Wascana Centre is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city. Just steps from downtown
the park offers a place where one can wander amognst a diversity trees, shrubs and
flowering plants. Jack rabbits, squirrels and other rodents can be spotted by the
observant visitor. Dozens of species of birds can be seen high in the treetops, floating on the
lake surface or amongst the rushes and cattails of the marshes on the eastern boundary of the
park. It is a place alive with nature.
The area encompassed by the Centre has always been a natural place. The slow, meandering
nature of the creek provide an environment for birds long before the establishment of Regina.
The reliabilty of the creek water also attracted animals from across the open prairie. Shrubs
could be found in places along the banks.
Although Wascana Creek had been dammed in 1883 to form a reservoir, it was in 1913 that the
lake was formally recognized for its natural significance. In that year, following lobbying
from local officials concerned about the tremendous number of birds being killed along the
creek, the Wascana Game Preserve was established. This preserve encompassed the area
east of Broad Street to the Wascana Golf Club. In July 1956, the area between Winnipeg
Street and the Trans-Canada Highway was designated as the Wascana Bird Sanctuary by
the federal government. Later, the Wascana Waterfowl Park Dosplay Ponds were developed
just east of the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts as a public education space and home for a
captive flock of birds.
In fact, many species of small mammals can be seen in Wascana Centre, including squirrels,
skunks, mice and other rodents. On occassion, deer, coyotes, moose, and even bear also make
an appearance. Beaver and muscrat are regular residents of the lake, and the 2004 "Big Dig"
lake deepening project enabled fish to once again live year-round in the lake.
Significantly changed since the days prior to the establishment of Regina is the vegetation
in Wascana Centre. When Frederick Todd, landscape architect, laid out the first plan for this
area in 1907, he called for the establishment of a nursery to provide locally-adapted trees and
shrubs suitable for planting. After great persistence, bare prairie was soon covered with a
diversity of trees, shrubs, flowering plants and manicured lawns. These early plantings form
the basis for the mature park setting found across the western most part of the Centre. East
of the Broad Street Bridge the landscape features native grasses and shrubs providing a more
natural environment for the bird sanctuary.
"If our people are only enlightened enough we can make
Regina one of the most beautiful cities on the continent."
-1883 Nicholas Flood Davin
editor of the Regina Leader
Regina's natural oasis, Wascana Centre, was built on this belief.