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Heritage Community FoundationAlberta's Political History - The Making of a Province
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Political Institutions

Constructing the Legislature

Cranes lifting the limestone blocks into position on a steel frameExcavations for the Legislature Building began in August 1907, and by November 1911 the work was complete enough for the Legislature to hold sessions there.  By the summer of 1913 all the finishing touches were complete.

Legislature building under construction, with Highlevel bridge being built in foregroundThe building is supported on concrete piles and  constructed around a steel skeleton.  The floor is faced with Vancouver Island granite, while upper floors feature sandstone from the Glenbow Quarry in Calgary.  The interior fittings are meant to impress: imported marble, mahogany, oak, and lots of brass.

Carving the capitalsHundreds of labourers and skilled craftsmen worked on the project.  Building materials were shipped to a railway siding on the riverbank and hauled by wagon up to the site, where stone masons carved the coats of arms, wreathes, and columns that decorate the exterior of the building.  

The size and complexity of the project can be seen in its costs.  Initially expected to cost about $1,250,000, a vast sum for the time, the final cost was closer to Legislature under construction $4,000,000, or about 20% of the province's 1913 budget of $21,000,000.  If we were to spend 20% of today's budget on a building the cost would be over two billion dollars!

  

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