Downtown Regina, seen from Wascana Lake in Wascana Centre
|Area||9.3 square kilometres (2,300 acres)|
|Operated by||Government of Saskatchewan|
|Status||Open all year|
Wascana Centre is a 930-hectare (9.3 km2/2,300 acre/3.6 mi2) urban park built around Wascana Lake in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, established in 1912 with a design from renowned architect Thomas Mawson. The park is designed around the Saskatchewan Legislative Building and Wascana Lake. High-profile features include the University of Regina, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Conexus Arts Centre, Saskatchewan Science Centre, and CBC Regional Broadcast Centre. Wascana Centre brings together lands and buildings owned by the City of Regina, University of Regina, and Province of Saskatchewan. The park is located immediately south of the city's downtown core, bordered by residential areas on the east, south and west, and on the south-east edge it spills out onto open Saskatchewan prairie along Wascana Creek.
Wascana lake was created in 1883 by damming Wascana Creek, a low flow seasonal run-off stream, to serve as a reliable water reservoir for the town and railway ... and which residents readily began using for recreation. In 1905 Saskatchewan gained provincial status and planning began on a monumental – and in retrospect wildly optimistic – new capital building in Regina, a vision which required an equally monumental landscaping plan. The new Saskatchewan Legislative Building was completed in 1912 and with it the 1912 Mawson Plan for Wascana Park.
By the 1950s the city was growing rapidly and pressures on the park led to its incorporation as the Wascana Centre Authority (1962), with a mandate to establish an ongoing vision protecting the park as a valued asset of the city and province. The first Master Plan was developed the same year in conjunction with a new University of Saskatchewan campus to be built on the southeast end of the park. A revised Master Plan has been published every five to seven years since, the most recent being 2016.
In 2017 Wascana Centre Authority was dissolved and management was absorbed into the Saskatchewan government's Provincial Capital Commission.
The name "Wascana" is derived from the Cree word Oscana meaning "pile of bones" in reference to the plains bison bones scattered around Wascana Creek before the area was populated by non-indigenous people.
Wascana Lake was originally created in 1883 by damming Wascana Creek between Angus and Rae Streets, 1½ blocks west of the present Albert Street dam and bridge, to provide a "stock watering hole" — the rolling stock of the CPR, that is. The Lake was soon turned to recreational use and Reginans took to the lake for sailing and canoeing.
In 1905 the newly formed provincial government set about to build a capital building, to be located in Regina. Landscape architect Frederick Todd was asked to perform an initial design study for the lands around the building and lake, completed in 1907 and styled on the English Romantic Landscape movement. The lake was slightly reduced in 1908 when a new dam and bridge were constructed in their present location, based on Todd's initial designs and advancing plans for the park. As the project developed an expanded plan was requested from architect Thomas Mawson, submitted in 1912 and which became the park template for the next five decades.
The lake continued for a time to be used as a domestic water supply and for stock watering; it also supplied the new legislative building. A longer term effect resulted, however, when lake water was used to cool machinery in the power plant (now the Powerhouse Museum) that was built in the eastern sector. Heated water returned to the lake, causing that sector to remain ice-free through the winter, and several species of migratory birds made it their year-round habitat. Although the old coal-fired power plant was decommissioned in the early 1970s, a permanent/non-migrating flock of Canada geese habituated to wintering in the city had to be rounded up and either transported out of the city or if injured then housed in a waterfowl sanctuary. The annual goose round-up continued into the 1990s. The eastern sector of the lake continues to be a waterfowl sanctuary.
Wascana Lake was drained and deepened in the 1930s as part of a government relief project. 2,100 men widened and dredged the lake bed and created two islands using only hand tools and horse-drawn wagons.
It was decided to establish a new campus in Regina for the University of Saskatchewan beyond the College Avenue buildings dating back to 1911, beginning as a private Methodist secondary school which became the College Avenue Campus. Minoru Yamasaki was commissioned in 1961 to prepare a 100-year master plan for the whole of a Wascana Centre including the new university complex, enlisting California landscape architect Thomas Church in the effort. Yamasaki's vision has largely been adhered to, notwithstanding some controversy over the years as to the suitability of his stark modernist buildings for the featureless Regina plain. This University would become an independent University of Regina in 1974.
During the fall and winter of 2003–2004, Wascana Lake was again drained and dredged to deepen it by an average of about 5 metres (16 ft). The Big Dig, as it was known locally, was primarily to decrease aquatic weed growth, improve water quality, and allow more competitive and recreational canoeing and paddling during the summer months. The Big Dig also included the addition of a new island and general re-landscaping around the lake. The dredging was completed in mid-March 2004, in time for the spring runoff. The lake includes several small islands: Willow Island, Spruce Island, Pine Island, Goose Island and Tern Island.
The Wascana Racing Canoe Club and Wascana Centre have hosted the 2006 Canadian Sprint CanoeKayak National Championships in 2006 and 2010 and again in 2014 along with the canoe/kayak event at the 2014 North American Indigenous Games.
At one time Wascana Park was among the largest urban parks in Canada, if not the largest, but in 1968 St. John's, Newfoundland's Pippy Park was established at 3,400 acres – 1100 acres larger than Wascana. Since then other large urban centres have added to the list. In its day, Wascana Park edged out Rockwood Park – built in 1871, 2200 acres – in Saint John, New Brunswick by 100 acres. Wascana Centre is larger than New York City's Central Park at 843 acres (3.4 km2) and Vancouver's Stanley Park at 1,000 acres (4 km2). Wascana Centre promotional literature claims to be the fourth largest urban park in Canada.
Monuments and memorials
Albert Memorial Bridge
Linking the north and south shores of the lake is the Albert Memorial Bridge. Said to be the longest bridge over the shortest span of water, the bridge decorated in terracotta balusters and buffalo heads is a memorial to soldiers of the First World War.
Allan Blakeney Memorial
The Allan Blakeney Memorial is located southwest of the legislative building near the corner of Memorial Way and MCCallum Avenue. Born in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, on September 7, 1925, Blakeney was first elected as a Saskatchewan MLA in the constituency of Regina City in 1960 and served as the province's premier from 1971 to 1982.
Directly in front of the legislative building is the statue of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II riding her favourite horse, Burmese. Unveiled by the Queen in 2005 during Saskatchewan's centennial, it is a bronze statue sculpted by artist Susan Velder.
Southeast of the Legislative Building on Lakeshore Drive is the life size bronze Holodomor Statue, an exact copy of the one located near the entrance to the National Holodomor Museum in Kiev, Ukraine. The sculpture by Petro Drozdowsky was purchased by the Regina Branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Volunteer Group in 2015. The "Bitter Memories of Childhood" is a memorial to the millions of Ukrainians and Cossacks who died during a man-made famine in 1932–33.
East of Speakers' Corner, on the south side of the meadow behind the Royal Saskatchewan Museum is the Honouring Tree. Initiated by the Saskatchewan African Canadian Heritage Museum in 2010, it was designed to commemorate the 1910 settlement of African ancestry people in Regina and Saskatchewan. A towering figure topped by stars inside a rim, it is a symbol of life, legacy and diversity remembering our past in both good and bad times.
Lakeshore Park Totem Pole
A gift to Saskatchewan from the British Columbia government in 1971, it commemorates the centenary of the union of the province of British Columbia in the Dominion of Canada. This is one of 12 donated to Canadian centres. This 3500 pound, 16 feet high, 3 1/2 feet wide gift is made from Western Red Cedar by Lloyd Wadhams of the Namgis First Nation. After 45 years of Saskatchewan weather, it was removed and restored by master carver Lloyd Wadhams Jr., son of the original carver.
Links Between Capitals
On the north shore of the lake, slightly east of directly overlooking the legislature, is "Links between Capitals". This is a small seating area, one in each provincial capital, dedicated to the relationship between Canada's federal and provincial capitals. Funded by Wascana Centre and the National Capital Commission, two benches, two lights and a waste container match park furnishings on Confederation Boulevard in Ottawa.
Queen Elizabeth II Gardens
Directly in front of the Legislative Building are the Queen Elizabeth II Gardens. Officially named in 2005 in Her Majesty's honour, the gardens were dedicated by herself on the 18th of May of that year.
Saskatchewan War Memorial
Immediately west of the legislative building is the Saskatchewan War Memorial, a monument paying tribute to Saskatchewan residents who gave their lives in service during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, military training and peacetime operations. The first stage of the memorial was dedicated by Lieutenant Governor Jack Wiebe in November 1995, bearing the names of approximately 6000 Saskatchewan people who lost their lives in World War I. The second stage, dedicated in October 2005 by Lieutenant Governor Lynda Haverstock, lists 5000 names of those who lost their lives in service. A plaque honours the memory of Saskatchewan War Brides who married Canadian service men; a monument to remember the nurses who served during these times stand nearby.
Scouts Canada Monument
A Scouts Canada monument representing a sundial located south of Spruce Island along Lakeshore Drive, was dedicated in October 1965 celebrating Saskatchewan's diamond jubilee and the fiftieth anniversary of Boy Scouts of Canada in Saskatchewan.
The Sisters Legacy Statue was sculpted by Prince Albert artist, Jack Jensen, featuring two Catholic Sisters cast in bronze. One of the sisters represents a teacher, the other a nurse. The monument commemorates the courage and commitment of religious women across Saskatchewan who established needed health and education services in their local communities, laying the foundation for these modern day services in the province.
On the north shore of Wascana Lake is Speakers' Corner, dedicated April 12, 1966 by Earl Mountbatten. The plaza features ten gas lamps from King Charles Street in London, each bearing the royal insignia of King Edward VII and six birch trees from Runnymede Meadow in Windsor Great Park where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215. Two large gas lamps at the south entrance to the plaza, once graced the entrance to Speakers' Corner in London, at the Marble Arch entrance to Hyde Park, which is said to represent the apotheosis of free speech and assembly. Symbolizing free speech in democracy at the municipal level, the podia located around the plaza, are portions of the exterior columns of the old City Hall demolished in 1965.
The Surveyor's Monument is dedicated to Canada and Saskatchewan surveyors who explored, mapped and developed our nation. Designed in 1967, the monument located north of Lakeshore Drive near Pine Island, is designed as a surveyor's lookout. The lower portion of the site represents a surveyor's campsite, while the upper level represents a surveyor's lookout. A time capsule from Canada's centennial is located in a cairn, to be opened in 2067 during Canada's bicentennial.
Located directly across the lake from Trafalgar Fountain is Trafalgar Overlook giving a view of the fountain with the Legislative Building framing the background. A small pond and a fountain grace the area around the overlook.
United Empire Loyalist Cairn
Northeast of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, along the south shore of Wascana Lake, is the United Empire Loyalist Cairn. It was erected in 2004 by the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada (UELAC) Regina Branch. The Cairn, with two plaques, was unveiled in June 2005 by the Saskatchewan Lt Governor, Her Honour, the Honourable Dr. Lynda Haverstock during the National UELAC Conference in Regina. the Cairn contains field stones from Saskatchewan homesteads of Loyalist descendants. The third plaque was added in 2014, the 100th Anniversary of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada. The Cairn is the only Loyalist monument in Canada located within provincial legislative grounds. Photos of the plaques on the Cairn are located in the Gallery below.
Walter Scott Memorial
Directly north of the legislative building is the Walter Scott Memorial, unveiled in 2012 coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building. The memorial is a full figured bronze statue of Scott facing the Legislative Building, holding a blueprint of the building which he oversaw construction of while premier. The statue was created by Shirley and Don Begg of Cochrane, Alberta.
Wascana Park Bandstand
Across the lake on the north shore overlooking the Legislative Building is the Wascana Park Bandstand. This historic, Victorian style, open air gazebo was originally located in Victoria Park, downtown Regina.
Woodrow Lloyd Memorial
Southwest of the Legislative Building is the Woodrow S. Lloyd Memorial, dedicated in 1973 to the former Saskatchewan provincial premier. In 1944 he won a provincial seat in the constituency of Biggar. A successor to Premier Tommy Douglas, Lloyd played a critical role in developing the financial plan for the Medicare program and implementing it across the country. After his death in 1972, Lloyd was cremated and his ashes interred at his memorial.
Broad Street Bridge Abutment Waterfall
The remains of the Broad Street Bridge abutment, on what is now Pine Island, were turned into a waterfall after the Big Dig.
To the immediate east of the legislative building is Trafalgar Fountain, one of a pair of fountains in Peterhead granite designed by Charles Barry and built by McDonald & Leslie, Aberdeen. The fountains stood in London, England's Trafalgar Square from 1845 to 1939, when they were removed to make room for larger ones. This one has been dedicated to the 1882 founding of the North-West Mounted Police Headquarters in Regina. The twin of this fountain is located in Confederation Park, Ottawa, Ontario, dedicated to the memory of Lieutenant Colonel John By, founder of Bytown, later named Ottawa.
Trafalgar Overlook Fountain
Located across the lake from Trafalgar Fountain,
West Legislature Fountain
The fountain on the west side of the Legislative Building does not have an official name, but is surrounded by a small shaded seating area.
Kramer IMAX Theatre
MacKenzie Art Gallery
The MacKenzie Art Gallery, originally the Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery, opened in 1953 located at the Regina Campus of the University of Saskatchewan (later known as the University of Regina). In May 1990, the gallery separated from the University and was incorporated as the community-based MacKenzie Art Gallery, moving to its current location in the T.C. Douglas Building.
Royal Saskatchewan Museum
The Royal Saskatchewan Museum was established in Regina as the Provincial Museum in 1906 to "secure and preserve natural history specimens and objects of historical and ethnological interest." It was the first museum in Saskatchewan, and the first provincial museum in the three Prairie Provinces.
Saskatchewan Science Centre
The Saskatchewan Science Centre is an interactive science museum, owned and operated as a not-for-profit charitable organization. Located in a former power plant in the Wascana Centre, the Saskatchewan Science Centre was officially opened in April 1989 as the Powerhouse of Discovery.
Wascana Skateboard Park
The Wascana skateboard park is located just east of the Saskatchewan Science Centre.
Wascana Waterfowl Park
Wascana Waterfowl Park, Wascana Lake east of Broad Street bridge, provides a refuge for geese, ducks and other birds, some of which do not fly south for the winter. "Each April, about 225 pair of Canada Geese begin nesting in the Park. Most nest on man-made Goose Island which provides protection for them during nesting. The Wascana Waterfowl Park also has resident populations of mammals including muskrat, mink, Jack rabbit, Richardson's ground squirrel, red fox, and beaver."
Facilities and other buildings
The Canada Saskatchewan Production Studios are located at the corner of College Avenue and Broad Street. Built in 1913, the structure has served as a normal school, military training facility, and fine arts building for the University of Regina. It was internally gutted and reconstructed as a movie and television studio facility in 2002.
CBC Saskatchewan Broadcast Centre
Conexus Arts Centre
The Conexus Arts Centre, known from 1970 till 2006 (and still largely known) as the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts, is a theatre complex which largely replaces former theatres downtown and Darke Hall on the original campus of Regina College. Naming of the Venue as Conexus Arts Centre was possible through a Partner/Sponsor Agreement with the Conexus Credit Union.
After several locations within the city, HMCS Queen moved into a permanent home in Wascana Park at 100 Navy Way in 1955. Closed in 1964 due to budget cuts, HMCS Queen re-opened in 1975. Today, the shore-based reserve training facility HMCS Queen is the face of the Royal Canadian Navy in Southern Saskatchewan, and the building itself is considered as much a ship as any at sea.
Lakeshore Tennis Club
- the Lakeshore Tennis Club
Formerly known as the Provincial Office Building, the Lloyd Building, located at 3211 Albert Street, was built in 1959 and houses government agencies and departments. The building is named after Woodrow Lloyd, Saskatchewan's eighth premier.
Regina Conservatory of Music
- the Regina Conservatory of Music (in the old girls' residence wing of the Regina College building);
Regina Research Park
The 78-acre (320,000 m2) site of Regina Research Park is located near the University of Regina and was established in 2000. This research park emphasizes collaborative university and industry research in the areas of information technology, petroleum, and environmental science.
Saskatchewan Legislative Building
The Saskatchewan Legislative Building, which houses the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan was built between 1908 and 1912 in the Beaux Arts style to a design by Edward and William Sutherland Maxwell of Montreal.
T.C. Douglas Building
Opened in 1978, this white tyndall stone building at 3475 Albert Street was designed by Arnott MacPhail Johnstone and is named after former Saskatchewan Premier T.C. (Tommy) Douglas. The building houses both government departments and agencies as well as the MacKenzie Art Gallery.
The Willow on Wascana
The Willow on Wascana, located at 3000 Wascana Drive, is a fine dining restaurant opened in 2004 overlooking Wascana Lake that specializes in a menu with ingredients produced mainly in Saskatchewan.
University of Regina Main Campus and Federated Colleges
Founded in 1911 as a private denominational high school of the Methodist Church of Canada, it began an association with the University of Saskatchewan as a junior college in 1925, and was disaffiliated by the Church and fully ceded to the University in 1934; in 1961 it attained degree-granting status as the Regina Campus of the University of Saskatchewan and in 1966 construction began on a new campus on the shore of Wascana Lake. It became an autonomous university in 1974. The university has three federated colleges; Campion College, First Nations University of Canada, and Luther College.
University of Regina, College Avenue Campus
In direct response to the award of the University of Saskatchewan to Saskatoon rather than Regina, the Methodist Church of Canada established Regina College in 1911 on College Avenue, starting with an enrollment of 27 students
Walter Scott Building
Located at 3085 Albert Street, the Walter Scott Building houses various government agencies and departments. The building was named after Saskatchewan's first premier, Thomas Walter Scott.
The Wascana Marina is located next to the Willow on Wascana on the shore of the lake. The marina rents out canoes, kayaks and paddle boards from May to September offering a fun way to explore the lake.
Built in 1920, this small brick building across the south lawn directly behind the Legislative Building, sends power to the Legislative Building, the T.C. Douglas Building, the Walter Scott Building and the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre.
Wascana Rehabilitation Centre
The Wascana Rehabilitation Centre was opened in 1968 and expanded in 1989. Located at 2180 23rd Avenue, it provided medical rehabilitation programs for adults and children as well as specialized long-term care.
Immediately to the east of the originally Methodist Regina College complex is the former Anglican Diocesan property. This has not been absorbed into the Wascana Centre, but is being commercially developed with considerable strictures to maintain the historic ecclesiastical structures and green space. It contains the former St Chad's College (originally an Anglican theological seminary, which formally vacated to the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon), the Qu'Appelle Diocesan School (the Anglican Sisters of St John the Divine maintained St Chad's private girls' school on the premises until 1970 but the Anglican Church, like the United Church, no longer maintains any secondary or tertiary education involvement in Regina); the former Bishops Court and assorted ecclesiastical structures. The entire property was sold to the provincial Crown in the 1970s and has now been further sold for residential and commercial development. The centre also contains attractive venues for cross country skiing and skating during winter and tennis, bicycling, running, and motorized water sports during summer. It is also the training centre for Wascana Racing Canoe Club and the Regina Rowing Club. Much of the lake-bottom dredgings from the deepening of Wascana Lake were added to an existing artificial hill on the north shore of the lake, across from the new campus of the University, creating a much larger winter toboggan run.
When Regina hosted the 2005 Canada Summer Games, most of the event venues and athlete accommodations were located in the Wascana Centre.
Wascana Lake Urban Revitalization Project
The Wascana Lake Urban Revitalization Project, known locally as the Big Dig, was an $18 million project to deepen Wascana Lake. The project took place during the winter of 2004.
Wascana Lake was drained in the 1930s as part of a government relief project; 2,100 men widened and dredged the lake bed and created two islands using only hand tools and horse-drawn wagons. During the late 20th century, sediment accumulating at the bottom of the lake eventually reduced its depth by 35 per cent, which had reached 1.5 metres by 2003. In addition, there was an abundance of weeds throughout the lake.
The funding of the project was jointly shared by the federal, provincial and municipal governments. Half of the funding was provided by the Government of Canada while the Province of Saskatchewan and the City of Regina committed $5 million and $4 million respectively.
Excavation of the lake was performed by Dominion Construction of Regina and Broda Construction of Kamsack. The lake was dredged to an overall depth of 5.5 metres with a deeper section of 7.5 metres serving as a fish habitat. Over 1.3 million cubic metres of soil was removed from the lake bottom between 6 January and 21 March with crews working 24 hours a day.
In addition to the deepening of the lake, construction crews created additional features.
A new island was created from the Broad Street Bridge abutment. The island includes a bridge for pedestrian access, as well as a pedestrian path and a waterfall and provides a great location for spectator viewing of canoe/kayak and rowing races hosted on Wascana Lake. In 2014, Wascana Racing Canoe Club, the Regina Rowing Club and Wascana Centre Authority, with significant financial support from Tourism Regina, completed the construction of a Finish Line Tower on Pine Island. This makes Wascana Lake a world-class venue for competitive canoe/kayak and rowing competitions.
Crews installed a dozen aeration filters throughout the lake to produce oxygen to the water in order to improve its life-supporting quality. A circular fountain was erected in the center of the lake opposite the legislative building.
The creation of a new pathway adjacent to the Albert Street Bridge now connects the paths on the north and south shores, providing a complete walkway around the lake. In addition, the south pedestrian path now passes under the Broad Street Bridge connecting the east and west recreation areas.
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- "Wascana Centre 2016 Master Plan". Wascana Centre. Wascana Centre. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
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