REGINA, 575km west of Winnipeg, is Saskatchewan’s capital, as well as a commercial and administrative centre that anchors a vast network of agricultural towns and villages. Yet despite its status, brash shopping malls and 193,000 citizens, Regina feels like a small and unremarkable prairie town. Still, it’s a comfortable place to spend a couple of days (it gets more sunshine than any other major Canadian city) and is an essential stop if you’re keen on learning more about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), or Mounties.

Brief history

Regina’s origins stem from the 1881 decision of Edward Dewdney, lieutenant-governor of the Northwest Territories (which then spread west from Ontario to the Arctic and Pacific oceans) to move his capital south from Battleford to Pile o’Bones – an inconsequential place named for the heaps of bleached buffalo bones left along its creek by generations of Aboriginal hunters – after the Canadian Pacific Railway was routed across the southern plains. The city was renamed Regina (Latin for “queen”), after Queen Victoria, but the site was far from being fit for royalty, let alone anyone else: the sluggish creek provided a poor water supply, the clay soil was muddy in wet weather and dusty in summer and there was no timber for building. Accordingly, the railway board refused to oblige and the end result was farcical: Government House and the Mounted Police barracks were built where Dewdney wanted them, but the train station was a three-kilometre trek south.

Regina became the capital of the newly created province of Saskatchewan in 1905 and settlers flocked here from the US and Central Europe. The city soon overcame its natural disadvantages by extensive tree-planting, which provided shade and controlled the dust, and by damming the creek to provide a better water source. Yet Regina’s success was based on the fragile prosperity of a one-crop (wheat) economy and throughout the twentieth century boom alternated with bust. Today, Regina’s prosperity looks solid, thanks to sizeable oil reserves, uranium mines and its administrative role.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Canada features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
19 phenomenal pictures of Canada

19 phenomenal pictures of Canada

Canada is famous for its stunning vistas, from the Arctic shores to the Rocky Mountains. But that's not all the country has to boast about. It also has engro…

30 Jun 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Video: the most beautiful places in Canada

Video: the most beautiful places in Canada

Simply put, Canada is stunning. The second largest country in the world, Canada is a land of crashing waterfalls, turquoise lakes and magnificent soaring mounta…

29 Jun 2017 • Olivia Rawes videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook