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Wascana Park

I-Panels


 

 

Interpretive Panel:
Pile of Bones Creek

(Click on a picture for larger view)

Between 1857 and 1860 a British funded
expedition led by Captain John Palliser
sought to increase scientific knowledge of
the Canadian west. When the group reached what is
now the Regina area their September 1857 journal
entry talked about "crossing the creek where the bones lie."

In 1865 a map of the Palliser study area was
released. On this map the little creek described by
Palliser was called "Many-bone Cr."

When the first settlers began to arrive in Regina in the early 1880's, it was known as Pile O' Bones Creek. "Pile-of-Bones" was a rough translation of the Cree term for the stream, Oskana-Ka-asateki, which means "the place that the bones are piled together." This name was a reference to a well-known pile of bison bones which

 

was arranged in a specific circular pattern on a small
hill just west of town. The bone pile had been
erected by First Nations people (Cree) who believed
that the bison would not leave an area where the
remain of their ancestors lay.

Perhaps drawn by the bones, bison were plentiful in
the area around Wascana Centre prior to the arrival
of the settlers. Birds and other animals were also
common in the marshes and meandering curves of
the creek's over 100 kilometre path from the fields
southeast of Regina to the Qu'Appelle River. One
of the few streams in the region where water could
be found throughout the year, the creek area was an
important hunting and food processing location for
many First Nations groups. The 1865 Palliser map
showed a number of Cree encampments in the area.

 

"In the evening reached the Creek where the Bones
lie, where we found water and very little grass; a
few willows also grew here but no wood fit for fuel"
   (John Palliser journal, September 15, 1857)

 

Life along the creek changed dramatically during the late 19th century.
Hunters were replaced by farmers and the bison disappeared
completely from the prairies. The famous pile of bones were gathered
up, along with millions of other bones from the prairies, and shipped
east by rail to be made into fertilizer. Gone but not forgotten, the
early residents of Regina chose to maintain a connection to this past
by again returning to the Cree term for inspiration for the name
"Wascana Creek."

 

"If you had a lit-tle more wood, and a
lit-tle more water, and here and there ahill,
I think the prospect would be improved."

   Sir John A. Macdonald, 1886.
   Reply to Reginan who asked about the "prospect" of the city.