For the past few days, I’ve been settled into the city of Regina for the 2013 Juno Awards. When it was time to go home, I decided to book the last flight out to Calgary , giving me a chance to explore the city that I had never really been to before.
A victim of the ever-lasting winter that seems to have much of Canada in its grips, the temperature and plentiful snow didn’t allow me to see Regina the way I think it’s really meant to be seen, but that just meant that I got to do my favourite thing to do when I travel: explore.
To me, Regina is a city that reveals itself slowly to you. I spent the better part of the morning wandering around the edge of the downtown core, stopping to take photos of Wascana Lake, which also features the regal Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan building. Even though the lake’s banks were brimming with white snow now, I could picture how nice the cool and refreshing water would be on a hot prairie day.
Being from the Maritimes, it surprised how much the city reminded me of many of the cities in Atlantic Canada, particularly how the older houses are being converted into business, instantly giving independent shops more character and bringing more walking traffic to the street. The homes themselves also reminded me of my time in New Brunswick. Maybe I’m an old soul, but I could spend hours walking up and down historic streets, looking at the colourful homes that were once individually designed, long before the cookie-cutter world of suburbia. I must have walked down six or seven Regina with big homes, painted with bright colours.
Speaking of colours, you only need to spend a few hours in Regina to notice the dozens of graffiti-inspired paintings that help bring live to quiet alleys and sides of otherwise grey buildings. I’m told this is something that happens a lot in the prairie cities, but it’s the first time I’ve noticed it and I’m glad a did. Some of the “pieces” were really fantastic, especially as you spent more and more time looking at them.
If exploring is my favourite thing to do when I travel, eating comes in at a solid second place. So luckily my day of wandering led me to find some great gems, likely popular with locals, but rarely seen by the regular traveler. My first find was Abstractions Café, a place that looks so much like a home, I almost didn’t go in, for fear of interrupting some family’s morning. But walking through the door, I was quickly relieved to find a nice restaurant, populated with business folk, artists and a few young families. Same goes for La Bodega, where my friend and I had, of all things, a lobster poutine. Now, I know that eating seafood in a city that is literally in the middle of the country comes with certain risks, so I’m happy to report that the dish was completely worth it. What a find! I also passed some other great looking restaurants that I hope to enjoy on my next visit, including Tangerine and Bushwakker Brew Pub.
So when will I be back? I’m not sure, but I only heard great things about the Regina Folk Festival, which takes place from August 9th to 11th and this year features a stellar lineup including Feist, Rosanne Cash, Hayden and Amelia Curran. Everyone says that Regina is at its best in the summer time, so I can’t wait to see it for myself.
Happy to have checked off another historic Canadian city off of my list.