A Closer Look at the Legislative Buildings…

The Friday I woke up to a HUGE crack of thunder at 6:02am!  As I drifted back to sleep for a little longer, I realized I might have to modify my plans for the day!  But I did know that the rain would not stop me from exploring and walking around the city.

After finding myself some breakfast on Friday Morning… I headed off to the legistative buildings. I wanted to have a tour of the buildings.

It was fun to learn some of the history… the buildings were designed by Francis Rattnebury.  He submitted a plan to a contest and won!  This was his first ‘major’ project…he went on to build & design other major buildings in Victoria… like the Empress Hotel & the Canadian Pacific Railway Steamship Terminal.  The building officially opened in 1898.

It was fun to walk around and see the amazing architecture features both INSIDE and OUTSIDE the buildings.

The Lt. Governor Steven Point is BC’s first Aboriginal Lt. Governor.  A few years ago he carved this dugout canoe as a gift to the people of BC… it is on display currently in the legistature…but my understand is that it will travel around to visit different communities in BC.  I found this CBC article about the making of the canoe.

The room with so many flags… and many memorials to soldiers past and present. 

 There’s something beautiful about stained glass windows!  The Legislative Buildings did not disappoint… there are more than 100 stained glass windows in the buildings. Many of these were installed before the opening of the building–they are OLD! I picked up a flyer about these windows… here is some of the information from there!

The architect, Francis Rattenbury, commissioned the windows to celebrate a variety of themes.  Windows in the stairwells include quotes from famous writers and honour early philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato.  Panes outside of the Legislative Chamber pay tribute to the arts and sciences, and windows on the second floor incorporate the emblems of Canada’s earliest provinces.

The following two stained glass windows can be found in the Reception Hall.

One of the most beautiful windows is the Diamond Jubilee Window. [pictured below] Created by Powell Brothers Ltd. of Leeds, England, it celebrated the 60th year of the reign of Queen Victoria.  When construction of the Legislative Library began in 1912, the window was taken from its original location on the second floor and placed in the cellar for safe-keeping.  Incredibly, it remained forgotten in the cellar for nearly 62years before being rediscovered! After extensive repairs, it was placed in the Reception Hall for display.

The other neat thing about this window is the Coat of Arms has been slightly changed.  The British flag has been moved to the TOP and the BC sun to the bottom!

The building’s newest window, the Golden Jubilee Window, was designed and fabricated by Edward Schaefer and Thomas Mercer of Victoria to celebrate the 50th year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.  The window fatures many of B.C.’s provincial symbols and was unveiled by Her Majesty in 2002.


The Legistative Chamber… built in the British Tradition, where the desks of the 2 parties are separated at least two sword lengths apart.  This started to ensure safety in case of heated debated between two parties-as during those times it was in fashion to carry a sword into the Legislative Chamber!

One of the things that will stand out in my mind was how there were ‘historical’ figures from different periods in BC’s history… dressed up on the grounds.  It was a really cool touch to the tour…something I haven’t run across in any other provinces/territories!


While outside the Legislative Chamber… one of these ‘players’ came to visit our tour group!  It was Mary Ellen Smith.  She was the first woman elected to serve as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) and was elected in 1918, just after the women received the ability to vote (in 1917). She was a MLA for 10 years.  She also holds the distinction of being the first woman in both Canada and the British Empire to be appointed as a member of cabinet.  It blows my mind to think how far women have come over the last 94 odd years!


























The only thing I have to do is wander back to the buildings at night–to see them lit up!

When I was talking to someone today about visiting the Legistative Buildings…getting a tour and how fun it was.  They gave me a strange look.  I realized that my love of these ‘types’ of historic things was fostered by my Grandpa’s love of them.

My Grandpa had a love of history…he was a storyteller- sharing people’s stories from times past… and this is something I love too.

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3 thoughts on “A Closer Look at the Legislative Buildings…

  1. Pingback: Sarah on the Road » Stopping to Smell the Roses…

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