Audio tour of Regina's Warehouse District shines light on unexpected history

Regina's Warehouse district has been home to an eclectic smattering of businesses, venues and hubs. A new self-guided audio tour has been developed to celebrate the neighbourhood.

App can be downloaded anytime

The self guided walking tour is available for free through the izi.TRAVEL app. (Shauna Powers/CBC)

The old brick buildings, fading advertising murals and local staples that make up Regina's Warehouse District are being celebrated with a new guided audio tour.

Regina's Warehouse Business Improvement District commissioned the tour to shed light on the area.

For Evie Ruddy, who researched and narrated the guide, there were several surprises that came up during her deep dive on the district.
Sawchyn Guitars in the Warehouse District has become a hub for musicians in Regina. (Nichole Huck/CBC )

A few examples that stood out: the city's first outdoor sports stadium was in the neighbourhood and Hamilton Street used to have a nightclub called Casablanca which was owned by two Roughriders.

Controversial venue

One character Ruddy ran across was Brian Albert, who's family used to run The Schnitzel Haus. Albert and his father constructed the building. 

Aside from offering old world cooking and flavours to the people of Regina, the building rented space to a litany of acts, events and people.

In the local scene, it became the venue to see punk rock. But it was also rented to male strippers, stags and even a gay nightclub during the 1980s.

The space where these shows would take place was originally a welding shop used by Albert's father. But after some health issues he was no longer able to use it. Still wanting to keep the restaurant afloat, they opted to rent it out.

"This was at a time where even punk music was controversial, and so here in the front of the building you had a schnitzel haus and in the back you had all these controversial things going on," said Ruddy.

Outdoor stadium

In the early 1900s a team called the Regina Rugby Club — a club that played football, not rugby — played in the neighbourhood. The club would go on to become the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The 600 seat stadium they used was built where the Sears Outlet used to be.
The tour uses geo-location, which means as soon as you hit play the app will let you know when you're near a point of interest. (CBC Saskatchewan)

What happened to the stadium was another interesting detail Ruddy came across. 

"The Canadian Pacific-Railway gave the land to the city. They gave it on the condition that they use it as a public park," said Ruddy."But during the First World War, play was suspended and they decided to sell the land to Eatons company."

This move upset the federal government, according to Ruddy's research, because the land had been gifted on the condition it be used for public use.

In fact, the federal government sued the city and garnered some of the money from the sale.

The tour was launched on Saturday, but for everyone who wasn't able to make it, the tour is available for download

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend