The Da Vinci Code of the Prairies

 A local historian unlocks the mysteries of Winnipeg’s Manitoba Legislature

  • May 25, 2023
  • 1,011 words
  • 5 minutes
The Golden Boy perched on the dome of the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Photo: Robin Esrock)
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What if I were to tell you that the Manitoba Legislature was built with concrete, steel, and 6,000 years of architectural magic? Would you believe that every aspect of the building’s design and construction was reserved exclusively for Freemasons? That occult symbols and ancient Biblical secrets hide in plain sight? According to a renowned local historian, the Manitoba Legislature is not just a seat of government, it’s the Da Vinci Code of the prairies. 

Winnipegger Frank Albo is a professor with Master’s degrees in Ancient Near Eastern Civilization and Hermetic Philosophy. You might ask yourself, “Hermetic what?” because that’s exactly what I did. Hermeticism encompasses a wide range of grand wisdom that might date back to ancient Egypt, passing along divine knowledge through sages, philosophers, Masonic grandmasters and initiates. It is a shadowy rabbit hole of rich history encompassing alchemy, astrology, religious mysticism, reincarnation, and Freemasonry. Think of Albo as a real-life Robert Langdon, the fictional Harvard professor of religious iconography in Dan Brown’s blockbuster literary series (played by Tom Hanks in the films). The real-life Frank Albo is far more animated and these days teaches at Princeton. It’s fascinating stuff, but what does this have to do with a government building in Winnipeg?

Frank Albo giving a tour of the Manitoba Legislature. (Photo: Robin Esrock)
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Albo noticed two Egyptian sphinxes on the roof of the Manitoba Legislature, which got his spider-sense tingling. With the support of a research grant, he spent the next 10 years unravelling an architectural mystery that had gone unnoticed since the building’s completion in 1920. What’s with all the hieroglyphics? What’s with the occult symbols, pagan icons, numerology, and Golden Boy perched atop the copper dome? Digging into the archives, Albo uncovered that every person involved in the construction of this building was a Freemason, including nearly a century of consecutive Manitoba premieres that governed it. The chief architect, Frank W Simon, designed everything with the utmost thought to the Hermetic principles of numerology, astrology, geometry and alchemy. Albo was able to decipher that Simon had created a Temple of Hermetic Mysticism, funded with millions of dollars of taxpayer money and cloaked as a stodgy government building.    

Overlooking the entrance, are two statues officially representing Manitoba and Winnipeg. Not so, says Albo; it’s actually the gods Hermes and Aphrodite. The pillars measure to the exact specification of those of the Biblical temple in Jerusalem. The guardian bison are actually protective symbolic amulets energized with sunlight, and everywhere you turn, you’ll see the constant use of the important numbers thirteen, 8, and 5. Thirteen stones in the archway, three sets of 13 steps, eight pointed stars. You need a book to explain it all, which Albo handily wrote for us. The Hermetic Code, a national bestseller, reveals these and other clues everywhere, chiselled in concrete and hidden in plain sight. 

Two life-sized statues of bison stand in the interior of the Manitoba Legislature. (Photo: Robin Esrock)
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As with the original Biblical temple, the legislature has its own Holy of Holies, in this case, the inner sanctum of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. It is off-limits to outsiders and protects a symbolic Ark of the Covenant carved directly into the building behind deeply symbolic purple curtains. As with the original Holy of Holies, it is only accessed on one day of the year. The iconic statue of Golden Boy is Hermes himself, perfectly positioned as the alchemic fifth essence, surrounded by the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. When Albo discovered Simon’s own writings about the creation of a symbolic altar inside the building, built over marble with veins specifically aligned to symbolize blood, even he got a little spooked. 

I head downstairs under the rotunda to stand in the Pool of the Black Star, a circular chamber surrounded by three raised steps, with an eight-pointed star black marble star in the middle. The star is eight metres in circumference, of course, and sits directly beneath the dome and Golden Boy. An intricate design ensures that sound from all over the building converges at this single spot. Albo explains how anyone using their voice at the centre of the Black Star will be speaking in fifths, associated with the power of Hermes. I stand in the centre of the star and say a few words: “Friends, Romans, Countrymen…” and there’s an undeniable power in the natural acoustics. My voice booms with regal, unrecognizable authority. 

The Pool of the Black Star beneath the rotunda of the Manitoba Legislature. (Photo: Robin Esrock)
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After spending an hour in Albo’s company, my head is swilling with ancient stories and millennia of architectural mysteries. It becomes very hard to imagine government employees walking about, pushing paper and going about their ordinary bureaucratic business. If you read The Hermetic Code, it’s difficult to look at the Manitoba Legislature, or any architecture for that matter, in quite the same way again.   

For years, Albo partnered with a local tour operator to guide tens of thousands of visitors into the heart of the mystery, leading nightly tours over the summer. That changed when the Manitoba Legislature put a kibosh on small group tours, and Albo relocated to Princeton. Heartland Tours can still organize a large group visit, however, and The Hermetic Code is now in its fourth printing. Albo has since gone on to explore other architectural mysteries around the world, including a fascinating book set in Kazakhstan called Astana: Architecture, Myth & Destiny.

Winnipeg’s other architectural marvel

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. (Photo: Travel Manitoba)
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