Wascana Centre

Wascana Centre (formally established in 1962) is a 9.3 square kilometre (2,300 acre) park built around Wascana Lake in Regina, Saskatchewan. It brings together lands and buildings owned by the City of Regina, University of Regina, and Province of Saskatchewan, each of which is represented on the board of directors, and contains government, recreational, cultural, educational and environmental facilities.

It was designed by the Seattle architect Minoru Yamasaki—famous for design of the original World Trade Center in New York —in tandem with his plans for the Regina Campus of the University of Saskatchewan. His stark modernist plan for the University, which was from the outset a matter of contention as to its suitability for the featureless Regina plain, is evident in the first three buildings of the campus, the laboratory, classroom and library buildings, but the laboratory and library buildings have been substantially altered and the original master plan for the campus has been revamped over time.


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.

When it was decided to establish a new Regina campus for the University of Saskatchewan, Minoru Yamasaki was commissioned in 1961 to prepare a 100-year master plan for Wascana Centre including the new university complex. 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. 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. Its size was slightly reduced in 1908 when a new dam and bridge were constructed in their present location.

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. The eastern sector of the lake is now 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. During the fall and winter of 2003-2004, Wascana Lake was again drained and dredged to deepen it by about an average of 5 metres (16 ft), 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, as it was known locally, 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.

In the summer of 2006 Wascana Racing Canoe Club and Wascana Centre hosted the 2006 Canadian Sprint Canoe/Kayak National Championships.


Wascana Centre promotional literature touts it as being 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) and as the fourth largest urban park in Canada.


Wascana Centre includes a Waterfowl Park that provides a refuge for geese, ducks and other birds, some of which do not fly south for the winter. Speakers' Corner on the north shore of Wascana Lake features gas lamps from London and birch trees from Runnymede Meadow where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215 .

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 fountain originally stood in Trafalgar Square from 1845 to 1939. The twin of this fountain is located in Confederation Park, Ottawa. This one has been dedicated to the 1882 founding of the North-West Mounted Police Headquarters in Regina.

Wascana Centre contains:

  • three museums, including the Royal Saskatchewan Museum and the Saskatchewan Science Centre;
  • the Conexus Arts Centre concert hall and theatre complex;
  • the "new" 1966 campus of the University of Regina (formerly the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus);
  • the Regina Research Park;
  • the Lakeshore Tennis Club
  • the Regina College campus of the University of Regina;
  • the Regina Conservatory of Music (in the old girls' residence wing of the Regina College building);
  • the Darke Hall theatre and concert venue on the Regina College campus of the University of Regina;
  • the Norman MacKenzie Art Gallery;
  • the CBC Regina Broadcast Centre, which houses CBK (AM), CBK-FM, and CBKT
  • the Canada-Saskatchewan Soundstage; and
  • the provincial Legislative Building.
  • the Wascana skateboard park located just east of the Saskatchewan Science Centre

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. 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.


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