One of my friends recently asked me to tell her some "legends" about Regina to share with her friends in Germany. My mind immediately went to the macabre and I began sharing stories of flying canoes full of people during the Regina Cyclone (didn't happen), the story of a family that survived the sinking of the Titanic but died in the cyclone (also didn't happen) and even a bit about how Regina handled the Spanish Influenza (because, of course I mentioned that).
When I was done, she sent those stories to her friends and they came back and said Regina sounded like something out of Creepypasta – a website dedicated to paranormal fiction. I loved the idea of that and decided to do my own research into some "odd" places and things around Regina. Some of these are spooky, some of these are interesting, but all of them are very odd.
Are there any you'd add to the list?
1. The Mermaid of Wascana
Disney has made a point of making people think mermaids are lovely women with a tendency to trade their voices for legs. In reality, mermaids are said to drive men insane, cause them to jump overboard or shipwreck their vessels. These are a terror of the seas… and not one you would normally expect to find in the prairies.
Except, in a province full of landlocked lighthouses and giant ships, it isn't all that surprising.
If you have ever visited the museum you've probably noticed the array of carvings decorating the outer walls of the building. The most prominent one is at the front of the building and shows two pioneers settling the land. In addition to this, all along the top edge of the building are additional engravings, all highlighting different flora and fauna found throughout the province. Here you will find engravings of deer, bears, buffalo, foxes, trout and the illustrious mermaid.
But why a mermaid? My thoughts were maybe it was just an accidental variation of a fish or frog, but the more I looked, the more I realized that, no, it really was a mermaid.
I reached out to the museum to find out more.
Edward McCudden, the original designer of the building, thought the stone walls of the building needed to look "softer", so he commissioned Winnipeg sculptor Herbert Garnier to add the 325 pieces to the outside of the building. When submitting the design, Garnier (this is from the original museum scrapbook) "shocked McCudden by insisting that a ‘Wascana Mermaid' be included on the sculptural frieze. The mermaid stayed without the government's knowledge."
The mermaid can be seen on the north-west corner of the building.
Thank you to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum for their help in researching this topic.
2. Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame Secret Safe
If you've ever been in Victoria Park, you've probably seen the Land Titles Building sitting at the southern edge of it. This building is one of the oldest downtown, having survived a direct hit from the devastating 1912 Regina Cyclone. This building is also one of the city's first to have reinforced steel, making it a proverbial Fort Knox. But, instead of housing gold reserves, it is home to land titles.
But now something else has taken its place.
The Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame moved into the old Land Titles building in 1979 and began expanding their collection. With not enough space for all their artifacts, many of them are stores below ground, such as antique curling stones, tennis rackets, large swaths of turf from the old Mosaic Stadium and hundreds of bronze trophies.
These trophies are kept behind a foot-thick iron door, one that even I had trouble moving. It's behind several layers of security, alarms and buzzers. It has been there for over a century, but most people have never seen it, let alone heard of it. There are dozens of these monstrous safes throughout downtown, but every time I find one, regardless of what's in it, it's always an incredible find.
Thank you to the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame for taking me on a tour of their museum.
3. The Cursed Painting
Jason Hall's Stone Hall Castle houses a plethora of medieval artifacts within its limestone walls. From suits of armour to Renaissance-era paintings, the building is full of thousands of beeswax candles, artwork, architecture and statues.
On one tour of the building, Jason pointed out a painting in his building and told us not to look into the eyes of the man in the painting. He told us that the painting was cursed.
I contacted Jason while researching this article to learn more about it. He didn't have much – or didn't want to tell me much – but he said the painting is from New Orleans and the shopkeeper told him it was cursed. He also refers to it as a "negative energy object", perhaps implying that it is more than just a painting.
To protect my readers, I have blurred the image below, but for those who want to risk looking at it, just click on it with your mouse, or tap it with your finger on mobile and it will unblur.
But I caution you not to.
Thank you to Jason Hall for providing the picture and its origin story.
4. Casino Regina's Hidden Artifacts
I'm not a big gambling person, but I've been known to visit Casino Regina from time to time. I like visiting it because sometimes I win money, and sometimes I can check out some of the incredible architecture. I've talked about the building a few times on this blog, and you might even know about the relics in the basement. It's a little difficult to get to the basement though, which is why the one I'm talking about today is on the main floor.
If you go into the Casino through the main doors, head straight through to where the stairs lead down to the old train platform. You'll come to a dead end, with washrooms on either side. Before going down the stairs to the washroom, take a left and walk a few feet to a World War I plaque. Then turn to your right.
What you'll see are some gambling machines, one which I won $50 on and the other which I didn't. Between them, however, you'll see a small display case peeking out from around the corner. This display case is full of early Regina relics, from licence plates to photographs, old toys to several pieces about the former train station. It's a treasure trove of history, if you know where to look.
The Casino is a great casino, but it isn't a very good museum. There's a lot of historical artifacts that are squirreled away in the building. From the final train schedule in the main foyer, to the display case, to the art gallery in the basement, there's a lot in the building that the public doesn't see.
But, I don't blame the Casino for this at all. In fact, they don't have much of a choice. Now that the Civic Museum has become an eco-museum and is downsizing their collection, there is no space for this kind of stuff in the city. If we had a proper "Regina History" museum, these artifacts could be moved there. Until then (if that ever happens) they will sit behind slot machines, posters and locked doors, only accessible to those with a curious eye.
Thank you to Casino Regina for their information and for letting me take pictures in their establishment.
5. Centennial Market's Hidden Room
Even if you have never visited the new Centennial Market (which you should, because it is awesome!), I'm sure you visited the old Sears Outlet store before it closed. I visited it all the time with my parents growing up and I remember the endless rows of columns vividly.
But long before my time, before Sears used the building, it was operated by the T. Eaton's Company. Eaton's is known today for selling "catalogue homes", where people could order houses and have them delivered by rail. Eaton's opening in Regina was a game-changer to the city, even if it was built on the former Saskatchewan Roughrider playing field.
Although decades have passed, and the building has changed hands several times, some rooms remain untouched. This may have been accidental or deliberate, but the old office of the Eaton's manager is still the same as it was nearly a century ago.
The managers of the Centennial Market have cleaned it up since Sears moved out, but for the most part has left it untouched – except for the cigarettes and playing cards. They left those for the spirits that still do business up there.
Thank you to the Centennial Market for the tour of their building.
6. Elvis Presley's House
Did you know that Elvis was 42 years old when he died? How about that 2019 will be the 42nd anniversary of his death? Well, did you know that there's an Elvis Presley Museum in Regina, and it's been open for over 10 years?
All of that is true! The Elvis Presley Museum is located at Performance Marine, on 3310 Pasqua Street. Although the museum is hard to see from the road, if you look carefully enough you can see the pink letters "EP" on the side of the building. Entrance to the museum is available by appointment only but can be arranged by contacting the owner Kathleen Lorch at 306 586-9819 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lorch has been collecting artifacts for over a decade, not including her own private collecting she started during Elvis' heyday. She has magazines, pillows, puzzles, posters, towels, blankets, figurines, photographs, postcards and decorations all about the King of Rock n' Roll.
While the museum is impressive, the most fascinating part of the museum is a life-size replica of Elvis Presley's childhood home. From period stoves to toys, furniture to dishes and everything in between, the house was constructed from photographs Lorch took on her trip to Mississippi years ago. The replica house even has a bed with a small doll in it, which represents Elvis's late twin brother, Jesse Gordon Presley.
7. The Missing Black Star
To end the list, I decided to include a "non-oddity". I was hoping to discover something disturbing… but instead was left with more questions than answers.
Although Manitoba became a province almost 40 years before Saskatchewan, our legislative building was built first. Ours was constructed in 1908, while theirs was constructed in 1912. From outside, the two buildings are very similar in shape and size. Both made of Tyndall stone, these buildings are covered in a myriad of carvings and symbolism.
Frank Albo, the "Dan Brown of Canada", brought many of these symbolisms to light in his book The Hermetic Code. This book breaks down the architecture behind the Manitoba legislature, from the number of lights in each hallway, to the width and height of the columns, to the shape of the building itself. Albo believes the building was constructed to look like King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, since Winnipeg is in the geographical centre of the New World (much like how Jerusalem was the centre of the Old World).
Both buildings are similar in many ways, including the stairwell, the round rotunda and the dome. In his book, Albo writes that ancient temples used to have round alters. His research has determined that if the alter is round, it is most often "dedicated to deities of the underworld".
He goes on to quote a 1925 guide book of the Manitoba Legislature:
"There should be an Alter here, and a Priest, and the image of a god, and a victim, and a curved knife, and a circle of white-robed worshippers, around the outer edge of the Pool, and the victim should be on the altar, and the curved knife should flash; the floor is stained; dull red stains are trickling through the black veins of the marble."
Below the rotunda in the Manitoba Legislature, on the floor below, is a black star, symbolizing a metaphorical pool of blood. Since this building is so similar to the Saskatchewan Legislature, would we have the same black star too?
Strangely enough, no. Does this prove Albo's theory, or is this just a minor design choice? I'm not sure, but it's definitely one of Regina's many oddities.
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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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If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.
I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.
If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.
My article "8 Places to Visit in Regina" is by far my most popular article, being read over 7,000 times in the past 6 months. In honour of the anniversary of my blog (and because 1 of the 8 locations mentioned before is now closed), I decided to do a sequel and talk about 8 more places to visit in Regina. This was really easy as Regina is growing at an extraordinary rate and new, incredible places are opening almost every week.
After the Regina Cyclone huffed and puffed and blew down the majority of houses across the city in 1912, Annie Darke asked her beloved Francis Darke to build her a house that could withstand even the worse things Saskatchewan could blow at it. Being one of the richest and most influential men in Regina’s history, Francis Darke took up the challenge and began to create his wife their very own stone castle.
This massive fortress served as their dwelling for the remainder of their days, until Francis Darke passed away in 1940 and his widowed wife passed away in the very house he had built her, twelve years later.
If you follow my blog, you know I love history. History is what makes us who we are today. It defines our accomplishments and highlights our failures. Most importantly, it helps us move forward as a society.
A lot of my focus is Saskatchewan's history, but there's plenty of amazing history to be told in our neighbour province of Alberta too. From First Nations culture, through to early pioneers, the oil boom and the legacy the province today, there is always something to learn about when visiting Alberta.