From the Powerhouse of a City to the Powerhouse of Discovery
The building’s lakeside location was chosen because of the abundant supply of water. The Regina architectural firm of Storey and Van Egmond began planning the new building in the spring of 1913 and the construction firm of Wilson and Wilson received a contract for $90,800 to complete the work.
The building consisted of a basic rectangular structure housing the boilers and turbines, and four functional additions one on each face, housing a coal-handling facility, switching facilities, workshops and stores and duty-staff quarters. The exterior was trimmed with decorative white limestone and featured large steel-sashed Romanesque windows – unusual features for such a utilitarian building. But even though it meant a $25,000 cost overrun, the city administration wanted a building which “should be an ornament to the shores of Wascana Lake, which will one day be the beauty spot of the city.”
Additions to the building came and went over the years, including four large smokestacks and a new metal-sided addition (the city could not match the original brick) built in 1954 and enlarged in 1960. Numerous internal renovations also took place as additional generating capacity was required.
On May 1, 1965, the city handed the powerhouse over to the Saskatchewan Power Corporation, which gradually phased it out of operation and shut it down completely in October, 1978. However, SaskPower also built a new research and development facility adjoining it, and added a glass “greenhouse” over the front entrance. SaskPower was seeking a use for the old structure, and found one in May, 1978, when the Junior Service League of Regina proposed what became the Saskatchewan Science Centre.
Headstart Corporation cleared the allocated space in 1982. Arnott MacPhail Associates was selected as architect in early 1987, and restoration and reconstruction started that year. The Saskatchewan Science Centre opened to the public in April, 1989, and Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of York officially opened it in July of that year.
The Science Centre’s exhibit floor features hands-on science exhibits and live stage shows and demonstrations. In April of 1991 the Saskatchewan Science Centre opened its second attraction, the Kramer IMAX Theatre, built partially on the frame of the 1954 annex. The Technical Services and Research division of SaskPower uses a small portion of the old powerhouse and the northern half of the renovated annex.
The Saskatchewan Science Centre and SaskPower are pleased that the old powerhouse has been preserved and restored to a major role in Regina life. Just as city council wished more than three-quarters of a century ago, it has become “an ornament to the shores of Wascana Lake…the beauty spot of the city.”
In 1914 an imposing building of red brick was built on the shores of Wascana Lake to meet a growing need for electrical power in the burgeoning city of Regina. Today, as the Saskatchewan Science Centre, it generates a new kind of power: the power of imagination.
Monday 12pm to 6
Tuesday 9am to 5pm
Wednesday 9am to 5pm
Thursday 9am to 5pm
Friday 9am to 5pm
Saturday 12pm to 6pm
Sunday 12pm to 6pm
2903 Powerhouse Drive,
Regina, SK (Take Wascana Drive east off Broad Street, on the north side of Wascana Lake)
Blue Whale whistles have been recorded at 188 dB. This is louder than jet engine and can be heard over 800 km away.