We’ve had lots of summer fun over the years splashing in the fountains in front of the Legislature. This year, there is even more to do just up the hill at the new Federal Building!
You may have heard a little something about the expenditure of tax dollars that have been funneled into the restoration of the art deco Federal Building on the legislature grounds, the would-be home of the so-called Premier’s Sky Palace. Regardless of your feelings on the subject, the public areas of the building opened over the summer, and you should check it out!
Outside the building in the plaza that leads from 104 Street is a long fountain with jets that spurt up at various intervals from the ground. My kids were happy to run the gauntlet. They said they were trying to avoid the jets, but I’m pretty sure the goal was actually to get as soaked as possible.
Once they had dried off sufficiently we headed inside the beautiful Tyndale stone building via the brand new entrance pavilion, complete with a living wall. Inside the entrance we found The Alberta Brand gift shop. It looked lovely and filled with delicate giftware. We didn’t stay to browse!
Down the hall is the Agora Interpretive Centre. And even the kids agreed, it was really cool. The centre follows some of the highlights of democracy in Alberta, including the varied experience of many of our people. There is a model of the Legislature and perhaps the biggest hit (not literal hit…those came from children running full steam into the glass walls that are not yet marked at kid height) was the chance to dress up in some of the formal uniforms worn by legislative dignitaries like the speaker of the house and the speaker-at-arms. One of the things I loved was the adjustable film viewers. Each red orb could be moved to the child’s height so they can watch the short film without a boost from mom. Hallelujah! Hopefully they are coming to every museum!
You especially won’t want to miss the show in the Pehonan Theatre. The multimedia show features Princess Louise Caroline Alberta and the history of her namesake’s province. Wind and snow blow as part of the immersive experience (because you can’t learn about Alberta without mention of the weather!) in a really neat effect. My kids would have gladly stayed for a second showing, it was that cool.
During the summer, the Visitor Centre in the Federal Building is open daily from 9 am-5 pm. During the winter (October 1, 2015-April 30, 2016) the hours are Monday-Friday 9 am-5 pm, Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 12 pm-5 pm. The activities are free, and definitely worth a couple hours of your day!