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

Why Doesn’t Regina Have A “Main Street”? May 8, 2017 · 4 min. read

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.

Dewdney's Regina circa 1898 North West Territorial Council circa 1886 Territorial Administration Building circa 1915

East of Dewdney's thriving community was another smattering of houses which had slowly grown together into a small town. Main streets had been established, additional stores, saloons and stables were constructed and people were creating their own communities.

By 1883 these two townsites together were home to 15 stores, two banks, four feedstores, two carriage shops, and four hotels.

The CPR saw these two townsites – Dewdney's Regina and the other one to the east – and compared their prices of land.  The land on Dewdney's property was much more expensive than the land to the east, so the CPR chose the cheaper area to build their train station instead. Unsurprisingly, within the next few years, denizens on Dewdney's property slowly drifted over to the new thriving community to the east, and his townsite became primarily government based.

Once Regina became the capital of the Northwest Territories, an administration building was required. Built in 1886, the Northwest Territorial Administration Building would host the Territorial Council from 1891 to 1905, and the Saskatchewan provincial government from 1905 until 1910. This building was a very early version of what the Saskatchewan Legislature is today. The construction of the Leg made the Northwest Territorial Administration Building obsolete.

Northwest Territorial Administration Building circa 2017 Northwest Territorial Administration Building circa 2017 Northwest Territorial Administration Building circa 2017

Today, the building still stands on 3304 Dewdney Ave, and is the only remaining structure of "Dewdney's Regina". It has been restored twice, and survived a fire in 1922. Between 1910 and 1922 it was Ruthenian Training School, a school for Eastern European immigrants, and from 1922 to 1971 it was Grace Haven, a hospital and home for unwed monthers. It held the Saskatchewan Express until the early 21st Century and today is used for storage, labelled as a "provincial heritage property". While the building is an outdoor museum, it would be easy to overlook it while driving down Dewdney Avenue.

The temporary division of Regina between the two townsites prevented a "Main Street" from ever being established. Nobody knew at the time which townsite the CPR would choose for their train station, nor how the city would grow. While the peculiar placement of Government House and the RCMP Depot on Regina's far west end seems out of place today, it wouldn't that far from Dewdney's townsite.

Regina from above

Have you ever wondered about why Regina doesn't have a Main Street? Have you ever noticed the Northwest Territorial Administration Building on Dewdney Ave? Tell me about it in the comments below! 

Why Doesn’t Regina Have A "Main Street" Why Doesn’t Regina Have A "Main Street"

And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.

Before You Go!

Between 1918 and 1920, over 330 Regina citizens died from the Spanish Flu. In May 2017 I began a GoFundMe to fund a memorial for these victims so that they can finally rest in peace. Any donation or shares would be greatly appreciated. For more information, please visit my blog article about the Regina Spanish Flu Memorial Fund.

Thank you for all your support.

-Kenton de Jong

Like what you see?

Then sign up for more!

You might also enjoy

5 Weekend Destinations In Saskatchewan

The past few weeks have been really busy for me, with a lot more time at the office and a lot less time travelling. Thankfully, the weekend is just around the corner and with it comes the possibility of a two day vacation. Having traveled to Lac La Ronge earlier this month, I've been thinking more and more about these short trips and how rejuvenating they can be.

Unfortunately, I haven't done as much travelling around Saskatchewan as I'd like, so I wasn't sure what the best places to visit were. There were of course the obvious choices such as Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, but I wanted someplace remote, yet somewhat close. For this project I approached some of my fellow travel bloggers and I got some ideas of what to go do and see for a weekend. I went through their ideas and came up with this short list of 5 weekend destinations in Saskatchewan.

Thanks to TELUS' incredible network, sections of Saskatchewan that once never had coverage can now be fully explored while still being connected to your mobile device. No matter where you travel in Saskatchewan -- or even in Canada -- this summer, you can rely on TELUS' mobile network to keep you connected.

Read More

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.

Read More

100 Facts About Regina

In my December newsletter I said I wasn't going to write about Regina as much anymore and focus more on international locations, but after a friend of mine told me there was no "interesting history" in my city, I decided I had to write this just to prove them wrong!

Let me know in the comments if you know something I don't, or if I got something wrong! Historical facts seem to change overtime, after all!

I'm happy to present to you, on the 113 year of its existence, 100 Facts About Regina!

Read More