City researcher sees ancient Masonic influences in Manitoba legislature
A Winnipeg researcher believes Manitoba's legislature is an architectural gem of ancient proportions that could be Manitoba's ticket to international fame.
Frank Albo, a researcher from the University of Winnipeg, argues the Manitoba Legislative Building -- from the Golden Boy down to the mosaic floor patterns -- is a talisman of ancient divine theories with undeniable influences of Freemasonry.
From its Roman architectural influences to its Egyptian decor, the legislature is not just a place where laws are made -- it's a building with a whole separate dimension, Albo says.
"This building is just amazing," he said. "It's like the Rosetta Stone of the Prairies." No other Canadian legislature has such ancient and Masonic influences, Albo said.
The use of sacred geometry, hieroglyphic inscriptions, numerological codes and pagan iconography in the building, as well as the Masonic influences, are all laid out in an interpretive guide Albo hopes will eventually be published in book form.
The legislature's grand staircase hall includes the traditional five elements of protection that are found in ancient temples: the two bison statues (in ancient temples they were bulls), heads of Medusa and Athena, cattle skulls and lions' heads.
Among his findings are that the numbers five, eight and 13 are repeated numerous times in the legislature, in things such as the groupings of 13 stairs on the grand staircase, or the eight points on the star in the Pool of the Black Star.
He also found a connection to one of the holiest buildings in ancient Jerusalem -- Solomon's Temple. Albo says the Lieutenant Governor's reception room has precisely the same measurements as the inner sanctum of Solomon's Temple, the Holy of Holies, which was said to house the Ark of the Covenant, allegedly the chest in which Moses placed the text of the Ten Commandments and one of the most sacred symbols of God.
The geometry used in the blueprints, including the building's width and height and the size of and distance between columns, are also pulled from sacred geometrical theories, which were mainstays in ancient temple construction, including the Parthenon and the Great Pyramid.
Masons firmly followed such theories in their own temple construction, Albo says. He began his research when doing a thesis on Eastern religions, and continued it as a research fellow in the anthropology department at the University of Winnipeg.
Knowing Masons strongly believe in Egyptian symbols, Albo's interest in the legislature was first sparked by the Sphinx on the roof. He then found a wealth of other Mason symbols. Albo argues Masonic influences are also inherent in the choice of the architect, Frank Simon. Although it's not known whether Simon was a Mason, he trained at a school in Paris known to be heavily influenced by the Freemasons. As well, every member of the subcommittee of politicians who chose him, including then-premier Rod Roblin, were Masons. The Manitoba Legislative Building was completed in 1920.
Masons believe buildings are structured to influence the ideas and thoughts of those who use them. According to Albo, Simon said his plan for the legislature was to make people around it more perceptive, intelligent, better balanced and more civilized.
"Using architecture to actually influence people's minds, that's pretty far out," Albo said.
Albo says he expects his research to draw criticism, but he firmly believes he has stumbled on to something sensational.
"I understand people are going to say this is an interpretation, but it gets to a point where the coincidences start running out," he said.
In fact, he hopes his project will ultimately give Simon his rightful place in history.
"If this project goes as well as I hope, he should have a street named after him," Albo said. "He's a genius."
Premier Gary Doer, who met Albo two years ago and helped him secure a provincial grant to continue his research, said everyone always knew the building was special, but nobody seemed to know exactly how special.
"We knew what all these things are superficially, but to have them all incorporated and explained this way really adds a lot of intrigue," Doer said. "I am fascinated with his findings." He said he hopes this opens up a great debate about the building among Manitobans.
Albo is lobbying the government to add his research to the official legislature tours, and Doer said he supports that idea.
The building's symbols and designs could prove particularly popular in the wake of the mass popularity of The Da Vinci Code, which also uses Freemasonry and ancient religion as a backdrop for a whirlwind religious mystery.
Victor Popow, the grand librarian for the Freemasons' Grand Lodge of Manitoba, said the Masons are intrigued by Albo's research.
"There's always been some history and some stories, but no one really knew all of this," Popow said.
Freemasonry, he said, seeks to honour humanity and impress ideas and thoughts upon people. Masons also believe in building sacred structures to influence people.
"Our legislature is that way as well," Popow said.
Last March, Albo presented his research at a Winnipeg meeting of Mason grandmasters from across Canada.
"They were totally fascinated and blown away by it," Popow said. The Freemasons began as a medieval guild of stonemasons in England in the early 18th century and developed into a powerful secret society that possibly includes among past members George Washington, John A. MacDonald, Benjamin Franklin and numerous Manitoba premiers.
The modern-day Masons have 4,000 Manitobans as members. Despite their reputation for secrecy, they allowed Albo access to Masonic historical records for his project.