Located east of Regina's booming downtown is the former Germantown. The boundaries of this historic neighborhood have fluctuated much over the past century, but it constantly sits between Broad and Park Street, and South Railway Street and 13th Avenue. Winnipeg Street unofficially splits the neighborhood into two sections: West and East Germantown.
Unlike the rest of Regina, Germantown was populated with non-British immigrants, such as Ukrainians, Romanians, Poles, Greeks, Serbians and Germans (hence the name "Germantown"). It would later also be home to Japanese, Chinese and Korean families, and today is home to many Middle Eastern families, particularity the recent Syrian refugees.
While Saskatchewan is very Conservative in their political policies, Germantown has always been Liberal, always supporting more immigration and more social services, especially for new arrivals. This makes Germantown very unique, and thus very different, than the rest of Regina.
It is due to these drastic cultural, ethnic and political differences that Germantown was often overlooked at the beginning of the 20th Century. An example of this can be seen in a 1912 brochure that boasted Regina had city-wide running water, but it failed to mention that it wouldn't come to Germantown for several more years. Some historians would argue the reason running water wouldn't arrive in Germantown for another decade isn't because the city didn't care for the people of Germantown, but because their houses were nothing more than small shacks and couldn't handle the plumbing. Photographs of the neighbourhood in the early 20th Century confirm these claims, as Germantown was the poorest area of the city.
However, that isn't to say there wasn't a lot going on in Germantown. The neighborhood had over 40 stores, including 7 dance halls, with every house having an average of 8 people living in them. Families at the time could also raise their own cattle and chickens, so it was common to find livestock wandering the roads of the neighborhood. Alcohol was also very common, due to the high number of Germanic families, which naturally caused some conflict during the Prohibition era.
Since it was first established, Germantown has been used as a cultural springboard for new arrivals into the city. As the families grew up, they would eventually move away and a new family would take their place. This constant movement of people would lead to very little historical information being written down and thus very little being known about the daily ongoings inside Germantown.
However, some stories do persist. One story revolves around the current Old Number 1 Fire Hall, located on 11th Avenue. While the building today is a stand-alone structure, in its earliest days it used to be the entrance to the Regina Market Square. The Regina Market Square was a massive square where people from all walks of life sold their wares and produce; much like the modern Farmers Market does on Scarth Street today.
When the fire hall was first erected, the fire department had "fire horses". These horses were actually farm horses that were trained to run to the fire department when the fire bell began ringing. Over the years, however, the horses were replaced with vehicles and something needed to be done with the horses. Instead of putting them down, the horses were used to clean up garbage around the city. This worked out very well until the next fire broke out and the bell began to ring, which caused these loyal horses to charge towards the fire hall, flinging garbage out of their carts and throughout the streets of the city. The scene today is comical to think about, but it was mortifying at the time.
Another story takes place during World War I. With Canada actively at war against the Germans in Europe, many people in Regina were suspicious of the people in Germantown, who spoke a different language, attended a different church and even had a different newspaper, Der Courier. These "Enemy Aliens" were seen as a threat to the safety of Canadians, and there was growing Anti-German sentiment against them. Several individuals in Regina even attempted to burn down the house of the printer of Der Courier, wanting to silence the newspaper. They failed, but the divisions between Germantown and the rest of the city were clearly felt that day.
Concerned about the "Enemy Aliens" that might be living in Germantown, the military requested permission to enter Germantown and to look for and prevent retaliation by the Germanic people. Mayor Robert Martin vetoed the military's request, claiming they would not enter the neighborhood as the citizens in Germantown were welcome in his city and were as law abiding as anybody else.
Once the war ended, the citizens of Germantown hoped the four years of suspicion that hovered over the community would disappear. Imagine their surprise when, only a few months later, police officers would be knocking on the doors of every house in the neighborhood, asking a dozen questions and handing them documents written in English, which they were unable to read. These documents were pamphlets created by the Canadian Government informing citizens about the Spanish Flu pandemic, which would kill more people worldwide than the war did. At this time, the Spanish Flu had reached Regina and was on the way to kill just over 1% of the population – or around 300 people. In an attempt to count the number of sick and dying people in the city, the police figured it would be easier to visit each of the houses in Germantown instead of calling them, since many of them did not have a phone.
It quickly became apparent to the police that the four years of Anti-German sentiment in the neighborhood caused the Germanic people to no longer trust the police, and their good intentions appeared sinister. With a language division between the English speaking officers and the Germanic people, the police required the use of neighborhood children to help translate their message. It turned out that while much of Regina was struggling with the Spanish Flu, Germantown was not. It was believed then, and is still a theory today, that the high amount of garlic in the food they ate kept the illness at bay.
It is important to remember that Germantown wasn't just people from Germany, but also people from Asia. 10th Avenue, for a time, was colloquially referred to as "Little Japan", and today is known as Regina's Chinatown, due to the high number of Asian restaurants and shops that are in the area. One of these restaurants, Ngoc Van, is actually my most favorite restaurant and I visit it almost once a week.
Being one of the oldest neighborhoods in Regina, Germantown is also full of incredible architecture, from a variety of different time periods. From the beautiful Marian Centre, to the towering Municipal Justice Building, to the gorgeous German Club, this area is punctuated with buildings from the 1920s to the 1960s, showcasing a variety of murals and brickwork that can be seen nowhere else in the city.
While Germantown has improved much since the 20th Century, there are still some areas of the neighborhood that need some help. There are abandoned houses, boarded up windows, and homeless people living on the streets. While the neighborhood does have some problems, there are also many local businesses such as Souls Harbour and the Salvation Army which are trying their best to improve the lives for the people in the area. Germantown is a historical neighborhood in the city that has seen many challenges since its conception, and I am excited to see the direction it will go in years to come.
If you're interested in volunteering or donating to Souls Habour, please visit their website or call them at 306-543-0011. As well, if you're interested in volunteering or donating to the Salvation Army, please visit their website or call them at 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).
Have you ever visited Germantown? I would love to hear some stories, so feel free to leave them in the comment section below!
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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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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.
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.
When I first started this project, I didn't know what would come of it.
During my interview with the Saskatchewanderer, she recommended I approach Tourism Regina and see if I could write for them. Tourism Regina agreed and published my article, but due to it's size restrictions, I wasn't able to talk about as many places as I wanted to.
Since beginning this project, I have sent over three dozen emails to many organizations and businesses around the city. Once I was done my initial research, I had more questions than answers, some of which I don't think I'll ever know. Once realizing the vast amount of information out there, I decided to cut this project down substantially. But, although it ended up different then I thought it would, I am happy to finally present to you, "8 Places to Visit in Regina".