Tagged with " museums"
Sep 20, 2008 -

Regina and the RCMP Heritage Centre

Monday had me at Wascana Lake, in the heart of Regina. It’s surrounded by greenery and has paths along its banks for running, biking, walking, etc. There are a lot of tourist attractions in this area.

Then, the Regina Cemetery. There was a whole section devoted to the graves of children.

This is a native prairie grass garden growing right outside the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. Most of these plants no longer grow naturally as the prairie ecology has been changed to accommodate agriculture.

Now on to Wednesday, which was devoted to touring the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Centre located right on the site of Depot, where all Mounties get their training. The site has a museum that is well worth the visit and visitors are also allowed to wander the grounds of Depot provided they follow the blue Mountie road.

All the buildings at Depot are in the same style of red brick and sandstone.

Finally, if there’s one nice thing I can say about the RCMP it’s that they sure do know how to put on a show.

I was surprised that I was allowed to take the pictures and videos that I did. Must have something to do with the RCMP’s desperate need to improve their public image and seem more transparent.

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Sep 20, 2008 -

Moose Jaw

Moose Jaw is an easy fifty minute drive from the campground where I stayed, so let’s say about forty minutes from Regina proper. I’m so glad I did the town as a day trip rather than moving on to it with the coach. Those five nights I spent in one location really helped me recoup some energy!

I left for Moose Jaw around quarter to 8, getting into town just before 9, only to learn that the town opens late! Thankfully, I found a coffee shop and was able to kill some time there before 10, when the Tunnels of Moose Jaw ticket office opened.

Moose Jaw’s tunnels are the stuff of legends. Please visit the website to get some more information on their history. They were originally built as a way for steam engineers to easily access the boilers that provided the steam which heated the city, but they soon became the domain of sweatshops and bootlegging. These two topics were the subject of the tours available.

The first tour I went on took me on a Chinese immigrant’s journey upon arrival in Canada at the turn of the 19th century. The Chinese immigrant experience at that time is a true black mark on Canadian history. The tour very effectively conveys the exploitation and degradation these immigrants were subject to. There wasn’t a dry eye in the group when we got back to the surface.

The second tour is about Moose Jaw’s connection with Chicago during the Prohibition era. This tour was very entertaining, but was based on conjecture (that Al Capone might have sought refuge at times in Moose Jaw) and didn’t really provide that much historical information other than to set Moose Jaw as being the place for debauchery at the time. It was nice to finish up with that one, but if you can only take one tour, I recommend the Chinese one.

There’s a small heritage museum at the library, which I toured, then I bought a brochure outlining the steps for a self-guided tour of the town. The temperature in Moose Jaw on Tuesday was torrid. I can only compare it to my experience of Las Vegas in June. A real 30 degrees, not a 30 degrees with humidity. I couldn’t keep myself hydrated, so I knew that I was going to be cutting the day short.

Every single street light in downtown Moose Jaw has a voice that in tones: “The WALK light to cross XXX Street is now on. The WALK light to cross XXX Street is now on. The WALK–” It got to be very annoying, especially in the afternoon when I was trying to take photographs of various buildings and the heat was sapping all my patience. It reminded me of the annoying elevator voice at my job that calls out each floor.

There’s an extension on the back of the building for the police station. This addition perfectly matches the style of the old post office.

Moose Jaw came off as a charming, but faded, town. It had a grimy, sun bleached quality to it. Downtown is just a few blocks square and is very walkable. There’s a lovely park called Crescent Park, right in the middle of town, with a casino and spa on its edges. There are a lot of things to do in the environs, so if I’d had more time and had gone to Moose Jaw with the coach for a few days, as I’d initially planned, I would have had plenty to do.

Why ‘Moose Jaw’? The accepted theory is that the town is named after the Moose Jaw river, which has a bend that looks like the jaw of a moose!

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Sep 16, 2008 -

Land of Living Skies

First off, let me thank everyone who has commented in the past few days. I’ll answer each one of you. I’m having to rely on a free wi-fi signal provided in SK’s major centres which, unfortunately, is extremely slow. Combine that with the slowest laptop in the universe (doesn’t mean I don’t adore you, Bea!) and I’m keeping my surfing to the absolute minimum this week.

I’m posting from a coffee shop in Moose Jaw. The town opens really late, so I have about an hour to kill before I can start doing the tourist thing.

As it turns out, my location just outside of Regina is absolutely perfect. Moose Jaw is just an hour away, perfect for a day trip. Downtown Regina is barely 20 minutes away, so yesterday I was able to go out for the morning and part of the afternoon, go home for rest, then return in the evening to run some errands.

Monday in Regina is pretty much like Monday in Montreal, at least the way it was last time I was there on a Monday: just about everything of interest is closed. Fortunately, I’d done my homework and had a list of a few things that were open.

Joke was on me when I woke up at 7 yesterday. Saskatchewan has its own time rules, the details of which are fuzzy at present, but it turned out that even though I was still on central time, it was a whole hour earlier than I realised! I was pretty shocked when I got my bill at the pancake house and saw that it was 8AM, not 9AM as I’d thought!

The first thing I dealt with was mail. Being in Regina for the week and being willing to extend my stay if Canada Post is a bit slow, I felt that this was the perfect time to have some mail forwarded to me.

Then, I headed to the Regina Cemetery. Cemeteries are usually one of the first places I visit when I get to a new city. You can tell so much about a community by walking among its dead–what they believed in, what they fought for, what they fought against, major calamities, hierarchical divisions… At this cemetery I was must struck by the fact that simple wooden crosses sat next to large granite stones and by the number of graves belonging to soldiers killed during the Korean ‘police action.’

Next stop was the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, the quintessential natural history museum found in most cities. I found this one to be particularly good, with interactive displays and audio that complemented printed information.

The RSM is located on the shores of Wascana Lake, a beautiful urban playground with paths for running, jogging, walking, bike riding, etc. I walked around there for a spell and went to see if the science museum was open (no). So, I returned to downtown for an hour and checked out a few antique shops (it’s so easy to resist temptation when you live in an RV!).

Which brings me to this glorious sunny prairie morning in Moose Jaw. I have a full day of activities planned and tons of photos to share. Stay tuned. 🙂

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