Regina is seen as the best-preserved example of the prairie railway town layout
By John Brandon MA, Edmonton
You might know Regina Archaeological Society member Claude-Jean Harel for his cheerful promotion of great Saskatchewan places on CBC radio and as the owner/operator of Great Excursions Travel Company.
His training in anthropology and interest in spaces led him to study the layout of Regina and its effects on the perceptions of her inhabitants and visitors. He recently graduated from the University of Leicester with an MA for which he prepared a thesis on this subject.
He argues that Regina's layout was created for the convenience of the CPR with the streets oriented in a highly regular grid designed to channel traffic to and from the railhead. He also examines the smaller arterial systems such as back alleys and, at a finer level yet, the distribution of fences throughout the city at certain time periods (it's not as simple as the differences between commercial and residential properties).
The unexpected ways in which this grid system prepared the City for the 1912 tornado will be addressed. He also offers an inference that this event must have had a devastating effect on the city's horses.
Today, Regina is seen as the best-preserved example of the prairie railway town layout. It is a paradox, he notes, that over one hundred years ago townspeople made every effort to get railways to come through their towns. By 1971 when the Trans-Canada Highway was being upgraded, every effort was made to bypass the city.
Claude-Jean will show that archaeology, while the study of human behavior through material things, needs not be limited to artifacts small enough to put in a bag.
Find out more about the trips related to this review