Haunted Saskatchewan Series: Regina Cemetery

Regina is the capital city of Saskatchewan, and the place that I currently call home. So, naturally, I had to start searching for potential haunted locations right outside my own door! 

Before it became Regina, it was known as a common location that indigenous people hunted bison. The area that is now known as Regina was known then as oskana ka-asastēki, which is translated to roughly “piles of bone” or bone piles”, as the indigenous groups would pile the bones of bison to honour the animals’ spirits, as bison herds were becoming overhunted by non-indigenous people.

When the Europeans began to settle in the area around 1880 (around the time of the Canadian Pacific Railway was planned to come through, as I mentioned in my previous posts), the settlers changed the name to Regina after Queen Victoria. Although Regina didn’t become a city until 1902, the cemetery had been started with its first grave in 1882.

Welcome, my ghouls, to the Regina Cemetery.

The Regina Cemetery wasn’t officially incorporated until 1883, even though it’s first burial is thought to have occurred in 1882, when a 2-year-old named David was buried at the site. The cemetery has approximately 43 acres with nearly 30,000 plots. It is located near downtown Regina and is considered one of the oldest urban cemeteries in Saskatchewan.

Walking through the cemetery, you almost feel like you have been transported outside of the city. There are many trees all over the property that give you a feeling of having stepped out of downtown Regina. You feel alone and it seems quiet around you (if no sirens are going on anyway). There are various sections to the cemetery that were placed during different periods of time throughout the city’s history. There is a Jewish section in the cemetery, as well as a Chinese section. 

One of the first tragedies that you can see occurring on a section of tombstones would be the Regina “cyclone” of 1912. This tragic event occurred on June 30, 1912, when a F4-rated tornado came from the south. It passed by the newly constructed Legislative buildings and Wascana Lake before proceeding north through Regina. During the event, there were 28 fatalities, with hundreds injured and thousands left homeless. Quite a few buildings were destroyed, including the Regina library and telephone exchange buildings, churches, two Chinese laundry businesses, and many homes.

The next tragedy that saw Regina’s Cemetery grow was the Spanish flu, which hit Regina in 1918, killing 330 people in the Regina area. It is said that there is a section of the cemetery with unmarked graves, known as Potter’s field, where many are believed to be buried. Since the deaths were happening quickly, they say that funerals had to be less than 15 minutes each and that some were buried in Potter’s field without any marking because they couldn’t keep up with the deaths. Others that are supposedly buried in the area include those too poor for a funeral service, without family or relatives in the area, or those without a church affiliation.

Near the centre of the cemetery, there is a large circle of graves. This section is the Solder’s Cemetery, which was officially opened in 1920. At the south entrance to the Soldier’s Cemetery are two field guns, which are said to be from Germany. They were captured by Canadian soldiers in France in 1918 and brought back to Saskatchewan. A granite cross is located at the centre of the circular section. This cross is known as the Cross of Sacrifice.

There is also a community crematorium located within the Regina Cemetery plots. It is located near the only mausoleum of the cemetery. The Darke Mausoleum is a monument to Francis Nicholson Darke and his family. It has been sealed up due to many attempts of break-ins and vandalism. Francis Darke was one of the youngest Regina mayors and a real estate tycoon. As you will likely learn in future Haunted Saskatchewan articles, he is very prominent in Regina history. He was involved in the building of the college buildings, including the Darke Hall, which is a performance centre. Francis Darke also built the Stone Hall Castle in Regina following the destruction that was caused by the 1912 tornado.

Other tombstones in the Regina Cemetery include Cheun Lee, also known as “Howie” as he is believed to haunt the Government House, as well as James Strathdee, who is thought to haunt Bushwakker’s. Watch out for more stories to come from these locations in the coming weeks! 

It was a quiet and calm winter day to walk along the roads in the Regina Cemetery. It was sad to see many of the tombstones have been damaged. There is one particular day In May 2011 that a notable amount of vandalism occurred in one section of the cemetery, but others could be from just being old. It was also sad to see many wooden crosses with no names scattered throughout the tombstones.

Although we walked through during the day, there was still an eerie calm around us. I can’t imagine walking through at night, as you already felt alone walking through during the day. The quiet and stillness in the area was calming though, so I didn’t find it particularly scary that day.

If you would like to know more about the Regina Cemetery, or some of the history behind those that are buried there, I highly recommend checking out the Regina Cemetery online game (https://reginacemeterytours.ca) or search for the handbooks that go with the Regina Cemetery walking tours (blue and white). If you would like to read more history about Regina, check out the Regina city website, which is where I found the information at the start of this page (https://www.regina.ca/about-regina/regina-history-facts/), although I’m sure there is a lot of other pages available that go deeper into the history.

Until next time, my ghouls.

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