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.
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.
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.
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!
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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Most people know how to ride a bicycle. They learned sometime as a child and never forgot. I am not one of those people. I tried learning when I was a child, a teenager and an adult, and I have never mastered the two-wheel contraption. Whenever I see a child zip past me on a bike, I get a little jealous inside. I've always wanted to learn, but it's just something I've never been able to do.
On my recent trip to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta, I explored several of the many biking paths that wind through the area. The paths are also hikable, so I walked them instead. Although I've visited Cypress Hills several times, I never get used to the hills and lakes throughout the area. With dozens of kilometres of trails, you can spend a weekend there and never do the same thing twice. Although hiking around the park was incredible, I imagine it would be a lot more fun, and a lot easier, to bike it instead.
When it comes to Saskatchewan, your next adventure can be around any corner. As you venture off the main highways, signage is scarce and directions such as "if you've passed the gate with the buffalo skulls, you've gone too far" are all too common. Communities grow smaller, people grow warmer and the list of things on your Saskatchewan Bucket List seems to only get longer.
My adventure to Leader started a few months ago when Christine over at Cruisin' Christine shared a list of Leader bus tours on Facebook. Some of the tours were in June, but one was in September. The September tour caught my eye because it was a two-day tour and I had to ask myself what we would do for two days in Leader. Leader has a three digit population, so I was perplexed on what the tour would comprise.
I was so perplexed that I decided contacted Leader Tourism and booked the tour to find out.
Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shut its doors in 1970. A year later, in 1971, it would briefly reopen and house inmates from Holmesburg Prison after a devastating riot. After the prisoners were returned to Holmesburg, Eastern State would sit empty for over two decades. It would rot, decay and collapse. Trees and shrubs would grow into the structure and a clowder of cats would take residence. These hallowed halls would sit empty, the only noise being the chatter of startled birds and the trotter of feline paws.
The following decades would see various discussions of what to do with the building. Eventually, it was decided to preserve it and turn it into a tourist attraction. Although it officially opened for tours in 1994, attendants would have to sign a waiver and wear hardhats before entering until 2008. They had 10,000 visitors the opening year, a number of tourists not seen in the prison since 1858.
From 1829 to 1970, Eastern State Penitentiary underwent a variety of changes and transformations. This massive, sprawling, 11-acre complex was founded under the belief that solitary confinement was the cure needed to prevent criminals from committing future crimes. It was believed criminals who served in solitary confinement would turn to a higher power to reconcile with themselves for their crimes – hence feeling "penitent". To assist in this process, each cell was equipped with a slit window on the ceiling nicknamed "The Eye of God". It would be the only light source available to the inmate.