One thing I love the most about Regina is all the history hidden in plain sight. For those who don’t know what they’re looking at, a building is just a piece of architecture, or a monument is just a photo-op. However, this often isn’t the case. Shopping markets were once warehouses, art studios were once churches and casinos were once train stations. The more you look for heritage and history, the more you’re bound to discover.
My favourite way to discover this history is through walking tours. Many organisations offer walking tours of the city, and there are over 30 different tours to take part in. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Heritage Regina’s Walking Tours
Every week during the summer Heritage Regina puts on a different walking tour of the city. I’ve gone on several of these tours over the past few years and I’ve always had a great experience. Each of these tours are led by expert historians passionate about the city’s history. These tour leaders are vetted to be the best of the best in the city.
Heritage Regina’s walking tours have grown over the past few years and often bring in over 50 people per each tour. This is not only a testament of the quality of these tours but also the passion the organisation has for the city. All of Heritage Regina’s tours are free, but they ask for a $10 donation per person to help put on other events throughout the year.
Heritage Regina has three more tours this year, with the next one being on Saturday, August 11th, which focuses on Wascana Lake and its sporting and political history.
Regina Cemetery Tours
These tours are also hosted by Heritage Regina, but in collaboration with The City of Regina and the Beth Jacob’s Jewish Cemetery. These tours were inspired by self-guided booklets created by the Regina Ethnic Pioneers Walking Tours. While the booklets have been discontinued, Heritage Regina is working on updating, correcting and republishing them.
These tours focus on the people that created the city, from politicians to police officers to civilians. The tour has some adult themes to it, including unsolved murders and suicide, political unrest and a deadly epidemic. Not all the content is suitable for children, but guests of all ages are welcome.
Your host for these tours is myself, Kenton de Jong.
City of Regina Walking Tours
Before Heritage Regina organized walking tours, the city began created and published their own. There is almost a dozen of these tours available, ranging from the Cathedral area to Lakeview to the General Hospital area.
Many of these tours are also broken into smaller segments, which explore different portions of neighbourhoods. While very interesting, these tours often lack the narrativity Heritage Regina’s tours are known for. Instead, these tours focus on architectural information, such as who designed the property and the style of shingles, eaves and windows. For people who love architectural design or who are interested in the construction of their neighbourhoods, these tours are an excellent source of information.
For quick and easy access, download the in-depth PDF to your phone and use as a reference throughout the tour.
If you like digital tours, izi.Travel is one of your best options. These tours are created by individuals and organisations throughout the city. Some tours are award-winning like the Downtown Regina Cultural Trailway Tour, while others are personal memoirs like Queering the Queen City.
While there are only seven of these tours available, anybody has the ability to add tours to the website and share their story.
If citizen-based walking tours is up your alley, you might have heard of Jane’s Walks. Jane’s Walks are free walking tours hosted in May that occur throughout the world. These walks are done in New York, London, Paris, Berlin and right here in Regina. These tours occurred from May 4th – May 6th and include topics such as Wascana March, Regina’s iconic “Big Dig”, and suburban life near the University of Regina. Guides of these tours range from ages and levels of education, from seniors with a background in history to children, and anybody in between.
Regardless of if you want to go on a walking tour, take yourself on a self-guided tour, or just wander around a neighbourhood, there is always something to discover in the Queen City. This may be giant ants crawling up the trees in Wascana Park, monuments lining the edge of Wascana Lake or a mural on the side of a building. Whenever you go, and whatever you find, there is nothing more rewarding than learning something new about the place you call home.