I noticed something wandering towards McIntyre Street from Victoria Avenue Sunday night. ‘Why would I be wandering around downtown in blizzard?’ you may ask. I had decided to go to the Regina Public Library film that evening, in spite of the snow, wind, lack of transportation and generally any common sense.
There were many people out in giant machines moving snow, clearing away parking lots and roads. The snow was thick falling but soft, the type with the big floaty flakes idling down to the ground. The sky was pink; a pink that comes from street-lamp-lights bouncing between the clouds and the snow; which seems to make everything brighter.
Standing there on the corner of McIntyre and Victoria a particular distraction brought my eyes up from my concerned feet. The Plains hotel’s weather tower, it was on. Wha!? I thought they closed that place, caput, waiting for, as the Polymaths put it, the wreaking ball’s kiss.
But no! It wasn’t dead. The Plains weather tower was doing what it had done since the Ted Godwin designed fixture was installed in 1962; reporting the weather (Regina’s Secret Spaces: Love and Lore of Local Geography Ed. Lorne Beug, Anne Campbell and Jeannie Mah. “Night Light: The Weather Tower of the Plains Hotel” Gary Varro Pg 80-81 Canadian Plains Research Centre, 2006).
What was it saying? Two green bands at the bottom of the tower. I shuddered to think that this might be a leftover from Grey Cup fever that I hadn’t noticed. But reviewing Gary Varro’s piece on the tower in Regina Secret Spaces, I’ve decided it was indeed letting me know the weather that night was: stable precipitation (Ibid). It was just so.
Well interestingly enough this weekend a member of the Regina development forum at Skyscrapperpage.com posted a new rendering of the building set to replace the Plains hotel.
Here it is, Capital Pointe.
Here is an earlier image from the fall of the perspective new building:
Capital, that makes sense enough but what’s this “pointe” business? I thought I would look at the few dictionaries I’ve got lying around to find out.
My pocket Penguin Dictionary of Geography was at a loss but the New World and Concise versions of Webster’s had some clues. In fact, Webster’s seemed to lump poor “pointe” in as an ‘OFr’ originator(a sharp end) for the word ‘point’ along with the ‘L’ “punctus (to prick).” I suppose Capital Punctus doesn’t sound quite so nice.
Why then it struck me: what a nice gesture to the Fransaskois community, adding a french word to what will be the most impressive building in all of Saskatchewan. Thinking French, my brother’s hand-me-down 1984 edition Collins Robert French Paperback Dictionary French-English English-French will figure this out. Apparently, in French, “pointe” means pretty well all the things “point” means in english.
See Wikipedia and the Free Dictionary for some online references of “pointe.” They suggest its english usage is almost exclusively relevent to the world of ballet, where to be ‘en pointe’ means on the tips of your toes (again from French). Forget the Fransaskois, it’s the ballet dancers of Regina who are to be flattered with this nod to their art.
No no, of course I’m being silly looking for actual meaning to this name, this has nothing to do with ballet or French. The name is “pointe” and not “point” for the same reason we have MacKenzie Towne in Calgary or this amazing gem, the Blackstone River Valley: New England’s Historic National Park Area’s Shoppes at Blackstone Valley . Wow. I hate adding ‘e’s to the end of words to make them seem old timey.
Why are they doing this? To make me vomit? The developer must want to describe the spire or “sharp end” at the very top, in the image above substituting the ‘I’ in “Something.”
‘Yes, it’s the Queen City, the Capital, and look it has a brand new twenty-foot metal rod with a building stuck to the back of it!’
The building itself seems fine to me. They’ve borrowed the only attractive feature of the McCallum-Hill twins; their shimmering blue skin. This way, the tumultuous sky above the current Plains will be replaced with a tower’s glassy reflections of that sky. I suppose reflecting the sky speaks to, on some level, a local influence on the architecture. Still, that tiny carrot, somehow, doesn’t make this building anymore satisfying.
Of course, tucked away in its angular nook will be the “bones” of the weather tower. A trophy head mounted above the front door. The only trouble is, in its place of privilege, how I am I supposed to get the weather report from McIntyre Street?