nearby the main train tracks that cut through the city, you will notice that your room may be swaying. It’s just the rumble and vibrations of the trains going by.
- Cornwall Centre Mall, located in the downtown core, is not huge by Greater Toronto Area standards, but all the key stores are there. Most of the mall is somewhat dated but clean and with a beautiful sky-lit area with part of facade of the Canadian Bank of Commerce.
- Check out Victoria Park for a moment of serenity – this city square is a green space with pathways lined with trees leading to a central Regina Cenotaph. It’s one of the prettiest squares I’ve seen, and is a bit reminiscent of London’s Russell Square. Toronto could take a bit of inspiration from this lovely little square in Regina.
- Wascana Park (aka Wascana Centre) is large and offers several hours of relaxing walks along the man-made lake. The nearby provincial legislative buildings includes one of the fountains originally found at London’s Trafalgar Square – moved here in 1939. University of Regina buildings are also located at Wascana Centre.
- Architecture in Regina includes a range of buildings from the 1800s through to the present. Some of the residential areas around the downtown core include interesting buildings from the turn of the century that can be found only in this area. Walking the residential streets, you will notice many of them are lined with huge trees that create a golden canopy in the fall.
A few photos for inspiration – all taken with the iPhone 5S, and modified either with Snapseed or Instagram.