Party Under the Dome: you paid for it, you might as well enjoy it

In some of the more mature – meaning “old” – countries, celebrating the 100th anniversary of a building would seem rather gauche. Maybe 150 years, certainly 200, but a mere Century? Please.

But this is Alberta, where we have a different concept of what constitutes old. Here, the centennial of a building is reason to celebrate, especially so when that building represents the seat of government in a relatively young frontier. (The seat of actual power rests collectively in Calgary’s oil-financed skyscrapers, but that’s another story.)

This Sunday, Sept. 2 marks the 100th anniversary of the official opening of the Alberta Legislature, the reasonably majestic home of our province’s elected representatives (full disclosure: I was one of them, from 2004-2008). The average Edmontonian has likely either visited the “Ledge” as a schoolchild to watch the juvenile antics of the “honorable” Members of the Legislative Assembly during Question Period, or not at all. If you fall into either of these categories, Sunday’s Party Under the Dome might just be for you – with family events during the day, live bands in the evening and fireworks to cap it off. And it’s all free, in that the taxpayer is footing the bill. So, to put it another way, it’s not free. Let’s not quibble.

The day begins at 11 a.m. with a re-enactment of the building’s 1912 grand opening, performed on the steps to the legislature. That will be followed by the long-awaited opening of a recently-unearthed time capsule (buried in 1909), the contents of which are a mystery. There will be an old-timey family fair with a penny carnival, magicians, antique cars and the like, and music and dance running all day at a special stage.

At 7 p.m., it’s concert time. Canadian country stars Paul Brandt and Brett Kissel will provide the twang, while Big Sugar (above) provides the rock ‘n’ reggae sound. It all wraps up with fireworks at 10:30 p.m.

If the weather holds up, the legislature wading pool with its fountains should be a popular spot. And speaking of spots, when you take a tour of the building, be sure to stop under the “mystery spot” for a quick shower. I won’t tell you what that’s all about, because it will spoil the mystery.

Random Facts (in old fashioned Imperial measurements)

• The Legislature is 176 ft. in height and 340 ft. in length.

• Construction of the foundation used 9,844 cubic yards of concrete, and 35,000 yards of earth was moved in the excavation of the building.

• The estimated cost was $2.4 million, or $11 quadrillion in 2011 dollars.

• The Legislature is open 362 days a year, not just when the legislature is in session. If it were, it would almost never be open, as the Alberta legislature is among the least active in Canada.

• The 21-acres on which the Legislature sits was purchased from the Hudson’s Bay Company. It was not purchased on a long-ago Bay Day.

• Construction on the Legislature went year-round thanks to heat coming from steam pipes.

• Two other sites, both on Jasper Avenue, were considered before the current site was chosen.