On the way back from Jasper, we stopped off in Edmonton and decided to have a good look around. On previous visits, we had only ever got as far as the shopping mall and hadn’t really given our capital city a chance.
This time we had a look around the old shopping district and some other areas of the city, which were all very nice.
We also took the time to look around Alberta’s Legislature Building. It was a wet day, but great to see. We could imagine it would be stunning in the Summer with the grounds full of flowers and fountains.
Construction began in 1907 and it was officially opened in 1919. The building is made of granite and sandstone.
Before going inside, we had a walk around the grounds. There are lots of different statues, symbolising and celebrating people and events in history.
The first one we came across was this broken cup, which is dedicated to those who perished in the Holocaust.
The Pillar of Strength is a monument dedicated to Police and Peace officers of Alberta who have died in the line of duty.
The oldest one we could find on there was John Nash, who died in 1840.
On the last Sunday of Septeber each year, the fallen are remembered here.
Lord Strathcona, was a successful businessman and one of the directors of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He took part in the ceremony to drive in the last spike to complete Canada’s first transcontinental railway
Linda and Andrew standing by the Centennial Flame. This eternal flame was erected to commemorate 100 years of the Canadian Confederation.
Ukrainian Centennial Pioneer Monument – This was added to the grounds to commemorate 100 years of Ukrainian settlement in Alberta.
Just before a downpour of rain, we made our way inside for the free guided tour. The hallway was very impressive and made with 2,000 tons of marble.
We were first shown the statue of the 4th daughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. The Province was named after her, as was Lake Louise. She was the wife of the Marquis of Lorne.
The Great Marble Staircase leads to the Assembly Chamber.
The Assembly Chamber.
There is a lovely stained glass roof in the chamber. This was one of the first buildings in Alberta with electricity. The architect went slightly overboard. In this ceiling alone (if you expand the picture you can see) there are around 600 lightbulbs. Unfortunately not a lot of thought went into how to change them in such a high ceiling and it is a several week job, every few years, to change them all out!
In the dome, there are a number of palm trees. As palm trees are not native to Alberta, nobody really knows where these came from!
One of the most fascinating stories for us was that of the Mace, which is the symbol of the Legislative Assembly’s authority to make laws.
Parliament cannot sit without a Mace, and in 1906 the First Legislature had to get one in a hurry. No time for gold, silver, and jewels; so Alberta’s first Mace was fashioned in a few weeks’, from plumbing pipe, shaving mug, cup handles and scraps of wood, a bit of red velvet and then painted gold. They ended up using it for the next 50 years! Even to this day – it looked pretty good!
In 1956 a new Mace was made, which reflects Alberta’s history and culture: The crown features a hand-carved Beaver, engravings of Wild Roses and sheaves of Wheat, and a ring of precious stones that spell “ALBERTA”: (Amethyst, Lazulite, Bloodstone, Emerald, Ruby, Topaz and Agate).
The Mace at the front is the new one, the one at the back is the old one.
They do not leave the fountain running the whole time, but they did switch it on for us to see and hear! The fountain causes a very odd sound effect in a particular spot in the building – but we’ll leave that for you to discover should you ever choose to visit!
We also learned about Alberta’s Coat of Arms, topped by the George Cross atop a depiction of the natural resources and varied beauty of Alberta’s landscape: the Rocky Mountains, a big blue sky, the foothills, the grass prairies, and the cultivated wheat fields.
Would we go back to Edmonton on the back of this visit? Absolutely, yes!