During the 1990s, The Regina Ethnic Pioneers created a booklet that served as a self-guided walking tour of the Regina Cemetery. Their booklet primarily focused on pioneers and early settlers, including mayors, police officers, and veterans.
A few years later, a sequel to the book was published that focused on Eastern European and Asian immigrants. These included shopkeepers, entrepreneurs, church volunteers and community leaders.
The tour books could be purchased near the gates of the Regina Cemetery for $2 and were to be returned when the tour was completed. However, these books weren’t often returned. Because of this, the books were relocated to the Riverside Cemetery Office, where they could be purchased and the money could go towards printing more of them.
In 2017, Kenton de Jong used the books, as well as his own research, to revive the tours. To operate the tours, he partnered with Heritage Regina, and together they used the tours to raise money for a monument dedicated to the 330 victims of the 1918 Spanish Influenza. Through the walking tours, public donations, and generous private donations, over $5,000 were raised for the monument. The Spanish Influenza Memorial was unveiled inside the Regina Cemetery on December 17, 2017.
In 2018 the tours continued, with Heritage Regina using the donated money to help fund their own community projects and historical events.
In 2019 de Jong decided to leave the Heritage Regina and operate the tours himself as Regina Cemetery Tours. However, due to the city’s agreement with Heritage Regina and the cemetery bylaws, de Jong was not able to continue his tours on his own.
Following this revelation, de Jong created Regina Cemetery Tours – The Game as a virtual representation of the original tours. This game offers the ability to share stories that would otherwise not be included in the physical tours. The game is updated frequently, with seasonal changes, new characters and new stories to learn.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Regina revised its cemetery tour bylaws, granting all parties the ability to do tours of the Regina Cemetery. On July 15th, 2022, Regina Cemetery Tours conducted its first tour, completely selling out all available tickets. The following tour on July 22nd would be a complete sell-out as well. The cemetery tours were back and as popular as ever!
When the year was complete, de Jong donated 100% of the proceeds back to the cemetery for repair and refurbishments. In 2022, $1,800 were donated to the Regina Cemetery and $200 was donated to the Beth Jacob’s Synagogue, as the tour visits that private cemetery as well. It was a fantastic first year of cemetery tours, and we are excited to see what comes next!
Thank you for all your support with the Regina Cemetery Tours over the years and we look forward to seeing you on a tour soon.