Meet on the Ledge

01 Feb 2011

We’re gonna meet on the Ledge… in the Ledge or Manitoba Legislative Building, more exactly. Around the world it is not very common that one can wander in and out a government building. Even more so when wandering around with a camera and tripod.

Entrance hall

Last weekend we tried this with a group of about a dozen people. We just had to sign the register. How’s that for trust? Anyway, going to the Ledge and take pictures, many have done that. So I tried a different take on it. Details (lots of details) inside…

So instead of going for the big halls and rooms, I tried to look at the details in the building. The Manitoba Legislative Building is said to be filled to the brim with symbols of all kinds and of all periods, be they Greek, Roman of Masonic.

Door lock ornamentDoor lock ornament

The bison is definitely the symbol of Manitoba, you can see it on every official document that comes in the mail. The little part below the bison is definitely looking Greek. Now don’t take me for a seasoned historian, I just try to use my memory.

Detailed steam ventDetailed steam vent

Even the radiators working on steam have sculpted elements. The rads themselves are rather plain (not like the ones in my building), but the steam vent was sculpted and working.

Lamps on hoovesLamps on hooves

Everybody in the “rotunda” will have seen the light, the lights, but did they get a closer look at the feet of these lamps? The small fishlike creatures take up your attention, of course. But the hooves should not be missed either.

CaryatidsCaryatids

Overhead details are easily seen. At least the bigger details like these Caryatids or Greek “maidens of Caryai”. But did somebody notice the eight more lugubrious skulls above their heads?

Cattle skulls for protectionCattle skulls for protection

I think these are cattle skulls, so they could be native to the region. But what about the lions? They most certainly are not from here. And still they are everywhere in this building.

Lions for powerful protectionLions for powerful protection

The lions, the skulls and the Caryatids are all there to protect the room from evil. I guess that this is a good thing. We can still enter the building in all tranquility, leaving only a signature as a token of good faith. No mishaps have ever been recorded here.

FrescoFresco

The fresco above the entrance to the chamber of the Governor General is also full of small details that are easily missed.

Manitoba symbolManitoba symbol

The bison in the entrance room can hardly be missed. The story goes that the marble floor was already finished when the two 5000 pound bison arrived. The only way to get them in place without scratching the marble floor (and thus ruining it) was to flood the floor in winter, let the water freeze and move the bison over the ice. I don’t know if this is only a story or the truth.

One piece marble fountainOne piece marble fountain

A little water fountain for the enjoyment of the people working here. The building is not only functional but also comfortable. Everywhere there are small amendments for comfort. A small marble fountain here, comfortable chairs there, complete with tables for coffee…

You want some more coffee?You want some more coffee?

And not to forget the newspaper while you are waiting for your “entretien” with the minister of your choice.

The Manitoba Legislative Building is filled with symbols, I will have missed lots of them. I will have missed even more explanations about them; the details are not only on the inside of the building but also on the outside.

Details everywhereDetails everywhere

One thing is sure: building this magnificent edifice today would have been impossible. Not only for the cost of the building materials like marble and Tyndall stone, but also for the experience and craftsmanship of the masons, stonemasons and other workmen necessary to create a work of art on this scale. These are difficult, if not impossible to find today.

Let’s enjoy it. The Manitoba Legislature is open 7 days a week, you can have guided tours (I surely will take one, one of these days) or self guided tours. Photographers are welcome, even with tripods.