Before I visited Regina this weekend, I never would have thought ” funky” and “Regina” could go together in the same sentence.
Although it’s the capital of Saskatchewan, it’s got the vibe of a small prairie city with agricultural roots. People are uncommonly friendly, the way they’d be in a small town: a fellow transit rider made sure I didn’t miss my stop when I came back to my hotel on the bus; a woman picking up takeout from the hotel restaurant offered to give me a ride to a downtown restaurant when my taxi was taking a long time to show up; and when it did, the young driver shared the story of how he (from India) and his wife (from Pakistan) had been estranged from his parents throughout the pandemic, and she was visiting them for the first time that night with their 7- month- old daughter. When we pulled up in front of the restaurant, and his wife called him, I was tempted to hang around to see if the baby had softened his parents’ hearts.
So, in lots of ways, I liked the small townness of Regina. But when a gallery gift shop clerk told me I should visit Cathedral Village if I liked artsy shops, I was a bit skeptical. Call it big city snobbery, but really, I thought, how artsy could a Regina shopping district be?
Turns out, pretty artsy.
It took me about 45 minutes to walk there from my hotel on Albert Street, the Fairfield Inn and Suites, which on a warm, sunny spring day was quite lovely. The district is decked out in painted benches and plentiful rainbow flags in shop windows and philosophical street art and places to eat with clever names and colorful signs.
There was lots to explore, but three shops in particular drew me in and made me linger:
1. The Penny University Bookstore
The kind of bookstore I wish all our post secondaries had, I could have spent most of the afternoon in here. Comfy, cozy, come on in and read as long as you like kitschy. A reader’s and writer’s haven.
2. Seed Sustainable Style
I’m not usually into slouchy, oversized clothes, but I was drawn in to this shop by the bright colors, the owner’s enthusiasm and the whippets lounging on the crushed fuschia velvet divan. To my surprise I left the shop with a great new shirt – loose but not sloppy – to wear the last day of my trip.
3. The Paper Umbrella Stationery and Gifts
Full of cool pens, and great paper and puzzles and nifty socks and all kinds of sundry merchandise to appeal to your every writerly whim. I even found out that April is National Write a Letter month. Missed observing it? Don’t wait until next year. Buy a pretty pen or haul out your old Smith Corona and write a letter to someone who’d be delighted to receive it.