The Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg is home to the provincial government of Manitoba — not unlike a USA state capital building. It’s an imposing structure sitting in the heart of historic Winnipeg on the banks of the Assiniboine River, not far from “The Forks” (junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, the historic heart of the city). It’s home to the legislative assembly, its committees, and offices for the ministers of all government departments. Groundbreaking for the building occurred in 1913 but delays in its construction occurred because of material shortages in the First World War, and it was not completed until 1919. It’s official opening was in 1920 on the 50th anniversary of Manitoba’s founding.
The Legislative building consists of approximately 23,225 square metres (250,000 square feet) of space in three floors. The top of the dome is 72 metres (240 feet) tall. The base of the building forms a letter H. The exterior and many of the interior walls are made of a beautiful local limestone, Tyndall stone, quarried at Garson just northeast of the city. Tyndall stone is rich in aquatic fossils and was also used in much of the construction of the nation’s capital in Ottawa.
There are a few notable features about the building, two inside and one at the very top. The most famous feature of the interior is the beautiful grand staircase, composed of 39 Carrara marble steps (three flights of 13). On either side of the base of the steps are two life-size bison, a symbol of the large herds that once roamed the prairies. Each bison statue weighs 2,268 kilograms (2½ tons); they were cast in New York. Another lovely feature is the rotunda.
The most famous symbol of the building, and of the whole province for that matter, is the Golden Boy, a gilded 5.25m (17.2-foot) statue atop the outside dome. Bold, nude, he runs into the bitter north wind that chills this city much of the year, but it is the direction in which the provinces resources and future lie. He carries a sheaf of grain in one arm and a torch in the other. The figure was sculpted by Georges Gardet of Paris and cast in France just before WWI spilled into that country. Loaded and ready for transit across the Atlantic to Canada, the ship was commandeered by the French Navy and the Golden Boy spend many months navigating the war-ravaged seas before finally safely arriving in Halifax. For many decades, the Golden Boy was the highest point in Winnipeg.
Tours of the building are available and it’s fun to explore the lovely grounds, where you find an assortment of statues, gardens, and even a lovely fountain. It’s certainly one of the top attractions in Winnipeg. Some images taken while strolling around the grounds of the Manitoba Legislative building, including of the beloved monarch, Queen Victoria….