Manitoba celebrated its 150th anniversary as a province in 2020. The year also marked the 100th birthday of the province’s legislative building. In this article, the author outlines the planned year-long festivities – which were postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – and other projects in celebration of these anniversaries.
December 14, 2019 officially kicked off what was to be a year of celebration for Manitoba’s 150th anniversary and the Manitoba Legislative Building’s 100th birthday. Manitoba 150 hosted a free family friendly event outside the Legislative Building that featured snowmobile acrobatics, entertainment for families, and over 300,000 LED lights on and around the Manitoba Legislative Building.
What was supposed to be a year of events to bring all Manitobans together to celebrate our province, changed drastically with the arrival of COVID-19. Premier Brian Pallister announced on April 8, 2020 that all events planned for the 150th anniversary would be postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic.
July 15th, 2020, also marked the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of The Manitoba Act, which created the Province of Manitoba. The Manitoba Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada and received royal assent on May 12, 1870. It was then proclaimed on July 15, 1870
Manitoba is the birthplace of the Métis, a people whose leader, Louis Riel, was responsible for negotiating the terms under which Manitoba joined confederation. Riel was instrumental in launching the Red River resistance and forming a provisional government to represent the rights of the Métis, as well as all of the other people calling Manitoba home at the time.
Under Riel’s leadership, negotiations began between the Canadian Parliament and the Red River Métis, resulting in the passing of The Manitoba Act. Manitoba remains the only province to join Canada under Indigenous leadership.
I was honoured to host a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of Manitoba’s Legislative Building and rededicate it. With precautions to ensure social distancing in the midst of the pandemic, Lieutenant Governor Janice C. Filmon, Premier Brian Pallister and I participated in a ceremony at the base of the Louis Riel statue on the bank of the Red River. The Legislative Building was officially opened on July 15, 1920 to mark the 50th anniversary of Manitoba becoming a province. There were approximately 15,000 visitors that day.
The Lieutenant Governor, as the special guest of honour, formally rededicated the building and unveiled a plaque to mark the significance of this occasion:
The Manitoba Legislative Building is more than just a meeting place. It is a symbol of our democracy. It contains our dreams of a society governed by principles of fairness, equality and wisdom. Beauty, hope and inspiration live within its walls. May this grand building continue to inspire Manitobans young and old throughout its second century.
I was thrilled to unveil a time capsule designed and created by Manitoba Indigenous artist Darren Sakwi. The time capsule celebrates both the building’s 100th birthday and Manitoba’s 150th anniversary as a province and is to be opened in July 2120.
It contains messages from the Lieutenant Governor, the Premier, the Leader of the Official Opposition, the Leader of the Liberal Party, the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly and me. Also included in the time capsule are many items which we carefully curated in order to share a glimpse of things from our time at the Legislative Assembly that we hope our future colleagues and Manitobans will find interesting a century from now.
In total, over 80 items of interest were placed in the time capsule that is to be opened in July 2120.
The time capsule will be on display until then in the Keystone Gallery of our Legislative Building so that it can be viewed by visitors. We were worried that if we buried it somewhere it might not be remembered or found in 100 years. It is also too beautiful a capsule to hide it away somewhere.
To celebrate the Legislative Building’s 100th birthday, staff of the Legislative Library, in collaboration with the Director of Education and Outreach Services for the Legislative Assembly, produced the booklet “100 Facts for 100 Years: The Manitoba Legislative Building”.
This booklet includes information covering pre-construction of the Legislative Building, design, portraits and artifacts, sculptures, interior and exterior of the building, the Golden Boy, renovations and many other items that display our Legislative Building, known to be one of the finest buildings in North America.
This booklet can be found on our website at: https://www.gov.mb.ca/legislature/visiting/100_anniversary.html
I hope that as you turn the pages, you enjoy the information about the beautiful building my fellow MLAs and I are privileged to work in on behalf of our constituents.
While we certainly were unable to celebrate these milestone events the way we wished this year, I am glad I was able to host this ceremony as we move forward with our “new normal.”
I look forward to when we can celebrate our 150th anniversary properly because Manitobans know we are always better together.