A look inside Canada’s oldest and smallest legislature on its 200th anniversary
|globalnews.ca 11 Feb 2019 at 03:24|
On his left is a sparsely-decorated space with a single solitary wooden chair in the middle. To his right is a long hallway, flanked by small, almost closet-sized rooms. Even further down is a nearly identical empty space.
It’s a mild mid-January day in Halifax and the attic is well-lit, with the harsh yellow glow of the overhead lights being diffused by the natural sunlight filtering through the attic’s semi-circle windows.
“Make sure you don’t step on a ‘Red X,’” Theriault calls, pointing out examples of the spray-painted letter scattered across the floor.
Peter Theriault, coordinator of operations at the Nova Scotia Legislature on January 24, 2019
They’re the only visual clue that the flooring could give away.
A worker found out the hard way a few years ago, when the wood panelling gave away, dropping the man roughly a metre down. Theriault says the worker was lucky that his nether regions didn’t land on a pole.
The boards are suspended a couple metres above the ceiling of the legislature’s ceremonial chambers. In between the ceiling and the attic’s floor is a rat’s nest of cables and wires that activate lights and feed data from the cameras, microphones and transceivers that power Nova Scotia Legislature TV.
Typically, the attic is off limits to the public and staff members rarely come up here, but Theriault knows the space well. He’s been the coordinator of operations at the legislature for 31 years.
He knows almost every nook and cranny in the building, and if he doesn’t, he can find someone who does.
On the far side of the attic,Theriault removes the wooden cover of a ventilation duct.
Looking down the vent and through the decorative features of the plaster roofing, it’s the space below that draws the eye.
Peering through a vent in the attic of the Nova Scotia legislature allows our camera to see the legislative chamber below.
It’s there, inside the province’s legislative chamber, that Nova Scotian politicians have debated and disagreed, governors-general have been sworn in and Royal Family members have been hosted when they visited Canada.
The province’s legislature has stood the test of time, opening a little less than 49 years before Canada became a nation.
Nova Scotia’s legislative assembly has met every year for the last 200 years in Province House — making it the oldest legislative building in Canada.
Located in the heart of downtown Halifax, the legislature sits halfway up the steep hill that leads from the city’s waterfront to the top of Citadel Hill.
A short, squat three-storey building, its regal exterior stands in contrast to the buildings of reflective glass and burnished steel that now tower over it.
Enclosed by a large iron fence and built in the Palladian architectural style — a system that emphasizes symmetry — the building’s perfect proportions of 43 metres long and 21.5 metres deep make the legislature a remnant of a different time.
Its size makes it the smallest legislature in Canada and its unique architecture and place in Candian history have earned it the distinction being named a National Historic Site.