When the provinces of Canada were formed, the openings of some of their legislatures were mildly amusing. The first legislative assembly in Manitoba opened on March 15, 1871, in the home of A. C. B. Bannatyne because there was no building suitable for the purpose. Outside the Bannatyne residence there was a ceremonial guard provided by the Ontario Rifles.
The first session of the Alberta Legislature also took place on March 15, but the year was 1906. It was held in the Thistle skating rink and sessions continued there until a suitable building became available.
British Columbia had the first legislature west of the Great Lakes. It opened in August 1856. After using temporary headquarters until 1869, the legislative members moved into buildings which became known as the “bird cages.” They were made of brick, painted various shades of red and had roofs like pagodas. An 800-foot bridge had to be built across James Bay to connect them with Government Street in Victoria.
There is an amusing story about the opening of the legislature at Regina in 1905 when Saskatchewan became a province. Originally, the capital of the Northwest Territories had been at Battleford, but was moved to Pile O’Bones (Regina) when the C.P.R. went through there instead at Battleford.
Among the furniture that had to be shifted was an oak table that had been sent to the capital of the Northwest Territories by the Fathers of Confederation. It was supposed to have been the table on which the Confederation pact had been signed at Charlottetown.
There was more than a little consternation later when it was learned that Charlottetown still had the original Confederation table. It was then explained that there had been two tables, one used for the preliminary discussions and the other for the actual signing. Just which table had been sent to Saskatchewan may be open to argument. In any case, it became necessary to shorten the table by six feet to provide wood for repairs to it!