Regina History, Pile Of Bones

August 23, 2012 by · Comments Off on Regina History, Pile Of Bones 

Regina History, Pile Of Bones, If you look at a map of North America, you’ll find Regina right at the center of the continent, in the heart of the Canadian plains. The land is flat and seems to stretch out forever. Regina is like an oasis of trees, people and buildings. Though now home to nearly 200,000 people, it was once barren grassland with no trees and little water.

Before the arrival of settlers in the 1880s, First Nations hunters came to the area to hunt the roaming herds of buffalo. They used nearly all of the buffalo they killed for food, shelter and clothing. Only the bones remained.

The Cree hunters stacked the bones about 2 metres high and 12 metres in diameter. They believed that the buffalo herds would return to the area to visit the bones. The hunters named the area Oskana-Ka-asateki or “the place where bones are piled.”

The explorers, fur traders, surveyors and settlers who moved through the area called it Pile of Bones.

Pile of Bones wasn’t a good name for a town. So in late 1882, it was given a “regal” name. It became “Regina” in honour of the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria. The Queen’s daughter, Princess Louise, suggested the name. She was the wife of the Marquis of Lorne, Canada’s governor general at the time. “Regina” is Latin for queen, making our present monarch Elizabeth Regina. That’s why Regina is often called the Queen City.

The North West Mounted Police (now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or RCMP) were formed in 1873 to police the western territories. In 1882 they moved their headquarters from Fort Walsh to Regina. In 1920 the headquarters moved to Ottawa but the RCMP Training Academy remains in Regina to this day.

In 1883, Regina became the capital of the North West Territories, a land mass larger than present day Europe. It included part of Manitoba, all of Saskatchewan and Alberta, the present northern territories, and northern parts of Ontario and Quebec. The capital had been at Battlefords but it was felt that the settlement was too far away from the railway.

As the town grew, more and more businesses moved in. Regina soon had a newspaper, postal service, churches, schools, and fire and police protection. On December 1, 1883, Regina officially became a town and Dr. David Scott was elected its first mayor 5 weeks later.

It’s hard to imagine early Regina. There were no cars. The streets were still unpaved and turned to mud when it rained. Bread sold for 25 cents a loaf while wood cost $12 a load. Water had to be hauled from the creek for 50 cents a barrel.