Regina's historic buildings and precincts

Regina's historic buildings and precincts

had established the site of his considerable landholdings as the site of his Territorial Capital. [Pierre Berton, "The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885". Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1971, p.115.] With latter day eclipse of the railways in favour of highway trucking the Warehouse District has lost its original purpose. In recent years the Warehouse District has incrementally been transformed into an interesting shopping and residential precinct.

The Assiniboia Club on Victoria Avenue has long since ceased to be an élite men's club and continues in use as a restaurant; the former Anglican Diocesan property is now being intelligently developed along commercial lines with the historic buildings jealously retained. Significant historic buildings and precincts include the following.



. The building was replaced as a post office in 1956 by the current post office on Saskatchewan Drive (formerly South Railway Street). ["The First 50: 1990–1959" (brochure), Regina Public Library, 1959. Regina Public Library: History. Online at]

and the 1963 Saskatchewan Power Building, also on Victoria Avenue, were, with the Provincial Legislative Building and the spires of Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Cathedral, the only high-rise structures in the city and were visible from many miles' distance as one approached Regina by road from any direction.


roofed Administration Building, a Provincial Heritage Property, remains standing; it was restored in 1979 and currently houses an entertainment troupe. [Nilson, Ralph. "Discover Saskatchewan: A Guide to Historic Sites". Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, 1998).]

Government House on Dewdney Avenue was completed in 1891 as the vice-regal residence for the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West ("sic") Territories, replacing the first Government House on the present site of Luther College farther west on Dewdney Avenue. It was the first electrified residence in the Territories and remained the residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West (later Northwest) Territories and, after the creation of the province of Saskatchewan, of the province until 1945; latterly, with increasing historical sensibility among the general public, it has been restored to its former use as a vice-regal mansion, albeit only for public functions and not as a residence per se. [Hryniuk, Margaret. "A Tower of Attraction": An Illustrated History of Government House, Regina, Saskatchewan." Regina: Government House Historical Society/Canadian Plains Research Centre, 1991).]

of the North-West ("sic") Territories and then of Saskatchewan was built in 1894 on the northwest corner of Hamilton Street and Victoria Avenue. [Drake, Earl G. "Regina, the Queen City". Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1955.] At that time the North-West Territories and later the province of Saskatchewan's superior court was the Supreme Court itself: the appellate court was not separately constituted but consisted of an ad hoc "full court" of the Supreme Court, a panel of Supreme Court justices struck from time to time for the purpose of hearing appeals from the trial court.

In 1918 the "The Court of Appeal Act" and "The King’s Bench Act" abolished the Supreme Court, separately constituted the Court of Appeal and established the Court of Kings Bench (or Queens Bench during reigns of female monarchs) as a trial court without appellate jurisdiction. [ [ Courts of Saskatchewan website.] Retrieved 13 June 2007.] The 1894 building was replaced in 1965 by the current courthouse on Victoria Avenue between Lorne and Hamilton Streets. The Avord Tower now stands on the site of the Supreme Court building. As with the 1962 Regina Public Library, the keystone of the original building is on the front lawn of the current courthouse as a decorative feature. [Regina Court House Official Opening (brochure), 1961.]


The Beaux-Arts Saskatchewan Legislative Building on the south shore of Wascana Lake was constructed 1908-12. The design contemplates expansion of the building by the addition of wings extending south from the east and west ends and coming together to form a courtyard. The plans originally called for the exterior of the building to be red brick but after construction had begun and red bricks were already on the site, Premier Walter Scott insisted on Manitoba tyndall stone being substituted after construction had already commenced. [Barnhart, Gordon L. "Building For the Future: A photo journal of Saskatchewan’s Legislative Building". Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, 2002.] It immediately became and remains the dominating architectural presence in Regina.


The 1908 "gingerbread" Romanesque Revival City Hall on 11th Avenue between Rose and Hamilton Streets provided facilities for civic government but also contained a large audience chamber, used for public lectures, balls, theatricals and even boxing matches (see below). In Regina's early days this was an alternative public venue to the Regina Theatre and other private venues. In an ill-conceived effort to revitalise the city centre it was demolished in 1965 and replaced by a now-failed shopping mall, subsequently taken over the federal government as office space.

It temporarily relocated for some years to the considerably smaller Beaux-Arts old Post Office building on Scarth and 11th Avenue which had been left standing and essentially without purpose after the construction of the new Post Office on South Railway Street (now Saskatchewan Drive) after the demolition of the 1908 building, and this saved the old Post Office—now containing the stage of the professional Globe Theatre—from the wrecker’s ball. [ "Regina Leader-Post", June 11, 1976, June 18, 1963).]

City Hall was ultimately moved in 1976 from the Old Post Office building to an undistinguished modern office block in the style of the original University of Regina buildings at the new campus, on the western periphery of the city centre on Victoria Avenue and across 12th Avenue from St Paul's Anglican Cathedral.

Education and culture

Historic private schools

rather than Regina. It became affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan in the 1920s, was disaffiliated with the United Church in the 1930s and ceased offering high school classes; it is now the University of Regina.

St Chad's Anglican Diocesan School was operated by the Anglican Sisters of St John the Divine on the then-Anglican diocesan property immediately to the east of Regina College on College Avenue until it closed for financial reasons in 1970. (See below, "Germantown and the East End.") The Anglican diocese confronted the realities of its demographic marginality in the 1970s and sold its property to the provincial Crown: the City of Regina is now confronted with the problem of responsibly developing the former Anglican diocesan property. (See below).

The Roman Catholic Jesuit Order operated Campion College, originally a high school with junior college accreditation with the University of Saskatchewan like Regina College, on 23rd Avenue; the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions operated Sacred Heart College, later Marian High School, to the south of Campion College on Albert Street and Sacred Heart Academy in the West End immediately adjacent to Holy Rosary Cathedral. All are now closed, though the Campion and Sacred Heart Academy buildings survive with new uses: Campion as a conservative Evangelical Protestant religious school; Sacred Heart Academy as residential condominiums.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada's Luther College, [ [,1,Documents Luther College website] . Retrieved 16 August 2008.] on the site of the original Government House next to the RCMP Academy, Depot Division, is the one remaining historic private school in Regina. Campion College no longer operates a high school but is now a federated college at the University of Regina, as is Luther College.

Theatres and concert halls

, contained a large central theatre and concert hall-"cum"-ballroom.

Darke Hall, a civic theatre and concert hall adjacent to Regina College, was donated by Francis Nicholson Darke. Mr Darke also donated the carillon of chimes to the then-Methodist, now United Church of Canada Metropolitan Church in downtown Regina which is still heard in downtown Regina.

Darke Hall was for many years Regina’s principal concert hall and theatre, particularly after

:(a) the destruction by fire in 1939 of the 800-seat Regina Theatre on the corner of 12th Avenue and Hamilton (now the site of the old Hudson's Bay department store building) — home from 1910 to the Regina Operatic Society, the Regina Orchestral Society and travelling vaudeville and stage plays ["Regina Leader-Post", July 27, 1942, December 16, 1966. Stuart, E. Ross. "The History of Prairie Theatre". Toronto: Simon & Pierre Publishing Co., 1984.] — and

:(b) the demolition of Old City Hall in 1965, whose ballroom had provided a multi-purpose space used for civic receptions, concerts, theatre, balls and indeed boxing.

Darke Hall opened in 1929. ["The First 50: 1990–1959" (brochure), Regina Public Library, 1959. Regina Public Library: History. Online at] It remains the recital and concert hall for the Regina Conservatory of Music and the University of Regina's Department of Music as well as the venue for amateur theatricals and public lectures.

Like other downtown cinemas (including the Regina, the Grand and the 1000-seat Metropolitan), the 1500-seat Capitol Theatre doubled as a movie house and live stage venue and after the Regina Theatre burned to the ground the Capitol was Regina's principal downtown venue for "legitimate" theatre: the famous annual Canadian travelling revue "Spring Thaw" was staged here through the 1950s.

By the 1980s Famous Players, which had acquired the Capitol, by now the last historic legitimate theatre and even cinema in the central business district (the Grand, the Rex, the Broadway, the Roxie and the Met had closed by the end of the 1970s), was in financial trouble and desperately divided the Cap in half to make a poor-man's multiplex; ultimately the Cap itself was closed. By the time of its demolition in 1992 it was the last of many downtown movie theatres which had once thrived — the Regina Theatre, the Rex, the Grand, the Unique, the Roseland, the Elite, the Princess, the Lux, the Gaiety, the Broadway, the Roxy, the 1000-seat Metropolitan and the Cap itself. ["Regina Leader-Post", July 27, 1942, December 16, 1966. Stuart, E. Ross. "The History of Prairie Theatre". Toronto: Simon & Pierre Publishing Co., 1984.] An office tower now occupies the site; the old Hudson's Bay Department store building, on the site of the Regina Theatre, is now also occupied by offices.

and well outside the Regina Central Business District, both highbrow and mainstream entertainment were comprehensively removed from the city centre, completing the process begun with the destruction of the Regina Theatre and the demolition of Old City Hall. The Globe Theatre has moved downtown from the Centre of the Arts into the Old Post Office building, and nowadays is the only entertainment venue in the city centre apart from the casino in the CPR train station, and city planners seeking to revitalise the downtown business district must contend with the consequences of decisions by predecessors who directed the city's entertainment facilities away from the city centre.

Carnegie Library

but quickly rebuilt with the help of a further Carnegie grant. ["The First 50: 1990–1959" (brochure), Regina Public Library, 1959. Regina Public Library: History. Online at] It was demolished and replaced in 1962 by an impressively large though architecturally undistinguished building on the same site at Lorne Street and 12th Avenue which, like the Court of Appeal and Queens Bench building on Victoria Avenue, preserves remnants of its predecessor in its forecourt.

The institution of amply-endowed public libraries became well established in Regina and Regina burgesses quickly became inured to the idea of such facilities being worthwhile public facilities and worthy of substantial public endowment. Latterly the Regina City Council has sought to cut costs by proposing to close neighbourhood libraries, including the Connaught Library in the West End (latterly dubbed the "Cathedral Area"), to general public condemnation.

Germantown and the East End

Germantown proper

" (Galicia at the time actually being Austrian Poland) or as "Germans."

Europeans became established around the former Market Square (now the location of the Regina city police station [ [ Trevor Harle, "Regina History Tour," Saskatchewan Genealogical Society - Regina Branch] . Retrieved 13 June 2007] on Osler Street between 10th and 11th Avenues) by 1892.

German, Ukrainian, Romanian and Serbian religious, secular and educational institutions and services were early established in the neighbourhood — including St Nicholas's Romanian Orthodox Church (established in 1902 [ [ Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America parish directory] , retrieved 10 June 2007.] ), the oldest Romanian Orthodox parish in North America; [ [ Saskatchewan Settlement Experience: Religion – Churches and Congregations.] Retrieved 4 December 2007.] St George's Cathedral (founded in 1914 [ [ Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America parish directory] , retrieved 10 June 2007.] though the present building dates from the early 1960s), the episcopal seat of the Romanian Orthodox Bishop of Regina; and the now long-demolished Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Descent of the Holy Ghost, both formerly on Winnipeg Street. Beth Jacob Synagogue, originally established in 1905 [ [ Beth Jacob Synagogue website] Retrieved 10 June 2007.] and now re-located to South Regina, was originally also in Germantown on Victoria Avenue at Osler Street, immediately to the east of Broad Street Park (since the 1960s occupied by a shopping mall and the Regina Inn)..

Regina's Anglo-Saxon élite grievously neglected Germantown in the early days and basic services of water and sewerage came scandalously late to the precinct. Many residents of the Germantown quarter of Regina lived in squalid shacks without basic services till well into the 20th century, when issues of loyalty to the British Crown during the First World War were comprehensively resolved in the favour of the residents' complete Canadian-ness. [ [ City of Regina Archives. "Regina: The Early Years. Germantown."] ] By the 1960s invidious past ethnic prejudice had long since passed and Ukrainian food had become pan-prairie cuisine, with sour cabbage and frozen perogies amply available in Regina supermarkets. Apart from German Lutheran and Roman Catholic establishments throughout Regina, however, European churches and cultural clubs remain concentrated in Germantown. [Brennan, J. William. Regina, an illustrated history. Toronto: James Lorimer & Co., 1989. "Germantown" 11th Avenue East. Regina’s Heritage Tours, City of Regina, 1994).]

[ [ Trinity Lutheran Church website, retrieved 9 June 2007] ] — now occupying a large but undistinguished A-frame building on Ottawa Street in the heart of Germantown — remains the centre of Regina's Lutheran constituency, though Canadian Lutheranism, while maintaining the historic episcopacy and indeed being in full communion with the Anglican Church of Canada, does not designate metropolitan churches as cathedrals. Trinity for many years maintained a traditional German parish church in Germantown; in due course, when it had built its new modern building, it sold its impressive German pipe organ to an Anglican parish church.

At the southern periphery of Germantown is an Anglo-Saxon-Celtic neighbourhood. St Matthew's Anglican Church remains on 14th Avenue and Winnipeg Street; Carmichael United Church on 13th Avenue immediately adjacent to Regina General Hospital, built in 1920 as Carmichael Presbyterian and later together with the neighbouring Wesley Methodist Church becoming a congregation of United Church, [ [ Meredith Black Banting, "A Short Survey of the History of Carmichael United Church," in "Early history of Saskatchewan churches (grass roots), Book I" (Regina: self-published, 1975), p. 176.] Retrieved 18 November 2007.] closed in 1996. Its chancel furniture was acquired by the University of Regina for use at convocation ceremonies, [ [ "Stage Furnishings for Convocation"] on University of Regina website. Retrieved 18 November 2007.] a little-noted historic link with the university's origins as a United Church denominational college.

The Qu'Appelle diocesan property

Immediately adjacent to Germantown, to the south of College Avenue, is the former Anglican Diocesan property, containing the former Qu'Appelle Diocesan School and Anglican nunnery (with the historic St Chad's Chapel), a former theological college, administrative buildings, old people's home and bishop's palace. The property had been acquired by the Church of England (as it then was) as a mission field of the English Diocese of Lichfield. When it became apparent that the original see "city" of Qu'Appelle had been passed over as the metropole for the new District of

On the southeastern periphery of Germantown, where British Isles-descended Canadians settled after the turn of the century is St Matthew's Anglican Church, one of only three substantial historic Anglican parish churches in Regina; across College Avenue immediately to the South of Germantown, is the former Anglican Diocesan property. It contains the former Qu'Appelle Diocesan School (whose premises were originally a theological seminary for the training of clergy) and Anglican nunnery (with the historic St Chad's Chapel), diocesan administrative buildings, an old people's home and the bishop's palace. The property had been acquired by the Church of England (as it then was) when it became apparent that the original see "city" of Qu'Appelle had been passed over as the metropole for the new District of Assiniboia and Province of Saskatchewan.

The site of the once-mooted but never-begun Anglican cathedral is outlined in caragana hedges diagonally at the corner of Broad Street and College Avenue. Qu'Appelle Diocesan School promotional brochures referred to the entire diocesan land and premises as "the Cathedral property." [ [ Qu'Appelle Diocesan School alumnae website including 1940 promotional brochure] Retrieved 12 June 2007.] The original grand scheme of building a Regina cathedral on the Qu'Appelle Diocesan property was comprensively abandoned in 1974 when the modest downtown parish church of St Paul's (the pro-cathedral since 1944) was designated the cathedral of the Qu'Appelle Diocese. The Anglican Church of Canada is presently considering a regrouping of its ecclesial structure and the future cathedral status of St Pauls and the diocesan status of the former District of Assiniboia as the Diocese of Qu'Appelle may well be in doubt as the church deliberates over its increasingly top-heavy structure.

The property was sold to the provincial Crown in the 1970s by way of finally obtaining fiscal self-reliance: the Anglican Diocese of Qu'Appelle was originally a mission field of the English Diocese of Lichfield and this was increasingly anomalous. For a time the Diocese leased back the property from the Crown; it has now been sold for commercial and residential redevelopment. According to the City of Regina’s 2006 official Regina Development Plan,

The specific planning considerations for this site [include] : To support the preservation of significant heritage buildings on the site where feasible, and to ensure they remain as viable as possible….To ensure a new development that is sympathetic to the style of the heritage….To provide landscaped open areas which are conducive to pedestrian use and enjoyment and that will provide focal points for vistas to significant aspects of the site, such as to specific heritage features….To ensure that building height and massing surrounding the heritage buildings…does not overpower the existing heritage buildings and that the heritage buildings maintain their prominence….To ensure that new development allows for views into the site from Broad Street to significant heritage features, especially the tower of St. Chad’s…. [And] [t] o ensure that architectural styles and materials used in the construction of new building façades and roofs are complementary to the original buildings. [ [ "Regina Development Plan: Official Policy Guide for the Use and Development of Land"] pp.86-87. Retrieved 13 June 2007.]

The warehouse district

enabled inhabitants of now-defunct rural communities to shop by post. Nowadays, as in other western Canadian cities, the old warehouses have long since outlived their utility as the railways have given way to the trucking on the highways as the preferred mode of commercial transport: in western Canada, as elsewhere, shipping by rail was supplanted by highway trucking once the Trans-Canada highway was extended from Ontario to the West and transport from eastern to western Canada no longer needed to dip into the United States below the Great Lakes. The old warehouses, however, have survived long enough that their destruction is not a foregone conclusion: they are, in Regina as in other North American cities, being turned into residential condominiums, tony restaurants and shopping precincts. However, at one time the warehouse district (together with the grain elevators adjacent to the CPR line) was Regina’s tenuous commercial raison d’être. [See City of Regina Archives. Regina: The Early Years - Warehouse District. Retrieved 17 May 2007.]

Downtown and West End ("Cathedral Area") churches

First Baptist Church on the corner of Victoria Avenue and Lorne Street, was opened in 1911 and its gold organ pipes first heard in 1912. The church was renowned for its large domed ceiling and chandelier. The 1912 Regina "Cyclone" severely damaged the church but it was soon restored. [ "Regina Leader-Post", November 9, 1959, April 30, 1992.] Unlike other imposing church buildings in downtown Regina and the East End, [Notably Knox Presbyterian, later United, demolished in 1951 and Carmichael Presbyterian, later United, closed in 1996 and later demolished.] First Baptist survives as a major landmark.

for use in convocation ceremonies.

Blessed Sacrament Roman Catholic Church at 2049 Scarth Street Scarth Street was built in 1905 as St Mary's: it was renamed "Blessed Sacrament" in 1935 when the "Saint Mary" patronage was transferred to a new parish in Germantown. It replaced the original St Mary's Roman Catholic parish church to the north of what was then Victoria Square.

considers rationalising its increasingly top-heavy episcopal structure. [ "Church Maps Could Be Re-Drawn," "Anglican Journal", 1 April 2007 Retrieved 28 April 2007.]

First Presbyterian Church on Albert Street was built in 1926 by non-concurring dissidents from the various Presbyterian congregations in the city of Regina — notably from Knox United, led by Judge W.M. Martin, and from Westminster United — which had universally opted to enter the United Church of Canada in 1925. [Under the agreement among the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational Churches of Canada to form the United Church of Canada, a mounting backlash among Presbyterians against the proposed union — it had been the Presbyterians who initially proposed the union to the other denominations — threatened to abort the project and individual Presbyterian congregations were accordingly permitted to vote on whether to enter or remain outside the United Church; those which voted to remain outside, largely concentrated in southern Ontario and a substantial minority of the pre-Union Presbyterians, reconstituted themselves a continuing Presbyterian Church in Canada, although those who entered the union nevertheless constituted the largest of the three constituents: see John Webster Grant, "The Canadian Experience of Church Union", London: Lutterworth Press, 1967.] They built a fine, determinedly traditional church structure — with chancel, transepts and nave, as distinct from the Akron plan of Knox, Metropolitan, Westminster and First Baptist with pews fanning out from a central pulpit backed by choir benches [Marion MacRae and Anthony Adamson, "Hallowed Walls: Church Architecture of Upper Canada" (Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1975).] — which is much prized by musical and cultural groups in the city as an auditorium.

pipe organ, originally installed in 1930, repaired after a disastrous 1976 fire, and extensively refurbished and enlarged in 1992–1993, remains the largest organ in Regina. ["Holy Rosary Cathedral". Regina: Holy Rosary Cathedral, 1985. Argan, William P. "Regina, the First 100 Years". Regina: Leader Post Carrier Foundation, 2002.] When it suffered its disastrous 1976 its congregation repaired next door to Westminster United, which gladly offered its worship space to Holy Rosary for the duration.

Westminster Presbyterian, now United Church, immediately to the east of Holy Rosary on 13th Avenue, was also completed in 1913. Wascana Methodist, later United Church, a fine, elegant wooden structure in plain vernacular style on 13th Avenue at Pasqua, originally stood on 14th Avenue as Fourteenth Avenue Methodist Church, was moved in 1925 to its new site at 13th and Pasqua and later sold by its congregation when they built a new church in the West End; the congregation was subsequently dissolved and merged into Westminster. The West End, where the Cathedral is located, has acquired a somewhat bohemian air, and has in recent years increasingly attracted the sobriquet "the Cathedral Area."

, across the CPR tracks and to the west of the "Cathedral Area" on Dewdney Avenue, dating from the earliest establishment of the then- North-West Mounted Police as a guardhouse in 1885. It subsequently served as a mess hall and canteen and became a chapel in 1895. At the time Lieutenant-Governor Edgar Dewdney designated Regina as the Territorial Headquarters for the North-West Territories (sic) the CPR had not yet reached Pile of Bones: the now-RCMP chapel, constructed in Ontario, was accordingly moved by flat-car, steamer and ox team to Regina. [Neal, May. "Regina, Queen City of the Plains: 50 Years of Progress". Regina: Western Printers. 1953. Chapel Royal Canadian Mounted Police "Training Academy", Regina, Saskatchewan (brochure), 1990. "Regina Leader-Post", December 11, 1995.]

The Mountie chapel is a favoured venue for RCMP weddings and funerals; most historic visitors to Regina have been taken to visit there and among the postcards on sale at the Mountie museum are photos of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at the chapel during their 1939 tour of Canada and the USA when they visited virtually every town and city along the CPR and CNR lines garnering enthusiasm for the imperial connection in anticipation of the inevitable war with Germany. The RCMP (then the NWMP) barracks was where Louis Riel was detained after his arrest in 1885 and ultimately hanged. The RCMP museum formerly contained a rather macabre display of the noose which hanged Riel though modern sensibilities have caused it to be retired from display.


ee also

*Heritage buildings in Edmonton

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