Monday, August 22, 2011

Manitoba Legislative Building

We have visited seven state and provincial capitol buildings so far on this trip.  We’re a little burnt out on state houses and legislative buildings.  So much so that we almost had to force ourselves to go in Edmonton.  Today, we mustered our where-with-all and drove the few miles downtown and we are so glad we did.  We had a wonderful experience and what a gem the people of Manitoba have.

The Legislative Building is a littler farther down Broadway than we have been going so we decided to drive there by a different route than we have been using.  Big mistake.  We got into the middle of an enormous construction project.  However, driving around the orange cones we found our way to the Legislative Building and were lucky enough to get a parking spot right in front.

Parking on the street is similar to what we’ve found in several US cities.  There are no meters, but there are pay boxes located on the sidewalks.  Insert your money into the pay box, get a receipt, and put it on your dash.  We were reading all the signs surrounding the pay box and all the instructions on the pay box trying to figure out if parking was free on Sunday or not when another couple parked behind us and walked up to the box.  They looked like locals so we asked them if Sunday’s were free.  They were locals, but had no idea about the price of parking on Sunday.  Collectively, we decided not to pay.

That couple invited us to attend a special tour of the Legislative Building with them led by an author of a book describing the Masonic symbolism found in this particular building.  That sounded like a fun thing to do so we accepted their invitation.  The author never showed up for the tour, but we did have a very enjoyable conversation with this nice couple.

We missed out on the private tour, but joined one of the regular tours and learned quite a lot about Manitoba as well as the legislative building.  I failed to make a picture, but the pink marble used in the floor is from Tennessee.  Made us proud.  The walls are made of limestone quarried in Manitoba and it is choked full of fossils.  For me, as a former science teacher, that was way cool.

Construction was started in 1913 and completed in 1920.  I think this is the only “capitol” building we’ve been in that is built in the shape of an “H”.  The dome rises 223 feet above the center of the building and crowning the dome is the “Golden Boy”.  The Golden Boy is directly above a star on the rotunda floor.  According to our guide, that star and the Golden Boy are situated at the geographic center of Canada. That may be true east/west, but it certainly isn’t true north/south.  The architecture is neoClassical in design with Egyptian, Roman, and Greek features.

We got to go into the Lieutenant Governor’s Reception Room.  King George V and Queen Mary graced either end of the room.  These were identical portraits to those in Edmonton.  There was also a portrait of the Queen at the time of her coronation.  

The Legislative Chamber was interesting. We actually got to stand down on the floor rather than look down from one of the galleries.  The desks were arranged in a “U” shape facing the Large ornate Speaker’s chair.  I was amazed to see a sculpture of Moses and the Ten Commandments occupying a prominent spot in the chamber.

The Manitoba Mace

I have read in some of my research that the Manitoba Legislative Building is thought by many to be the finest legislative building in Canada and the self-guided walking tour brochure proclaims it as one of the “finest public buildings in North America”.  I guess that’s really a matter of opinion, but, in my opinion, it is a magnificent building, one well worth visiting.  I’m sure Manitobans are proud, as they should be.

Bears on Broadway

We’re not cramming our days full of sightseeing and are enjoying some much needed down time.  Gene continues to rub on the motor home or the car and I work on this massive photo collection.  Tomorrow, we have a tour of the Canadian Mint on the agenda.  It’s a thoroughly modern building.  Now, that’ll be something different.

That’s all I have for now.  Thanks for tagging along.

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