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May Advocate 2017

THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 3 M A Y 2 0 1 7 461 connection with 100th anniversary celebrations in 2015, it cannot safely be extracted). The “Connaught Wing” or “Library Wing” was opened in September 1915. An informative and entertaining 100th anniversary tribute video is found on the library’s webpage.4 The Library Wing is an impressive structure, both outside and in. Indeed, the Library Wing cost more than the original Parliament Buildings to build ($1.17 million compared to $924,000 or so, though without taking inflation into account). Outside, the Library Wing is similar in appearance to the original Parliament Buildings, but is embellished with statues of notables from the worlds of literature, philosophy, exploration and government. Those depicted on its outside walls include Sophocles, Socrates, Dante, Shakespeare, Captain Vancouver, Captain Cook, Chief Maquinna (as described on the helpful plaque associating names and faces, “Nootka chief who welcomed first white man landing on Vancouver Island in 1778”), Sir James Douglas, Simon Fraser and Alexander Mackenzie. Though the extent of Scholefield’s input into the selection of these personages is unclear, he at least appears to have reviewed the names in advance. Inside, the Library Wing includes a marble-walled rotunda, capped by a central glass dome curiously inlaid with a ship’s wheel. Immediately beneath the dome is a ring of “grotesques”—winged, mythical creatures that are the interior version of gargoyles. They include two with faces modelled on that of a young Queen Victoria, who had of course by then long passed away. Rumour has it that the patterned floor of the rotunda, with various handsome circles and triangles, may reflect Rattenbury’s Masonic affiliations. The interior of the Legislative Wing also includes a Members’ Reading Room panelled with Honduran mahogany and a Gathering Room which, among other things, houses part of the Legislative Library’s invaluable card catalogue. Library staff still regularly uses the card catalogue to access historical newspapers and other materials. As noted on the Legislative Library’s webpage, the library’s “primary purpose … is to provide reference and research services to the Members of the Legislative Assembly, their staff, the Officers of the House, and legislative support staff ”. Indeed, the library remains open to those clients at any hour when the Legislative Assembly is sitting (which can lead to some late shifts for library staff!). Among the Legislative Library’s heavily used resources are, predictably, its Parliamentary Practice volumes. Though generally members’ preparation is undertaken well in advance, library staff may also be called upon to provide last-minute substantive information that then comes to be raised in the legislative debates.


May Advocate 2017
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