It took a while, but summer has finally arrived! With any city, these three precious months of summer bring their fair share of activities, and Regina is no different. There is a lot to do in Regina so let me know in the comments if I missed anything!
1. Explore Wascana Park
This should be obvious for anybody living in Regina, but for tourists Wascana Park offers a plethora of activities. From fireworks on Canada Day to festivals to just enjoying a quiet stroll, there are countless things to do in the park. Being three times larger than Central Park in New York, the park is full of pathways, bridges, tunnels and islands for you to explore. Self-guiding walking tours are also available, which showcase the monuments, statues, architecture, history and natural flora and fauna that is in the region. Sections of the park are protected for wildlife so you may see foxes, rabbits, raccoons, weasels, beavers, turtles and, if you're lucky, goats. There's also a swimming pool, bird sanctuary, a habitat conservation area and marina. Speaking of the Marina…
2. Drop by the Regina Marina
Wascana Park is beautiful from the land, but it is even more gorgeous from the water. Imagine floating in the heart of the city, surrounded by nothing but the silence of water. Motor boats aren't commonly found on the lake, so renting a canoe with a loved one can be a personal and private experience. If you're more of a physical person you can also rent a kayak or try stand-up paddle boarding, which recently opened up thanks to Queen City Sup. The marina is also home to the Willow on Wascana, a beautiful outdoor lakeside restaurant. If you're into brunches or wine tasting, or just enjoying eating outdoors, this is a place you must visit!
3. Visit the Legislative Building
I've talked about the Leg a few times on my blog, but the Leg has just finished a multiyear restoration of its dome, and it's worth showing off. The original dome was a century old when it was discovered it was cracking and shifting, so instead of removing it (which was an option), they chose to replace it. The old green copper that was once a city landmark was replaced with new, bronze copper and is gorgeous to see when the sun is out.
Tours of the building are also available, which discuss the history of the building, the artwork inside, the fossil riddled stonework used to make the building, the stunningly beautiful library and the inside of the Legislative Assembly. The history and information throughout the building is fascinating and I really wish more people visited it!
4. Taste the Candahar
I've never been to Ireland (it's on my list!), but when I think of the Emerald Isle I think of greenery, potatoes, leprechauns and pubs. While I'm not sure about the greenery and the leprechauns, The Candahar is a recreated Irish pub straight out of Belfast, on display at the McKenzie Art Gallery. Operating from April 30th to September 25th, the Candahar has various activities going on throughout the summer, but is open as a restaurant to the public, without reservations, every Saturday. Check out the MacKenzie Art Gallery's website for more information.
5. Drop By Regina's Many Museums
Regina is home to many museums, and after the unfortunate closing of the Civic Museum last year, it's more important than ever to visit the ones that are still open. Besides the famous Royal Saskatchewan Museum, there is also the Saskatchewan Military Museum, the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame, Alex Youck School Museum (which is a museum that shows how schools were taught during the 1880s, and is organized by appointment only), the medical museum at the Pasqua Hospital and Saskatchewan's only medieval castle, Stone Hall Castle.
6. Uncover Casino Regina's Many Mysteries
Casino Regina is, by itself, a really fun place to visit. If it's for gambling or for shows or for dining, it's a great atmosphere that everybody should experience. But there is another side of Casino Regina that most people don't know (if you've been following my blog, you know it by now though) and that is that Casino Regina used to be a train station, and still has many relics from its former train station days. You can see some of the relics throughout the building, such as the final train schedule, a peephole into the original floor, and some old artifacts and pictures from the station's earliest days. If you arrange a tour you can even go below the Casino and see the old jail cells, photographs taken during some of Regina's most iconic moments and a hallway dedicated to the repairs and reconstruction done to reopen the building after it stopped being a train station.
Because it is a casino, visitors have to be over 19 to go on this tour.
7. Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour
The City of Regina has over 20 self-guided walking tours available, which range from the Cathedral area, into the former Germantown, through downtown, around Wascana Park, into the Warehouse District and beyond. These walking tours cover historical houses, important architecture and some of the history of the area. There is also a dedicated tour that goes over the path of the horrible Regina Cyclone, which was the most deadly tornado in Canadian history. I will be taking some of these tours later this summer, so we might just bump into each other!
8. Find Solace at the Regina Cemetery
Not to get too philosophical here, but there's something special about cemeteries. They are a place of reflection, of solace and of understanding. It's a place most of us avoid, but will all probably end up in. The Regina Cemetery offers tours, which discuss some of the people buried in the cemetery and the impact they had on the growth of the city. One of these is Francis Darke, one of the most influential men in the city's history, who is buried in one of the only mausoleums in the cemetery. Other graves belong to victims of the North-West Rebellion, the Boar War, the Spanish Flu and the Regina Cyclone. There is also a beautiful war memorial in the cemetery, which I believe is even more beautiful than the cenotaph in Victoria Park. Surrounded by hundreds of white grave stones, all facing towards a white, towering cross, it's a treasure that many people are completely unaware of.
A virtual tour of the cemetery can be found online, and booklets can be purchased at the Cemeteries Administration Office.
9. Say Farewell to Mosaic Stadium
With the new Mosaic Stadium nearing completion, the historic home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders has entered the fourth quarter of its lifespan. 2016 marks the end of a dynasty, and the beginning of a new age in Saskatchewan football. This year is the Farewell Season, and people are asked to come out and support our local football team one last time before the lights turn out in Mosaic forever. Our love for football is something that is unique to Saskatchewan across the country, and a Roughrider game at Mosaic Stadium is one of the most exhilarating things to take in during the summer.
10. Take Part in the Cinema Under the Stars
Every summer for the past few years, Downtown Regina has hosted the Cinema Under the Stars on select Wednesdays in July and August. Open to the public and completely free, this is a fun and exciting place to go on a date or take your children. While the schedule for this year isn't up yet, last year had movies such as Back to the Future 2, Big Hero Six, and Jurassic Park. Just be sure to bring some mosquito repellant as the bugs tend to swarm right around sunset.
11. Relive The Trail of Louis Riel
Louis Riel is Canada's most controversial character, and is considered one of our countries founding fathers. While some consider him a traitor, other considers him a martyr. His story began in Manitoba during the Red River Rebellion and the execution of Thomas Scott, and ended in Regina at the end of the North-West Rebellion, where he was put on trial for high treason. The court's decision is almost as controversial as Riel himself, and has spawned the longest running historical dramatic theatrical production in North America, “The Trial of Louis Riel”. Performances run July 14th – 16th, 21st – 23rd and 28th to 30th at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.
12. Visit the RCMP Heritage Center and Depot
The RCMP Heritage Center goes deep into the foundation of the Northwest Mounted Police, the March West, the Gold Rush, the two World Wars and the Cold War. The museum explores the adventures (and misadventures), the crimes, and manhunts and the heritage of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Depot, however, looks into the living legacy of the RCMP, including daily parades, gun-fire salutes and the occasional mock battle. You can see the cadets-in-training and visit where they live, eat and are educated. Regina's oldest building, the Chapel, is also located in the Depot. Just yards away from it is where Louis Riel was executed, and while the spot is not marked, everybody in the Depot can point to the general area.
Tours of the Heritage Center are available every day, but tours of the Depot are by appointment only.
13. Drink Tea at Government House
Just down the street from the RCMP Heritage Center is Government House. The residence of the Governor General, this building was closed after World War II, converted into a hospital and then restored back to an early 19th Century home, complete with ballrooms, smoking rooms, dining rooms and classrooms. The story of Regina's first elite families and the stories behind the relics are fascinating and is a treat for anybody looking to step back in time to Saskatchewan's earliest days.
Government House also has Victorian Teas once a month during the summer, in which people dress up in Victoria era dresses and suits and enjoy the company of others. Victorian Teas take place on July 9th -10th, August 6th -7th, September 10th – 11th, October 1st – 2nd, November 5th – 6th, but tickets sell out quick so reserve yours as soon as possible!
14. Explore the World at the Saskatchewan Science Center
Fun for people of all ages, the Saskatchewan Science Center has over 180 hands-on exhibits ranging from exhibits with reptiles and bats to planets and interplanetary travel and experiments involving heat, magnets, mirrors and electricity. Next to the Saskatchewan Science Center is the IMAX, which is currently showing A Beautiful Planet, America Wild: National Parks Adventure and Humpback Whales.
For those looking for an adult's night out, the Saskatchewan Science Center also has Adult Science Nights, which is a mix of science and education for an older audience. Alcohol and snacks are also provided. For those who love beer and movies, the IMAX also has the After Dark Film Series, which shows movies such as Pretty in Pink, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Japanese anime Akira, but with English subtitles.
The Saskatchewan Science Center also has an observatory, for those of you who love star gazing.
15. Scream at the Queen City Ex
To many kids in Regina, summer means the arrival of the Queen City Ex. The Queen City Ex has changed names since it began in 1895, but has always been a major event in the city. Packed full of live music, rides, rollercoasters, popcorn, hot dogs, deep fried Oreos, prizes and a petting zoo, the Queen City Ex is one of the most popular events in the city throughout the year and is visited by young and old alike. Family friendly, the Queen City Ex is a must-do activity when summer comes to the Queen City.
16. Escape the Manor, If You Dare
A recently opened attraction in Regina, Escape Manor is quickly becoming on the most popular places to visit in the city. With only 45 minutes to escape, you and your friends must solve puzzles, use logic and work together to find the key before time runs out. While I haven't done it yet, many of my friends have and they say it is one of the best things to do in the city.
Along with Escape Manor, there is also Laser Quest's Key Quest and the new Escape Club, which are similar to the Escape Manor but have different puzzles worth checking out.
17. Eat Somewhere New
While Regina has its annual multicultural celebration called “Mosaic, A Festival of Cultures”, but many people seem to forget that these incredible Ukrainian, Vietnamese, German, Afghan and Indian restaurants are also open throughout the year. Over a dozen different cultural restaurants are available throughout the city, such as Japanese, Vietnamese, Spanish, Mexican, French, Greek and American. Noodle shops, sushi bars and food trucks are appearing all around the city too. If you're looking for something new, give one of these restaurants a try. Some of my best memories with my girlfriend was going to some unknown restaurant and trying something different on the menu.
If you're not feeling adventurous and want to stick with something you know and love, Regina has seen an explosion of new restaurants the past few years such as the Capitol, Victoria's Tavern, Malt City, Fix Coffee and The Nest. Other places like the newly relocated Jack Keaton's and Fibber Magee's are also worth your visit. There are so many unique restaurants in the city that you could literally go to a different one each day of the summer and not visit the same one twice.
18. Go Geocaching
Imagine treasure hunting with your cellphone, and you have geocaching. While not a new phenomenon, geocaching is very popular in Regina and has over 1,500 caches hidden throughout the city. Hidden in trees, bushes and under picnic tables, people have hidden little treasures, notes or just relics for you to find and cross off an ever expanding list. It's very fun, and very addictive, so if you're looking to get outside and move around this summer, geocaching is one of the best ways to do it. Chances are there is a cache less than a block away from you, and you don't even know it!
19. Get Your Fix For Speed
If you have a need for speed, you aren't alone. Regina has a long history of speeders such as Emory Collins, who gained international attention back in the 1920s. In 1967 the Kings Park Speedway was built on the edge of the city, and has since been a major hub for those who like shiny cars that go really fast. While I have never journeyed out to the Speedway, it's something I've always wanted to do. The 2016 schedule is up and is packed full of races from now all the way to October.
20. Soar the Skies
Last November I took to the skies with my girlfriend with the Regina Flying Club, and I have wanted to go back up ever since. It's one thing to live and breathe in a city, and it's another thing to see it from the air. Seeing Downtown Regina, Mosaic Stadium and Wascana Park from the air really shows just how gorgeous this city really is.
If you take a flight with the Regina Flying Club, you'll also explore the area outside Regina, such as the Qu'Appelle, which in itself is worth the trip.
A plane rental costs $150 an hour, but is well worth every penny.
What plans do you have for the summer? Will you be doing any of these things? Let me know in the comments and maybe you'll see me there too!
Don't forget to pin it!
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.
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As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.
Nestled between the impressive Mount Royal and the majestic St. Lawrence River is Montreal, a city known for its festivals, abstract art, history and mosaic of countless cultures. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, with a population floating around four million people. While the city is a dynamic mix of Canada's two primary cultures – French and English – there are areas of the city that are culturally specific, such as Little Italy, Greektown and Chinatown. Known for its artistic and liberal mindedness, Montreal also boasts the largest community of homosexuals in North America in their very own "Gay Village".
Being nearly 375 years old, Montreal was pivotal to the creation of New France and Canada and at a time held control over every waterway from the St. Lawrence down to the Gulf of Mexico. Having such incredible influence over the western part of the New World, Montreal hosted the "Great Peace of Montreal" in 1701, which started sixteen years of peace between the French and over 40 different First Nation tribes in North America.
Since its early days, Montreal has been one of the most influential cities in Canada. Montreal housed "internment camps" during World War I, became an ideal location for Americans looking for alcohol during Prohibition, and was the official residence of the Luxembourg royal family during World War II. Montreal held host to the incredible Expo 67, showcasing some of the most incredible architecture of that decade. The seventies saw serious political reformation in Montreal, with many Americans arriving, fleeing the Vietnam Draft. The late seventies paralyzed the city as a terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec, detonated explosives throughout the city and kidnapped and killed political figures. These actions forced the Prime Minster to enact the "War Measures Act" and deploy the military into the city to apprehend the terrorists. The eighties and nineties saw two referendums in the province of Quebec to separate from Canada, with Montreal playing a major role in both decisions. The last referendum in 1995 ended with 51% percent of Quebecers wanting to remain part of Canada and 49% wanting to separate.
I have been told my entire life that Winnipeg was just like Regina, but slightly larger. This gave the impression that there wasn't much to see in Winnipeg and that it, along with Regina, were more-or-less "fly over destinations". Since starting my blog, I've learned Regina is an absolutely incredible city so I imagined Winnipeg was the same. I then proceeded to contact Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba to find out the true Winnipeg, and ended up going on a multi-day excursion of their city.
Since a lot of my readers are from Regina and they almost all know somebody heading there for the Banjo Bowl in a couple of days, I thought I'd put this list together. There's a lot more to see there than just Investors Group Field, and the city's history is incredibly fascinating, so I hope you enjoy this list of 100 things about "Canada's Gateway to the West".
Several of these facts are taken from Frank Albo's tour of the Manitoba Legislative Building, but there are many I didn't mention. If you enjoyed them, I encourage buying his book: "The Hermetic Code"