Saskatchewan's Crown Jewel

Saturday, August 15, 2015 Road Junkies 0 Comments


CANADA OR BUST, CHAPTER 7:  IN WHICH WE GET A FOOT IN THE DOOR OF THE LEG

Day 8:  Regina, SK.  As we were enjoying the generous breakfast buffet at the Doubletree this morning, electrical power suddenly cut off.  Soon emergency generators restored a few lights (and strangely, the piped-in music), and no one in the room appeared to bat an eye.  We did lose our wifi connection, but elevators were in service and door locks were operational, so all was good.  By the time we left the hotel half an hour later, power was restored completely.

Saskatchewan Legislative Building
Our first stop was the Saskatchewan Legislative and Executive Building, known affectionately in Regina (rhymes with "the china") as "the Leg" (pronounced 'ledge').  Like the Colorado State Capitol when we visited it a few years ago, the dome at the Leg was shrouded in a protective seal to keep out the elements during a major restoration project.  Parking was free and located a few yards from the entrance.

Out of habit, we walked to the side entrance on the ground floor.  In the post-9/11 world of heightened security, most statehouses have closed their main entry in favor of a more controllable single entrance door.  But not in Regina.  A security guard posted just inside the ground floor entrance pointed us to the grand entrance upstairs where, we were told, a tour would begin in 15 minutes.

Grand Staircase from the vestibule
Upon entering upstairs, we found an information desk at the bottom of the grand staircase staffed by a security guard and tour guide.  They invited us to view the exhibits in the vestibule and "walk around" until the tour began.  We soon learned, however, that our perambulations were limited to the immediate area around the desk; we were not permitted to proceed up the stairs unguided—a significant departure from the Manitoba building where we were encouraged to roam at will on our own.  Just before the tour began, a local resident arrived with two relatives visiting from China and joined our group.

The rotunda
Emilie, a rising med student and knowledgeable tour guide, explained that at the time the legislative building was constructed (1908-12), Saskatchewan was a very young province, just recently carved out of the Northwest Territories in 1905, along with Alberta.  Lacking provincial history and symbolism to incorporate into the design, the architect might have turned to Canadian symbols.  But Canada was still a British dominion at the time and also had no symbols of its own.  So all the decorative regalia in the Saskatchewan Legislative Building reflects British royal design, such as initials of the monarch and lions.

Legislative Chamber.  The practice of seating opposing parties on separate sides of the chamber reveals current imbalance.
As with Manitoba, at the time the Saskatchewan building was erected, the population of the province was in a period of robust growth, increasing five-fold to half a million from 1901 to 1911.  Expecting this trend to continue, the provincial government constructed a legislative house that could seat 120 assembly members and provide office space for each.  But immigration into the province peaked in 1910, and the population barely doubled to just over one million over the next 100 years.  Today Saskatchewan has 58 members of the legislative assembly and considerable empty office space in the Leg.

Tyndall limestone
Another feature that Regina's building shares with the one in Winnipeg is its lack of air conditioning—except in the legislature's chamber.  Like the Manitoba statehouse, this one is built with Tyndall limestone, which helps keep it cooler naturally.  The cream-colored rock is well-known for its pervasive fossils and distinct mottling caused by the burrowing of marine creatures when the limestone was deposited.

A statue of Walter Scott premier at the time of construction, comparing the building plan with its execution
Our tour complete, we were ushered to the exit and invited to visit the exhibits on the ground floor telling the story of the dome's ongoing restoration.  After checking out that and the formal gardens in front of the building, we headed out to search for some letterboxes.

Ignoring the boxes with too many failed attempts by other seekers, we focused on four letterboxes planted by a currently inactive local letterboxer with the handle Inukshuk (Inuit word for a stone cairn in the shape of a human).  All four of the boxes were just where the clues indicated.  With the amusing, yet straightforward, descriptions offered by Inukshuk, we had no difficulty recognizing the landmarks she described—e.g., "a sort of whitish (dirty) metal wavy tube thing" (a guard rail).

O'Hanlon's Irish Pub
Once the last box was found, we enjoyed a late lunch at O'Hanlon's Irish Pub on Scarth Street, picked up a few groceries, and spent the rest of the evening planning our upcoming stops.  Tomorrow we'll head northwest to Saskatchewan's largest city—Saskatoon.


SATURDAY, 15 AUGUST 2015

Daily Stats

Miles driven:  24
Miles walked:  1.7
Weather:  65° to 80°, sunny to partly cloudy
Letterboxes found:  4

Saskatchewan Stats

Area:  251,700 square miles (Texas=268,820)
Population:  1,125,410
% of Canadian total population:  3.2%
Regina population:  210,566 (2nd largest city)
Provincial status:  1905
Types of marble in the "Leg":  34

More Photos from Today

Dome interior 
A young Queen Elizabeth II looks over the formal gardens from her favorite horse, bred in Saskatchewan.
Portraits of the provincial premiers
Bas-relief on the pediment over main entrance depicts guardians paying homage to First Nations and pioneers.