As above, so below: Winnipeg adventures
All roads lead to Winnipeg… Or so people thought at the beginning of the 20th century. Winnipeg was the fastest growing city on the continent; it had grown from a small village to the third largest Canadian city in just forty years. It offered a lot of opportunities and drew the attention of many. Turned out, people were wrong all along and Winnipeg wasn’t destined “to become one of the greatest distributing and commercial centres of the continent”.
I believe that the ambitions of Winnipeg of the time are best represented by the grandness of the Manitoba Legislative Building. The building was designed by a British architect Frank Worthington Simon and ended up costing four times as much as the legislatures of Alberta or Saskatchewan.
Manitoba Legislative Building
Frank Albo, a Canadian historian, has been studying the building for several years now, and revealed the countless links between its architectural design and Freemasonry, as well as Rosicrucianism and Hermeticism. It is possible to book a tour around the legislature, led by Albo himself. We arrived to Winnipeg too late for the tour, so next morning we headed out to the public library in search of the book called The Hermetic Code.
The book is about the history of construction of the Manitoba Legislative Building, Frank W. Simon’s background and symbolism hidden in plain view within the walls of the legislature. Strikingly, according to Albo, the Lieutenant-Governor’s reception room replicates the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple, a central symbol of Freemasonry. Just like the Holy of Holies, the Lieutenant-Governor’s office is the most exclusive room in the entire building, and is a perfect cube of 20x20x20 Masonic cubits (1 cubit = 14.4 inches). Albo claims that the Ark of the Covenant is represented by the war chest guarded by two warrior figures directly above the reception room, with the chest having the exact same proportions, as outlined in the Book of Exodus.
There is a LOT more symbolism present in the architecture of this building, from Babylonian, Egyptian and ancient Greek to Christian and Jewish. The book is very interesting but if you don’t have access to it and are curious, there is plenty of information and theories online (e.g., here is a short piece by Frank Albo. The meaning of the aphorism “as above, so below”, as in the caption of this article, is also explained there). It was really cool to have read the book and take a tour around the legislature afterwards. Our tour was a free one provided by the legislature itself. They do touch on some classic architectural influences but do not mention anything related to Freemasonry. Under the impression of the freshly read Hermetic code, it felt like we’ve been passed on the deep and well-kept secrets of this temple and were walking sacred lands. As though if we had looked carefully enough we would have revealed the hidden message crypted in the walls of this building…
But anyways, why did Winnipeg’s growth come to stagnation? Winnipeg started developing rapidly after the opening of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1881. The city was called the gateway between the west and the east, and everything and everyone had to go through Winnipeg. There were several reasons for the decline of its growth, and one of them was the opening of the Panama canal in 1914. The opening of the canal meant that Vancouver and other Pacific ports were now closer to Europe and it reduced reliance on the rail system for international trade, which marked the decline of Winnipeg’s dominance.
At the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Going back to the topic of our travel and sightseeing, Winnipeg is home to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The exhibitions are interesting and thought-provoking; the museum itself has a modern architecture that I enjoyed and as a bonus, you can climb all the way up the tower and get a good view of Winnipeg.
I enjoyed our time in Winnipeg. Next stop is Toronto, 2 nights and 1.5 days away by train (according to schedule). May I complain on train delays again? Our train arrived to Winnipeg 10 hours late, so we just made ourselves as comfortable as possible on the uncomfortable station seats and tried to catch some z’s while waiting for the night to pass by and our train to finally arrive. Back to train life…