For years, my husband and I had dreamed of moving to Canada. We imagined ourselves in the hip areas of downtown Vancouver, or perhaps in the sophisticated old streets of Montreal. The impetus for us leaving the UK was stronger than the pull to any one Canadian province however, so we told ourselves we'd give anywhere a try.
Where is Regina?In the summer of 2011, I finally found an opportunity to live and work in Regina, Saskatchewan. I had never been to the Prairies in my life, hailing as I did from a crowded little town in North East England. Iâ€™d never heard of Regina. I looked it up on Google maps and nearly missed it. The city is easy to spot, but situating it among any other landmarks is harder. You have to zoom out five times to see the provincial border with Alberta. Canada is vast, and Regina is surrounded by a great deal of nothing. But that does not stop it from being a fun place to stay with more than a few unusual attractions.
I flew out from London and booked myself into the Turgeon International Hostel. A bed in the 8-person womenâ€™s dormitory set me back a mere $30 a night, and the clean, comfortable hostel was ideally situated three blocks from Reginaâ€™s downtown core. The friendly owner is British too, so I felt at home at once. Being so close to downtown also meant I could walk around, and also jump on Reginaâ€™s limited but functional transit system. I began to explore.
Reginaâ€™s Tourist Attractions
If you only have a short stay in Regina, heading to the park is a must. Wascana Park in the heart of the city is one of the largest urban parks in North America. The area that surrounds Wascana Lake and houses Saskatchewanâ€™s Legislative Building (known locally as â€˜The Legâ€™) is 930 hectares, making it bigger than New Yorkâ€™s Central Park and Vancouverâ€™s Stanley Park put together! It is a beautiful place all year round, whether you are swishing through the trails on cross-country skis in the crisp winter sunshine, spotting birds or baby jackrabbits in spring, cycling the lake loop in summer or just admiring all the fall colours. Most major local events happen at Wascana Park, such as the Canada Day fireworks, Queen City Ex fair, and the Waskimo Winter Festival. You can also tour the Legislative Building and Government House from there and rent canoes to paddle around the lake.
Saskatchewan Science CentreOn the south side of the park lies the Saskatchewan Science Centre. Housed in an old SaskPower station, the Centre is celebrating its thirtieth anniversary in 2019. In addition to its 130 hands-on permanent exhibits, it has a travelling exhibit every summer, daily stage shows, a Maker space area and plenty of fun programming for children and adults alike. The Science Centre also has a wonderful â€˜Go Scienceâ€™ Outreach program that means Science Centre staff are often found popping up in other locations, bringing science to audiences that may not always be able to visit the Science Centre itself. In the same building is one of Canadaâ€™s few IMAX cinemas that still use film projectors to show movies on a 52â€² high screen. It usually shows the latest blockbusters, as well as documentaries, so should you wish to see Harrison Ford, five storeys high and in 3D, check out the latest Star Wars episode in IMAX format.
The Royal Saskatchewan MuseumThe Royal Saskatchewan Museum is located on the top edge of Wascana Park and is a great place to take children. Not only is entrance via donation, it has recently acquired â€˜Scottyâ€™. Scotty is a complete, fossilized Tyrannosaurus skeleton, and the largest T-rex specimen in the world. Scotty (now found to be female) was discovered in the Frenchmen River Valley, also in Saskatchewan, in 1991. The museum has been remodelled to encompass a two-storey Tyrannosaurus display area, and the ground underneath shakes ominously when you press the button to hear her roar. Along with a fascinating First Nations gallery, the Paleo Pit play area, and a well-stocked gift shop, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum is well worth seeing.
Reginaâ€™s hidden gems
Eight years later, we are still in Regina. I admit, I fell in love with the place. Living here has also given me a different perspective on this little city and I have discovered many more hidden gems to visit.