Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Legislative Building (450 Broadway, Winnipeg)
The first Legislature Building in Manitoba occupied the former A. G. B. Bannatyne residence at Main Street and McDermot Avenue until its destruction by fire in 1873. Temporary facilities were used until 1883 when the second building was opened north of the present-day Government House.
The second Legislative Building was a two-storey structure that housed the chamber and offices of the Legislative Assembly and the offices of the five departments of the Executive Government. It was built by the federal government of white brick and stone quarried near Selkirk, between 1882 and March 1883, at a cost of $200,000. To the left of the main entrance on the east side, on the first and second floors at the front of the building, were offices for the Departments of the Treasury, Public Works, and Attorney General. The rear of the building was occupied by the Department of Agriculture, Statistics, and Health and the Provincial Secretary. Storerooms were in the basement and caretakers lived in rooms in the top level. A wing extending westward at right angles from the west wide contains the Executive Council offices, library and reading room, and Speaker's quarters.
The present-day Legislative Building was designed in 1912 by English architects Frank W. Simon and Henry Boddington III, who won a British Empire competition over 66 other entries, and built over the next seven years. The paramount example of Beaux-Arts Classical architecture in the province, the building was constructed of about ten million bricks made from Manitoba shale and clay between 1913 and 1916 at two local facilities. The majority are yellow-brown bricks made by the Stephens Brick Company at Portage la Prairie. Less common red bricks came from the Leary Brickworks west of Roseisle. The bricks are mostly hidden by several types of stone, including Manitoba limestone quarried at Garson. The exterior is adorned with many allegorical works of art celebrating wisdom, justice, and courage. The Golden Boy atop the dome is symbolic of Manitoba’s eternal youth and progress. The building was opened formally by Lieutenant Governor James Aikins at a ceremony held on 15 July 1920, the 50th anniversary of Manitoba’s entry into Confederation.
With the opening of the third Legislative Building, the second building was no longer required. It was used as classroom space for the nearby University of Manitoba until mid-1922 when it was demolished.
The building has received Conservation Awards from Heritage Winnipeg, for the restoration of the Golden Boy atop the building (2003), accessibility upgrades to the legislative chamber (2018), and conservation work to the rotunda (2022).
Photos & Coordinates
Elizabeth II Visit (1970) - Location: Main Floor, south entrance
In commemoration of the visit of Her Majesty the Queen and the special session of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly held on 15 July 1970 to mark the 100th anniversary of Manitoba as a province in the Canadian Confederation.
Mennonite Settlement - Location: Main Floor, opposite room 172
In commemoration of the 1874-1974 centennial of the Mennonite settlement in Manitoba. Placed in December 1974 by the Manitoba Mennonite Historical Society.
First Grain Shipment - Location: Main Floor, opposite room 172
On 21 October 1876, a shipment of wheat was consigned to a Toronto grain dealer by a group of Manitoba farmers: G. R. Miller (Kildonan, 204 bushels), John McIvor (Greenwood, 17¾ bushels), J. W. Carleton (Clear Spring, 80 1/6 bushels), H. Soar (St. John, 154 bushels), F. Dick (Springfield, 35 bushels), Neil McLeod (Victoria, 22 bushels), Mr. Black (Springfield, 102 bushels), D. McDonald (Springfield, 94 bushels), John Spear (Springfield, 44 bushels), T. B. Robinson (Rockwood, 32 bushels), Alexander Gibson (Springfield, 33 bushels), John Reich (St. Paul, 40 bushels). 
On 15 June 1932, a plaque was unveiled, affixed to a granite boulder on the banks of the Red River, at the site of the original grain shipment. Attended by Premier John Bracken, Thomas J. Harrison of the Canadian Seed Growers Association, E. Cora Hind, and Archbishop Matheson, four noted grain growers were introduced during the ceremony: Samuel Larcombe, Mr. Mitchell of Dahinda, Seager Wheeler, and Major H. G. L. Strange. 
The plaque was subsequently stolen and a duplicate was place on the interior walls of the Manitoba Legislature. The original boulder on the banks of the Red River is no longer there. 
Pioneer Women - Location: Main Floor, opposite room 172
This plaque commemorating the pioneer women of Manitoba, was erected in 1931 by the Manitoba Womens’ Institute on their 21st anniversary.
Members’ Gallery (Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly) - Location: Main Floor, opposite room 174
From 1871 until 1876 the Government of Manitoba operated with a bicameral legislature, consisting of an appointed Legislative Council of seven members and an elected Legislative Assembly of twenty-four members. As a cost-saving measure, the Government abolished the “Upper Chamber” in 1876. In those few years of operation, several Manitobans served on the Legislative Council of Manitoba. Portrait of these members hang in the Members’ Gallery across from members of the Legislative Assembly.
The Legislature is the centre of democracy in our free society. Few have earned the unique right and solemn responsibility of representing their constituents in our Assembly. The Manitobans presented in this gallery put their names forward to serve as elected representatives for our province. In honour of their accomplishments and to acknowledge their years of service, this gallery of the Legislative Assemblies of Manitoba celebrates every member, elected to the Manitoba Legislature through general elections and by-elections since 1871.
Speaker’s Gallery (Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly) - Location: Second Floor, by room 242
Following parliamentary tradition, the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba has always had one of its members presiding over the business of the House as the Speaker. It is the duty of every Speaker to be the “voice” of the House, to act as an impartial arbitrator for all members, and to preserve and protect the rules and traditions of the House. In honour of the individuals who have held this office, a portrait of every Manitoba Speaker since 1871 hangs in the Manitoba Speaker’s Gallery. Tradition maintains that a portrait is hung only when the Speaker is no longer a sitting member of the Legislative Assemblies of Manitoba.
From 1871 until 1876 the Government of Manitoba operated with a bicameral Legislature consisting of an appointed Legislative Council of seven members and an elected Legislative Assembly of twenty-four members. The Government abolished the “Upper Chamber” in 1876 in an effort to reduce costs. In those few years of operation, three Speakers served the Legislative Council of Manitoba and their portraits hang in the Speaker’s Gallery along with those of the Speakers of the Legislative Assembly.
Women Vote - Location: Second Floor, opposite Legislative Library
This plaque was unveiled on 25 November 1966 by MLA Thelma Forbes to commemorate the granting of suffrage for women by the Manitoba Legislature on 28 January 1916, the first province in Canada to enfranchise women.
United Empire Loyalists - Location: Second Floor, opposite Legislative Library
This plaque, unveiled by the Winnipeg branch of the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada in 1967, commemorates the arrival in Canada of British subjects from the American colonies who remained loyal to the monarchy after the American Revolution.
Selkirk Settler Bicentenary - Location: Second Floor, opposite Legislative Library
This plaque, unveiled in September 2012 by the Bicentenary of the Red River Selkirk Settlement Committee, commemorates the establishment, in 1812, of a permanent agricultural settlement in the area now known as the province of Manitoba. The text of the plaque is displayed in English, French, and Scots Gaelic.
Ukrainian Settlers - Location: Second Floor, opposite Legislative Library
This plaque, by sculptor Hubert A. Garnier, was dedicated in September 1951 to the pioneer Ukrainian settlers on the occasion of their sixtieth anniversary in recognition of their contribution to the development of Canada, presented by the Ukrainian Canadian Committee.
British Medical Association - Location: Second Floor, opposite Legislative Library
The plaque was presented in 1930 in commemoration of the 98th Annual Meeting of the British Medical Association in Winnipeg, on 26 - 29 August 1929.
Jewish Settlement Bicentenary - Location: Second Floor, opposite Legislative Library
This plaque was presented in 1959 by the Canadian Jewish Congress in commemoration of the bicentenary of Jewish settlement in Canada.
Berens River Accident (1952) - Location: Second Floor, opposite Legislative Library
This plaque by sculptor Hubert Garnier commemorates seven Manitoba civil servants killed in an air accident on 21 July 1952, north of Berens River, while travelling from Lac du Bonnet to Norway House. 
South African War - Location: Second Floor, opposite Legislative Library
This plaque honours those who enlisted for service in the South African War from 11 October 1899 to 31 May 1902. It was erected by the provincial government on 31 May 1952.
Royal Winnipeg Rifles - Location: Second Floor, by room 265
This plaque honors all who served in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles (Little Black Devils) from 1883 to 1983, dedicated on the centenary of the regiment, on 9 November 1983.
Manitoba War Brides Association - Location: Second Floor, by room 265
This plaque, erected by the Manitoba War Brides Association, is dedicated to honour the war brides of the First World War and Second World War who were brought to Canada by the Canadian government following their marriage to Canadian servicemen in a theatre of war. Between the years of 1942 and 1948, approximately 43,500 brides and 21,000 children from the British Isles and Western Europe settled throughout this country, many of them in Manitoba. Their integration into the population and contribution to the life of this prairie province is a lasting tribute to this historic era.
Winnipeg Grenadiers - Location: Second Floor, by room 265
This plaque honours the sacrifices made by members of the First Battalion of the Winnipeg Grenadiers in their defence of Hong Kong, dedicated on 25 October 1991, the 50th anniversary of their departure from Winnipeg to the Crown Colony.
Royal Canadian Dragoons - Location: Second Floor, by room 265
This plaque was placed by the Royal Canadian Dragoons at this garrison site, from 1885 to 1898.
Winnipeg General Strike - Location: Second Floor, by room 265
This plaque was dedicated in June 1994, for the 75th anniversary of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, a landmark in Canadian history.
Civil Service Honour Roll - Archives of Manitoba
On 29 September 1943, in a ceremony held at the Legislative Buildling, Lieutenant-Governor Roland McWilliams lifted a Union Jack to unveil a framed honour roll listing the names of 393 members of the provincial civil service who had volunteered for service in the Second World War. Manitoba Premier Stuart Garson and Deputy Minister of Health and Public Welfare Frederick Jackson took part in the ceremony with the latter reading the names of the six volunteers who had died in service to that date. By the end of the war, the honour roll would identify a total of ten civil service members who had given their lives. It is not known when the honour roll was removed from the Legislative Building. It is currently located at the Archives of Manitoba. 
“Manitoba’s Buildings,” The Nor-West Farmer and Manitoba Miller, Volume 6, Number 9, September 1887.
“Public Notice – Province of Manitoba Jubilee Celebration, July 15th, 1920,” Winnipeg Tribune, 14 July 1920, page 2.
“Geology of the Manitoba Legislative Building” by W. C. Brisbin, Graham Young, and Jeff Young, Geoscience Canada, Volume 32, Number 4, December 2005, pages 177–193.
1. “The first shipment of grain from Manitoba,” Manitoba Free Press, 23 October 1876, page 3.
2. “Ceremony at unveiling of monolith recalls pioneer days in west,” Manitoba Free Press, 16 June 1932, page 1.
3. Personal communication from Jeannie Larcombe.
4. “7 feared dead in swamp crash,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 July 1952, page 1. We thank Norman R. Gould for identifying the maker of the Berens River plaque.
5. “Civil Service Honor Roll To Be Unveiled,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 September 1943, page 8. “Honor Roll Unveiled,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 September 1943, page 7.
We thank John Morriss and George Penner for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and Darryl Toews.
Page revised: 24 February 2023