Legislative Rotunda, ca. 1925
This photograph shows the Rotunda of the Legislative Building in about 1925. This photograph was part of a collection of photographs that were sold as a unit as part of advertising campaign for a local drugstore.
Regina needed a new government building and planning for the building began in 1905. Government business had been transacted at the Territorial Administration Building, which was too small for the growing province. Once Regina was declared the capital, land needed to be acquired for the new building. Saskatchewan’s new Legislative Building was built on McCallum Hill land on the south side of Wascana Lake, land that was then right on the outskirts of town. The decision proved to be a wise one – the land around the buildings on either side of the lake became Wascana Park and the Legislative Building is its crowning jewel. No other buildings are near it and city streets are laid out to provide an unobstructed view of the Legislative Building.
Once a site was chosen, a competition was held to select an architect. 7 architectural firms vied for the honour. The winning firm was the Maxwell Brothers of Montreal. Although original designs for the building employed red brick and pale bluff stone, the building was ultimately faced with Tyndall limestone, a white stone that often contains fossilized animals and plants.
Construction began on the building on August 31, 1908. It would not be completed until October 1912. Miraculously, the Legislative Building suffered only minor damage when a tornado tore a path of destruction through the park and into the heart of the city on June 30, 1912.
The Legislative Building is one of Canada’s most impressive government buildings. Inside, 34 different types of marble have been used to construct the stairways, walls, floors, baseboards and pillars. Perhaps the most impressive room in the Legislative Building is the Rotunda. The rotunda features columns and pillars crafted from marble quarried in Cyprus and finished in Quebec. The bases of the pillars are made of Irish marble. Italian marble covers the floors. Overhead, a mural entitled “Before the White Man Came”, painted by Department of Public Works employee John Leman, graces the ceiling. (This mural was not painted until 1933, so it did not exist when this photograph was taken.)