Regina: from Pile o’ Bones to provincial capital

pile-of-bones saskatchewan

The transformation of the Canadian provincial capital of Regina, Saskatchewan, over the past 130 years has been nothing short of remarkable.

Today, it is a city of nearly 200,000 individuals, and features more than 350,000 hand-planted trees, an extensive park system and an array of museums, cathedrals and other elegant structures.

But back in 1882, it was little more than a pile of bones – literally.

The location, near a creek, had been a stopping point for buffalo hunters and gotten its name from remains left at the site.

The mounds of buffalo bones, some left by Cree Indians, were staggering, according to information from the Regina Library.

“The bones resulting from the slaughter were carefully assembled into cylindrical piles about six feet high and about 40 feet in diameter at the base, with the shin and other long bones radiating from the center to make stable and artistic piles,” according to the library’s website. “During the second half of the 19th century, the Métis also slaughtered large numbers of buffalo in this area, and the creek was littered with countless bones.”

Hence, the locale was called “Pile o’ Bones.” However, it was sometimes also referred to by the equally delightful names “Manybones,” “Bone Creek” and  “Tas d’Os” – all of which would have taxed the abilities of even the most fervent chamber of commerce official trying to promote the locale.

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16th-century Basque galleon to be resurrected

Basque whalers in labrador

Spanish maritime experts plan to reconstruct a 16th-century Basque whaling galleon, creating a replica of the oldest shipwreck ever found in Canada.

The 90-foot, three-masted San Juan sank in Red Bay in Labrador 450 years ago, just offshore of a 1560s-era whaling station in the Strait of Belle Isle.

The ship was part of a fleet that brought millions of barrels of whale oil to Europe, a treasure every bit as valuable at the time as the gold taken by Spanish conquistadors from more southerly parts of the Americas, according to Postmedia News.

Now plans are in place for the San Juan to be resurrected by a Spanish team which is seeking to construct a full-scale, seaworthy model of the original vessel.

Archaeologist Robert Grenier discovered the wreckage in 1978 and said the reconstruction project will be one of the world’s first, according to the CBC.

“Transforming these 3,000 pieces of wood we found in Red Bay, Labrador, into a very fateful, precise scientific replica of the original – this is more than a dream come true for me,” he said. “This will be the first time that the Spanish or Basque galleon is reconstructed that way in the world.”

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