Photo credit CBC
Every time we fly into Regina I scan the horizon for a particular beacon, and every time I drive into Regina and cruise down Albert Street, I wait for my first glimpse of one of my favourite landmarks – the Legislative Building and its impressive Dome. When the building was first constructed the dome was visible for miles and stood like a sentinel over this newly-created province.
However, over the years the dome was showing its age and in desperate need of repair. After a two year refurbishment project, the big reveal of the copper-cladded dome was just held on May 16. I wish I could have been there for the celebration, but I look forward to viewing that glistening copper globe in the very near future.
I have always been intrigued and inspired by this magnificent building which dominates the city’s vista unencumbered by encroaching office towers, shops or houses. (The Legislative Building sits in Wascana Centre, one of the largest urban parks in the world. More about that in a future article.) And I have always marvelled at the ingenuity and fortitude of those who constructed the Legislative Building.
Sir Walter Scott, the first premier of Saskatchewan, felt the existing Old Territorial Government Buildings, which still stand on Dewdney Avenue, just would not be suitable and would not accommodate the needs of a growing province. After all, Saskatchewan was in the midst of a population boom and he envisioned a “population running in the tens of millions”. According to Scott, the new site for government business would be “…such a building as will appropriately represent the character and ambitions of the people of the province…” Our first premier was looking ahead and planning for the future.
The Legislature would be modelled on British traditions with four wings, an impressive rotunda, a large Chamber with ample viewing space and a grand dome. Tyndall stone graces the exterior of the building and lifting those large blocks into place must have been a daunting task. Marble columns dignify the rotunda and marble from various places around the world is visible throughout the building. The chamber where legislators meet to create laws and regulations (and where spirited and feisty debate often resonates) is clad predominately in oak. The attention to meticulous detailing in every corner of the building truly makes this structure a work of art. However, the building was not only to be aesthetically pleasing but functional as well. (One of my favourite places has always been the library.)
This place has become very familiar to me as my husband Ken served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for the past 21 years. For 21 years he has had the privilege of working in this magnificent building and he cherishes that opportunity. He says that whenever he walked into that majestic building its stateliness and grandeur never failed to remind him of the important work that was waiting to be done for the people of Saskatchewan.
I would urge every citizen of this province to take the opportunity to visit the Legislative Building, if you haven’t yet done so. It truly is a place of beauty, but more than that, it is an attestation to the pioneering spirit, optimism and vision that went into the building of this great land we call home. Our most cherished ideals are encompassed within its walls and it is a constant and graceful symbol of our democratic way of life.