Park, home of the Saskatchewan Legislative
Building. Built by Premier Walter Scott in
1910 during a frenzy of expansive optimism,
landscapers, architects, and builders from
Montreal used exotic materials from afar to
create on the bald prairie in the solemn monu-
mental late British Empire style a beautifully
proportioned and exquisitely detailed edifice
which succeeds magnificently in creating the
impression it has always stood — will proudly
stand forever — over its serene dominion.
Driving past what remains Saskatch-
ewan's most impressive building, I turned left
onto Lakeshore Drive to encounter citizens
strolling and jogging beside Wascana Lake.
To my right, I noticed the Wascana Centre
Authority had finally yielded to hordes of
Canada geese that have in recent years taken
over, replacing with sand the lush grass that
once carpeted the shoreline. Unsettling. Unset-
tled still more, I saw something had apparently
been dumped into the Lake and now floated
across the surface of its northern arm.
Looking like a chenille spread with
white tufts, I wondered what this mess could
be. Then one of the tufts took to wing…Sea
Now the scene became clear:Behind
me on a line of symmetry stretched the tree-
bordered gigantic rectangular flower beds of
the Mall, the colossal stairs that lead up to the
propylaeum and up again to the Legislative
Chamber's very entrance, and ever onward to
the Speaker's Throne itself. Before me, on that
perhaps this embarcadero, aligned with the
Premier's office windows behind, awaits a
Royal Barge, but not tonight.
Tonight the waters, from the darkness
of Willow Island in the east to the
Tutankhamen-inspired art deco causeway in
the west, were covered with ten thousand
gulls. Bathed in a delicate saffron light, the
stillness of the water was textured like cordu-
roy by ripples from each of the massed float-
ing white birds — a liquid delirium streaked
here and there with faint ribbons of lavender,
mauve, pink and glassy white. Stones sepa-
rated the water on the far side from the lawns
and darkening stands of trees beyond. Amber
reflections of gas lights jiggled on the water's
surface transporting my imagination from the
prairies of Saskatchewan.
Passersby seemed unaware that a
glance would take them from humdrum lives,
across the Rockies to the copper-green domes
and pink marble of Victoria's British East
India style capital building:Then onward,
across Pacific waves, the South China Sea and
the Bay of Bengal — far away to a Mogul
Vale of Kashmir and the towering Himalaya.
For me, autumn's first evening was a summer
night's dream, perhaps an omen that a bearable
winter does indeed lie ahead. I shall hope.
1999, the sky was a faint roseate grey, its only feature scant strands of ropy
gold-threaded scarlet clouds high in the west:Nothing particularly interesting
here on the eve of autumn's first night, I thought.