Heritage Regina Welcomes New Summer Student

Heritage Regina would like to welcome our new summer student, Jessica Dean, to our team!   

Born and raised in Regina, Jessica is excited to be learning more about Regina’s rich cultural and architectural heritage. Jessica is a second-year master’s student at McGill University, specializing in political science with a focus on international development. She’s part of the university’s Center for International Peace and Security, exploring bottom-up approaches to sustainable development. Previously, she earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations and political science from Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York. Jessica is passionate about promoting culture and heritage through community initiatives, and dreams of working for UNESCO to preserve heritage on a global scale. She was the captain of her varsity water polo team during her time in New York, and describes Regina’s Lawson Aquatic Centre as a “second home” to her while she was growing up. In her spare time, you can find Jessica reading a book or spending time with her family and her dog, Rollo. 

 

Ret’d Canadian Forces Officer Seeking Public Help to Honour Saskatchewan Veterans

This news release was originally distributed by Will Chabun via email on May 9, 2024.

NEWS RELEASE

Retired Canadian Forces officer Brad Hrycyna is asking the public to help him honour some long-deceased Saskatchewan veterans.

Hrycyna is a volunteer with The Last Post Fund, which aims to give us dignified burials, and headstones to Canadian military veterans. But the fund can’t do so without proof that these individuals have had military service in their backgrounds.

For a ceremony in mid-May, Hrycyna is trying to find members of the family of Rifleman Denis Celestin Denniel. His military service has already been established, but Hrycyna  hopes to find Denniel’s relatives before a headstone is placed at his grave in the Veterans Plot of Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Swift Current at 2 p.m. on 17 May.

Rifleman Denniel was born on May 5, 1917 in Val Marie and enrolled for service in the Second World War on June 27, 1940. He was a member of the Regina Rifle Regiment and on June 6, 1944 participated in the D-Day landing on Juno Beach, where he was wounded.

He recovered from his wounds and served the remainder of the war in the Provost Corps as a military policeman. He continued to serve in the army until Jan. 28, 1954. Denniel died in Swift Current on Jan. 27, 1968. Where are his relatives?

There are four other individuals buried in Mount Pleasant cemetery that Hrycyna wants to research. The dates and ages of some indicate they might have served in either the South African War or the First World War.

The four names on temporary markers are:

·  Brown, Robert J. (born 1869 and died Sept. 20, 1924);

·  Hobert, Oliver Emanuel (born Sept. 28, 1879 and died March 18, 1913);

·  Webb, Arthur Leason (born 1900 and died Sept. 20 1924); and,

·  Wilson, Thomas Rowe (born May 25, 1877 and died March 28, 1961).

An article from the Southwest Booster newspaper in Swift Current is attached.

Hrycyna can be contacted at dragoon49@hotmail.ca or 1-306-539-5305.

An article from the April 18, 2024 edition of Swift Current’s newspaper “Southwest Booster” detailing the project.

The Regina Riot: An Interview with Bill Waiser

Historian Bill Waiser joined Heritage Regina on April 11, 2024 for the conclusion of our 2024 Lecture Series, talking attendees about the lead-up to the Regina Riot, the riot itself, and the covered-up death of trekker Nick Schaack.

This article was originally published in the March/April 2024 edition of the Cathedral Village Voice.

The On-to-Ottawa trekkers arriving in Regina on June 14, 1935. Photo credit: Regina Leader-Post

By Sarah Wood

As we stand amidst rapidly rising inflation, with economic downturns seemingly coming on faster and more furious than ever, we are reminded of those who have struggled in this climate before. The ‘dirty thirties’ saw Regina become the hub of economic and labour protests with the Regina Riot of 1935, a labour revolt of men making their way to Ottawa to have their voices heard. “All Hell Can’t Stop Us” is their refrain.

Bill Waiser, celebrated Saskatchewan historian and author of “All Hell Can’t Stop Us: The On-To-Ottawa Trek and the Regina Riot,” recounts his father quipping he was “a guest of R.B. Bennett for a year”, describing his time in a B.C. labour camp in the 1930s, a temporary solution for the many young men out of work put in place by then-prime minister Bennett.

“When it did leave Vancouver in early June 1935, it was a faint hope that they would ever make it to Ottawa… riding atop boxcars, not inside, through the mountains. You’ve got to get logistical support, community support,” says Waiser. “Nobody thought the trek would make it through the mountains.”

The trek made it through the mountains and into Regina before being stopped by the RCMP, at the federal government’s request, calling the trekkers “a revolution on wheels.” There were concerns that the trekkers were a militarized Communist group, and they were stirring up community support. “What communists were saying about the failure of capitalism was being played before people’s eyes in the 1930s, and that’s why the trek was portrayed as communist,” says Waiser. “[the trek is] capturing the imagination of people. In Western Canada you’ve had five years of depression… They’re giving voice to people’s frustration.” However, Waiser notes that “they were very well behaved… leadership knew that the police were just waiting for some reason to stop the trek.”

Why stop in Regina? Waiser responds with a question: “What’s on Dewdney?” He is referring, of course, to the RCMP Depot, further explaining, “You’ve got a conservative prime minister… you’ve got a liberal premier [Gardiner] who has been a thorn in their side…complaining about federal policy.”

The trek was stalled in Regina for two weeks. Unable to find a way forward, trekkers decided to disband, and were in talks with Gardiner to arrange leaving. At the very time that Gardiner was speaking to his legislative cabinet about it, the RCMP moved in to disband the trek, sending the city police in first to clear a path through the crowd to the trek leaders. “The actions of the Regina city police provoked a riot,” said Waiser, noting that the Mounties joined the riot shortly after. “It’s urban warfare for several hours on the streets of downtown Regina.”

The riot ended with city police firing guns into the rally. “There were a number of injuries—hundreds. Tens of thousands of millions of dollars of damage to the city.” Search Regina’s downtown, and you will find plaques remembering that day and its costs—financial and political. One police officer was killed, Detective Charles Miller, and this death is well-known. Less known, however, is a civilian death. In fact, Waiser says his death was covered up. “It’s a police and federal government choice. And I’ll be talking about how the cover up was done [in his April 11 lecture].”

“They were perfect circumstances. You bring together a group of young men in isolated camps and all they face is a dead-end future. They’re living dead end lives, and they want to do something about it,” said Waiser about the economic situation that the trek rose out of. “Nobody wanted to deal with them, nobody wanted to meet with them, nobody wanted to address their grievances. So, they decided to take the message to Ottawa.” A perfect storm, but there are still takeaways.

89 years later, Waiser shares what he thinks we can learn from the Regina Riot: “The idea of care. The idea of caring. These people were engaged. People would come out and listen to speakers and they were engaged, and they wanted to talk issues and I think that’s one lesson we can take.”

 

Sarah Wood is the Executive Director of Heritage Regina.

What is a Bird Friendly City, and why is it important?

By Nathaniel Hak

There was a flutter of excitement in Regina earlier this year as over 20,000 citizens voted for their choice for Regina’s Official Bird. The winner? The feisty black-capped chickadee with more than 8,500 votes, beating out the second-place red-breasted nuthatch by nearly 2,500 votes!

“The black-capped chickadee is the perfect embodiment of Regina to me,” shares Dr. Ryan Fisher, Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. “It’s a hardy little bird that makes a living year-round in Regina – it’s smart, resourceful, and best of all, you can see it anywhere in the city! Without the protection and management of all the old trees in Regina, we probably wouldn’t have as many chickadees that we do today.”

The selection cements the black-capped chickadee as a part of our living and cultural heritage, building on Regina’s new certification as a Bird Friendly City, received from Nature Canada in 2022. Our natural heritage is an intrinsic part of our cultural heritage – our wild spaces, and the wildlife that inhabit them, are as much a part of our city’s heritage as our people and buildings are. As a Bird Friendly City, Regina is firmly announcing itself as invested in our natural heritage.

As Regina has grown over the years, urban influence on wildlife and habitat has grown, too. 437 species of birds are found in Saskatchewan, many native to Regina and the surrounding prairies. As their natural habitats shrink – in this case, becoming more urban – mitigations are crucial for the survival of our birds.

Regina’s ranking as a Bird Friendly City is currently entry-level, as we are just beginning to work on improving protection for bird species. The designation strives to encourage municipalities to work towards being a haven for birds, and in doing so Regina joins other municipalities across Canada including Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver.  One area of concern to be addressed in Regina is window strikes—when a bird mistakenly flies into a window—which kill more than a billion birds in North America every year. Window strikes can be reduced by simply placing stickers on windows.

“When people think of nature, they often think about leaving the city to go on a hike or heading to the lake, but in fact nature can be found throughout our urban centres if you take the time to look,” explains Ellen Bouvier, Communications Manager at Nature Saskatchewan.  “Birds play a significant role in the health of our city, from pest control to pollination, and birdwatching offers many recreational and mental health benefits.  Nature Saskatchewan is proud that the City of Regina has taken the steps to become a Bird Friendly City.”

Regina’s 2,300-acre Wascana Centre is a critical component to protecting bird populations and their habitat. Over 276 bird species call the park home each year, whether they are year-round residents (like the black-capped chickadee or the infamous Canada goose) or use the park as a stopover during their seasonal migrations. Around 257 acres of the park is designated as a federal Migratory Bird Sanctuary which provides federal protections to migratory birds and their nests. The east end of Regina also boasts the 171-acre McKell Wascana Conservation Park, an equally important sanctuary for both grassland and wetland bird species.

The city has also established a “no-roam” bylaw, which mandates that pets, particularly cats, are not allowed to roam freely outdoors. House cats pose a significant predation threat to various bird species in the city, particularly during nesting. Keeping pets indoors ensures that birds within the city’s residential spaces are not placed under excess pressure, particularly species who live elsewhere and are migrating through the city.

Regina’s new designation as a Bird Friendly City is an important step in the right direction towards bird conservation in our city. Our native species are integral parts of our natural heritage, and as a result should be spared no effort to ensure that these populations can remain a part of our living heritage, rather than relegated to the history books.

Additional Resources:

Bird Friendly City webpage – City of Regina

Bird Friendly City: A Certification Program – Nature Canada

 

Nathaniel Hak is a Social Media Associate at Heritage Regina. With thanks to Ellen Bouvier at Nature Saskatchewan, and Dr. Ryan Fisher at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum for their contributions to this article.

Join our Board of Directors!

Heritage Regina is seeking multiple members of our community who are passionate about heritage to join our Board of Directors for a two-year term. This is an opportunity to be part of a working board, meeting once monthly, and get involved in preserving and celebrating Regina’s heritage.

We encourage anyone interested to apply, but are are seeking nominees with the following skills/backgrounds in particular:

  • Policy writing and/or human resources (particularly in non-profit settings)
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Legal
  • Fundraising
  • Marketing/public relations
  • Research (historical, archival, etc.)

Heritage Regina is committed to preserving the heritage and celebrating stories of all peoples in our community, and to allyship with minority groups in its work. We welcome applications from folks within Indigenous, Métis, disabled/neurodiverse, 2SLGBTQ+, and other minority communities who can bring diverse perspectives to our Board of Directors.

Please submit your nomination  by Wednesday, April 10, 2024 at 11:59 PM (CST). Fill out the form below, or click here to submit your nomination.

 

Partners & Resources from Family Tree 101

Thank you to everyone who joined us at Government House on March 7 for Family Tree 101! We were overwhelmed by the interest, and will definitely be taking feedback about expanding any future genealogical events!

In the meantime, we’ve compiled a list of the genealogical resources that our partner organizations showcased at the event. These are great places to get started with your genealogical research.

 

Regina Public Library

With your library card, you can access several resources on their website here: https://www.reginalibrary.ca/digitalservices/genealogy

Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan

The Provincial Archives have a webpage dedicated to family history research: https://www.saskarchives.com/using-the-archives/family-history-research. You can search archival records online, or visit them in-person during the week and have one of their friendly archival specialists help you get started!

Saskatchewan Genealogical Society

This organization has a selection of resources on their website https://saskgenealogy.com/, and offers a research service for a fee. You can find information about the service here: https://saskgenealogy.com/research-services/.

 

Keep an eye on our website and social media so that you’re the first to know about any upcoming events!

 

In the News: Progressive Architecture

Our board member John Robinson, who is presenting Progressive Architecture at Darke Hall on Saturday, March 2, joined CBC’s Shauna Powers this weekend to chat about the lecture. You can give it a listen here:

https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-205-saskatchewan-weekend/clip/16044866-progressive-heritage-past-future

 

Pour nos amis/amies bilingues ou francophones, nous avons parlé avec Doris Labrie de “Pour Faire Un Monde” à Radio-Canada sur le sujet du conférence Progressive Architecture. Vous pouvez en écouter ici: https://ici.radio-canada.ca/ohdio/premiere/emissions/pour-faire-un-monde/segments/rattrapage/480791/heritage-regina-nathaniel-hak-architecture-archives

 

Don’t miss Progressive Architecture on Saturday, March 2, at 7:00 PM at Darke Hall! For more information, visit our events calendar or Darke Hall’s website: https://darkehall.ca/events/progressive-architecture-our-past-is-our-future

You Could Take Home Our Homestead Shack!

Thank you to everyone who submitted bids! We have contacted the winning bidder – congratulations!

We are auctioning off our homestead shack! With no place to store this amazing piece, it can be yours! The auction is open from February 22 – March 2, closing at 10am. This auction is a blind auction, so make your bids accordingly! The homestead shack is valued at around $3000. Place your bid using the form at the bottom of the page.

If you made it to Frost Regina’s Downtown Hub back in January, or joined us for our presentation of “The Robinson Homestead” lecture, you likely would have seen our homestead shack. The structure is a replica of the original homestead shack built by brothers John and Frank Robinson, using only 1910s-era tools, in honour of their grandparents.

Our incredible volunteers, under the direction of John and Frank, built this replica (using power tools) in just one day! John is an architectural designer, and owner of Robinson Residential in Regina.

Now that Frost is finished, we are auctioning off the homestead shack! This 8 x 10 building would make a fantastic shed, backyard office or hobby-house, or a bunkhouse! The roof of the shack is made of weatherproof, asphalt roll roofing. Eventually, it’s suggested that the shed would have tar paper and/or siding of some kind. (If you have any questions, you can reach us at info@heritageregina.ca.)

The proceeds from the auction will go towards Heritage Regina’s programming and operations. This is used for events such as our winter lecture series and summer walking tours, pop-up exhibits (like this homestead shack!), research and advocacy on behalf of heritage spaces in Regina, and more.

Regina’s First Cross-Country Air Service

A newspaper clipping with the heading "Trans-Canada Airlines' Services from Regina Airport, with a photo of an aircraft cabin, a TCA plane, and the schedule.

A Leader-Post ad from February 1940 advertising TCA’s new service to the Queen City.

By Tom Fuzesy

Sunday, April 2, 1939: It is a chilly night, just after midnight. Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) flight 2 pierces the night sky and lands at the Regina Municipal Airport, arriving after a two-hour flight from Lethbridge. The aircraft is a 10-passenger Lockheed Electra 10A on its eastbound flight across Canada, from Vancouver to Montreal. It is the very first cross-country passenger flight ever to service the Queen City.

Prior to commercial air travel, trains were the primary mode of long-distance travel. Trains were important for connecting the east and west provinces across Canada’s vast distances. Regina’s newcomer boom in the 1880s was possible only though the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway across the country, and through Regina.

The twentieth century saw the popularity of cars increasing, and more people were replacing their horse-driven conveyances. Long-distance motoring, however, came with many challenges, including the state of the roads, which were often impassable in wet or snowy weather. In Regina, inter-city bus service began in the late 1920s with a local taxi company. Checker Taxi provided scheduled service from Regina to Milestone and Moose Jaw. In the early 1930s, Greyhound Bus Lines began providing inter-provincial bus service, connecting Saskatchewan to its prairie neighbours, Alberta and Manitoba.

A picture of an old bus with the caption "New Regina-Moose Jaw Bus" as seen in the Regina Leader-Post on June 18, 1931.

The new Checker Stage bus service between Regina and Moose Jaw, as seen in the Leader-Post on June 18, 1931.

In Regina, on that chilly April night in 1939, three passengers deplane and an equal number board. A brief ceremony takes place with mayor Alban Ellison, who puts the city’s seal onto a parchment scroll, commemorating Regina as one of the stops on this historic flight. Soon, the plane takes off into the darkness, continuing its journey east towards Winnipeg.

The first westbound flight, TCA flight 1, arrives in Regina about six hours later from Winnipeg. After a 10-minute stop, it continues westbound to Lethbridge, ultimately bound for Vancouver. One of the TCA route’s selling points was the speed of air travel, with the schedule promising to get passengers from Regina to Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal in time for lunch.  At the time, Lethbridge was TCA’s Alberta hub. Today, of course, Calgary and Edmonton’s International Airports have eclipsed Lethbridge’s humble trans-Canada beginnings.

For these early cross-Canada flights, weather was a constant concern and schedules were always at the whim of Mother Nature. The first eastbound flight was grounded in Ottawa when snow prevented the onward flight to Montreal—passengers had to take a train instead into Quebec. Bad weather over British Columbia grounded the first two westbound flights in Lethbridge, as well as the second eastbound flight in Vancouver. It was, therefore, remarkable that the first east and westbound flights through Regina were (for the most part) on time.

Although this was the first cross-country passenger air service for Regina, it was not the first passenger service overall. In the late 1920s, a Winnipeg-based airline called Western Canada Airways started an air mail service from Winnipeg to Banff, with stops in Regina. These mail routes sometimes carried up to four passengers. On August 4, 1938, Prairie Airways started a passenger service connecting Regina with other Saskatchewan cities. Using a seven-passenger Beechcraft plane, it flew a daily circuit of Regina, Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, and North Battleford. Even after TCA began cross-country service in Regina, these routes allowed passengers from throughout Saskatchewan to connect to TCA flights in Regina. TCA began routes through Saskatoon as well in 1947.

At the beginning of trans-Canada air service, only the wealthiest could afford to fly. Fares were initially priced at 6 cents per mile, with a 10% reduction for round trip fares. That meant that a round-trip airfare from Regina to Vancouver was $90.25, which would be around $2,000 in today’s prices. A return trip to Ottawa was $158.20, or $3,500 today. In comparison, a round-trip train ticket from Regina to Vancouver in 1939 was $25.10 — $512 today, and $65 cheaper than flying.

Regina’s airport was built in 1930 and was considered one of Canada’s best airports. It was notable for its large hangar, rainproof runways, and dedication to safer night flying with lights and beacons illuminating the runways at night. What Regina’s airport didn’t have, however, was a terminal building able to handle increasing numbers of air passengers. When significant commercial air service started in 1938, a makeshift waiting room was created. It was a small, heated space in the southeast corner of the hangar, furnished with sofas and chairs, enough to accommodate the handful of passengers on any given day. However, additional flights and larger planes meant that a new terminal was required. Within a year of the start of TCA’s service, a new terminal, called the Administration Building, was built, opening in February 1940.  It served Regina for 20 years.

Today, nearly 85 years later, the Regina International Airport continues to connect the city with the rest of North America, moving a pre-pandemic average of 1.2 million passengers per year. Having grown substantially since the first cross-country TCA service in 1939, the airport boasts a modern terminal serving several commercial airlines – including TCA, who you might know as Air Canada (the name was changed in 1965).

 

Tom Fuzesy is a volunteer for Heritage Regina and is an avid sports fan, researcher, and local historian.

CBC Interview: Homesteading in a Winter Deep Freeze

Heritage Regina board member John Robinson joined CBC’s The Morning Edition this weekend. Hear about how John and his brother, Frank, kept warm in their hand-built homestead shack during the extreme temperatures that gripped the prairies last week: https://www.cbc.ca/listen/live-radio/1-205-saskatchewan-weekend/clip/16036698-why-two-brothers-spent-weekend-extreme-cold-homestead

The accompanying article can be found here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/homestead-shack-1.7090109

To hear about how John, Frank, and their team built the homestead shack, be sure to join us on January 27 for John’s lectures, and see our on-site homestead replica and interactive tool demonstrations! For more information see our events calendar: https://heritageregina.ca/event/the-robinson-homestead-2024-lecture-series/