Edwardian Gardens and Government House

In 1882 the seat of government of the North West Territories moved to Regina and with it came the establishment of a Government House.  Guide Chad Debert explained how the original parcel set aside by Edgar Dewdney (on his land) for the residence would, today, boarder Alexandra St. to the East, Dewdney Avenue to the North, Luther College to the West and 10th Avenue to the South.

The original residence was a collection of wooden catalogue houses located roughly near the current location of Luther College.  Government House moved 10 years after completion to a more permanent building, East of the original site.  In time, the extension of the City’s boundaries to include the property lead to the development of Luther College (1926), Pioneer Village care facility (1950s) and the Luther playing fields (1958).

One neat piece of nostalgia I saw for the first time is the boardwalk along the east side of Royal Street, across from Luther College.  I’m not sure how old (authentic) the boardwalk is but it does provide some idea of what Regina’s original walkways would have looked like.

Recently I had discovered an article from the Leader Post  Morning Ed. August 26, 1935, p.4 by Margaret Complin titled “Regina’s First Tree.”  In her article, Complin describes the efforts of the R.N.W.M.P  after 1886 to add trees to their headquarters.  She credits Governor Forget with transporting Banff Spruce to Government House.  Chad spoke about George Watt and Forget’s efforts to introduce a variety of plants into the grounds.   Much of this experimentation was done in the first decade of the twentieth century.

There maybe plans a foot for the now abandoned Order of the Eastern Star building, east of Government House along Dewdney Avenue.  Our guide  Chad mentioned that a motor coach entrance and parking area might be one option for the redevelopment of that site.  It is interesting to see the transition of spaces from Governmental to institutional and now moving into recreational-tourism.  Certain being able to attract bus loads to the area in summer would boost numbers of visitors to Government House.  It wasn’t clear that the space provided by the Eastern Star Building was of any value.

Lastly, I found the concept of the Edwardian garden, a series of outdoor rooms, to be quite interesting.  I’m not sure how compatible the idea is with current forms of leisure, in the sense that I don’t think all park spaces could be such gardens.  But to have one garden in the city, utilizing this concept, provides something different.  One reason that the different rooms concept intrigues me is that Urbanist James Howard Knustler often speaks in his pod cast about creating urban spaces that act just as an outdoor room.

I haven’t yet read Christopher Alexander but my understanding of his ideas, in general, are that spatial design can be transferred between scales and spaces.  The spatial relationships that make a successful living room or garden may also make a successful plaza or neighbourhood.  Could the Edwardian order be a clue to more effectively re-designing our downtown or building a successful subdivision?

Edwardian Gardens and Government House

2 thoughts on “Edwardian Gardens and Government House

  1. Laura says:

    My dad attended this walk on Sunday and mentioned that the City maintains the wooden sidewalk by Luther College. Apparently it gets beaten up by snow graters, but the City continually repairs (he mentioned that it likely will never be concrete) – could be worth doing some digging into whether or not it is designated heritage.

  2. wourliem says:

    I had a look at the city website but they only included heritage properties, ie buildings, designated under municipal, provincial or federal protection. There were some infrastructure heritage pieces, like Albert Street bridge, but no mention of fountains, lamp posts, sidewalks and so on.

    I was trying to think of a search in the LP archieve that might come up with something on Royal St. I guess I’ll have to have a look.

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