- With a population of about 180,000, Regina is Saskatchewan's capital and the province's second largest city after Saskatoon.
- Regina is located on the Trans Canada Highway, about 350 miles west of Winnipeg and 500 miles east of Calgary.
- Although the weather is really cold in the winter and hot in the summer, we have lots of sunshine.
- Downtown is the business area.
- Wascana Centre is a large park with a man made lake just south of the business area.
- Saskatchewan Legislative Building is located in the park.
- Recently there has been a lot of development of office buildings into luxury condominiums in the downtown area.
This is the poorest area of the city. There are lots of rental properties; many people on social assistance, with the usual resulting high levels of crime.
There are many residential areas in Regina.
- The Cathedral area is near to downtown and has sidewalk cafes and boutique type stores, mostly along 13th Avenue. This area was one of the first residential areas in Regina and many of the houses date from the early 1900s.
- As the City developed from the centre, the further away from downtown you get, the newer the houses, with most of the brand new subdivisions being located in the south east and north west.
- The most expensive houses are located in the south east part of the City.
In recent years, all the big box stores have opened up in the east of the City, along Victoria Avenue, which is actually part of the Trans Canada Highway. First to open was Costco, and after that many stores and restaurants have sprung up mostly on the south side of the highway.
Apart from this area, there are several shopping malls:
- Normanview and Northgate in the north
- Southland in the south
- Victoria Square in the east
Downtown Regina is not a popular place to shop. You have to pay to park and, apart from The Bay, which is in the old Eaton's store (the Eaton's store closed some years ago), there really isn't much to attract shoppers.
There are two school divisions
We also have the University of Regina.
- Wascana Centre
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Centennial Museum
- RCMP Training Academy
- We also are getting a huge brand new museum in a beautiful building designed by Arthur Erickson, who is one of Canada's leading architects.
A First Hand Guide to Regina By British Expats Member TimJohnson2001
What you hear about Regina. I heard mostly negative things about Saskatchewan (SK) before moving here. When Canadians found out where I was moving their reaction would be ‘Why?! Its too cold! Its too flat! Its so boring! It’s the backwater of Canada! Nothing is there!’
My first recommendation would be to dismiss these comments from your mind completely, just because you wouldn’t go somewhere on holiday does not mean it is a bad place to live. In fact you may find the exact opposite is true.
The City The city has a population of 210,000 people in it. So it’s a comparable size to Brighton, but a little more spread out (with the next town Saskatoon, a two hour drive away). Looking at a map, the downtown of Regina is North of Wascana park, centred a few blocks in each direction around Victoria Park. In the summer Victoria Park becomes the cultural square of the city, hosting festivals and events almost every weekend. There is a great deal being done to ‘revitalise’ the city centre. They have pedestrianised the streets from the park leading into the downtown ‘Cornwall’ shopping centre. It already looks great despite not being fully finished yet (they are hurrying to complete it before winter). The shopping centre is a good size with a decent range of shops inside and a nice Hudson’s Bay Company shop (like a John Lewis). To the east of this the city is has an exciting plan for a $1 billion investment to develop what is currently a massive railyard into an entertainment complex. Three new towers are also currently being built in the city centre. Once all these projects are completed it will revitalise downtown even further.
Skirting around this are the different neighbourhoods. North of the railway tracks is known as ‘The Warehouse district’ made up of blocks of Victorian brick warehouses. This place is where quite a few of the nightclubs are, as well as lots of antique shops, discount shops, restaurants and a few ‘NewYork style loft’ apartments. To the West of downtown is The Cathedral area, this is the Artisan area of Regina, with lots of individual boutiques, and trendy resturants, bars and pubs decorated with bright paintings and murals on their walls. It is like a hyper-diluted version of Camden, with lots of organic food places and the like. South is the University area, with the University of Regina campus, the IMAX Cinema and large food shops. Off the main road there are nice residential streets with large wooden Victorian houses. In the East are huge ‘box stores’ which come off the main road that sell everything you could ever need.
A quick word on box stores – skip if you don’t care [Box stores are all the rage out here - these are like the Cinema, bowling, MacDonald, or Tesco Extra Super Store monstrosities that have started popping up in the UK. In Canada they will even put bars and restaurants in these places that are usually a few miles out of town and inaccessible by foot. It is like making your city a massive parking lot with shops chucked in. I believe it was in the 70s and 80’s that people thought this way of making a city was awesome. The downtown areas died, as after 5pm people scurried away to cheap suburban houses then to their boxstores to do shopping… at somepoint someone realised this was actually soul destroying and no way to build a community and thus in the late 2000’s people began to come back. Downtown areas are now once again back on their feet and a fun place to be.]
Clothes Shopping As a man I find the shopping OK here. But there is definite absence of recognisable large name clothing stores. So no H&M, Zara, Primark, TopShop etc. I tell you something; whoever opens the first H&M in Regina will be a millionaire. Easily. Regina has Canadian stores that are similar and sell similar stuff but none are huge like the three-storey clothes shops we are used to. Probably for the next few years I definitely recommend booking an extra case on the plane and bringing loads of English clothes, and then enjoy the compliments until you go back home or go on holiday to get more. You can get everything you need here just not perhaps the variety you are used to.
North Central North Central is a deprived area that sits north of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders stadium (more on that later), it is widely known as the impoverished area of the city. I walked around it to check it out and it wasn’t that bad. It is just like your average British council estate, with more poorer people, visable minorities and Aboriginal people than perhaps elsewhere in the city (more on Aboriginal people later). That said; it is going to be right next to the $1 billion investment area, so much like how Shoreditch used to be not be a desirable place to live, but now its one of the hottest spots in London, I think give NorthCentral 10-15 years and who knows?
Eating and Drinking There are restaurants for every taste. They have good Indian food, fine dining, and excellent restaurants for vegetarians. The pubs I have been to have been great. Reginans are really into their eating out, and it seems ‘restaurants’ is a great conversation topic that Canadians enjoy. People eat out a lot and friends will call you midweek to check out this restaurant or take advantage of midweek deals. There are bars and clubs downtown and in the wharehouse district. I have yet to go properly clubbing in Regina but am going this weekend. So if anyone wants to know, message me. What I have found is that people have a lot of parties of their own. Every weekend I have been here someone has been hosting, which has been great fun.
Newspapers The city is well served by two excellent local papers The Leader-Post and Prarie Dog. The Leader is their daily newspaper and Prarie Dog is a cool, weekly freebie, that is more artsy and community-event based. I recommend reading both of them, and the leader-post daily for the first month. It has really helped me settle in, know what is going on and feeling part of the community. www.leaderpost.com www.prairiedogmag.ca
Sport Reginans are hugely into their sport, and talk about Hockey, Baseball and American football like Brits talk about Football, Rugby and Cricket. They have an indoor winter soccer league here which I know for some people will mean a lot. Reginans will often participate in mixed sport teams. So like a husband and wife will both play in the same mixed ‘softball’ team (baseball underarm with a big ball). Or play mixed ultimate Frisbee. I know this is all a bit happy-clappy for us but apparently it is a lot of fun. Reginans are really active and outdoorsy. So like to go camping, hiking, running and mountainbiking, hunting, boating and so on. Wascana park is my morning run place and it is always busy. Older people will also say ‘hello’ as you run past which is nice.
The Roughriders The Roughriders are the local football team(there is only one). When I say football I mean American football, but when talking about that with the Canadians we must call it Canadian Football or they get ticked off. Going to see them play is a treat. Unlike English premier league matches where the swearing and x-rated songs from the fans is legendary, Canadians will shout things like; ‘What was that? Has the ref lost his glasses?’ or ‘Oh come on! My grandmother could have hit that shot!’. Going to see the Riders is a PG family affair with the crowd a huge mix of people. With things like ‘KissCam’ the big screen camera find couples in the crowd that have to kiss, plus cheerleaders and raffles to keep everyone entertained it is great family entertainment and a good place to get battered before a night out. The fans are insanely loud. For just a 30,000 seater stadium it really has to be heard to be believed. The team play in green and so people will dress head to toe in Green with… a cut out green melon on their head. I have not yet deduced why people from Saskatchewan have taken to wearing an actual cut out melon on their head, but it seems like people really enjoy it. Yes. People in Regina support The Riders with a semi-religious frivolity. In my office when the Riders play we have to wear green. It is not optional. Our manager walks around work wearing an oversized roughriders jersey in high heels. It’s absolutely awesome. On lunchbreak you will walk around town and the city is wearing green. It is then when I started to think that actually this is a pretty special place to be. That brings me nicely on to;
The people of Saskatchewan The most important thing, what are the people like? Well good news. The people of Saskatchewan are awesome. The people I have met have been incredibly welcoming, kind and become fast friends. I have put some thought into why and this is what I think.
1. Small towns = nice people. Coming from London I am used to being an anonymous human. Get on the tube listen to my ipod and close my eyes. But Regina is a small town and its worth looking at the people walking past because you see people you know all the time and will see people again and again in different contexts. If you play soccer (yup better get used to that word) your teammate’s wife is your work colleague. Because of this small town feel people make an extra effort to be nice and make an effort to remember you. After all who knows when you might bump into the person again? I opened my bank account went back a few days later and the bank worker remembered my name! When has that ever happened? In my local (independent, organic ;-) grocery shop, I do my shopping and the cashier is asking if I liked X and Y that I bought last time. Doing a City 10k run the Mayor Pat Fiacco is there announcing it in his running gear, then on the start whistle lines up with the runners and literally runs off and crushes the 10k. At work everyone takes time to come by your office for a chat just see how you are doing. Its great, very different from home and I really like it.
2. Prairie Pride Remember the comments at the beginning? Quite a few people don’t have much nice to say about Regina. So what do you do when everyone is saying your city is rubbish? Well in Regina they have decided to say ‘I LOVE REGINA’ and make t-shirts, have an I love Regina day, an I love Regina run and give out balloons merchandise, and an almost excessive amount of pin badges. Coming from England it does seem a little bit mental. But here is why- Regina is growing. This city is going places, it is being revitalised and invested in (it is the 3rd fastest growing city in Canada) and people know it. People want a say in the way that their city grows up and it is hard not to find that exciting. For us coming from towns so old that our cities are fully-grown. Space at home is kind of recycled. In Regina for me it feels like the London of the 17th century, it is just beginning to boom and I think it is pretty cool to be here for the ride.
3. They like to Enjoy Summer In Saskatchewan the summers are hot and the winters are cold. The weather since I have been here has been consistently in the high 20s with plenty of days in the 30’s - awesome. Almost every evening the people I have met are doing things; going for beers in the pub garden, having friends on their balcony, going running, biking, to hot dog & movie nights and then spending weekends at ‘the lake’ (of which for some time I thought there was just one, as everyone says ‘the lake’ they actually mean their lake; there are over 100,000 lakes in SK). It seems that many people in what we would call the middle-class have access to a family lakehouse and Reginans like to go most to the lake most weekends in summer. So for us English people getting friends with lakehouses is a massively important… play your cards right and you get lots of mini weekend holidays visiting people. Spending my weekends laying on a raft drinking cold beer in mid twenties in a lake has been awesome.
4. They Don’t care People from Saskatchewan just don’t seem to care too much what people think. They seem perfectly happy to be themselves. This includes happily running around with a melon on their head shouting ‘woo’ and ‘go riders’.
Aboriginal Peoples & Ethnic diversity In England we have a somewhat romantic view of what we would call ‘Red Indians’ or Native Americans (Red Indians would be racist out here). We imagine Red Indians to be In Regina they call the native population Aboriginal people, First Nations People and Native people. Although aboriginal sounds racist to us- apparently that is the best term to use and so I will use it here. Aboriginal people are the decedents of the original inhabitants of Canada before European settlement. Upon moving here as an British person you will find it quite visually shocking how quickly and how clearly you can see that people of aboriginal descent are not doing so well. Regina is, for its size, really quite multicultural and from what I see people of all other ethnicities mix with ease and very well. However, I only have a few examples of people of aboriginal descent mixing everyone else. There are many reasons for this, historic and cultural issues, high levels of alcohol abuse and prevalent inter-family abuse that has created what we would call an underclass of just one group of people. It is a large topic that deserves more sociological study than what I can do here. It has to be flagged though as in Regina you may feel sometimes that there is an elephant in the room. It is a complex problem and not one of Canadian’s favourite subjects as people can have quite varying opinions on Aboriginal issues. So is more of a one-to-one conversation topic.
Winter I have visited for three weeks in November, a week in December then a week in January and March. When I visited in January the flight from Gatwick almost didn’t make it because we had nearly four inches of snow at home. I arrived into SK and there was a meter and a half. And it was -32’c. It gets really cold in Regina to almost a comedic level. But it is bright in SK and the sun is shining even in this cold. I have spoken to Reginans that lived in London and they said that they found our dreary winters harder because of the rain and it was so hard to dress for the wet cold. In Regina the cold is very dry. So the answer is simple, just epically wrap up warm. The parks and everything are deserted and I quite enjoyed trudging through the snow to the pub or the library. The strangest thing is that there was so much snow, but absolutely no snowmen. I didn’t see a single one there. I haven’t done a full winter here yet obviously but I am excited to go kite-snowboarding and ski-doing which is pretty big out here.
Public Transport I live walking distance from work so don’t have to play that game. There is a bus network and lots of bus stops. Though bear in mind waiting for a bus in winter might be a pain (in the toe and the fingertips…) No train. No underground. But there are lots of cars…
Roads The number one way of getting anywhere. Driving in Regina is a joke. It feels like someone made the road system for eight year olds and then we all have to drive in it in toy cars. The roads in the city are a grid system with lots of 4 ways and stop lights. No roundabouts, no fast flowing traffic, no gears and no skill needed. I think this is why there are so many accidents, people must literally get into their massive trucks and disengage their brains. However even in rush hour there is not much traffic and everything is just 10-15mins away from each other. No speedcameras is a plus. There is an insane amount of customer parking for shops at box stores but parking in the city is limited. I have only done a few roadtrips but the highways are basically empty by British standards. The province is basically the same size and the entire geographical area of Great Britain but with only 1.1million people floating around in it hence the little traffic. Though I found out that no speedcameras does not mean no speedlimit, as got nabbed by old bill. In Canada it doesn’t mean points on the license thank god. He had an aunt in England and was very nice about it all but still gave me the $80 fine.
The Land & the Sky This is land of the Prairies. The great grasslands of the world. It is incredibly flat, as far as the eye can see, and it is hard not to be awed by it. Before European settlers came, it was this seemingly endless grasslands that supported a massive animal eco-system with 60 million buffalo and countless other big animals, like bears, wolves, moose and deer. From Regina you can look out flat into the horizon which gives it incredible skies and massive cloud formations.
Going off the beaten track is awesome. Though don’t expect the sort of charming villages that we stumble across in England. You will come across ghost towns, old settler towns or ranches from the time of the Wild West that did not make it to modern day. This may have due to a change in fortune; disease, a poor harvest or a change in the railway line. It is awesome and creepy to hunt these towns out. It is difficult to explain the size of the prairie, you have to be in it to appreciate the full 360’ view. However, check out below for some prairie pictures to give you an idea.
Negatives Are there negatives to Regina? Heck yes. As anywhere in the world. Quite a few of these actually apply to the whole of Canada and some to all of North America. In order…
1. The toilet stalls. OK I have been waiting to get this off my chest for a bit. The public toilets in Canada are clean, flush well etc. however whoever designed the actual toilet stall must have had some sort of weird public pooing fetish. You have no privacy. There are massive gaps inbetween either side of the door, about half the size of a fist, so that anyone outside the stall can quite clearly see you attempting business in there. This is the worst thing ever and I am pretty sure is some sort of human rights violation. Canadians however seem quite happy to basically poo publically in front an entire crowd of people in the loo. So even if you are not in the stall you are forced to watch someone do a poo. It is a huge lose-lose situation. Someone told me they were designed like this to stop employee’s hiding in the stall to take breaks. What a load of rubbish. Its unacceptable and almost led to a terrible situation for me in Calgary airport.
2. Alcohol They have some ridiculous laws around alcohol in this country and seriously need to sort it out. Firstly you can’t buy alcohol at a normal shop. So you can’t pop into your local Waitrose and grab a bottle of red, you have to trek to a special ‘Liquor store’. The people hanging around outside the liquor store are in such a state it usually makes me want to quit drinking before I have even made it in… but once inside, this is where it really starts to go wrong. Beer is ridiculously expensive here. It is about three times as much as at home. Remember the Tesco deals 3 x 24 bottles of beer for £20? Try spending $35 for one case of 24 cans. They had a big sign saying $2 off. Are you kidding? Mate you need to pop into Tescos and get a load of the Buy One Get One Free deals! (Flipping how is $2 off a $35 case a deal?! Rubbish). Then you join your friends who are having a picnic in the park and…. You can’t drink your alcohol. Any public drinking is illegal. So you think fine! Lets go to the pub… wait a second a pint is $7.50? That is £4.68 for a flipping pint in my local! Not cool Canada… not cool.
3. Corner shops They don’t exist in Regina. (probably because if they cant sell alcohol they cant make money). So if you are out and about on foot without chewing gum/1000 other useful items you are pretty much screwed.
4. Cost of food When I am not in my local (organic) shop trying to be cool I go to a Safeway here. Looking at the prices of food is like punching yourself in the face for each item, it ranges to comparable to triple what we pay at home. Except cucumbers. Cucumbers are cheap in Canada.
5. Tipping on pints Don’t get me wrong. The service in Canada is fantastic, the cultural norm is to tip 10% if it was average and 20% if your waitress/waiter was good at their job or just goodlooking. For a full meal, OK I can take it. But going to the pub, getting the barman to pour you a pint that costs double that it does back home, then being expected to tip him an extra dollar for the 30 second of action of pouring you a pint? You have to be kidding right? Ha no way! Oh wait… your friends are looking at you disapprovingly, where was that dollar, oh there it is and now you are giving it to him. Now you have just bought a beer for £5.30. That sucked.
6. Jaywalking So you are walking in a Canadian crowd downtown. You look left, you look right. There are no vehicles coming either way. The man is red but the road is empty. Does anyone cross? No. Why? Because in Canada they have invented the crime of jaywalking. So you actually cannot walk where you please when it is safe. One drunk guy stumbles out into the road and crosses. Great, you think I be the person to follow him. We all have to wait for the green man before it is ‘safe’. 30 precious seconds of your life drip away and finally the man turns green (actually it is white in Regina) and you can walk. However, after just a few blocks away there are no white men or red men. You will be there waiting on the pavement for a gap in the traffic and then someone will see you waiting and brake to halt so you can pass awkwardly.
7. Holiday I love my job. Its great, the people are great. In my old job I had 28 days holiday. Ill admit it was quite generous. But I really liked that about it. In my new job I get… 15 days. You have to be kidding me. FIFTEEN DAYS? This would actually be illegal in England. Wholly illegal. I spoke to the Canadians about it- they said 15 days was actually really good. Most people start on 10 days. I have decided that I will use the cash from the 3 weeks I would have had as holiday abroad in the UK to instead invest in fully enjoying the weekends in Canada.
8. Flashing (using the full-beams on headlamps to say things while driving) I love a bit of flashing action while driving at home. We use it to let people out, let someone ‘go’ on the motorway, we say thank-you by winking our indicators or hazards in a colourful little display of thanks. Us Brits are quite a communicative bunch with all our lights. So whereas in the UK flashing means, you go or thank-you in Regina it means ‘F_ _ k you!’ instead. Want to let someone out? ‘F_ _ ck you!’ Let someone overtake? ‘F_ _ ck you!’. Say thanks, ‘F_ _ k you!’. You can see the problems flashing might cause. So in Regina you will get to a four way stop sign with no lights. And you…. Wait. The perfect time to give someone a flash ‘you go’ (f_ _ c k you!) and instead you just… sit there squinting to see if you can see a gesture behind the windscreen. Occasionally a gnarled Canadian hand will casually wave you on but more often than not you just wait, or go... then brake suddenly to let them go. We need to bring flashing to Canada.
Above taken from this post: http://britishexpats.com/forum/showthread.php?p=9592574#post9592574