British Columbia Parliament Buildings are located in Victoria,
Canada and are home to the Legislative Assembly of
The Speaker and the Sergeant-At-Arms are amongst those responsible for
the legislative precinct, which by statute include the Parliament
Buildings and grounds.
The Neo-baroque buildings face north on Belleville street facing the
Inner Harbour and diagonally across from The Empress Hotel. A statue
Queen Victoria stands on the front lawn as well a statue of a
soldier to commemorate the province's World War I,
World War II
World War II and
Korean War dead. Atop the central dome is a gold-covered statue of
Captain George Vancouver. Free guided tours of the facility are
2 Exterior sculpture program
4 See also
From 1856 to 1860 the Legislature of the Colony of Vancouver Island
met at Bachelor's Hall at Fort Victoria. From 1860 to 1898 it was
housed in the first permanent building at Legislative Hall or
Legislative Council Court, a two-storey wooden building along with
four other buildings (Land Office, Colonial Office, Supreme Court, and
Treasury) known colloquially as "The Birdcages" because of their shape
The main block of the Parliament Buildings combines
Romanesque Revival rustication
The legislative chamber inside the Parliament Building
Construction of a new Parliament Building was first authorized by an
act of the provincial legislature in 1893, the Parliament Buildings
Construction Act. The province, anxious to commemorate its growing
economic, social and political status, was engaged in an architectural
competition to build a new legislative building in Victoria, after
outgrowing "The Birdcages", which were notoriously drafty and leaked
in wet weather. Francis Rattenbury, a recent English immigrant, 25
years old, entered the contest and signed his drawings with the
pseudonym "A B.C. Architect". He progressed to the second round,
signing his drawing "For Queen and Province" and eventually won the
Despite many problems, including exceeding budget—the original
budget was $500,000; the final amount was $923,000—the British
Columbia Parliament Buildings began operation officially during
1898. The grand scale of its 500-ft (152-m) long andesite
façade, central dome and two end pavilions, the richness of its
white marble, and combination of
Baroque rigorous symmetry, use of
domes and sculptural massing with the rusticated surfaces of the
Romanesque Revival style contributed to its being an
innovative and impressive monument for the young province.
The buildings illuminated at dusk.
Its success garnered Rattenbury many more commissions in Victoria and
other parts of the province, including the Legislative Library
(constructed between 1913-1915 and the cornerstone of which was laid
by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught), the design of the Empress
Hotel, the Crystal Gardens indoor swimming pool nearby, and the
Vancouver Court House (now the Vancouver Art Gallery). The andesite of
British Columbia Parliament Buildings is from Haddington Island in
the Alert Bay Volcanic Belt. The granite used to build the
buildings came from Nelson Island, at the mouth of Jervis Inlet, on
the Sunshine Coast.
Besides the elected Members of the Legislative Assembly, two
organizations have been granted the privilege of using the Legislative
Chambers during the legislature's December recess: the British
Columbia Youth Parliament (since 1924, except during its sessions of
the late 1940s and early 1950s) and the
British Columbia Universities'
Statue of Chief
Maquinna by Charles Marega
During the 1994 Commonwealth Games, free music concerts were held on
the front lawns of the buildings, attracting as many as 40,000 people.
Similar-sized crowds have gathered on the front lawn over the years,
ranging from political protests and rallies, such as during the
Solidarity Crisis of 1983, to celebrations of various kinds, including
BC 150 ceremonies.
Exterior sculpture program
The sculpture on the buildings was designed by the provincial
librarian, E.O.S. Scholefield and executed by
Charles Marega and his
assistant Bernard Carrier. For the exterior of the library Marega
created 14 figures: Chief Maquinna, Captain George Vancouver, Sir
Matthew Baillie Begbie, Dr. John McLoughlin, Hon. John Sebastian
Helmcken, Captain James Cook, Sir James Douglas, Sir Francis Drake,
Sir Alexander McKenzie, Simon Fraser, Lord Lytton, Sir Anthony
Musgrave, David Thompson, and Col. R.C. Moody. Carrier produced twelve
figures of women, all allegorical, three around each of the building's
The rotunda of the
British Columbia Parliament Building
In 1932, artist George Southwell was commissioned to paint murals in
the rotunda depicting scenes from
British Columbia history from 1792
to 1843. The work was completed three years later. Decades later,
controversy arose over the depiction of west coast aboriginal people
in the murals, which in modern times is now regarded as degrading. One
mural, entitled Labour, portrays bare-breasted aboriginal women
hauling timber while a white man watches. In another entitled Justice,
an aboriginal chief is shown standing before a judge (said to be
Matthew Baillie Begbie), suggesting the subjugation of natives to
colonial law. However, Southwell's daughter claimed
that her father depicted the chief as standing before another judge,
one who championed native rights (notwithstanding
Begbie's positive record in that regard).
A 2001 report, commissioned by the New Democrat government of the day,
recommended that the murals be relocated to a museum where they could
be given historical perspective. However, as the murals are
painted on to the walls of the rotunda, the cost of removing them was
estimated at $280,000.  In April 2007, the legislature voted to
remove murals, with only 3 of the 71 members voting against the
motion. Since that vote, the murals have been fully restored and
hidden from public view behind false walls.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
British Columbia Parliament
British Columbia Legislature Cenotaph
Knowledge Totem Pole
Legislative buildings of Canada
^ Vancouver Island First Legislature - Vancouver Island History.
Maureenduffus.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
^ Victoria Engravings. Web.uvic.ca. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
^  Archived April 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Image of the Birdcages from BC Archives
^ Attractions in Victoria, BC
^ Natural Landscape Stones
British Columbia Archives: Chronology of Principal Royal Visits to
British Columbia Archived 2009-02-28 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Natural Landscape Stones - Bedrock Granite Sales, Andesite, Basalt,
Rhyolite, Sandstone - Vancouver, BC, Canada
^ Segger, Martin, ed. The
British Columbia Parliament Buildings,
Arcon, Vancouver, 1979, pp. 66–67
^ Matas, Robert (24 April 2007). "Murals of bare-breasted natives to
come down". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 27 April 2008.
^ Peter Seixas and Penney Clark, "Obsolete Icons and the Teaching of
History," New Possibilities for the Past: Shaping History Education in
Canada, ed. Penney Clark (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2011), 284.
^ "B.C. legislature murals coming down". CBC News. 2007-04-25.
^ murals in the legislature
Coordinates: 48°25′11″N 123°22′13″W / 48.41963°N
123.37026°W / 48