The ‘Ledge’
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  Posted July 30th, 2013 by Zdenko  in Edmonton | One comment

Edmonton heritage

By: Zdenko Kahlina

The Legislature Grounds are Stunning!
One of Edmonton’s most used areas, and one of my favorite places, is the legislative grounds. The Ledge is iconic in Edmonton with its domed roof and spire raised over the downtown, and is visible from across the river to the south, down 108th Street and from the east as well. The Legislature Building is situated on 23 HA of parkland that represents a history going back to the late 1800′s when these grounds were a 5-hole golf course.

The Alberta Legislature Building

The ‘Ledge’ is a summer hot spot favourite for everyone. This premier heritage building with its rich history and tradition is a must-see for visitors to Alberta’s capital city. Sitting at the gateway of downtown Edmonton, the Alberta Legislature overlooks the river valley and provides visitors with a variety of engaging opportunities including free guided building tours.

Sice I work in the neighbourhood, during the summer months I spend almost every lunch hour walking around the ‘Ledge’. Me and other co-workers would sit on the grass for our breaks or go find a cozy bench to eat our lunch. The view is always beautiful, and it’s very relaxing to be at least somewhat immersed in nature. I have taken a lot of pictures here, and if you’re into nature photos, this is a great place to snap some great shots. There are lots of vibrant flowers here, and the trees and fountains are nice too. The legislature building itself is beautiful enough to capture. I’ve gone inside as well and taken some very nice photos.

The grounds are lovely, and there are fountains! Kids can have fun in the fountains in front of the Ledge and you can picnic in the plaza area. The Legislature grounds are like Edmonton’s beach. In the summer it is common to see children splashing in the pools to the north of the legislative building, as well as office workers sitting in the sun during lunch and coffee breaks. Just watching them you realize they don’t need a real swimming pool to play with water. Many people are just laying and relaxing on the grass getting their seasonal tan. I love the surrounding plants – it’s a perfect place for a picnic.

Legislative Grounds in Edmonton

The South side view of the Ledge

The former “Legislative Grounds”
The grounds are beautiful, close to Whyte Ave and the River Valley trails. The grounds also link the north side of the High Level Bridge with downtown, allowing pedestrians and cyclists a traffic-free alternative to their commute. I really like the friendly visitor guides and the terrific way that they introduced the government process to visitors. Fascinating insights for visitors into what makes the society they are visiting tick.

In the winter time take time to walk around when the Christmas Lights are glowing or bring your skates and skate under the falling flakes of snow while listening to the bells chime. This is the most attractive building in Alberta. Glorious dome & Corinthian columns. Splendid gardens, pools and waterfalls to play in on a hot summer day. There are several beautiful sculptures, paintings & stonemasonry on the grounds.

Once the snow melts the ground truly come to life. Of course there are flowers galore and over 100,000 annuals are planted to further add to the natural colour explosion. On the south side of the grounds you’ll find an amphitheater/bandshell, lawn bowling courts, and the area for the skating rink, in addition to the walking paths and parklike setting, all overlooking the North Saskatchewan River. Of course one has to mention the water fall on the High Level Bridge – takes place on the long weekends over the summer.

The South side view of the Ledge

Tourist attractions and events
Visitors can also find arts and craft by Alberta artisans at the Gift Shop, get hands on experience at the Interpretive Centre or spend hours exploring the Legislature’s 23 hectares of parkland and interesting monuments. Special events are held year round and include Family Day, Canada Day and Celebrate the Season. Canada day is celebrated with cycling races, Christmas with lights; Hanukah and other multi-cultural events are also celebrated. Protesters also march to the steps of the legislative building to voice their concerns and disapproval.

These events are significant in that they provide the context for the grounds as being public, open, and inclusive – even democratic. In a time when ‘space’ is more often private or a weird hybrid of public and private. For instance, Chapters, where you are welcome if you are willing to pretend that you have and want to spend money. These grounds welcome everyone and people are empowered to experience and interact with others and the space adjacent to our elected government.

Inside the Legislative building

Inside the Legislative building

Inside the Legislative building

The building is just impressive, visits are by organised tours only – just turn up and you are allocated to the next tour, which are free, and lead by very helpful staff who give plenty of information without being bamboozling with too many names and dates!

The former “Legislative Grounds” (really!) is full of marble, art, books, offices, busts of the powerful and forgotten, and oak, oak, oak. Tours will amaze you with the lavishness of the last century’s legislators. Today, Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Hindus hold opening celebrations of their biggest holidays here In this smoothly-multicultural province’s dome-land, a zillion kids or a dozen rabbis can be met inside singing amidst the pols and pillars or Buddhists chanting. Truly the people’s palace — and the pol’s permanent job site, since parties stay in power for about 4 or 5 decades. Current government is 43 years there…and counting! If pols pall, the picnics and puppies draw hundreds outside to play in summer. Safe and relaxed, the way life used to be.

The Alberta Legislature Building
Home to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, the Alberta Legislature Building is one of Canada’s most historic government structures. The monumental building was built over a six-year period from 1907 to 1913, and its Greco-Roman and Egyptian elements are very much of that time. Located at 10801 97 Avenue NW in downtown Edmonton, the legislative building is connected to a light-rail transit station via an underground walkway.

The Alberta Legislature Building at night in winter

The Alberta Legislature Building at night in winter

The Alberta Legislature Building was built between 1907 and 1913 in the Beaux Arts style at the same time as the much larger Saskatchewan and Manitoba legislative buildings by architects Allan Merrick Jeffers and Richard Blakey. Allan Merrick Jeffers served as the Alberta Provincial Architect from September 1907 to 1910. The Alberta Archives hold drawings for virtually all provincial buildings executed under his supervision. Jeffers may have been influenced by the State House of Rhode Island, where he had been a student. The style was associated originally with the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and was fashionable in North America between 1895 and 1920.

The use of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian architectural influences was considered appropriate for a public building, as they suggested power, permanence, and tradition. Beaux-Arts buildings are characterized by a large central dome above a spacious rotunda, a symmetrical T-shaped plan, doors and windows decorated with arches or lintels, and a portico supported by massive columns.

The building is supported on concrete piles and constructed around a steel skeleton. The first floor is faced with Vancouver Island granite; upper floors feature sandstone from the Glenbow Quarry in Calgary. The interior fittings include imported marble, mahogany, oak, and brass.

The building is 55 metres (180 ft) long; the building cost $4 million (around $87 million in today’s dollars) to construct in the early twentieth century. Its beautiful interior is adorned with marble, mahogany, oak, brass, sandstone and granite. Some of its architectural influences include the art schools of Paris and several government buildings throughout North America.

Canada Day at Alberta Legislature Grounds

Canada Day at Alberta Legislature Grounds

Public Tour Information
The Legislature Building is open 362 days a year, and our knowledgeable tour guides are always pleased to welcome you. Tours of the Legislature Building are offered to all ages. Topics covered can include the levels of government; the roles of the Lieutenant Governor, Premier, Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly; a brief political history of Alberta; the daily Routine followed in the Chamber; parliamentary traditions and ceremonies; and the art and architecture of the building itself. Tours last approximately 45 minutes.

Public tours inside the Legislature Building

Inside the Legislature Building

Inside the Legislature Building

Inside the Legislature Building

Inside the Legislature Building

Sculptures & stonemasonry on the Ledge grounds
There are many sculptures around the Ledge grounds. Here is description and pictures of several most visable sculptures around the Alberta Legislature Building.

The Ukrainian Centennial Pioneer Monument

This memorial commemorates the arrival, in 1891, of the first Ukrainian settlers to Canada. It pays tribute to the stalwart sons and daughters of the soil who though patient industry and steadfast courage, overcame physical hardships and adversity to transform the vastness of the prairie into productive farm land. In helping to unleash the economic potential of the Canadian west, Ukrainian pioneers not only contributed to the subsequent founding of the province of Alberta, but bequeathed a proud legacy to their descendants down through the ages. Their perseverance and self-sacrifice are an inspiration and a challenge to us all.

The tableaux in this triptych depict the achievements of the past and the rich cultural inheritance of contemporary Ukrainian Canadians as they look to the future with a reneviwed sense of purpose. A time capsule beneath this marker contains donors documents and greetings which will be opened at the centennial celebration of Ukrainian settlement in Canada in the year 2091.

The Francophone Imprint

The monument represents the fleur-de-lys and the wild rose united as one, symbolizing the Albertan pride felt by the Francophones of this province. United the two flowers also represent the flame of the fire burning in the hearts of Franco-Albertans. The two flowers come together at the apex of the Franco-Albertan flag rooted in the Alberta soil as were first Francophone settlers more than 100 years ago. The flag is also open like a book, as reading is dear to Franco-Albertans, since education remains the key to the development of their community. The fingerprints of 1,166 Francophones can be found on the monument. They were collected in twelve regions of the province, where the ACFA has a branch offices.

The latest addition – New monument honors’ the contributions of Catholic Sisters in Alberta

A new addition to the Alberta Legislature recognizes the courageous and intrepid religious women who helped to found the province, providing health care, education and social services to pioneer communities. A bronze monument unveiled in September 2011 honors’ all the congregations of Sisters who served across the province and celebrates their legacy of care and compassion carried on by others today.

The Pillar of Strength

This memorial honours the fallen Police and Peace officers in our province. These officers served with great dedication and we honour their courage and commitment. They made a difference in their communities and we will always remember them.

The Lois Hole Memorial Garden

Mis. Hole was a prominent businesswoman, best selling author and community advocate. Beloved by Albertans, she served the people of this province with warmth, kidness and compassion. This garden is a place to reflect on her great legacy, the splendor of nature, and the beautiful harvest that comes from caring.

The Lois Hole Memorial garden was opened to the public on July 4, 2006, as a tribute to the late, the Honourable Dr. Lois E. Hole, CM, AOE, who served Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor from February 10, 2000, until her death on January 6, 2005.

Virtual visits are available here and here

GETTING THERE
Alberta Legislature Building – 107 Street and 97 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta
Contact Visitor Services
• Phone: 780-427-7362
• E-mail: visitorinfo@assembly.ab.ca

Make sure you have time to visit the ‘Ledge’ grounds before you leave Edmonton. They are beautiful.

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One comment to “The ‘Ledge’”

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