By Melissa Burdon
Located in the east end of Regina, McKell Wascana Conservation Park is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening. Its interpretive signage and abundance of wildlife makes it a great place for kids, while the beauty and serenity also makes it great for a peaceful sunset walk. To get there, drive south along Prince of Whales to Wascana Gate South. You will then turn east and drive along Wascana Circle Drive and past Wascana Creek Park. Once you see the Shumiatcher Amphitheatre, you know you are at the right place!
After I wandered around the Wascana Creek Park for about an hour contemplating whether or not it was the conservation area, I finally found McKell Wascana Conservation Park. I have to say though, getting confused about which beautiful trail is the specific beautiful trail you are looking for, isn’t a bad problem to have!
As the Ducks Unlimited Canada website boasts, McKell Wascana Conservation Park is a 171-acre park “dedicated to conserving and restoring native prairie and wetland habitat”. It was made possible by partnerships and contributions of the City of Regina, Ducks Unlimited Canada and especially, the McKell family.
As I first approached McKell Wascana Conservation Park, the first thing I noticed was the Shumiatcher Amphitheatre, which is great for educational programming and performances. It has a ramp for accessibility and the back has plaques that are worth taking a look at as they have some additional information about the many people and organizations that collaborated to create the park. I was overwhelmed with the generosity and obvious love for nature that had gone into creating this amazing trail. So, I decided to look into those names on the plaques a little further.
Let’s start with the Shumiatcher Amphitheatre which was funded by the Shumiatcher family. Dr. Morris and Jaqueline Shumiatcher were heavily invested in the arts community in Regina and have helped either financially or with their time, with almost every aspect of the arts in this city.
On the City of Regina website, there is great information on Jaqueline Shumiatcher, who is a powerful and inspirational woman. She immigrated here in 1923 and worked as a teacher. She later went on to create her own businesses and volunteer for several community organizations including Regina Council of Women, Women’s Business and Professional Association, Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts and Dominion Drama Festival. The Shumiatchers also funded the Shumiatcher Sandbox series at the Globe Theatre, the Shumiatcher Sculpture Gallery at the McKenzie Art Gallery and the Shu-Box theatre at the University of Regina. And this is just a short list of their contributions and accomplishments.
The generosity of course does not end at the Shumiatcher Amphitheatre. The McKell Wascana Conservation Park is a conservation easement which was donated by the McKell family: Robert, Barbara, Doug and Shirley McKell. According to the Nature Conservancy website, in a conservation easement land agreement, the owners of the land donate or sell certain property rights specific to conservation efforts such as their rights to subdivide or develop the land.
Even if the land is passed down or sold, the conservation agreement remains legally binding, which ensures the protection and conservation of the land. As one of the plaques states: “By placing this conservation easement on their land, (now the southern portion of the park), the McKell family is preserving this natural area for wildlife and people to enjoy today and leaving a legacy for generations to come.”
And there is so much to enjoy! The park itself has four kilometers of groomed trails, benches for sight-seeing, interpretive signage for the kids and the life-long learners, and an amphitheatre for educational programming. It also has a large floating dock which is perfect for a picnic!
But a description really does not do justice to how amazing this park is — only by going there can you truly appreciate this park. Within the city limits, it offers a feeling of escaping the city life and nestling into a prairie landscape which seems infinite.
I went there with my dog around sunset (because obviously, I love a good excuse to bask in a Saskatchewan sunset) and we walked for over an hour exploring the different parts of the trail.
On the one side, the trail is lined with beautiful homes which can make anyone daydream of interior design and landscaping, and on the other, it is wide open prairies for kilometres, only interrupted by Wascana Creek and if you are lucky, a farmer and a combine. I was also blown away with the floating dock, because floating docks are easy to get blown away by. I think any landscape gets more beautiful if you are viewing it from a dock.
The McKell’s donation has ensured that it will be used to educate and inspire. And what a beautiful thing that is. Without even leaving the city, kids can learn about the natural heritage of their province and of the unique wildlife and natural habitats that exist in the prairies. And of course, adults can learn a thing or two as well; I know I did!
So, if I were you, I would make McKell Wascana Conservation Park your next get-away! Whether you are taking kids to learn about the natural habitat of the wetlands or taking a leisurely stroll to take in the sunset, McKell Wascana Conservation Park is a perfect get-away while still remaining inside the city limits.
Have fun exploring!
If you are interested, there is more information about the McKell Wascana Conservation Park and those who contributed to its excellence: