I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list!

Regina Spanish Flu Memorial Fund

While the newspapers screamed of war overseas, the real war was just beginning back home.

After four long years of grueling trench warfare, thousands of Canadian soldiers left Europe in 1918 to return home. As they disembarked from trains across the country, they unknowingly helped spread the Spanish Flu, the deadliest flu to ever occur in human history.

From 1918 to 1920, the Spanish Flu reached every corner of the globe. In the north it wiped out complete Inuit communities, and in the South Pacific whole countries were infected. Worldwide, the Spanish Flu killed between 20 and 100 million people. Canada was fortunate, but we still lost between 30,000 and 50,000 people, a number only slightly lower than that of the war.

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Why Doesn’t Regina Have A “Main Street”?

More often than not, a city or town has a "Main Street" somewhere in it. Moose Jaw has one, Saskatoon has one, Calgary has one and Disneyland has one, but Regina doesn't. Many people probably have never thought about it, or just accept that Albert Street is our version of a main street, but still the question remains.

The answer lies back to the earliest days of Regina's history. Prior to the railway arriving in Regina in 1882, Regina was a splatter of houses north of the then much-less developed Wascana Creek.  The Canadian Pacific Railway laid the groundwork for their railway system, and marked their new station to be near Wascana Creek, which was far from the current capital of the Northwest Territories, Battleford. Since the train wouldn't be travelling that far north, Sir John A. MacDonald instructed the CPR to pick the location for the new capital. They chose the area that is now Regina.

Lieutenant-Governor Edgar Dewdney owned land near the proposed railway station and grew a community around it. Rapidly, the area around his property grew and had several stores, saloons and stables. This increased the wealth of the property and made it much more attractive for the CPR to use for their new station.

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One Year After Visiting Auschwitz

This week marks one year since I visited Auschwitz. Since then, I have told scores of people what I saw and how it impacted me. I found that the more people I shared my story with, the more people I meet who have had similar experiences. While we all saw different things, we all agreed that it was a trip that changed our lives.

The passage of time has a way of turning fact into fiction. Time seems to erode the legitimacy of history, either by inflating it to incomprehensible sizes or by dumbing it down so that it is impossible to relate to. This can be said for any part of our world's history, from minor political squabbles to major world changing events. As the years pass, people rely more and more on these stories to piece together the world that once was. Auschwitz, and the legitimacy of what happened here, is one of these victims.

My flight to Europe last year had been delayed. There was an issue on the plane coming from Warsaw to Toronto and the plane had to turn around. While I was trying to get my flights figured out, I started chatting with an older woman beside me. She was heading home to see her family in Ukraine for Orthodox Easter. As we talked about our upcoming trips, I told her my plans to visit Auschwitz. When I mentioned it, the lady waved her hand at me and told me not to expect too much. Over the years, she said, they had cleaned it up so much that it isn't even worth visiting. She told me that when she went there in the 1960s, the smell of burnt flesh clung to the walls of the buildings. But now, many years later, it has become so desensitised that there was nothing there worth seeing.

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Meet Your 2017 Saskatchewanderer

It's probably a little baised to say, but Saskatchewan is my favourite province. The people, the culture, the atmosphere and the weather help make this province unlike any other place in Canada. But, being as Saskatchewan is so big and so beautiful, it can be a challenge to know what to go see and do.

Enter the 2017 Saskatchewanderer.

Since I started my blog, I've tried to interview the Saskatchewanderer every year. I couldn't last year due to the provincial election putting a temporary freeze on the program, but this year I could. Last March I called up Andrew Hiltz, the 2017 Saskatchewanderer, and learned about him, his thoughts of the program and his experiences so far.

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Regina's Glockenspiel and the Loss of Our Heritage

Progress is often considered a good thing. Progression is good for personal growth, for relationships and for society. Even the smallest bit of progress – another two minutes at the gym or a few hundred words on an essay – is better than no progress at all.

(Editor's Note: WOW! I didn't expect to get so much feedback for this article. I was featured in both the Regina Leader-Post and on CJTR's Queen City Improvement Bureau! Thank you for all the support, everybody!)

(Editor's Note #2: Looks like the city is going to reevaluate the cost and find a more reasonable alternative. What awesome news!)

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What to Expect at a Mexican Wedding

I had a wonderful trip to Mexico, and I saw and learned more than I expected. While most of my trip was full of creepy, strange and downright bizarre locations, the trip's actual purpose was for a much more normal, although still very magical, reason: the wedding of my two friends, Mari and Luis.

I met the bride, Mari, in Japan several years ago. Since I've met many people in my travels I've never seen again, I assumed the Facebook wedding invitation I received must have been by accident. A quick email later and I realised it was in fact deliberate. Since it's not every day one gets invited to a wedding in a different country, especially a tropical country in the dead of winter, I said yes.

I also learned that another friend I had met in Japan, Katarina, would be coming to the wedding too. Katarina is from Australia, so she did a trip through the United States before the wedding. It was great to catch up over the years and swap stories about our travels since Japan.

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Puebla Mexico: A Photo Essay

My past few articles have covered some pretty heavy subjects, ranging from eating dog tacos, to an island full of haunted dolls and to the ruins of one of Mesoamerica's greatest cities. To lighten the mood a little, I decided to put together a photo essay of the beautiful city of Puebla.

Puebla is much smaller than Mexico City so it isn't as noisy, it isn't as rushed and it's much more walkable. While there are still 1.4 million people living here, it doesn't feel that way. To be honest, if I was to choose between Mexico City or Pubela to revisit, I would probably choose Puebla.

Puebla is known worldwide for its colourful buildings, narrow streets and hundreds upon hundreds of churches. I was told by one gentlemen that there are 365 churches in the city – one for each day of the year – but when I told another gentlemen that, he looked at me surprised and asked "Is that all?"

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Teotihuacan: Where Men Become Gods

Forty kilometers northwest of Mexico City is Teotihuacan, one of the most important locations in Mesoamerican history. The existence of Teotihuacan was so influential that its rise and fall even has its own name: The Classical Period.

Teotihuacan began in the 1st Century BCE as a small hamlet. As the population within the nearby Valley of Mexico grew, so did that of Teotihuacan. With a growing workforce, the city could take control of the nearby mines and natural resources. This lead to the city being the birthplace of an economy never before achieved in this region of the world. Soon, its influence expanded far beyond the Valley of Mexico and reached the Mayan regions (current Yucatán Peninsula, Belize, and Guatemala) and the Gulf of Mexico. Within a century and a half, Teotihuacan transformed from a small hamlet to a city of over 125,000 people. These people were called the Teotihuacano.

Prior to Teotihuacan's existence, Mesoamerica was like Central Europe before the Roman Empire. It existed, but it existed independently. The Greeks referred to non-Greek Europeans as "barbarians", and the Romans referred to the Britons as "rude, scattered and warlike people". The same can somewhat be said for the people of Mesoamerica before the rise of Teotihuacan. Once Teotihuacan rose to power, their influence transformed language, religion, culture and economics throughout the subcontinent which can still be seen today.

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Xochimilco and The Island of the Dolls

The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.

Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.

Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.

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